This Week In Trailers: Cunningham, Abstract: The Art of Design Season 2, Clemency, Explained: Season 2, Living Undocumented

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 celebrate 10 years by finna to get off death row, dance like everyone is watching, luxuriate in good design, watch some of America’s huddled masses try to eke out an existence, and get a little more book smart without all that readin’.

Clemency

Director Chinove Chukwu looks to made a scorcher.

Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams (Alfre Woodard). As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill.

These kind of trailers show the level of expertise it takes to make one that resonates emotionally but quickens the pulse a little. The antagonist and protagonist we’re brought to observe aren’t clear. It’s muddied in circumstances we are not privy to as the metronomic tick-tock of that clock plays in the background while we race towards execution. It’s wholly satisfying yet tantalizes with the details they will not give us. 

Cunningham

It’s time to learn about dance with director Alla Kovgan.

CUNNINGHAM traces Merce’s artistic evolution over three decades of risk and discovery (1944–1972), from his early years as a struggling dancer in postwar New York to his emergence as one of the world’s most visionary choreographers. The 3D technology weaves together Merce’s philosophies and stories, creating a visceral journey into his innovative work. A breathtaking explosion of dance, music, and never-before-seen archival material, CUNNINGHAM is a timely tribute to one of the world’s greatest modern dance artists.

We’re here to learn about someone none of us have heard of. No matter, though, as the trailer takes us on a fantastical journey of the eyes. Bodies moving and writhing in syncopation, the choreography as indelible as a fingerprint, and there’s no resisting this trailer’s charm. Being open to this world’s language and how it communicates with the rest of us is a fantastic proposition for us to be curious about what this life has to offer.

Abstract: The Art of Design Season 2

For documentaries about the stuff we own, this is about as good as it gets.

Abstract: The Art of Design returns to take you beyond blueprints into the art, science, and philosophy of design. From how we see the world to how we impact the world, the series goes inside the minds of the world’s greatest designers, showcasing the most inspiring visionaries from a variety of disciplines whose work shapes our culture and future.

A tip of the cap for pulling social media into this discussion on all things created for us to consume and covet. From people who help make movies, to people owning the process to make our dreary existence just a little more beautiful to look at, this has got a little of everything. Be aspirational in whatever you might be doing and putting out into the world.

Living Undocumented

This is bold television for sure. Here’s the official synopsis:

From executive producer Selena Gomez, Living Undocumented follows eight undocumented immigrant families who have volunteered to tell their stories as they face potential deportation. Ranging from harrowing to hopeful, their journeys illuminate and humanize the complex US immigration system and depict the struggles that many must endure in their quest to pursue the American dream.

Putting aside your political qualms about immigration, this is a series that immediately has drama infused into it. You’re risking deportation just to tell your story about what it’s like to live on the margins of society, hoping never to be noticed, always thinking about what the worst-case scenario might mean for your family. This is something that requires a lot more than careful editing and uplifting music, and thankfully it absolutely humanizes those trying to get by.

Explained: Season 2

This series is the educational equivalent of what our grade school teachers would wheel out with that big cart with the obnoxiously large TV, strapped down with those thick ties, ready for a VHS tape to be popped in the VCR. 

The billionaire boom. Athleisure as fashion. The lure of cults. Season 2 of this short-form documentary series answers more compelling questions about culture and social trends.

I’m enamored with this kind of stuff if only because it’s infotainment for the 21st century. These are interesting quick hits of content on an array of topics that are timely, interesting, and could help you seem a little smarter at dinner parties. Quick edits, animation to visualize facts, it’s like vegetables for your mind.

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:

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