This Week In Trailers: Straight Up, Human Nature, After Midnight, Shoot To Mary, Cheer

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 through a rough breakup, decide to spin the genetic wheel of fortune, find our kinda-sorta-soulmate, ask ladies what they're really looking for when it comes to love, and do a huge roundoff to end on a big finish.

Straight Up

James Sweeney is here to shake up the genre.

Todd is a hyper-articulate, obsessive compulsive gay twentysomething whose fear of dying alone leads him to a baffling conclusion: he might not be gay after all. When he meets Rory, a whip-smart struggling actress with her own set of insecurities, the two forge a relationship that's all talk and no sex.

I don't know what box to put this movie in, but perhaps that's the point. I appreciate its aesthetic, that nice Randall Park surprise, and the overall thrust of what it's trying to say is admirable. You don't have to overthink things all the time in movies, and this one appears to have taken that approach with what looks like a nice, straight-forward comedy.

Shoot to Marry

Director Steve Markle isn't exploring any new territory, but this still looks like a sweet story.

In this real-life romantic comedy, heartbroken and disillusioned documentary filmmaker Steve Markle focuses his camera on women with hopes of finding the love of his life. What begins as a quest for female companionship gradually becomes a wake-up call as Steve's search for a wife leads him on an unexpected and poignant journey.

It's perhaps because of the observer effect that there really isn't any way to be honest when it comes to being frank in front of the camera. That being said, the attempt is more than endearing. To hear what women are looking for in this day and age, to listen to the nuances of what one is desiring versus another, these are the kinds of narratives that can be lost when weighing them against your average romantic comedy.

After Midnight

I admire what directors Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella are onto here.

Ten years into his small-town, storybook romance with Abby, Hank suddenly wakes up to an empty home. With nothing but a cryptic note to explain why she left, Hank's charmed life begins to fall apart. To make matters worse, Abby's disappearance seems to trigger the arrival of a ferocious creature that crawls out of the old grove on the edge of his property.

An allegory, a metaphor, I don't care. The ingenuity of what the story is setting up and the nuance of where it will go makes this feel less like the horror movie it's trying to sell and more like something else entirely.


This is already available on Netflix and it's great comfort viewing.

The stakes on the mat are high, but for these cheerleaders, the only thing more brutal than their workouts and more exceptional than their performances are the stories of adversity and triumph behind the athletes themselves.

From the team behind Last Chance U, Netflix's new documentary series "Cheer" follows the competitive cheerleaders of the 14-time National Championship winning team at Navarro College in Corsicana, TX.

Over the course of six episodes join the team members as they face injuries, sacrifice, personal setbacks and triumphs, all leading up to one nail-biting and adrenaline pumping final competition at the National Championship.

Brought to you by some of the same fine folks who made Last Chance U, the trailer captures the essence of what this series is. It's fuzzy, effervescent, but filled with the same honest look into the competitiveness that makes a series like Last Chance U compelling viewing. Whether it's cheer or football or any other sport, the best drama is always found in the margins of the interviews. It could be competitive table waiting, and I'd still watch if they documented it just like this.

Human Nature

Director Adam Bolt has selected a topic that is explosively controversial.

A breakthrough called CRISPR has given us unprecedented control over the basic building blocks of life. It opens the door to curing diseases, reshaping the biosphere, and designing our own children. Human Nature is a provocative exploration of CRISPR's far-reaching implications, through the eyes of the scientists who discovered it, the families it's affecting, and the bioengineers who are testing its limits. How will this new power change our relationship with nature? What will it mean for human evolution? To begin to answer these questions we must look back billions of years and peer into an uncertain future.

What I don't see in the trailer, but hopefully will be discussed, is the Chinese government's role in funding this operation. While there are those who are rightly or wrongly going to debate its merits, this is a technology that you can't put back into a bottle. Scintillating, for sure.

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:

  • New Mutants Trailer – I'm not going near this one
  • Narcos: Mexico Season 2 Trailer – Bueno
  • Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made Trailer – Perfectly mediocre kids fare
  • Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez Trailer – About what I expected
  • Sex Education: Season 2 Trailer – Never seen an episode
  • Locke and Key Trailer – Not really feeling this one
  • Brahms: The Boy II Trailer – This one either
  • Ozark Season 3 Trailer – Whole lot of nothing
  • First Cow Trailer – Genuinely touching
  • Birds of Prey Trailer – I accept it for what it is
  • Devs Trailer – If you say so
  • McMillions Trailer - Looks like a ton of fun
  • Fargo Season 4 Trailer - Rock. Solid.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine Season 7 Trailer – Swing and a miss
  • Better Call Saul Season 5 Trailer – Alright
  • Mrs. America Trailer – Way too much narrative, not enough context