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Calm With Horses, Rocks, The Wild Goose Lake, Swallow, Beastie Boys Story – /Film

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 follow an ex-boxer turned enforcer, find out why “So What Cha Want” is my favorite Beastie Boys single, develop a nasty swallowing habit, protect the family at all costs, and then get B-movie silly with an import from China.

Calm With Horses

Director Nick Rowland is not messing around with his latest.

In darkest rural Ireland, ex-boxer Arm has become the feared enforcer for the drug-dealing Devers family, whilst also trying to be a good father to his autistic five-year-old son, Jack. Torn between these two families, Arm is asked to kill for the first time, and his attempt to do the right thing endangers everyone he holds dear.

The tempo, the editing, the well-placed pull-quotes, and the music underneath all make this thing hum. We don’t know what’s at stake for any of these protagonists, but that’s of small interest when it comes to what kind of danger is afoot. Somehow, someway, one of these lads isn’t coming back from the path that sent them down this road. The tension is high and so are the stakes.

Beastie Boys Story

Spike Jonze is the one person who can tell this story the way it should be told.

Beastie Boys Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz tell you an intimate, personal story of their band and 40 years of friendship in this live documentary experience directed by their longtime friend and collaborator, and their former grandfather, filmmaker Spike Jonze.

There isn’t a way to make this more alluring to someone wanting to know the story behind how the Beastie Boys came to be. How long they reigned with their signature sound, their experimental, and pioneering, explorations into sampling, they seemed destined to go on forever. This trailer keeps that memory fresh and alive by being just as visually interesting as it is pleasing to the ear.

Swallow

I’ll give director Carlo Mirabella-Davis credit for making something that looks truly unique.

On the surface, Hunter (Haley Bennett) appears to have it all. A newly pregnant housewife, she seems content to spend her time tending to an immaculate home and doting on her Ken-doll husband, Richie (Austin Stowell). However, as the pressure to meet her controlling in-laws and husband’s rigid expectations mounts, cracks begin to appear in her carefully created facade. Hunter develops a dangerous habit, and a dark secret from her past seeps out in the form of a disorder called pica – a condition that has her compulsively swallowing inedible, and oftentimes life-threatening, objects. A provocative and squirm-inducing psychological thriller, SWALLOW follows one woman’s unraveling as she struggles to reclaim independence in the face of an oppressive system by whatever means possible.

As narrative-heavy as this is, the trailer just breezes right through it all. It’s wicked, it’s probably one of the first movies this year I actively would like to see just based on this tease, and it’s entirely unnerving. Fantastic work all around.

The Wild Goose Lake

Director Diao Yinan is ready to throw down.

When small-time mob leader Zhou Zenong (Chinese superstar Hu Ge) accidentally kills a cop, a dead-or-alive bounty is placed on his head, forcing him on the lam from both the police as well as dangerous gangsters out for the reward. Hiding out in China’s densely populated (and deeply divided) Wuhan province, Zhou becomes entangled with a beautiful, enigmatic woman, who has mysterious intentions of her own. Featuring gorgeous, neon-drenched cinematography and bursts of shocking, expertly choreographed action, THE WILD GOOSE LAKE is “spellbinding” (Rolling Stone), “brilliant” (Indiewire) and “downright Hitchcockian” (AV Club).

There is no other way to put this other than this is a must-see. It flirts between being a forgettable B-movie while simultaneously showing assured confidence in usurping convention. Stylish, to be sure, but it is a complete explosion of sight and sound that kept me riveted all the way through to the end.

Rocks

Director Sarah Gavron is here to punch you in the gut.

The film follows teenager Rocks (Bukky Bakray) who fears that she and her little brother Emmanuel (D’angelou Osei Kissiedu) will be forced apart if anyone finds out they are living alone. With the help of her friends, she evades the authorities and navigates the most defining days of her life. ROCKS is a film about the joy, resilience and spirit of girlhood.

What starts out, curiously, as a story of a girl making her way through her teenage years takes a dramatic and sharp turn. I would normally bemoan the notion that by the end of the trailer we know how it ends but I’m far more interested to see this journey. It’s heartbreaking and uplifting and has a sense of realness that is wildly refreshing.

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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