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 get a hankering for some encased meats, watch a journalist at the top of their craft, find the love of our life for the time being, hunt down some baddies who are up to no good in the sea, and fight for our right to get to know Rick Rubin a little better.

The Good, The Bad, The Hungry

Director Nicole Lucas Haimes brings us something delicious. In the quest to find out who is the true top duke of dogs, we have ourselves a little rivalry.

[The Good, The Bad, The Hungry] tells the eye and mouth-opening tale of Takeru Kobayashi, the native of Nagano, Japan, who won the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest six consecutive times, and Joey Chestnut, the Californian who emerged to dethrone the Japanese legend in 2007 and became the face of the sport.

It’s a story that at times is both outrageous and poignant, exploring the origins of the careers of Kobayashi and Chestnut, every bite of their head-to-head battles, as well as the no-holds-barred promotional efforts of Major League Eating, the organization that oversees the contest. It may well be a sport like no other – but as the film reveals, the competition, and how it changed the lives of these two men forever, was as real as anything you’ll ever see on a field of play.

This ranks right up there with what made King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters so electric. Low stakes, compelling narrative, it’s about as appetizing a Chicago dog with everything on it, and the trailer sells it all perfectly.

Animals

Australian director Sophie Hyde is delivering us a modern romance story that feels poignant and touching. Here’s the synopsis:

After a decade of partying, Laura and Tyler’s friendship is strained by Laura’s new love and her focus on her novel. A snapshot of a modern woman with competing desires, at once a celebration of female friendship and an examination of the choices we make when facing a crossroads.

Showcasing the lives of young women living their lives out loud, yet grounding the narrative in something honest, this feels as complex as any relationship unconstrained by the trappings of modern life. But it’s exuberant, and it walks that tightrope well.

Mike Wallace Is Here

Filmmaker Avi Belkin is here to showcase one of the legends of modern journalism in his latest film.

Deemed the “enemy of the people” by our current president, journalism in America is on the chopping block. Lies, fake news, propaganda, and verbal subterfuge threaten to cripple our First Amendment. This fascinating exposé of 60 Minutes’ fearsome newsman Mike Wallace turns his hard-hitting, no-holds-barred journalistic style loose on Wallace himself, who is considered by many to be the inventor of the form.

As riveting as it is topical, Mike Wallace Is Here mirrors its subject’s scrutinous gaze to better understand how we arrived at the precarious media tipping point menacing our democracy today.

It’s a tough putt with making people care about a relic like Wallace compared to the speeds of modern media, but Belkin makes it work. Showcasing exactly what made Wallace so lethal as an investigative journalist, the trailer rightly cherry-picks the more scintillating moments that made television news must-see-TV.

Shangri-La

20 Feet From Stardom and Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, director Morgan Neville is turning his attention to record producer Rick Rubin, and I’m here for it all. The trailer slowly simmers and doesn’t give up anything narratively, and I’m thankful for that. You could come out of the gate, all hot, but, no, we linger. The pressure to reveal anything substantial is almost too great by the time we get to the end. This is a four-part series where you get nothing but the hype, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Sea of Shadows

Following in the footsteps of The Cove, director Richard Ladkani wants to talk about something sinister brewing in the Sea of Cortez.

When Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez, their deadly methods threaten to destroy virtually all marine life in the region, including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth, the vaquita porpoise. SEA OF SHADOWS follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice.

These are the kinds of stories that, while seemingly benign to those who have never heard of the vaquita porpoise, show something truly heinous about mankind. Acting with impunity, it shows traffickers for what they are and for that these will always be compelling stories that need to be heard.

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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