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 welcome a crotchety Sam Neill into our lives, get lit, get high, and follow the trajectory of a literary superstar.

Rams

Director Jeremy Sims is remaking and softening up an already solid movie.

In remote Western Australia, two estranged brothers, Colin (Sam Neill) and Les (Michael Caton), are at war. Raising separate flocks of sheep descended from their family’s prized bloodline, the two men work side by side yet are worlds apart. When Les’s prize ram is diagnosed with a rare and lethal illness, authorities order a purge of every sheep in the valley. While Colin attempts to stealthily outwit the powers that be, Les opts for angry defiance. But can the warring brothers set aside their differences and have a chance to reunite their family, save their herd, and bring their community back together?

Just over five years ago I talked about the trailer for the first iteration of Rams. The style enamored me, and the pull-quotes that said it was “wry”, “dry”, and “deadpan” just made me want to see it more. If there was anyone who could help bring exactly that kind of adjective-fest to a remake, I can easily see how Sam Neill was/is the perfect man for the role. I fully realize watching this trailer that this movie is a bit of a softball. The direction isn’t as interesting as the original, the mood isn’t as dramatic either, but I’m betting on Neill. It looks like he could elevate what’s here into something worth watching and appreciating.

Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry

Director R.J. Cutler knows his audience.

An intimate look at the singer-songwriter’s journey, navigating life on the road, on stage, and at home, while creating her debut album.

I will forever let R.J. Cutler into my life and home because of his work on the seminal series, American High. His direction on The September Issue elevated his already insightful talent for teasing out the right details at the right moment. But his ability to grok the teenage experience and put it to tape, all the while making it interesting viewing, was even more impressive. So hopefully he’s found an equally fascinating angle with a worldwide superstar who has captured tens of thousands’ teenage hearts and minds. The trailer is a solid one and appears to avoid the trappings of this being some kind of press kit for someone whose story is already an interesting case study in fame.

Balloon Man

Director Chantal Potter documents an American original.

The rubber met the road in the early 1970s for Bill Costen. After being drafted by the Buffalo Bills, tragedy forces him out of his dream. Saying goodbye to a career on the turf, Bill takes to the air, becoming the first African American Hot-Air Balloon Master Pilot in the world. Balloon Man is an intimate portrait of a former NFL athlete who learned how to navigate through the clouds, told through the lens of his daughter, award-winning filmmaker, Chantal Potter. Bill found freedom in flying, proving that with a bit of faith, the sky’s the limit.

I’ll admit that just reading the film’s description doesn’t immediately elicit feelings of want. You aren’t exactly going to put this on your radar for a movie you have to see as soon as it drops. However, this seems like one of those small films that will make you feel good inside. Much like The Biggest Little Farm, the stakes are only high to the people it’s happening to. It’s just a little movie that seems like it has a big heart. And, at the moment, I’ll take that.

The Capote Tapes

Director Ebs Burnough is giving us a biopic.

Using the tapes, animation, and new on-camera interviews with people who knew him, the film explores the impact of Capote’s explosive unfinished novel “Answered Prayers.”

Narrator George Plimpton may be one of the best-picked voices you could have in exploring a literary sensation like Capote. While I somehow completely avoided Capote’s writings in the 45 years I’ve been on this planet I still know he cast a very wide net. This trailer has everything a passerby would want to know about the man who was true celebrity of the written word when there were still such idols. It’s not for everyone, but for those who want to take the ride, this looks like it will be worth the trip.

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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