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 just improvise, grieve in our own comedic way, stumble upon something a little weird, explore beauty through design, and get political.

Middleditch & Schwartz

If you’re looking to sell me on a show of pure improv, this would be the best way to do it.

Thomas Middleditch & Ben Schwartz filmed three completely improvised comedy specials … what could go wrong? Catch all three unique shows based on a live audience suggestion: Parking Lot Wedding, Dream Job, and Law School Magic.

I never thought the sight of people would tickle me as they’re tightly packed together and collectively laughing but, somehow, it’s very therapeutic. The transitional slides/graphics are a bit rough and basic but it gets the job done. What I most admire is the commitment to the bit. Someone suggests something and then, moments later, we’re off on our way with nothing but whatever is between their ears to stick the landing.

After Life Season 2

I didn’t see the first season, but I’m re-thinking that decision.

Still struggling with immense grief after the death of his wife, Tony (Ricky Gervais) is trying to turn over a new leaf. Will he succeed in helping the people around him, or will he go back to being the same old Tony?

What is so alluring about the promise of what’s here is that there are glimpses of effective drama peeking out every so often. To be sure, I’m positive Gervais will handle the comedy well, but the evocative, emotionally tough bits are where this series will win or lose. It has promise, and this trailer shows us why if you didn’t give the first season a poke you might be inclined to give season 2 a chance.

A Helical

Praise to director Marcus McMahon for his latest film.

A lone traveller, from another dimension, arrives on a mysterious yet familiar planet. He is greeted by strange entities. Some wise, some sinister, they offer deep, dark lessons to the traveller. Each step of the way his subconscious is slowly revealed to him as he confronts his inner world. Each lesson reminds him he was born into a pattern, that he is a pattern.

I’ve said many times that if you’re an independent director, you’ve really got to have a passion for your story if it’s science fiction. There’s just a little more heavy lifting involved for those who are trying to span dimensions, space and time. Whether this turns out to be a small blip on the otherwise crowded radar of big-budget productions, I respect the hell out of the hustle to get something like this made and having it look as good, and as polished, as it does.

An Engineer Imagines

I am here to learn, and director Marcus Robinson will be our professor.

A cinematic homage to Peter Rice, one of the most distinguished engineers of the late 20th century. Tracing Rice’s extraordinary life and career, from his Dundalk childhood to his work on the Sydney Opera House,The Pompidou Centre and the Lloyd’s Building, to his untimely death in 1992, Marcus Robinson uses stunning time-lapse photography and revealing interviews to tell the story of a genius who stood in the shadow of architectural icons. Until now.

It’s movies like How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?, Objectified, and others of its kind that help make what would be an otherwise dry subject come to life. This also seems like an utterly fascinating exploration into the intersection of engineering, sustainability, art, purpose, and so many other disciplines that go into creating a building. A building that says something means something to the person who designed it.

Slay the Dragon

Remember what a s-show Wisconsin was this week as people attempted to vote? Directors Chris Durrance and Barak Goodman have something to show about how we got to that point.

A secretive, high-tech gerrymandering initiative launched 10 years ago threatens to undermine our democracy. SLAY THE DRAGON follows everyday people as they fight to make their votes matter.

I’m not attempting to go one way or the other on who to blame for the current state of issues that surround gerrymandering, but, on the whole, the subject should concern anyone who has the right to vote. It may not be the next hot thing people will be tweeting about, or making memes of, but the trailer solidly makes the case as to why its content is vitally relevant at this moment.

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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