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 hang with the pinochle crowd, lose our minds to a virus, remember what it was like to discover the internet for the first time, solve a mystery down south, and bring peace to the Middle East.

Some Kind of Heaven

Director Lance Oppenheim is heading to the ground zero of retirement villages.

Behind the gates of a palm tree-lined fantasyland, four residents of America’s largest retirement community, The Villages, FL, strive to find solace and meaning.

Deciding to insulate yourself from the rest of the world with people older than 55 doesn’t seem like a great life move, but these places fascinate me. Master-planned retirement communities offer a window into a world many of us don’t see unless ma and pa or grammy and grampy are of a certain age. What intrigues me even more is that this is coming to us by way of executive producer Darren Arnonofsky. Whatever piqued his interest, I don’t know, but from a sociological point of view, this looks amazing.

Little Fish

Director Chad Hartigan is taking us on a familiar feeling ride.

As a memory loss virus runs rampant, one couple fights to hold their relationship together before the disease can erase all memory of their love in this sweeping sci-fi romance.

This sort of feels like a quasi-Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in reverse. I’ll admit, I was ready to bail on this just moments after starting the trailer, but it got better. In fact, it got good enough for me to ride this all the way to the end, and I think there’s some promise here. It’s got a lofty, high concept of a premise, but there appear to be glimmers of true heart and pathos. As far as VOD options go these days, this is at least looks like a viable option.

Sing Me A Song

Way back in 2009 we talked about director Thomas Balmés’s documentary Babies, and now we’re talking about a different kind of awakening.

As the Internet finally arrives in tiny Bhutan, documentarian Thomas Balmès is there to witness its transformative impact on a young Buddhist monk whose initial trepidation gives way to profound engagement with the technology.

It’s interesting that the people who cut this aren’t really giving up any insight into this movie’s narrative. It’s ambiguous and a slow burn, I’ll say it’s an interesting strategy to employ, but it is a great trailer. It looks and feels cinematic in ways you wouldn’t normally ascribe to documentaries about individuals, but knowing this is about the effects of the internet with a population who have never had it, I’m tickled by the premise.

The Human Factor

Academy Award-nominated director Dror Moreh is trying to make Middle East peace negotiations look exciting.

From the Oscar®-nominated director of The Gatekeepers comes the untold, behind-the-scenes story of the United States’ 30-year effort to secure peace in the Middle East, told from the perspective of the American negotiators.

You’re either in or you’re out when it comes to material like this. The Middle East peace process is almost an antiquated joke at this point because of how long people have been in and out of office thinking they could be the ones to do it. I’ll admit that I’m still opaque on exactly what’s at issue and whether a long-lasting peace could ever, or will ever, happen. Still, a documentary like this that hopefully will explain it all, and do so in a tidy sum of time, appeals to my desire to learn more about the world I live in.

Alabama Snake

Director Theo Love is jumping on the ripped-from-the-headlines train.

Alabama Snake explores the story of Oct. 4, 1991, when a violent crime was reported in the town of Scottsboro, Alabama. Glenn Summerford, a Pentecostal minister, was accused of attempting to murder his wife with a rattlesnake. The details of the investigation and the trial that followed have “haunted Southern Appalachia for decades.” Alabama Snake features local historian and folklorist, Thomas Burton, who has spent his life studying the culture, beliefs, and folklore of Pentecostal snake handlers, painting a “Southern Gothic portrait” of Summerford and his tale of demon possession.

Haunting and intriguing, we have yet another true-crime installment for all those wanting more whodunit in their lives. Yes, there are so many of these kinds of stories being made and pushed out there but, like comic book movies, as long as you’re keeping my interest, I don’t care about quantity? The trailer sets the table ever so perfectly, and without giving up the ghost, it wonderfully sets up the premise while withholding all the tantalizing details.

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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