This Week In Trailers: The Pickup Game, Blinded By The Lights, Peel, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am, My Days Of Mercy

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 learn that we can get women to like us by being boorish and pathetic, hear from one of America's greatest living writers, find love in the death penalty, find ourselves by being awkward, and have someone fulfill our cocaine dreams.

The Pickup Game

I thought we buried the desperate and misogynistic behaviors of charlatans like Tucker Max decades ago but, alas, directors Matthew O'Connor and Barnaby O'Connor are here to tell us otherwise.

An inside look at the emergence of the 'pickup' industry – a business where self-styled seduction coaches travel the world, charging a small fortune to teach men skills they claim will guarantee them success with women...From the glossy exterior, where courses are packaged as self-improvement, to the dark underbelly of sexual assault, pyramid scheme marketing and secret collusion, this documentary pulls back the curtain to reveal a world that is fascinating and horrific in equal measure.

Part narrative documentary, part horror movie, when you talk about toxic masculinity, this is about as depraved as it gets. The trailer itself has some issues with editing, its flow, and volume mixing, but the message that there are ways to manipulate women for your pleasure comes across clearer than anything else.  

Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am

Director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders makes the case why Toni Morrison is one of the greatest writers of all time. The trailer establishes the influence Morrison had on not only talking and writing about race but how that influence transcended the public consciousness. Mixing the heavy themes of racism, incarceration, and oppression with the effusiveness of Morrison's tickled sense of humor about things is fantastic. We're here to celebrate a modern American icon, and the pitch couldn't be easier to make about why this is one of those documentaries that's a must-see.

My Days of Mercy

Director Tali Shalom Ezer has something of a unique combination with this film's themes. You have a politically charged narrative surrounding the death penalty wrapped around a love story between Ellen Page and Kate Mara.

Two young women from opposite sides of fierce protests over the death penalty meet on the picket lines and form an unlikely friendship. While both deal with their respective personal issues they grow ever closer, leading to dramatic personal revelations, passion and life changing romance.

While the themes seem like they shouldn't work, this trailer feels intimate and tender. There are some moments that feel a little hokey, but, overall, it's one of those films that will no question come and go (it was initially released back in 2017 if that gives you any sign) but looks like it deserves some attention if it's perfect Rotten Tomatoes score is an indicator of its goodness.


Director Rafael Monserrate has made one of those mid-budget films we don't see a lot of. A unique voice, unique story, I'm a fan of the trailer if for no other reason than just how well it flows. 

After his father takes his two brothers and leaves him, Peel (Emile Hirsch) is forced to grow up in a state of arrested development. Once his mother dies, he must forge his own path and move forward on his own, while attempting to find his lost brothers. Peel's child-like innocence and lack of cynicism has a healing quality on all the damaged characters he meets on his journey to rebuild his broken family.

The pull-quotes are in a hideous-looking font and there are some ways it could have been better edited with how we whip from moment to moment. However, there is something there if you can look between its visual, and narrative, lines.

Blinded by the Lights

All I need to know about creator Jakub Zulcyk's latest is that it's all about a Warsaw cocaine dealer whose world is coming undone.  In an age where you have oodles of entertainment choices and so many other series vying for your visual investment this one stands apart. It looks scrappy, scuffed around the edges, and promises to end without going out in a whimper. With a little bit of an acid trip and a lot of violence, the series is now streaming on HBO Go.

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 or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

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

  • Perfect Trailer – You lost me
  • Brian Banks Trailer - Standard fare
  • Nightmare Cinema Trailer – I'm a fan of anthologies but I'm not so sure about some of them here
  • Sonic the Hedgehog Trailer - Never played the game and don't plan on seeing a frame of this
  • The Society Trailer – It's exactly as you would expect
  • Ophelia Trailer – Shakespearian in scope, if that's your thing
  • Veronica Mars Season 4 Trailer – Not a lot of meat on that teledrama bone
  • Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Trailer - If you're here for it, there's more of it for you to enjoy
  • Apocalypse Now: Final Cut Trailer - HELL YEAH
  • Late Night Trailer – Matinee fare
  • Crawl Trailer - You know what you're getting
  • Blinded by the Light Trailer – Looks broad and inspiring
  • The Righteous Gemstones Trailer – Cautiously hopeful
  • Succession Season 2 Trailer - Wicked
  • Good Sam Trailer – Wee too treacly for my black heart