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 catch up with Olivia Wilde, take a trip to the farm, kidnap a bride-to-be, spend some time with drag queens and evangelical Christians, and fight our way to a better life.

The Biggest Little Farm

Director John Chester is here to tell a story. It’s not an exciting one, a riveting one, but it looks fascinating and heartwarming in the best possible way. Here’s the synopsis:

The film chronicles [a couple’s] near decade-long attempt to create the utopia they seek, planting 10,000 orchard trees, hundreds of crops, and bringing in animals of every kind– including an unforgettable pig named Emma and her best friend, Greasy the rooster. When the farm’s ecosystem finally begins to reawaken, their plan to create perfect harmony takes a series of wild turns, and to survive they realize they’ll have to reach a far greater understanding of the intricacies and wisdom of nature, and of life itself.

The trailer paints a movie that looks like it’s a slow burn. There’s nothing particularly incendiary about what we’re going to watch, but that’s precisely its charm. We meander gently through this story about a couple of jamokes creating a farm, but this trailer is tightly edited and is big on charm.

The Wedding Guest

It’s great to see director Michael Winterbottom back at it. Here we’ve got Dev Patel playing the part of the heavy as he kidnaps a bride-to-be. The trailer is mysterious but immediately draws you into its world. There’s an element of danger, and by the time it gets to the mid-way point you think it’s going one way when it zags to the right. The story is more profound than it lets on and, delightfully, the ending is spoiled by a too-revealing trailer. The mystery of it all is tantalizing, and we’re left wanting more.

The Gospel of Eureka

Don’t let the thumbnail fool you. Directors Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher have crafted something special. I mean, how could you not be intrigued by this one sentence description:

Love, faith and civil rights collide in Eureka Springs, Ark. as evangelical Christians and drag queens step into the spotlight to dismantle stereotypes.

Entering this world, the trailer has a lot of heavy lifting to do, and it does it seamlessly. The way it gently glides in pull-quotes from notable critics, the small moments we are provided that at first seem out of place but help to build the narrative, it’s a pure delight. There’s joy peeking through this trailer, and hopefully, you’re open to it all.

A Vigilante

A debut feature by Sarah Daggar-Nickson, this story might seem like an also-ran of 2002’s Enough starring Jennifer Lopez with its focus on domestic abuse but this is a strong first showing. The trailer is exceptionally taut as it focuses heavily on mood and emotion. There’s a heavy mood here, and it never once relents. There is no levity and certainly knowing this is about violence perpetrated against women there is an honesty to what a story like this ought to be. This hits DIRECTV on February 28 before opening in theaters on March 29.

Donnybrook

Well. Director Tim Sutton is not messing around with this story, and he comes out swinging. The trailer brims with attitude and realism while providing an exceptional vehicle for someone like Frank Grillo.

Three desperate souls must fight their way out of a dead-end world in this bracing, gut-punching glimpse into America’s dark underbelly. Earl (Jamie Bell) is a struggling ex-marine and father determined to make a better life for his family—no matter what it takes. Angus (Frank Grillo) is a violent, unhinged drug dealer who leaves a trail of death and destruction in his wake. And Delia (Margaret Qualley) is a haunted woman who will do anything to escape a life of crime she can no longer bear. In their kill-or-be-killed world, all roads lead to the Donnybrook: an illicit backwoods cage match where bare-knuckled fighters brawl for a shot at a $100,000 prize. It’s either a last-ditch chance at redemption—or a death sentence. Blending unflinching brutality with dreamlike lyricism, director Tim Sutton conjures a mesmerizing, visceral vision of life on the extreme margins.

Grillo and Bell together look like a compelling duo and the violence that is expressed and the seediness of everything we see that they’re up to is all just window dressing on an inviting story. Quietly, this could be a great sleeper.

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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