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 figure out how Isreal and Kentucky are related to the apocalypse, educate and motivate those who need it the most, get artsy-fartsy with Meryl Streep, lock our doors, and understand one of the darkest scourges in the 1980s.
As debuts go, director Jennifer Trainer looks to have made something special.
Directed by Jennifer Trainer, a former journalist and one of MASS MoCA’s original builders, and narrated by Academy Award® winner Meryl Streep, the documentary tells the story of an unconventional museum, the small town of North Adams, MA it calls home, and the great risk, hope, and power of art to transform a desolate post-industrial city.
Today, MASS MoCA is the largest museum for contemporary art in the world—but just three decades ago, its vast brick buildings were the abandoned relics of a shuttered factory. This documentary tells how such a wildly improbable transformation came to be. Museum Town also looks at the artistic process itself—not only how museums work but how artists create, tracking celebrated artist Nick Cave as he builds the monumental installation “Until,” a reflection on gun violence, race, and the American Dream.
Talking Heads, Wilco, and Big Thief all contributing to this documentary’s soundtrack with an original score by Wilco bassist Jon Stirratt? I’ll see this simply for the aural pleasure of listening to the music. But this is about art’s importance in everyday life. Even spelling it out makes it seem stuffy, but this trailer is accessible and enticing. Maybe it was the thrill of seeing a glimpse of photographer Gregory Crewdson or seeing how raw this all feels but I’m all-in.
The Infamous Future
Director Richard Butterworth makes the case of why education is so important.
THE INFAMOUS FUTURE focuses on the unique perspectives of inspired educators and their remarkable students. CEO, David C. Banks and his Eagle Academy Foundation strive to change an entrenched American mindset, insisting that young black and brown men are not going to be labelled as one of America’s problems, but instead one of its greatest successes.
Eagle Academy was formed because of a disturbing report that was released by Columbia University in 2004 which stated that in the state of New York, 75% of all crimes stem from 7 neighborhoods in New York City. Schools in underprivileged neighborhoods are consistently on the front lines in the battle against inequality and the corrupting forces that might appeal to young black and brown teenagers who are frustrated and need guidance. Eagle Academy’s 6 locations are all traditional public schools under the Department of Education, and has a high rate of success with graduating students, and a model that prepares 98% of their students for colleges and universities across the United States.
I’ve read some comments about the modern educational system being a construct that is artificial, not natural, and, darkly, a means of creating a subservient underclass. I’m not sure how much I believe that, but it’s stories like this that show me that basic education can be a means of elevating an entire population. It’s not a panacea, but with the right resources and means of administering true lessons of leadership, accountability, and positivity, this trailer shows how it be a force for good.
‘Til Kingdom Come
Director Maya Zinshtein is blowing my mind.
Pastors encourage an impoverished Kentucky community, “The forgotten people of America”, to donate to Israel in anticipation of Jesus’s impending return. The film exposes the controversial bond between Evangelicals and Jews, in a story of faith, power and money, revealing how Trump’s America is led by an End-Times apocalyptic countdown.
Any story that involves the human crab apple, Pat Robertson, dirty dealings, and whiffs of controversy, has me intrigued. Knowing this is coming to us by the producer for Searching for Sugar Man and One Day in September gives the narrative a little more cred too. The thought processes of some of the most devout evangelicals are borderline frightening, but the way it presents things in the trailer shows how deep the zealotry and fanaticism flows and, ultimately, how high all this goes.
Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy
Director Stanley Nelson is one of the best filmmakers to tell this story.
In the early 1980s, the crack epidemic tore through America’s inner cities like a tsunami, ravaging all in its wake. Decades later, the destructive effects on people’s lives, families and communities are still deeply felt. Crack: Cocaine, Corruption & Conspiracy examines not only the personal devastation caused by the drug, but also the shadowy origins of the crisis and the resultant, ongoing marginalization of Black and Brown people trapped by the U.S. prison and healthcare systems.
Critics have lauded Nelson for his filmmaking with over two dozen nominations for his work while being able to claim nineteen wins. His work has largely focused on the Black experience, and this story, without question, has most affected the Black community. It’s a story of conspiracy, where the players involved in this drug’s creation and promotion are shrouded in mystery to some degree. The trailer takes us on a far-reaching journey from the inner city all the way to Central America. There were definitely winners and losers in this war with the losers usually being people of color, and the trailer gets that point across with little effort. Riveting.
Night Stalker: The Hunt For a Serial Killer
I’ve only heard about this killer in passing when people talk about the most famous murderers of our time. I almost didn’t believe the terror he was capable of.
Witness the story of one of the most vicious serial killers in American history, a real-life boogeyman that brought California to a standstill.
With so much disinformation out there as a youth, and without the benefit of the internet, , you never quite knew what was real and what was an urban legend. This trailer doesn’t dance around the purpose of this documentary. The mood is heavy, the tone is dark, and there is no attempt to sterilize the atmosphere as victims recount their experiences. I almost could feel the tiny hairs on my neck stand up when one woman talks about calling out to a person who was suddenly in her home in the middle of the night. This is absolutely, positively required viewing for anyone who needs their latest true crime fix. Sometimes reality blows away urban legends and this seems like something that shouldn’t be watched right before bedtime.
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 [email protected] or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp
In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:
- Jurassic Park: Camp Cretaceous Trailer – Weak sauce
- In the Earth Trailer – If this is what you’re going to market with and be as vague as this is, why even bother?
- Outside the Wire Trailer – Horrific
- Bridgerton Trailer – Not my jam
- Nomadland Trailer – Cannot wait to see this
- French Exit Trailer – Pfeiffer’s verbal affect here is not enchanting or endearing
- Palmer Trailer – Not sure I’m feeling what this is putting out
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