This Week In Trailers: Frankie, Midnight Traveler, Shut Up And Play The Piano, So Long, My Son, Chained For Life

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 acquaint ourselves to a musician dancing to the beat of different pianist, deal with family drama, bend reality a smidge, try to escape the Taliban, and go on a bougie holiday.

So Long, My Son

I was not expecting director Wang Xiaoshuai to make me feel so deeply by just watching his trailer, but here we are.

Two married couples adjust to the vast social and economic changes taking place in China from the 1980s to the present.

I'm floored by how quietly we move from moment to moment. Few words are spoken. The images speak volumes about the mood and add texture to this family we're following and the heaviness of the burden that is being carried by everyone. This seems and feels like one of those little gems that rewards those who find it. It's rarer indeed when it's one of those films you could watch right then and there if only to see if your hunch is true.

Chained for Life

There is something that defies words with director Aaron Schimberg's exploration of the strange.

Building on the promise of his hallucinogenic debut Go Down Death, filmmaker Aaron Schimberg delivers another brilliantly oddball, acerbically funny foray into gonzo surrealism. In a deft tragicomic performance, Jess Weixler (Teeth) plays Mabel, a movie star "slumming it" in an outré art-horror film being shot in a semi-abandoned hospital. Cast opposite her is Rosenthal (Under the Skin's Adam Pearson), a gentle-natured young man with a severe facial deformity. As their relationship evolves both on and offscreen, Schimberg raises provocative questions about cinematic notions of beauty, representation, and exploitation.

Gonzo surrealism? That would be the two words that probably best fit in explaining what this might best be called. I'm thrilled at the risks it's taking with what it is trying to say, and I'm impressed about how it's going about it all. The trailer does so much with the time it has to sell us on why this needs to be seen, and it might be one of the best I've seen all month.

Shut Up and Play the Piano

I may not know the depth of director Philipp Jedicke's previous works, but this seemed like a fun journey down an unknown rabbit hole. 

Follow Grammy Award winning musician Chilly Gonzales on his rise from Canada to the world's great philharmonic halls. Dive deep into his varied on-stage personas through newly shot interviews, old concert scenes, and imagined materials.

I don't go into documentaries expecting to be served up stories that fit my own personal narrative of life, I come to have my perspective batted around a bit. This trailer absolutely does just that with a story that wants to showcase this unique musical voice. It may not be for everyone, but I'm just impressed by its candor.

Midnight Traveler

You don't have to tell me twice that director Hassan Fazili's documentary is literally a life and death proposition.

When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili's head, he is forced to flee the country with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing the family's uncertain journey firsthand, Fazili documents their harrowing trek across numerous borders revealing the danger and uncertainty facing refugees seeking asylum juxtaposed with the unbreakable love shared amongst the family on the run.

Something like this, in 2019, seems so far removed from the world they promised us, but this is the world that is. Shot on three phones and capturing one man's run from a ruthless cabal that would have filmed his execution as a warning to others, this is as impactful as it gets. Finding levity where there shouldn't be, showing love where there ought to be none, this trailer transfixed me.


A different film than director Ira Sachs' 2016's Little Men, there is something humane, and human, about this latest effort.

Three generations grappling with a life-changing experience during one day of a vacation in Sintra, Portugal, a historic town known for its dense gardens and fairy-tale villas and palaces.

While there is something a little bougie about all these well-manicured, well-heeled dopes on holiday that is initially a little off-putting, there is something consequential about this narrative. The way we ebb and flow through the various narratives is gentle and soothing. The trailer comforts as well as promising something inherently satisfying.

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:

  • The Addams Family International Trailer – Nope
  • Running with the Devil Trailer – You bored at home on a Friday night and want a mediocre VOD gem? This could be what you need
  • The Morning Show Trailer - Thanks for nothing 
  • Dolemite Is My Name Trailer – Hell yeah
  • The Deuce Trailer – I'm completely lost 
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Trailer – I mean, if you're into this sort of thing
  • Little Women Trailer - I'm game
  • A Hidden Life Trailer - Fool me once with Tree of Life, fool me again with To the Wonder and, yeah, I'm holding my breath
  • Last Christmas Trailer – I feel like we're on unstable ground here
  • Parasite Trailer - I need to see this immediately, post-haste
  • 13 Reasons Why Trailer – When did this become teen Law & Order?
  • American Factory Trailer – Fascinated
  • Dave Chappelle's Sticks and Stones Trailer – His comedy as of late has been less shocking than it is disappointing but I'm here to listen
  • The Death of Dick Long Trailer – Please enter my life soon
  • Falling Inn Love Trailer – So many other romantic comedies I'd rather revisit than this
  • Night Hunter Trailer – I feel confident I can safely avoid this entirely
  • Candy Corn Trailer – wut?
  • The Cat Rescuers Trailer – Cute