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 try to kick a drug habit with the help of rodents, think twice about stepping foot in a yoga class, watch gentrification in action, save the whales, and listen to the stories of single mothers.

Rat Park

Director Shawney Cohen is taking a unique angle when talking about the war on drugs. Specifically, he’s not focused on drugs so much as he is on studies surrounding addiction tendencies. As the title implies, it has to do with rats.

A forgotten experiment by a Canadian psychologist from the 1970’s called Rat Park shows us that drug addiction is not really about drugs themselves. It’s about the cages we live in.

I’m forever intrigued with any program that deals with social problems. I don’t know if there will ever be a universal “Ah-ha!” moment where there’s a solution that will solve everything. This area of study requires compassion, understanding, and faith that there is some way to break this cycle. The trailer displays all these elements, and it’s refreshing.

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator

Director Eva Orner, who shared an Oscar for 2007’s Taxi to the Dark Side with Alex Gibney, is here with something explosive.

Tracing from his rise in the 1970s to his disgrace in accusations of rape and sexual harassment in more recent years.

I wish I could say that I’m shocked that someone who built up a cult of personality around their persona ended up being a garbage human being. The stories from women and men in this trailer who fell into this man’s strong orbit, and how he flourished because of that power, is hard to watch but this kind of exploration is necessary and vital. Speaking truth to power at its best.

The Street

What I love about director Zed Nelson’s movie about gentrification is just how small scale it is. On the one hand, it’s very hyper-local, but it’s also representative of stories you could hear all over the world in relation to commercial progress and what it can do to an already established community.

As the glinting steel and mirror-glass skyscrapers of London’s financial hub edge ever closer, the area surrounding Hoxton Street has been transformed by ‘luxury’ redevelopments and sky-high property prices. This traditional East London street, less than a mile from the City of London, has become the last bastion of the areas disadvantaged – a concentration of the aged, poor and dispossessed. Following its inhabitants over a four-year period, Zed Nelson’s debut feature-length documentary charts the toxic collision of gentrification, austerity and the nation’s slide into Brexit.

This narrative resonates because it’s so common, worldwide. Whether it’s a parking lot, a new apartment building, or a new bougie eatery, progress will always win. However, these are the kinds of stories that make you stop, if for a moment, to think about the implications of that evolution.

Watson

Director Lesley Chilcott and the producer behind An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for Superman are here to talk about the ocean.

Co-founder of Greenpeace and founder of Sea Shepherd, Captain Paul Watson has spent 40 years fighting to end the destruction of the ocean’s wildlife and its habitat.

Standing up for what you believe is right is hard. Watson has shown himself to be an inveterate champion of the life within our oceans and stands up to those he feels are desecrating our oceans with their harmful activities. The man’s story is fascinating, and I’m intrigued to know what has kept him fueled for this cause for so long.

No Man’s Land

The lure to watch director Charlotte Muller’s short was in the word serene in the film’s description.

A serene short film about intentional single motherhood, in which three women on a train trip describe the process and share their thoughts in interior monologue.

What’s lost in so many debates or hot takes when discussing social issues is that many times they’re fueled by rage. It’s complaining and bickering, so it’s different to see an issue explored thoroughly and even serenely. It’s compelling viewing, and the fact that it’s a short makes it a little gem that should be hard to ignore.

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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