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 to know Depeche Mode, find out why Terrence Malick is interested in the life and times of Lil Peep, chew on what it means to be artistic, talk about the fossil record, and be OK with just being OK.

SPIRITS in the Forest

Director Anton Corbijn may be known in some circles as a solid feature-length director, but to me, his wheelhouse is music videos. From Henry Rollins’ “Liar” to U2’s “One” the man understands the medium better than most. This concert documentary is a pastiche of both mediums, and I am here for it all.

The brand new feature-length film, directed by award-winning filmmaker and long-time artistic collaborator Anton Corbijn, Depeche Mode: SPIRITS in the Forest, delves deeply into the emotional stories of six special Depeche Mode fans from across the globe, giving audiences a unique look into music’s incredible power to connect and empower people. Along with these key fan stories, the film integrates performance footage from the two final shows of the band’s 2017/2018 Global Spirit Tour, which saw them play to over 3 million fans at 115 performance dates around the world.

I’m not the target demo for this band (I was more a Weird Al kid), but this trailer is fascinating in how it frames the narrative. It’s just the band cranking out their hits and B-sides, it’s a more intimate look at some of their fanbase. If you can empathize at all about what it’s like to be a fan of a band, you’ll get what they’re selling. And to those Gen X’ers who had a CD or cassette of Violator in heavy rotation, this looks like satisfying nostalgia.

Everybody’s Everything

Directors Sebastian Jones and Ramez Silyan are taking a posthumous look at musician Lil Peep, and I am wildly curious about why this was executive produced by Terrence Malick.

Creating a unique mix of punk, emo and trap, Lil Peep was set to bring a new musical genre to the mainstream when he died of a drug overdose at just 21 years old. From the streets of Los Angeles to studios in London and sold out tours in Russia, the artist born Gustav Ahr touched countless lives through his words, his sound and his very being.

For someone with this kind of talent, this is a story that is, unfortunately, told far too often. The trailer does some heavy lifting in explaining why he was an especially acute loss while also balancing the importance of why we’re even talking about the man years after his overdose. To see a star burn as hot as this is that much more upsetting when it burns out too quickly.

Serendipity

Director, subject, and artist Prune Nourry delves deep and exposes everything to take us on an all-too-frequent discussion about cancer in this new documentary.

Multi-disciplinary French artist Prune Nourry has gained international recognition for her thought-provoking, educational, and often humorous projects exploring bioethics through sculpture, video, photography, and performance. At the young age of 31, Prune is diagnosed with breast cancer. She starts documenting her treatment and its effect on her own body, turning her medical odyssey into a disarmingly intimate artistic undertaking that leads her to find new meaning in her work and its serendipitous relationship to her own survival.

It’s the frankness, the openness, giving shape to the shapeless wretchedness that is cancer. Most everyone has, unfortunately, been affected by someone who have been felled from cancer’s lethal arrow, but these are the kinds of stories that feel the most profound. These are honest, forthright, deeply personal accounts of what it’s like to not know if your body is strong enough to beat the odds. To make it into something artistic, naked in its admission like this, I’m moved.

Somewhere in the Middle

Hat tip to director Nathan Ives for verbalizing what is most frightening to anyone who wants to something with their art: Sometimes you have to be OK with just being OK.

A documentary about the lives of five working artists, who aren’t household names, but who are making a legitimate living through their art.

Any artist thnks they have something profound to communicate with the artistic route they’re on, but more often than not, they discover that’s not the case. But it’s what they do after that realization that matters. The trailer isn’t an indictment as much as it’s a welcomed embrace to say that it’s all right to experience that. Everything is going to be fine, even if you’re not selling out the EnormoDome. The irony is that this documentary is not going to be any kind of major release, but the message is profoundly reassuring. 

We Believe in Dinosaurs

Directors Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross are in a lose-lose situation with their latest film, but we reap the benefits of that. Here’s the synopsis:

We Believe in Dinosaurs follows the design and construction of a massive $120 million Noah’s Ark replica in rural Kentucky, telling the story of the unsettling and uniquely American conflict between science and religion.

Watching either side plead their case for what is essentially science versus faith is what makes this a compelling documentary. There is no way one will convert either, so watching a story that honestly presents two sides of creationism versus historical fact will be a lesson in how deep our convictions run.

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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