Green Band Trailer

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 revisit the 2018 midterms, understand why we’re dying younger, give in to an incredible vision, and dissect a crime that took down a president.

The Brink

Alison Klayman, who directed the documentaryAi Weiwei: Never Sorry, has turned her attention to the American midterms of 2018. Specifically, she follows Steve Bannon, notorious for attempting to spread his own version of nationalism, his own version of what America should be.

The Brink follows Bannon through the 2018 mid-term elections in the United States, shedding light on his efforts to mobilize and unify far-right parties in order to win seats in the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections. To maintain his power and influence, the former Goldman Sachs banker and media investor reinvents himself — as he has many times before — this time as the self-appointed leader of a global populist movement. Keen manipulator of the press and gifted self-promoter, Bannon continues to draw headlines and protests wherever he goes, feeding the powerful myth on which his survival relies.

Manipulator, provocateur, the vile result of a Trump ascendancy, this is the kind of platform you hope is the proverbial light that needs to shine on the dark recesses of America’s troubled embrace of an administration like Trump’s. Be that as it may, the trailer is sobering and pulls you directly into its orbit with what it’s going to examine and how it’s going about it.

One Nation Under Stress

Does stress correlate with higher mortality rates? Is stress really to blame for this? Director Marc Levin, along with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is out to try and explain. These are all valid questions, and documentaries like this can be used to effectively isolate a moment in time to reflect on current topics as they relate to the world at a certain point in time. Movies like An Inconvenient Truth are an excellent analog to what we see playing out here, so file this under required viewing for anyone wanting to know more about what modern society is doing to our collective health.

Watergate

Charles Ferguson, winner of the 2010 Academy Award for his incredible documentary Inside Job, is back to take aim at Richard Nixon. And it’s no quick story, either. At 260 minutes, this one is going to go deep.

From Academy Award® -winning director Charles Ferguson, comes the full story of the conspiracy led by President Richard Nixon and his White House staff and how they were brought to justice. New interviews with journalists, senior Nixon administration officials, members of congress, and prosecutors – combined with archival footage and newly sourced information from the Nixon White House tapes – will bring a fresh perspective on the complex Watergate case.

By now you would have figured there is nothing more you can say or write about this event in American history, but this trailer makes you believe there is more to see on how things unfolded. From the Watergate tapes to interviews with those who were around when things started imploding, this is the kind of history that makes for great storytelling if you have the right person at the helm. Ferguson is just the person you want telling this kind of tale.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night

I will admit not knowing anything about filmmaker Gan Bi, but this trailer is amazing.

Bi Gan follows up his knockout debut, Kaili Blues, with this noir-tinged stunner about a lost soul (Jue Huang) on a quest to find a missing woman from his past (Wei Tang, Lust, Caution). Following leads across Guizhou province, he crosses paths with a series of colorful characters, among them a prickly hairdresser played by Taiwanese superstar Sylvia Chang. When the search leads him to a dingy movie theater, the film launches into an hour-long, gravity-defying 3D sequence shot that plunges its protagonist—and us—into a labyrinthine cityscape.

It’s being heralded as China’s most significant arthouse success of all time, and it’s easy to see why that might be the case. The trailer is sleek, wastes no one’s time getting right into things, and leaves just enough to our imagination about what’s happening that it’s a glorious achievement. To be sure, this went from zero interest to the top of the list of movies I must see in a matter of tw0-minutes, seventeen seconds. Does the world need more one-take films? If they look like this, yes, yes we do.

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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