This Week In Trailers: It Happened In L.A., Conor McGregor: Notorious, Sweet Virginia, The Ballad Of Lefty Brown, Most Beautiful Island

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 visit with some vapid LA types, watch a different and troubling kind of immigrant story, go beyond the hype surrounding Conor McGregor, look upon the greatness of a Bill Pullman western, and see The Punisher show his more sensitive, albeit violent, side. 

Conor McGregor: Notorious Trailer

I'm here for the meritocracy.

When director Gavin Fitzgerald was tasked with filming, documenting the life of one of the fastest mouths in MMA I'm sure there was some thought given to exactly what angle needed to be taken in order to properly tell this guy's story. Of course you could go with his incendiary Ali-like comments that are meant to roil an audience or gin up excitement for his next gladiatorial battle in the octagon or you could hang back a bit and paint a portrait of someone who is a gifted fighter, a diamond in the rough that possesses more than his fair share of inclusions. I think we're getting more of the latter here and the trailer is pretty solid in giving something to everyone which is to say that there's enough of the rough and tumble mixed in with the quieter moment that someone like me, a self-described pansy who would never purport to being able to do what he does, would appreciate a little more. I don't think that's gilding the lily but more of wanting to show the totality of a man who makes a living by fighting other men.

It Happened in L.A. Trailer

Touted as the Swingers for women. Hmm?

Director Michelle Morgan has made something of a novelty. On one hand the trailer is pretty facile; you've got some tinny dialogue and the pacing is a little weird with how we jump from narrative to narrative. But, this trailer does have some charm that I found endearing. I can't speak whether this will ever become the lady version of Swingers but from the standpoint that these characters inhabit a reality all their own is undeniable. They seem perfectly ensconced in a life where older dudes can still latch onto women who can be their daughter's age while also having the kind of life that is filled with struggles to find identity.

Sweet Virginia Trailer

Fact: I spent a few nights in a very small town a couple of weeks ago and this movie animates all my fears about what it must feel like when it seems there is nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide.

What I like most about the trailer for director Jamie M. Dagg's slow burn of a story (I'm feeling a Cold in July vibe) is just how weighty it feels. Side note, but related to this discussion, I'm obsessed with cinematic weight. When I'm watching people inhabit the world they're supposed to be existing within I'm easily distracted by things that hint we're watching people on a set like a catnipped feline who has just spotted a laser pointer making zig-zags on the carpet. I need to feel like you've taken the time to get out of the house to put these people in the houses, the towns, the diners where the action happens. I appreciate the attention to just letting us soak in the environment here. Yeah, you've got the trick of spraying down the parking lot to make it look glossy in the opening salvo but that's all there is to quibble with as the rest of this just hums. A rarity nowadays, scenes are left to breathe. It's a bold choice, and certainly as a woman's head is driven into a sheet-rock wall we linger for an uncomfortable moment, but it's exactly the right strategy to sell us on a story that creates some wonderful claustrophobia; we're trapped in this small town and there is nothing standing between you and possible doom. Bad hombres brandishing firearms and bad attitudes. It's just what I need right now and, for me, showcases what Jon Bernthal's acting prowess really is capable of bringing more than any kind of cinematic comic book series could.

The Ballad of Lefty Brown Trailer


It's tough for me to get into a western. It's just not a genre I like to spend any amount of time when I look for escapism. However, Bill Pullman is starring and A24 is the one putting their imprimatur on this puppy. Those two make this a done and done in my book as the trailer is all about narrative. Director Jared Moshe isn't looking to redefine anything here, though, with the trailer as it's simply adequate and doesn't strive for much more than that which is OK. Not everything has to be noteworthy if only to make a good case why you should at least consider it. Again, Pullman and A24. That's enough for me.

Most Beautiful Island Trailer


What is so remarkable about director Ana Asensio's strong looking debut is just how south things go by the time we're done with this. Mixing a little bit of Black Mirror and something else that is just unworldly you have a movie that looks to elevate a conversation. What's more is that it has tones of author Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man by representing something so much more than a thriller, it's emblematic of "the other" and what that other has to endure in our society. While it may not have the same depth as a novel, this is a tightly edited trailer that is short on specifics but long on effect.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers to possibly be included in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

  • Blockers Trailer – Midnight on a Tuesday with nothing else to watch seems like the right conditions to see this one
  • Wonder Trailer – Dat emotionally manipulative sweeping orchestral score tho