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 take a tax-free look at Jeff Bezos, wonder what to do with a dead body, reflect on the 2016 election, reflect on all of our poor decisions in life, and hope for a better life in America.
Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos
The description alone reads like a novel you could not put down.
Jeff Bezos is not only one of the richest men in the world, he has built a business empire that is without precedent in the history of American capitalism. His power to shape everything from the future of work to the future of commerce to the future of technology is unrivaled.
As politicians and regulators around the world start to consider the global impact of Amazon — and how to rein in Bezos’ power — FRONTLINE investigates how he executed a plan to build one of the most influential economic and cultural forces in the world.
Of all the moans and groans you hear about PBS and NPR, and all these other organizations that people would love to de-fund, there is no greater satisfaction knowing that this documentary simply exists. Speaking truth to power, getting the right people to speak in front of the camera, and using research and old-fashioned journalism to speak where no one will, is exactly what is exciting about public television.
Director Onur Tukel’s latest feels like it could have come from playwright Neil LaBute.
In a single, fully-stocked hotel room on the night of the 2016 general election, two Trump supporters celebrate the unexpected results, in the latest from indie provocateur Onur Tukel. As the night rages on, an ensemble of characters venture in and out of the room. Some match the two’s enthusiasm while others voice their terror at the prospect of the incoming President, but most struggle to find reasons to care less about the results causing the debauched celebration around them. Led by Dylan Baker’s gleefully deranged performance, Tukel’s tongue-in-cheek exploration of a divided America digs deep into the night’s mass existential crisis and uncovers some disquieting truths.
Without a moment of hesitation, I would say this feels like it should be something you would see on Broadway. There’s something a little theater-like in how and where our characters move and act, but it still has an interesting execution onf what looks like one long monologue.
Director Scott Graham has a lot of threads to tie up by the end of this thing.
The daily grind of working in a fish factory has got at 30-something Finnie (Mark Stanley). He longs to be that arrogant, carefree teenager again, who spent his nights racing cars through Fraserburgh’s neon-soaked streets. But when his own car racing teenage son Kid (Anders Hayward) gets girlfriend Kelly (Marli Siu) pregnant, Finnie gains an inescapable reminder of where he thinks his own life went wrong. Unable to articulate his depression to his wife Katie (Amy Manson), he borrows Kid’s car for one last after-dark joyride.
Steeped in the mythos of Bruce Springsteen songs about growing up in small towns, racing cars and falling into the trap of repeating your parents’ mistakes, Scott Graham’s third feature intimately captures how teenage dreams are hard to leave behind when you missed your chance to hit the road and run.
I don’t know what Bruce Springsteen has to do with any of this, but this is a hell of a sales pitch. Pathos oozes out of every moment presented in this trailer. The stakes feel high, the pull-quotes are flattering, and the crescendo feels all but assured to leave you devastated. My kind of story, for sure.
Blood on Her Name
Director Matthew Pope has an intense story to tell.
A woman’s decision to cover up an accidental killing spirals out of control when her conscience demands she return the dead man’s body to his family.
This is just flat-out solid. Without using multiple plot devices or cooking up a completely implausible scenario, this all feels like a well-acted play. What it will say about those involved, how a story like this can be small in scope but big in meaning, there are multiple angles this can go in. It feels like a tiny, small indie production but I wish there were more like this out there.
The Trade Season 2
It’s a narrative that will not relent.
This four-part season follows Central Americans on an odyssey to the United States (and others heading back home after being deported), while also delving into the shadow industries that prey on them every step of the way. The series sheds light on the smugglers and traffickers who take advantage of the migrants’ vulnerability, and law enforcement pursuing them at the border, while providing a look at the rarely-seen underbelly of the migrants’ world and their struggle to survive.
This is a story that has no end. There is no way to stop what has been started, and this trailer delivers that message with great veracity. The need for people to come to America exceeds the fear, the danger, of what it can take to cross a border or to trust the person who will attempt to smuggle you in.
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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