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The trailer for Gus Van Sant's new film Elephant
is like a Hemingway short story. The action is all in the margins, revealed through hints and implications. Even as a tease it's sketchy, postmodern in that it knows audiences will map another well-known story onto it to complete it. Mostly it consists of pretty shots of pretty kids lollygagging in the halls and playgrounds of a modern suburban high school. You see a car crash into another car and think maybe the movie's going to be one of those jackass-themed comedies. But then one of the kids gets out and says "Dad, you shouldn't be driving." Brief shot of a wasted, forlorn businessman behind the wheel. Later, the same kid sees two of his classmates walking into the school dressed in fatigues and carrying heavy canvas bags. He spots a teacher about to go into the school and tries to warn him: "Don't go in there, trust me, you don't want to go in there." In the last shot the kid is at home crying, and his girlfriend gives him a kiss, thinking he's just sad.