This Week In Trailers: VHYes, The Age Of A.I., Hillary, The Circle, What She Said: The Art Of Pauline Kael

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 go retro with our comedy, write a few movie reviews, revisit what happened in 2016 to this nation, see what Robert Downey Jr. is up to, and find our newest guilty pleasure.


All hail director Jack Henry Robbins. This is a movie that brims with the energy and creativity of a madman looking to make a statement.

A bizarre retro comedy shot entirely on VHS, VHYes takes us back to a simpler time, when twelve-year-old Ralph mistakenly records home videos and his favorite late night shows over his parents' wedding tape. The result is a nostalgic wave of home shopping clips, censored pornography, and nefarious true-crime tales that threaten to unkindly rewind Ralph's reality.

The trailer is frenetic, doesn't relent, and it zings you over and over again with its brand of humor. The pull-quotes are nicely peppered throughout and ultimately ends in an almost unsettling, nervous laughter kind of way. Thoroughly delightful and, now, highly anticipated.

The Age of A.I.

This latest series on artificial intelligence, featuring Robert Downey Jr. as our tour guide, seems rather facile. Here's the official synopsis:

We are at the dawn of a new age and the implications of AI technology for humans are almost unimaginable. Welcome to The Age of AI. Robert Downey Jr. hosts a brand new YouTube Originals series – The Age of AI. Discover the most innovative and leading technologies that will change the world forever. Technology is moving faster than ever, and it's taking less time to be widely adopted. Join host Robert Downey Jr. to explore the depths of this fascinating, gripping technology.

While I would agree that  delving into the technology is important, the trailer misses talking about the broader sociological and geopolitical implications of this tech. We get cars that can drive themselves and devices that can search the universe looking for signs of life, but then we also get glimpses of weird-looking robot people. I get all the former, but I don't understand the latter. I'm sure uncanny valley bots have a place in the conversation, but some of this seems more aimed at a general audience than it does the Nova crowd.


Director Nanette Burstein is in for a fight with Hillary.

A portrait of a public woman, interweaving moments from never-before-seen 2016 campaign footage with biographical chapters of Hillary Rodham Clinton's life. Featuring exclusive interviews with Hillary herself, Bill, Chelsea, friends, and journalists, an examination of how she became simultaneously one of the most admired and vilified women in the world.

We're at a point where none of this will change someone's mind about what happened in 2016, but this still looks like satisfying viewing. The people who've chanted "Lock her up" certainly won't be moved to watch this documentary, unless it's out of spite, but no matter. You have a politician who's, no doubt, going to be politicking throughout. Hopefully, there's something of substance here to provide solace to those who voted for her and thought she was the right candidate for President of the United States.

What She Said: The Art Of Pauline Kael

If ever there was an inside baseball documentary on the sport of film criticism, this would be it and director Rob Garver is here to give it to you.

"The most powerful, loved, and hated film critic of her time." – Roger Ebert on Pauline Kael (1919-2001). In a field that has historically embraced few women film critics, Kael was charismatic, controversial, witty, and discerning. Her decades-long berth at The New Yorker energized her fans ("Paulettes") and infuriated her detractors on a weekly basis. Her turbo-charged prose famously championed the New Hollywood Cinema of the late 1960s and and the work of major European directors, while mercilessly panning some of the biggest studio hits. Sarah Jessica Parker reads from Kael's reviews; filmmakers Quentin Tarantino, Paul Schrader, and Francis Ford Coppola and critics Camille Paglia, Molly Haskell, Greil Marcus, and David Edelstein speak to her enormous gifts and influence.

Any discourse on film usually has Kael somewhere on that verbal bingo card. I cannot purport to be an acolyte or even a casual authoritative source on Kael's work as a film critic. That being said, this appears to be a nice primer to the landscape she helped shape for those who consume, or even write, film criticism.

The Circle

Come January, when it's dark and cold outside, when we're past the holidays and there won't be much going on anywhere, I think I've found your salvation: Netflix's The Circle.

The contestants, or "players", all move into an apartment building. However, the contestants will never meet face-to-face during the course of the competition, as they will each live in their own individual apartment. They will communicate solely using their profiles on a specially-designed app, giving them the ability to portray themselves in any way they choose.[7]

Throughout the series, the contestants will "rate" one another from first to last place. At the end of the ratings, their average scores are revealed to one another from highest to lowest. Usually, the two highest rated players will become "influencers", while the remaining players will be at risk of being "blocked" by the influencers. Blocked players are eliminated from the game, but are given the opportunity to meet one player still in the game in-person.

During the final, the contestants rate each other one final time, where the highest rated player wins the game and $100,000.

Like, seriously, how could you not want to put this on after a dreary day thinking about when you will ever see the sun again? You're welcome.

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:

  • Mel Brooks: Unwrapped Trailer – Middling
  • Free Guy Trailer – Terrible
  • Fast and Furious: Spy Racers Trailer – Return to sender
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer – Better than I thought it would be
  • 6 Underground Trailer – This trailer is a mess
  • Avenue 5 Trailer – Much improved from the first version
  • Like a Boss Trailer – Will absolutely make my $1 rental list after it leaves theaters
  • Wonder Woman 1984 Trailer – Sure, let's do this
  • The Grudge Red Band Trailer – Hell yeah
  • Antlers Trailer – I'm buying what it's selling
  • Miracle Workers: Dark Ages Trailer – Pass
  • The New Pope Trailer – Hey, if this is your thing, good on you
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife International Trailer – Again, I'm down
  • VFW Trailer – Basic
  • Promising Young Woman Trailer - Vicious
  • In The Heights Trailer – Uplifting and catchy
  • The Witcher Trailer – That's a no from me
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 10 Trailer – Please be good
  • Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer Trailer – A true crime gift that won't stop giving
  • Birds of Prey Trailer – Hard pass