This Week in 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 walk the grocery aisles in search of something visually delicious, tell a story as if our life depended on it, heat up the earth a bit, get snowed in, and have Will Smith talk about issues plaguing America.

My Darling Supermarket

Director Tali Yankelevich’s debut looks amazing.

This documentary follows the day to day of employees who are just cogs in the wheel of a large supermarket store. As their journey subverts the mundane, we learn their pains and joys, their unlikely dreams and most profound existential questionings.

In the midst of executing extremely repetitive tasks, workers of a supermarket find space to express their doubts and affections, their fears and unlikely dreams. Humor, drama, mystery, romance and quantum physics coexist alongside milk cartons, meat cuts, bar codes and security cameras. Steeped in the confined space of a supermarket, these workers don’t allow their routine to hijack their spirit.

As someone who spent nearly a decade in a supermarket, this trailer speaks directly to my soul. Anyone who has ever worked in an hourly environment with enough people knows that the microcosm that develops within those four walls can be incredibly diverse. Drama, intrigue, boredom, shenanigans, there’s all that, and this trailer captures how the mundane can be insanely addictive to some. Somehow, someway, documentaries like this are riveting and the trailer delivers by balancing, visually, the monotony and ecstasy of being a $10/hour plebe.

The Head

Stick inside with nohwere to go? This should satisfy.

A small team remains at the Polaris VI International Research Station during the winter months. When the base loses communications with the outside world, a group led by Johan, the summer commander, returns to investigate. They find most of the crew to be dead, only two remaining survivors, and realize Johan’s wife is missing. Only the two survivors can shed light on the crimes, but they are also the main suspects telling contradictory recounts.

I don’t care how many other properties this is ripping off, I need this to be as good as the trailer. And, as far as trailers go, it’s OK. Like, the story, the setup, it’s so derivative, but if they can put just a little tweak on the formula I will tune in for this. Much like the little-seen series Dead Set I’d be tickled if it just felt like watching a comic book. It appears to have been shot well, has an interesting premise, promises some solid jump scares, and, as long as it embraces what it is, this should be a great diversion.

Night of the Kings

Director Philippe Lacôte wants to tell us a story.

A young man is sent to “La Maca,” a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named “Zama King” and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn.

The hard truth of it is that I wouldn’t have stopped on this trailer if I didn’t see Neon attached to it as the film’s distributor. However, that would have been a shame if I did because this trailer pulls you right into its orbit as soon as you enter it. There’s something mysterious and curious happening as we learn why we’re all gathered here. It’s not just some prison movie. It transcends that. It becomes something of a sweeping epic. It’s almost as if “1,001 Nights” came to life. While we get to know very little, the impact made by the glimpses we see of its story help to humanize what might seem like discordant tone shifts between yesteryear and today, violence and love, pain and release. It’s amazingly well-edited and makes a perfect pitch why this should be on your radar.

Amend: The Fight For America

Will Smith is here to deliver a civics lesson.

When the United States of America was founded, the ideals of freedom and equality did not apply to all people. These are the stories of the brave Americans who fought to right the nation’s wrongs and enshrine the values we hold most dear into the Constitution — with liberty and justice for all.

I like these kinds of programs. The issues that America is currently facing needs some context of how we got here and what has allowed the seedy underbelly of the citizenry to feel emboldened by what they’re doing. White supremacy is a good starting point for all of this but, when you look at how other groups of marginalized citizens have been attacked, we need a step back to see what we might be able to do to make it better. The trailer is comprehensive in its scope about what it looks like it’s going to talk about, while also making it clear the topic is going to very accessible. I don’t think it’s going to be Ken Burns-level deep in its examination of a meaty topic like this but, every little bit helps.

Meltdown

Director Fredric Golding is doing his part for the environment.

MELTDOWN presents an extraordinary convergence of art & science, as we see two fascinating perspectives on the world’s most pressing issue of Climate Change. The film features acclaimed photographer Lynn Davis, who has earned global recognition with her spectacular collection of photos of icebergs off the coast of Greenland; and Tony Leiserowitz, the Director of Yale’s Climate Change Communication Project. MELTDOWN follows Lynn and Tony to the tiny, picturesque town of Illulisat, Greenland, which is “Ground Zero” for the climate crisis facing the world. There they discuss how beauty and tragedy share the stage, and each enlightens the other on ways to appreciate the wonders of the world while addressing the issues of how to help solve global crises.

It’s a small, intimate conversation set on a large canvas, showing how art and science can co-exist.

What is rather novel about this approach to a tale discussing global warming is that it’s not preachy. It’s not that you have this climate change scientist and this photographer just having a quaint conversation, it’s just a little more intimate. I’m dialed into what I’m seeing through the eyes of an artist and through a scientist and having that balance be the jumping-off point about how this one singular place represents a larger issue in totality. It’s the iceberg’s own death rattle, the sound it makes, and how thunderous it is when one breaks off, where this trailer sells it. It’s a small movie, to be sure, but it’s certainly timely.

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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