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’re going up north to Canada to find some satire, feel the history of Chernobyl through a road trip, write a letter to the big man up north, and fight the power.
The Twentieth Century
Director Matthew Rankin made a movie shot in a 4:3 ratio, on 16mm film? Sign me up.
Toronto, 1899. Aspiring young politician Mackenzie King (Dan Beirne) dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of Canada. But his romantic vacillation between a British soldier and a French nurse, exacerbated by a fetishistic obsession, may well bring about his downfall. In his quest for power, King must gratify the expectations of his imperious Mother, the hawkish fantasies of a war-mongering Governor-General, and the utopian idealism of a Québécois mystic before facing one, final test of leadership. Culminating in an epic battle between good and evil, King learns that disappointment may be the defining characteristic of the twentieth century!
We reviewed the movie here last year, and it appears to deliver. On the surface, it’s not like anything I’ve seen in some time, but it also makes a solid case why this could be one of those quiet gems that deserve some attention. It looks like a cinematic cousin to Guy Maddin, and it’s easy to see why when you look at the way shots are framed, lit, and executed. If nothing else, this is an invitation to another dimension.
With Drawn Arms
Directors Glenn Kaino and Afshin Shahidi are telling a timely story.
Filmmaker Glenn Kaino partners with Olympic gold medalist Tommie Smith as he looks back 50 years to the moment that helped define a movement and changed the course of his life forever.
Even with there being no summer Olympics this year, narratives like the one of Tommie Smith are perennial reminders of the hardships some people in our country have endured in order to be heard. Racism, discrimination, violence against a race of individuals simply because of the color of their skin, these ideas are not anachronistic. They are just as dangerously alive today as they were then. It’s also not performative. These are the topics that need constant discussion and exploration.
Director Dana Nachman knows we all need a little levity.
DEAR SANTA shines a light on the 100-year-old ‘Operation Santa’ Program of the United States Postal Service. Each year, hundreds of thousands of letters to Santa arrive at Post Offices around the country. Through Operation Santa, the United States Postal Service makes it possible for the public to safely adopt these letters and make children’s dreams come true. The film invites audiences along for the magic of this massive endeavor. Traveling the country, much like Santa does on Christmas Eve, the film focuses on select ‘Operation Santa’ Centers: some in metropolitan areas like the massive operation in New York City and others in small towns where the Post Office is the heart of the community.
Stories like this can only help everyone. Those of us who have had our empathy and sympathy run dry need to be reminded of the joy that still exists in the hearts and minds of our littlest citizens. The trailer might be a little too saccharine sweet for some but, for curmudgeons like me, it’s absolutely what’s needed right now. Let those kids believe in something and give them some hope along the way.
Everything Will Not Be Fine
Directors Adrian Pîrvu and Helena Maksyom are in love.
Adrian was born in the year of the Chernobyl accident and his mother always believed that his glaucoma and partial blindness were caused by her visit to Ukraine while she was six months pregnant. Adrian is almost thirty – lonely and without a purpose. After his mother reveals the story of his birth, he decides to go to Ukraine to make a film about people affected by Chernobyl and find a way to feel better about himself. In Kyiv, he meets Helena who grew up in Ukraine with the consequences of the disaster.
Traveling together they find people who are dealing with the effects of what happened in 1986, but as they discover the scale of Chernobyl’s impact on a new generation, their health problems catch up with them and they have to divert their plans. For almost five years, they try to find out if they can be together.
There is something so heartwarming about this trailer. Two kids finding love while finding their own paths in life. To see a story like this that feels so wonderfully rough around the edges is like finding a gem in the wild. Chernobyl had a moment last year when the limited series debuted on HBO but, for some, it wasn’t just a dramatization; it was their life. It will most certainly come and then go but here’s to hoping it finds the right audience.
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:
- Bridgerton Trailer – Interesting
- Veneno Trailer – Passing on this one
- The Great North Trailer – Blah
- Trial 4 Trailer – Yet another tale of the miscarriage of justice
- Transhood Trailer – Moving
- LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special Trailer – Abso-lutely
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