This Week In Trailers: Faceless, My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To, Threshold, From Cradle To Stage, The Gig Is Up

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 fight the power while wondering why others don't, get ill, thank our mom for making our rock stars, make a movie on our phone, and tip our Uber Eats driver.

Faceless

The debut from director Jennifer Ngo is fierce and has one of the best trailers I've seen this month

Faceless takes us to the frontline of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong to meet four such young people.

If you want to be primed to see this movie, watch Frontline's documentary Battle for Hong Kong right now for free. It's a powerful 54 minutes to see the raw bravery and steadfastness of men and women taking the streets to take on their government. This trailer feels like a timely and needed follow-up to that story with a similar take in examining the issues that speak to why this story still needs to be told. From showing the clashes that government stormtroopers get into with these students, to them talking about the risks of doing what they think is right, it's moving.

My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To

Director Jonathan Cuartas is making me uncomfortable.

Dwight and his sister Jessie reach a crossroads over what to do about their younger brother Thomas' mysterious illness. The increasingly dangerous task of keeping him alive weighs heavy on sensitive Dwight, and as a fiercely private and close-knit family unit, Thomas and Jessie depend on him and the rituals they've learned in order to keep their secret. Dwight yearns for another life, but Jessie will stop at nothing to keep her family together.

The deeper you go into this trailer the more unsettled you should feel. It's not just a horror movie, it's something far more sublime and downright evil. As debut features go, it's breathtaking to see such glimpses of talent. The snippets, taken together, don't let us know what is happening, why it's happening, or what dynamics are at play. Something for sure is very wrong with this family that looks like a more genteel version of the Sawyer family, a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it's no less frightening to know that murder gathers us together to see how this all plays out.

From Cradle to Stage

From Dave Grohl's mom, comes a series that has no fathers.

This new unscripted television series from Director Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters was inspired by his mother, Virginia Hanlon Grohl, and based on her critically-acclaimed book, From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars.

The trailer is wildly interesting. Interesting from the standpoint that here you have a handful of mega musicians who have garnered fame, fortune, and power, and all of them have a mother at the center of it all. The trailer drills quickly into the idea that they were the impetus, the motivation, and the reason they are where they are today. It's all true. But is this also a story of a handful of mega musicians who all had a father so terrible that none of them had one in their lives? Again, it may all be true. However, without addressing it, without mentioning it, I'm left simmering thinking about my own contributions to the futures of my own children and wonder if I'll ever be in the same rarefied air as their mom.

Because I can't be there as much as my wife, are my kids' narratives already being shaped by my daily absence to go to work? Sorry, but this trailer doesn't leave me with good vibes. I'm just down on myself, and I have no one to blame but me, but it seems if you're going to make a series about exceptional moms, at the very least, drag all the dads who bailed, if only to make it clear.

The Gig Is Up

Director Shannon Walsh has made a career out of examining social problems.

App developers lured a massive labor force by promising flexible hours with no offices or bosses-but with gig workers from Uber, Amazon, Lyft and more in front of the camera, the human cost of disruption runs deep.

The filmmaker has tackled human-related destruction of environments, humans trying to make their way through impoverishment, and now, the exploitation of gig workers. And this may very well be her most accessible feature yet. The promises of the gig economy have nothing to do with the human beings at the tail-end of VC investors and the often amoral founders/CEOs who run these kinds of companies. From countless stories from those who tell us that the numbers just do not add up to the lobbying these companies actively do to ensure their stranglehold on their workforce is all but assured through law, this trailer should frighten as well as enlighten. Also, we see how different but very similar organizations act with impunity worldwide, and it's not just limited to the dude-bros of Silicon Valley.

Threshold

Directors Powell Robinson and Patrick Robert Young have made a psychological thriller, made on the cheap, look gripping.

When a phone call from out of the blue brings Leo (Joey Millin) back into contact with his sister, Virginia (Madison West), long estranged from her family due to years of drug abuse, he arrives to find her alone in a bare apartment in the midst of an apparent overdose. After the convulsions and nausea subside, Virginia insists to Leo that she has been clean for 8 months due to the help of a mysterious group. She confides to her cynical brother that her edginess and paranoia actually stem from a sinister ritual conducted by the group that took her in at her lowest and eventually revealed themselves to be a cult. This curse bound her emotions and physical sensations to a man she has never met before.

With his marriage on the rocks, Leo has his own demons to face. Nonetheless, he is reluctantly persuaded by Virginia to embark on a cross-country road trip to track down this shadowy stranger under the caveat that if he's nowhere to be found and it's all in her head, she'll go to rehab. However, as their date with destiny draws nearer, Leo begins to suspect his sister's tall tale might have some substance.

Two iPhones, a 12-day road trip, and a crew of three. Not sinceSteven Soderbergh's Unsane has the use of an iPhone as a camera looked so appealing. As far as indie efforts go, this one has got a lot of ambition. I don't know what is happening here, and I don't have a bead on how any of this is going to resolve itself, but it's so satisfying to not have any of this spoiled by what we get in the trailer. It plays everything close to the vest and simply gives us a feel for the ride we're going on. Equally, I appreciate the craftsmanship and how rough it all feels around the edges.

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 Christopher_Stipp@yahoo.com or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

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

  • Luca Trailer - I'll see it but it's lacking any real spark that makes me want to see it as soon as it's available
  • Physical Trailer - I'm so much more confused after watching it than I was before I saw it
  • Sweet Tooth Trailer – PLEASE, for all that's holy and sacred, please be as exceptional as this trailer