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 reconnect with the O.G. Flash Gordon, watch a trailer for a podcast, celebrate Apollo 11, remember what it was like to sneak out late at night, and visit a prison to learn a thing or two.
Life After Flash
I genuinely appreciate the work director Lisa Downs has done here. This is a small, intimate documentary about a guy most people wouldn’t know anything about (unless they happened to watch Ted). Thankfully, nerd culture will never allow Sam J. Jones to ever fade from our collective memories. The story here seems fairly standard for any documentary that charts the life of someone whose star burned bright and faded so quick. The man, however, has worked a lot since his turn as Flash Gordon, but this trailer exudes the kind of allure that elevates Jones to mythical heights. It’s an honest look into the man as an actor, as a father, and as a human being, and the trailer sells a story that is worth watching.
Stay Free: The Story of the Clash
Spotify’s acquisition of Gimlet for a little over $200 million was a curious thing. All of a sudden, Spotify was being spoken about in terms of what did this signal for a company which was primarily known for its music, not podcasts. Coincidentally enough, this trailer dropped this week, and it’s kind of a brilliant way to bring more folks into the audio fold. Podcasts, for the most part, are inherently done without video, so something like this is a curiosity. It’s video selling us on the audio. You will not see Joe Strummer providing any on-camera interviews. You won’t see anything, period. I like this approach to marketing a mini-series that will only be available via audio. This is compelling, interesting, and it sure sells this entire story quite well.
Chasing the Moon
This summer we’re all going to have Apollo 11 fever. Director Robert Stone, who was nominated way back in 1988 for an Academy Award for his documentary Radio Bikini, is directing a three part mini-series for what is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. We are awash in Apollo 11 retrospectives already this year, but I am here for them all. This trailer hums with the electricity of what it was like to be around during that time. The insatiable hunger to literally free ourselves from the gravity of this earth to physically plant a flag on a distant rock that at times feels so close, it’s all captured in one trailer. I don’t think there is any way this could be anything less than inspiring considering the risk that faced these astronauts as they squeezed themselves into the tiny little vessel that would eventually deliver them to greatness.
Director Lije Sarki‘s story about a couple of boys who traverse Los Angeles in the middle of the night makes for something wildly entertaining. The movie’s description alone takes me back to my youth when being out well past an acceptable time for a child was nothing short of a thrill.
Edison and Sage, two nine-year-old boys from Venice CA, set off on a mission to cross Los Angeles on skateboards at night in an attempt to reach the Staples Center by 8am the next morning. Edison tells Sage there’s a survival contest that can get him rich. What Sage isn’t told is that Edison has a secret agenda. They bomb hills, outrun a crazy man, steal wifi, befriend the homeless, panhandle, and cheat death by knifepoint on an adventure they will never forget.
The trailer reminds me of 2008’s Kisses by Lance Daly as it shows what kind of mischief can occur when a couple of kids decide to go into the night by themselves. The story feels quite small, and there’s no question it’ll be gobbled up amongst everything else that there is to watch, but there’s something charming that’s exuding in every frame.
It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It
Director Madeleine Sackler made this documentary while in production of her other, fictional, movie called O.G. starring Jeffrey Wright. This trailer is gripping not only in its subject matter as we hear stories from men who have been incarnated for decades but for its animation as well. That comes to us via Yoni Goodman, who animated the Academy Award-nominated film Waltz With Bashir from 2008. These are the stories that deserve to be heard, and this is the kind of reality that can penetrate hearts and minds.
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:
- Among the Shadows Trailer – Hahahahahahahaha
- Us Super Bowl Trailer – Daaamn
- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Trailer – Not a lot of meat on them bones
- Avengers: Endgame Trailer – Coy, coy, coy
- The Handmaids Tale: Season 3 Trailer – Very creative
- Captain Marvel Trailer – I’m already sold
- The Twilight Zone Trailer – OK
- Toy Story 4 Trailer – Not sure about the trailer, but I will give it my money
- What We Do in the Shadows Trailer – I laughed
- Wonder Park Trailer – You know, for kids
- The Haunting of Sharon Tate Trailer – I feel gross from having watched this
- Missing Link Trailer – Wow, I can’t believe I went from cold to “must see” in the span of a couple months
- UglyDolls Trailer – Weak
- Our Planet Trailer – Of course I’ll binge this
- Dumbo Trailer – Neutral
- The Sun is Also a Star – Your YA mileage will vary
- The Case Against Adnan Syed – What, again?
- Shaft Trailer – I thoroughly enjoyed it
- Pet Sematary Trailer – Bring it
- L.A.’s Finest Trailer – One show I can absolutely ignore completely
- Dating Around Trailer – Could be good for a spin
- Child’s Play Trailer – Shocked, I tells ya, of how fun this looks
- Doom Patrol Trailer – Uh, yeah, no
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