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 test the bonds of friendship, test the bonds of family, try to scam our way to the top, and reflect once more on how France has contributed to cinema.

The Climb

Director Michael Angelo Covino had a short so good he made it into a feature-length film.

Kyle and Mike are best friends who share a close bond – until Mike sleeps with Kyle’s fiancée. The Climb is about a tumultuous but enduring relationship between two men across many years of laughter, heartbreak and rage. It is also the story of real-life best friends who turn their profound connection into a rich, humane and frequently uproarious film about the boundaries (or lack thereof) in all close friendships.

The sheet rawness of this trailer makes it a charmer. The loving pull-quotes absolutely bolster its case for why you should at least consider seeing it, but it’s really the entire trailer that glistens with charm. Opening right away with the narrative bombshell that propels everything else onward is a masterstroke. There are complex issues being worked out here in-between some wonderfully black, comedic moments. A must-see for me, for sure.

The Truth

If you’re Hirokazu Koreeda and want to follow up the gem that is Shoplifters, getting Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche, and Ethan Hawke all together in a room is a fantastic place to start.

Legends of French cinema Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche join masterful filmmaker Hirokazu Koreeda (Shoplifters, Still Walking) to paint a moving portrait of family dynamics in THE TRUTH. Fabienne (Catherine Deneuve) is an aging French movie star who, despite her momentary lapses in memory, remains a venerable force to be reckoned with. Upon the publication of her memoirs, her daughter Lumir (Juliette Binoche) returns to Paris from New York with her husband (Ethan Hawke) and their young daughter to commemorate its release. A sharp and funny battle of wits ensues between the mother-daughter duo, as Lumir takes issue with Fabienne’s rose-colored version of the past. Reflected cleverly by Fabienne’s latest role in a sci-fi drama, their strained relationship takes a poignant journey toward possible reconciliation.

The narrative is gnarly for sure. There are issues surrounding a stubborn matriarch along with the daughter who lives in her shadow. You have a husband and wife navigating the prickly relationship that this mom and daughter share along with how it impacts the relationship with their daughter. There are some recriminations from the past, some glimpses they’re getting through it, some indications they may not. But, overall, this looks like a satisfying next entry from Koreeda.

Jamtara

I got whiffs of Narcos just watching this.

A story based on true events around the phishing scams that take place in the city of Jamtara, Jharkhand. A group of young men scam people across the country over simple phone calls. You may not know them but they most definitely have your number already. You’re just one phone call away from losing your life savings.

This trailer won me over by the premise, but I stayed after it delved into more nuanced themes this show will tackle. You have kingpins, illicit goings-on, backdoor dealings, and a hint that there will be a lot of bodies stacked up by the end of it all. Sometimes you just want something that’s different from everything else that’s on TV and this could be a winner.

Journeys Through French Cinema

Director Bertrand Tavernier is back to do another lap after his wildly reviewed documentary My Journey Through French Cinema debuted almost three years ago.

The eight-part series includes two episodes on Tavernier’s favorite directors, an episode on musicals by Julien Duvivier; two episodes on French cinema before, during and immediately after the German Occupation, two episodes on forgotten French directors, and one episode entitled “My 1960s”.

The series includes material that Tavernier was unable to put in the film, including sections about Tati, Bresson, Pagnol, Ditri, Clouzeau, foreigners working in the French cinema etc. and forgotten directors – such as Raymond Bernard, Maurice Turner, Anatole Litvak, and many women directors who are less well-known.

Honestly, this looks more like a college class in French cinema more than anything else. And that’s not a knock, by any means. In fact, I would say between this and his documentary from a few years ago you could see that as a nice primer into what made France such a heavyweight in film production through the decades. Keeping in mind this is also an eight-part series, you will have more than enough history to chew on the deeper you go with this.

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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