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 let the Ted in Bill & Ted explain blockchain, expose the youths to some fabulous animation, get a little freaky with our art, get our male synchronized swimming on, and get excited about a film festival.
Director Alex Winter is on top of all this. His documentaries Downloaded and Deep Web show that he not only has a handle on the world of technology but that he can articulate some of the more complex issues with directorial elegance. This brings us to his latest foray into breaking down one of the most overused concepts and word in 2018: Blockchain. Specifically, here’s what the documentary is about:
[Narrated by Rosario Dawson], Alex Winter drills down on blockchain, the decentralized technology that supports cryptocurrencies. Why are banks terrified while UNICEF Ventures embraces it to help refugee children? Winter follows tech innovators striking a raw nerve as banks and network pundits rush to condemn volatile cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. British hacktivist Lauri Love fights extradition—his computer skills perceived a threat to the US government. Through the film, Winter reveals that the proponents of the blockchain—a verified digital ledger—are already using the technology to change the world; fighting income inequality, the refugee crisis and world hunger.
Winter has a keen understanding for tech, and he has become proficient in being able to translate that to the small screen. The trailer introduces us into this world while setting up what’s at stake for everyone involved. I’m still not sure how the technology is supposed to liberate the human race, but it’s documentaries like these that will at least make me better informed.
Meow Wolf: Origin Story
There is a quote that comes in around the middle of the trailer for director Morgan Capps and Jilann Spitzmiller’s latest documentary that talks about how the film is an inspiration for artists everywhere. After watching this trailer, you’ll understand why. While the subject matter is about this one collective, it seems more about the broader experience of artistic creation. I’m intrigued by its creativity and its uniqueness, but I’m even more interested in how this narrative somehow drags George R.R. Martin into it all. The process through which artists create co-mingled with a world that doesn’t necessarily reward that creativity is a unique one. To see how this all begins, and then flourishes, looks bananas.
Sink or Swim
I am not sure what director Gilles Lellouche was thinking as he was putting this together, but we do have a controversy here. Much like the films Armageddon and Deep Impact or Volcano and Dante’s Peak, this year has two films starring men who start synchronized swimming teams. I’ll be goshdarned, though, if this doesn’t look like one of the better feel-good movies I could see this year. The trailer is rock solid. We establish who everyone is, what their personality quirk is all about, and then get down to the funny. Yes, it’s broad and slapstick-y, but I love it all.
Super Drags (NSFW)
The synopsis is what sold me immediately:
Three gay co-workers at a department store lead double lives as superhero drag queens, fighting crime and other forces like an evil queen and a conservative politician.
I wasn’t expecting much, but this trailer is pretty much the best laugh I had all week. The characters are out there, the premise is just bizarre, but the overall energy of this trailer cannot be denied. It hearkens back to the kind of animation you would see at the Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation eons ago, but a lot less grainy. I’m not sure how much of what you see here is representative of the overall show, but as long as it’s 1/10th of what’s promised in this promo, I am all in. And, for what it’s worth, the final third of this thing is just off-the-wall fantastic.
The London Korean Film Festival
One of the issues with film festivals is the amount of choice. Some fests sell themselves (Sundance, for exmaple), but others take a little more coaxing. And for those festivals where it’s a bit more nebulous about whether or not you would want to attend them, it’s a sticky wicket. You have so many choices, so many diverse narratives, and it can almost be too overwhelming to assess. This is where the indomitable talents of the folks at Intermission Film step in.
It makes complete sense that if you have an event where you have so many different tones and stories happening at the same time that you ought to have a hive mind that can create a throughline through them all. The trailer here deliciously tees up the promise for so many positive experiences in a theater. Instead of inferring things from a static website or trying to decipher an ad developed by a jamoke who doesn’t know any better, this trailer is indicative of what means to appreciate movies and the power they possess.
It’s those small moments, those quirks and nuances of snippets that provide no context, that make this trailer more like a love letter than a sales tool.
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:
- The Little Drummer Girl Trailer – Ease up on the smoky attitudes
- Black Monday Trailer – Lots of swearing and I’m digging it
- The Prodigy Trailer – Cheap jump scare tactics
- Homecoming Trailer – Yes, please
- Ralph Breaks the Internet Trailer – Let him break it if this is the result
- The Passage Trailer – Skip it
- Mary Poppins Returns Trailer – Return to sender
- Tidelands Trailer – Soap opera-y
- The Holiday Calendar and All the Creatures Were Stirring Trailer – Bah humbug to both
- Bird Box Trailer – Absolutely, positively looking forward to this one
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Trailer – Charming
- Cold Pursuit Trailer – Phenomenally well-done trailer
- Outlaw King Trailer – Not sure I’m down with the cause
- How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Trailer – Should appeal to the young ‘uns
- The Front Runner Trailer – Solid trailer
- Vox Lux Trailer – I am needing this to be as good as the trailer
- Queen America Trailer – 3rd runner-up, that’s the best I can do