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 evade the authorities, tell some jokes, get short, see the only thing redeeming about a cruise at the moment, and learn how to be a proper lady.

The Uncertain Kingdom

Short attention span this week? This is just the ticket.

Climate change, migration, disability, homelessness and sexuality are just some of the subjects explored in The Uncertain Kingdom, a ground-breaking anthology of twenty short films from twenty directors that together offer a unique snapshot of the UK in 2020. From comedies and dramas, through documentaries and experimental pieces, made by a mix of established names and new talent, the collection reflects the state of our nation as seen by the twenty filmmaking teams behind them.

Any casual fan of this column knows about my particular penchant for short films. I’m obviously a fan of trailers and that spills over into things like this. Like any short story collection, you will see stories that astound, that pull you in close, that make you feel something, all coming from differing angles. To see something like this made with 20 different directors there’s bound to be some gems in here, and I’m here for it all.

Same Boat

As far as feature-length debuts go, director Chris Roberti is bringing something deliciously strange to this party.

A time traveling assassin inadvertently falls in love with his target aboard a cruise ship.

I am not sure what muse planted this seed into his head, but this trailer and this premise is just bananas. I find the story to be absurd in the best way possible and am tickled by the moments that are shared with us. Sure, it’s high concept, but that’s exactly what I am needing in my life to escape this reality we’re all currently trapped inside of. Plus, they apparently shot it in secret on the cruise ship, so that’s an achievement in itself.

How to be a Good Wife

Director Martin Provost, who directed the award-winning, 2008’s Seraphine, is not known for his comedic sensibilities, but this looks like pure fun.

It’s 1967. The immaculate and morally upright Paulette Van Der Beck and her husband Robert have been running Van der Beck’s School of Housekeeping and Good Manners in the lush regions of Alsace for over two decades…Their mission: to train teenagers to become perfect housewives, in times when women were expected to be largely subservient.

After an accident turns clockwork order into chaos, Paulette discovers that the school is on the verge of financial ruin. Forced to assume executive responsibilities, she is flustered even more by an encounter with her long-lost first love, André, who becomes relentless in his desire to rekindle their romance.

There’s a ton more that this film’s synopsis wants to tell me is going on here, but I’ll have none of it. I see Juliette Binoche having the time of her life (looking positively radiant, I might add), and I am latching onto that energy. It’s cheeky, it’s light as a madeleine straight from the oven, and I am a fan of the journey that’s being promised in this trailer.

True History of the Kelly Gang

Director Justin Kurzel is making up for lost time.

Legendary outlaw Ned Kelly (George MacKay) leads a band of rebel warriors to wreak havoc on their oppressors in this gritty and veracious western thriller from Assassin’s Creed director Justin Kurzel.

Those who saw 2018’s Assassin’s Creed would have liked to get their money back based on what they paid for, but, I would argue, this looks to be better investment of your time. There are a lot of moving parts here but, because they base this on a book, there seems to be a little more weight to the narrative. I understand nothing that’s happening here, but it has whetted my visual appetite for sure.

It Started As A Joke starring Eugene Mirman

Directors Julie Smith Clem & Ken Druckerman managed to have me interested in something I knew absolutely nothing about before watching the trailer.

It Started as a Joke is a feature documentary that chronicles the decade-long run of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival – including a final farewell show. The film celebrates Eugene’s unique brand of humor and his role in the alternative comedy movement, offers a bittersweet goodbye to an era, and reminds us of the healing properties of comedy – even in the most challenging of life’s circumstances. The film includes interviews with MICHAEL IAN BLACK, KRISTEN SCHAAL, WYATT CENAC, IRA GLASS, JOHN HODGMAN, KUMAIL NANJIANI, REGGIE WATTS and MICHAEL SHOWALTER, along with performances by JANEANE GAROFALO, JIM GAFFIGAN, JON GLASER, MIKE BIRBIGLIA, BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT and more.

The veritable who’s who of comedians on this list is impressive enough, but the blend of comedy and real-life drama makes this an even more compelling story. I was unfamiliar with what Mirman’s comedy festival was all about, but as a document for this festival’s swan song, I’m intrigued to listen to how this all began and, thus, ends.

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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