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 try to find a sense of community, drop in on the Brothers Gleeson, watch some teens overcoming adversity as a team on a small island, get ourselves tattooed, and make sure everyone gets home safe.

Our Towns

Directors Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan are trying to do something nice for the community.

From Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan, Our Towns is a documentary that paints a remarkable picture of America and how the rise of civic and economic reinvention is transforming small cities and towns across the country.

Based on journalists James and Deborah Fallows’ book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America, the film spotlights local initiatives and explores how a sense of community and common language of change can help people and towns find a different path to the future.

No one likes to be lectured, so this is the right way to talk about civic pride. With politics mired in the kind of awfulness where you can’t understand how anyone would want to be a public figure, finding ways to help your community without running for office is a pleasant change of pace. The trailer is not out to point fingers with how we got here, but it instead talks about ways some people are forging a path forward. It might be way too much positivity for some people, and I get that, but the trailer makes a soft sell about what it wants to communicate to you. As people slowly come out of their COVID caves, it’s good to see how we can improve our communities.

Frank of Ireland

I am ready for more comedy in my life.

Frank of Ireland is a physical and ridiculous brand of humor with an original twist. Brian Gleeson (Peaky Blinders, The Bisexual), stars as Frank Marron, a 32-year-old catastrophe; a misanthropic fantasist in arrested development who’s convinced that the world owes him. He’s also our hero. Frank is newly single and still lives at home with his mother, Mary (Pom Boyd). He’s a self-proclaimed musician with a tenuous hold on reality, and hasn’t written a song or played a gig in years. His ex-girlfriend Áine (Sarah Greene) has just found a new boyfriend, and Frank may be finding that a tad difficult. Luckily, Frank has a loyal best friend, Doofus, (Domhnall Gleeson) whose full-time job is clearing the debris left in Frank’s wake. Set in an idyllic suburb of Dublin, Frank of Ireland is the hilarious story of a man’s hapless search for respect, as he struggles to grow up and get his life together, and hopefully not burn everything to the ground in the process.

An interesting side note is this series is directed by MJ Delaney, the same person who directed two episodes of Ted Lasso. Whether or not that experience rubbed off on ol’ Delaney has yet to be seen but, from what I can tell from watching this trailer, I am more than open to giving this a chance. It’s silly and the trailer is less than dynamic, but I am getting some positive vibes here. It looks a little ribald (which is never a bad thing), appears to go for some big swings with its comedy, and, the coup de grâce, it stars the Gleeson brothers.

Alaskan Nets

Director Jeff Harasimowicz’s feature debut is speaking to me on a spiritual level.

Off the coast of Southeast Alaska lies an island – remote, largely hidden from the outside world and home to the Tsimshian natives of Alaska’s last remaining native reserve: Metlakatla. For more than a century, two sacred traditions have defined Metlakatla: fishing and basketball. Witness the improbable journey of cousins Danny Marsden and DJ King, fishermen and stars of the high school basketball team as they lead their team and town in search of their first state championship in more than thirty years – the only thing that will bring life back to an island that has been rocked by unimaginable tragedy.

Aside from the mere footnote that Chris Pratt is an executive producer, this feels like a pure vision. As remote and seemingly cut off from mainstream society these people are, their humanity shines right through the trailer. You’ve got teens being teens, you’ve got well-shot footage of land that is pure, and a narrative thread that’s not only interesting, it’s riveting. The stories of those who have to come up in adverse conditions are plentiful, but when you’re a part of a community whose subsistence and livelihood balance tradition and modernity, I can’t help but be swept up in the story.

The Man Who Sold His Skin

Director Kaouther Ben Hania is here with his Academy Award-nominated feature.

Sam Ali, a young sensitive and impulsive Syrian, left his country for Lebanon to escape the war. To be able to travel to Europe and live with the love of his life, he accepts to have his back tattooed by one of the World’s most sulfurous contemporary artist. Turning his own body into a prestigious piece of art, Sam will however come to realize that his decision might actually mean anything but freedom.

When you have something that’s as high concept as this, you’ve either got to execute on the idea fully or see it reduced to its nutty idea. Ben Hania looks to have done the former as, truly, the greatest selling point, that this has been nominated for an Acadamy Award, comes out swinging with this fact within the first 20 seconds. From there it’s just a neon-filled dreamscape of strangeness and intrigue, all the while catching glimpses of Monica Bellucci, the one actor readily identifiable to most viewers. It is just a nutty descent into something that I didn’t know I wanted until after this trailer was finished.

Drunk Bus

Directors John Carlucci and Brandon LaGanke are keeping things simple.

Michael (Charlie Tahan, OZARK) is a recent graduate whose post-college plan is derailed when his girlfriend leaves him for a job in New York City. When the bus service hires a security guard to watch over the night shift, Michael comes face to tattooed face with Pineapple, a 300-pound punk rock Samoan.

I really wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I clicked on the trailer, but, after it was done, I know I was smiling. There’s got to be a reason why this movie stands at a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The opening moments certainly don’t explain that fact and I nearly bailed after about 15 seconds. However, the deeper you go, the true heart of the movie begins to reveal itself and you can see glimpses of what others must have experienced. Charlie Tahan looks like he owns this role completely and he sells the narrative of this story with the little snippets that we’re given. This has all the potential of being an under-the-radar sleeper, and I’m smitten by its earnestness and silliness for sure.

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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