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 muckrake for funsies, go back to war, trip the light fantastic with an indie sci-fi gem, go North of the border for a good laugh, and try to figure out exactly why again student athletes aren’t paid.

Scandalous

When it comes to documentaries about tabloids, director Mark Landsman couldn’t have picked a better one.

Sex! Gossip! Scandal! For over 60 years, the National Enquirer has pumped out salacious, shocking stories, stretching the limits of journalism and blurring the lines between truth and fiction. SCANDALOUS is the sensational true story of the most infamous tabloid in US history, a wild, probing look at how one newspaper’s prescient grasp of its’ readers darkest curiosities led it to massive profits and influence. From its coverage of Elvis’s death, to Monica Lewinsky and the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the National Enquirer rattled the foundations of American culture and politics, sometimes allegedly using payoffs and blackmail to get its scoops. With rare archival footage and revelations as wild as National Enquirer headlines themselves, SCANDALOUS examines our obsession with the rich, famous and powerful, and the tabloid that has fed those obsessions for generations of Americans.

Growing up, the National Enquirer was on my TV with their own brand of commercials. They were like 30-second spots to pitch that week’s headlines for the magazine you could pick up at the grocery store. It was like TMZ if it was boiled down to a 30-second tease.  The insatiability some people have for gossip about celebrities is remarkable. It’s been happening for decades, of course, but National Enquirer simply perfected the art of gathering it up for mass consumption. This is the kind of documentary you watch and most likely feel guilty afterword for having watched it but I’ll be darned if I’m not renting this the first chance I get. 

Blood Machines

Look, I don’t purport to know what director Seth Ickerman was thinking with this, but I’m glad he did.

Two space hunters are tracking down a machine trying to free itself. After taking it down, they witness a mystical phenomenon: the ghost of a young woman pulls itself out of the machine, as if the spaceship had a soul. Trying to understand the nature of this entity, they start chasing the woman through space…

This is just bananas and, thankfully, this little puppy hums with ingenuity. Rough around the visual edges, audacious effects, a slammin’ soundtrack, and a sumptuous visual palette is all I need to know this deserves a look. It’s getting tougher to find indies like this nowadays, so I’m glad this exists.

The Cave

You wouldn’t think there was anything more that director Feras Fayyad could have said in his last effort, Last Men in Aleppo, to raise awareness about what is happening in Syria, but that makes this is an wildly unwelcome sequel for obvious reasons.

Winner of the People’s Choice Award at Toronto Film Festival, Feras Fayyad’s companion piece to his Oscar-nominated ‘Last Men in Aleppo‘ follows a woman doctor in an underground hospital as she treats victims of the Syrian conflict.

The Syrian conflict, arguably, is a difficult topic to discuss in relation to the hellfire spewing forth from every crack and crevasse of American politics. That said, this is necessary. The trailer is stark in its presentation of how people navigate a war when even something like a hospital is a big ask for those in need. We don’t need the subtitles to know what is happening and who really are the casualties of this war. To see babies who don’t know better, people who try to comfort those in pain, and a doctor struggling to keep it all together is hard but, again, necessary. Heartbreakingly effective.

Letterkenny: Season 7

I’ve had it up to here with all the television I should watch, but I just can’t keep up. I haven’t watched a single BoJack Horseman, I have consumed nothing related to Breaking Bad or its related spinoff, and I just am not down yet to invest my life catching up with The Sopranos. That all being said, I just got Hulu and watched one episode of the Canadian comedy series Letterkenny and it has inexorably changed my life. Forget about the trailer Hulu cut; this is the real deal, the way you make a trailer, the way you rope some hapless dope like me in with your wicked wiles. I’m down with whatever the new season of this show is bringing.

24/7 College Football

When it comes to the issue of student athletes and whether or not they should be compensated, and they should, no other reality show would tickle me more than this. To look behind the curtain of those in their late teens/early adulthood navigating being a superstar on the field while tiptoeing around the fantasy this could be your lottery ticket to a better life? There just isn’t anything better, plus it’s coming from the network that perfected the genre with Hard Knocks. The only downside here is that it’s an extremely limited series, but it’s still gripping television.

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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