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 get religious with a look at Scientology, travel really far for a good time, see Donny Yen become the martial arts version of The Nutty Professor, watch a scandal unfold in Toronto, and have our hearts broken by a swindler.

Run This Town

I talked about Ricky Tollman’s latest a few weeks ago, but I’m at it again.

An emerging political scandal in Toronto in 2013 seen through the eyes of young staffers at city hall and a local newspaper.

The official trailer is here, and I’m digging this. There is a true indie quality about what we’re watching that makes this incredibly charming. We move with ease from one moment to the next while picking up clues as we get deeper into the narrative. I long for more of these kinds of movies, but for now, this will absolutely do.

Over the Rainbow

Slow golf clap for director Jeff Peixoto and his new documentary.

Imagine a film about the Catholic Church made in the third century or a portrait of the Amish premiering at the turn of the 18th. The Church of Scientology is in its infancy as a religion, and while it has aptly been subject to intense public scrutiny, few people have gained access to current members. Director Jeffrey Peixoto spent nearly a decade earning the trust of his subjects —both inactive and active members of the Church —and in his mesmeric and startling debut, he has transformed their testimony into a haunting meditation on humanity and its relationship with faith.

What starts out feeling like a strange dramatic movie, slowly reveals itself to be a documentary about Scientology. However, it’s unlike most documentaries in that there isn’t a hand guiding us along the way. Present members, past members, and those who have a point of view on the church make an otherwise mundane exploration of the religion into something compelling, though ultimately unsettling.

Enter the Fat Dragon

Director Kenji Tanigaki knows where my sweet spot is.

New best action-comedy movie from martial arts superstar Donnie Yen. A police officer’s suspect suffers a mysterious death; now he must team up with an undercover inspector and wok-wielding restaurant owner to solve the murder mystery.

Not gonna lie, I wasn’t sure what to expect here. Thankfully, this looks incredible. It’s funny, the wire work is on point, and, ultimately, there’s a silliness that I can get behind. If you’re in the mood for something light, this is exactly what you need.

Love Fraud

I was inches away from passing this up before I learned this was directed by Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady, the duo who gave us 2006’s documentary Jesus Camp:

The four-part docu-series follows the search for one man, Richard Scott Smith, who over the past 20 years used the internet and his dubious charms to prey upon unsuspecting women in search of love — conning them out of their money and dignity. Ewing and Grady capture the story as it unravels in real time as his victims band together to seek sweet revenge by turning to a bounty hunter when they feel the justice system has failed them. Love Fraud premieres on Showtime on Friday, May 8 at 9/8c.

I still can’t figure out why this kind of story warrants a four-part miniseries, but this looks like a riveting true-crime story if ever there was one. With intrigue, jilted lovers, and stolen money, this trailer hits all the right notes.

Enormous: The Gorge Story

This is a small documentary that perhaps not many people will see, but director Nic Davis has a heck of a story to tell.

Enormous: The Gorge Story carves out the never-before-told story of the world’s most iconic music venue ,The Gorge Amphitheatre. This music film investigates the venue’s unlikely evolution from a small winery created by a neurosurgeon to becoming one of the greatest outdoor music destinations in the world.

Never mind that this not about one band. And never mind that this is not a concert film. It’s a documentary about a location where bands play. While that doesn’t seem wildly entertaining, this is the perfect kind of movie that you could put on when you’re looking for a story about something interesting. Including stories of places, times in history, and how people were influenced by a moment, the trailer makes the best case possible about how this deserves your attention. It’s the quiet stories like this that sometimes can be remarkable.

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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