This Week In Trailers: Below, Sputnik, Dirt Music, Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art, The Short History Of The Long Road

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 rocket into space where some dark things dwell, find an unconventional kind of fight club down under, get taken for an artistic ride, go on a long road trip, and find personal liberation in Western Australia.

Below

Maziar Lahooti has a unique kind of fight club he would like to introduce us to.

Starring Ryan Corr and Anthony LaPaglia, BELOW is a pitch-black comedy with a uniquely provocative take on Australia’s asylum-seeker detention system. When darkweb con-artist Dougie lands in the bloody deep end of a scam gone wrong, his gruff stepdad, Terry, agrees to pay off his debts. In return, Dougie must take a job at the refugee detention centre where Terry works. Ever the grifter, Dougie discovers a way to make cash by live-streaming the underground fight club run by the centre’s morally bankrupt security staff. But when things inevitably go south, Dougie may be the only one willing to take a stand.

Norwegian-born Iranian-Australian director Maziar Lahooti makes his feature debut with this devilishly dark comedy, adapted for the screen by Perth playwright Ian Wilding from his award-winning play of the same name. Joining Corr (Holding the Man) and LaPaglia (Balibo) in the ring are The Heights’ Phoenix Raei and The Kettering Incident’s Alison Whyte, as well as Morgana O’Reilly (Wentworth) and Zenia Star (The Merger). Below isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty as it tackles hard issues, resulting in a deliberately provocative dare of a film that’s bound to get audiences talking.

A piece of satire that is taking aim at the detention crisis for asylum seekers in Australia? It’s almost like we are dealing with the same thing at our borders. The trailer is wonderfully incoherent and narratively rudderless, and the action does nothing to tell you what’s going on. Still, if you’re going to swing at the powers that be and punch up to get your point across, this is the way to do it.

Sputnik

Russian director Egor Abramenko isn’t messing around.

Due to her controversial methods, young doctor Tatiana Yurievna (Oksana Akinshina) is on the precipice of losing her medical license. Her career may not be over, though. After she’s recruited by the military, Tatiana is brought to a secure science research facility to assess a very special case, that of Konstantin Sergeyevich (Pyotr Fyodorov), a cosmonaut who survived a mysterious space accident and has returned to Earth with a unique condition: there’s something living inside of him that only shows itself late at night. The military has nefarious plans for it. Tatiana wants to stop it from killing Konstantin. And the creature itself thrives on destruction.

This is moody, feels exciting and fresh, and has an off-the-wall premise. Plus, big ups to the cinematographer for having every frame drip with an eerie tension tailor-made for a story like this. I’m impressed.

Dirt Music

Director Gregor Jordan is here with more Tim Winton goodness.

Georgie Jutland (Kelly Macdonald) is barely holding it together these days without a drink. Once a nurse, now she’s trapped in the backwater fishing port of White Point with local crayfish baron, Jim Buckridge (David Wenham) and his two sons, whose dead mother she can never hope to replace. One hazy night she sees the lone figure of Lu Fox (Garret Hedlund) appear in the mists of the bay. A long time ago he was a dirt musician, but now he survives as a poacher – an unwise choice given Jim’s iron-grip on the local fishing trade. Based on the critically acclaimed novel by iconic Australian writer Tim Winton, Dirt Music is a tale of love and redemption, set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Australian West.

If you haven’t already checked out The Turning, I would absolutely recommend it. It’s a great film. Explosively small tales that are all wonderfully interwoven make for a quiet masterpiece of storytelling, and the book is even better. I get the feeling this is much of the same in how these characters are less of a caricature as they are realistic. It feels weighty, honest, and quietly powerful.

Made You Look: A True Story About Fake Art

Director Barry Avrich is here with an uplifting story of rich people getting hosed.

Made You Look is an American crime documentary about the largest art fraud in American history set in the super rich, super obsessed and super fast art world of New York.

First, no one should be swindled; it’s amoral, and it’s wrong. Second, this kind of story makes me smile. Art fraud is not a victimless crime but I cannot tell you why I’m so tickled at the thought of rich people getting duped like this. To that end, some of the people being interviewed here are a little chuffed by the whole thing so there doesn’t seem to be a heaviness hanging over the subject matter. Think The Art of the Steal meets McMillions.

The Short History Of The Long Road

Director Ani Simon-Kennedy is telling a tiny tale.

For teenage Nola (Sabrina Carpenter), home is the open road. Her self-reliant father (Steven Ogg) is her anchor in a life of transience. The pair crisscross the United States in a lovingly refurbished RV, relishing their independence and making ends meet by doing odd jobs. A shocking rupture, though, casts Nola out on her own. She makes her way to Albuquerque, New Mexico, in search of a mother she never knew. When her motorhome unexpectedly breaks down, she forges a bond with an auto body shop owner (Danny Trejo), and senses the possibility of mooring her ship in this storm.

This will indubitably be lost among the rest of the other options out there. I would implore some of you to at least check out the trailer. Yeah, there are some heavy-handed things going on here. Plus, the story seems a little stilted in some places. Still, that’s the allure. It’s like a long, slow burn. The stakes seem fairly low but, for now, stories of people wanting to find their freedom from a system that wants people to follow a certain direction in life are liberating and exciting.

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: