Fewer trailers

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week we go dead mall hunting, realize why some of us aren’t morning people, deconstruct a political mystery, get to know Lil Dicky a little better, and fight a drug company.

Jasper Mall

A year in the life of a dying shopping mall.

No other logline has been more succinct or more enthralling to me than the latest from directors Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb. 2008’s The Rock-afire Explosion, 2015’s County Fair, Texas are two documentaries that epitomize what great documentaries can be.

Specifically, these stories aren’t ones where the nation needs a certain subject explored. Instead, these are stories that feel like a forgotten, even ignored, part of our social fabric. They’re intimate stories of specific times and places, and I could consume these kinds of documentaries on an endless loop. The trailer for Jasper Mall synthesizes those feelings of a time long since past, but it represents a chapter of American culture that is slowly fading away.

Not once in this trailer does any narration tell you this is a dying mall, or tell you that this was once a place where a community came together to shop, or was a central location for so many youths to meet up, to mingle, or to just walk around; they say none of that, but it’s communicated so well. Without question, one of the best trailers I’ve seen this year.

Wake Up

Booksmart director Olivia Wilde is going short this time, and she’s bringing cinematographer Mathew Libatique (Pi, Black Swan) along for the ride.

In a new short film directed by Gotham and Indie Spirit nominated director, Olivia Wilde (Booksmart), Emmy nominated Margaret Qualley (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) stars as a woman forced to rediscover her humanity in an increasingly digital world.

I will forever be a fan of short films and wish they were more abundant. I get why they’re not, but efforts like this promise a big concept and don’t take too much of your time. The trailer gives nothing up narratively, but that’s okay, because what is revealed here through sight and sound is more than enough. The way we enter this world is weird, the premise is curious, and the ensuing chaos that builds by the end seals the deal that this is worth however long this short might be.

DAVE

If you’re not hip to Lil Dicky, join the club. And, if you are, sorry I’m late to the party.

FXX’s new series DAVE is centered on a neurotic man in his late twenties who has convinced himself that he’s destined to be one of the best rappers of all time. Now he must convince his closest friends, because with their help, he actually might convince the world.

The half-hour comedy is based on the life of rapper and comedian Dave Burd, known as Lil Dicky on stage.

I don’t know why I’m so entranced by this trailer but it’s idiosyncratic, a little weird, and the stakes feel very low. Overall, this series looks like an intriguing one if for no other reason to see if it’s as chill as it makes itself out to be.

The Pharmacist

This is the kind of mini-series that shapes hearts and minds.

A small town pharmacist stakes a mission to save his community long before the opioid epidemic gains nationwide attention.

It’s hard to get invested in a story that isn’t sensational, but as a story that feels like the piece of yarn that unraveled the rest of the sweater, this is a good flashpoint. A flashpoint where people started to ask questions, to delve deeper into why people were spinning themselves out on opioids. On the surface, this looks like a small story. Taking a step back, though, this looks more like a prequel for everything that would follow once the Sackler family was caught in our nation’s cultural crosshairs.

Run This Town

Director Ricky Tollman’s debut feature looks rock solid.

A young journalist and a young political aide become entangled in a larger-than-life political scandal as they struggle to navigate adult life. Like all their friends, Bram and Kamal are struggling to climb the ladders at their respective workplaces: Bram at a newspaper, Kamal at City Hall. When Bram learns of a scandal involving Kamal’s larger-than-life boss, he seizes the moment to advance his career. Meanwhile, Kamal grapples with containing the story while maintaining his integrity.

An inspired choice to lead off with pull-quotes, the trailer is wonderfully spartan. There is immediate tension put into the air once this begins. This doesn’t really take off until we’re literally a minute into this thing, but this trailer still simmers and bubbles with the heat of moments that have no context. It’s a bold gambit, to be sure, but I’m a fan.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers for possible inclusion in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

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