This Week in Trailers

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 back to school, drift in and out of reality, wake up at the end-of-the-line at the wrong time of night, go back to college for some fun, and go looking for love in a dating app.

Succor

Director Hannah Cheesman is going to keep it short.

Heartbroken after a bad breakup, Angie finds comfort in her best friend Abigail, who helps her sign up for a dating app. Angie’s new online suitor, however, is not what he seems.

Just 13 minutes is all we get from Cheesman and I’m ready. The story seems fairly straightforward, but between the look, feel, and mood of everything here I’m willing to bet that things go in a fresh direction. Delightfully, the trailer keeps things opaque yet everything feels saturated with a heaviness that something wicked is about to happen. These are the kinds of short stories I could binge on all day.

Shithouse

Actor/director Cooper Raiff is making quite the literal statement with his debut.

Alex (Cooper Raiff) is a lonely, friendless college freshman who is seriously contemplating transferring to a college closer to his mom (Amy Landecker) and sister (Olivia Welch), to whom he is still extremely tethered. Everything changes one night when Alex takes a leap and attends a party at his campus’ party house ‘Shithouse’, where he forges a strong connection with his RA, Maggie (Dylan Gelula).

I’m a fan of these kinds of young adults getting a taste of pure freedom for the first time in their lives, watching them make poor decisions, all while having the relative safety net of a college to keep them spiraling out of control? Sign me up for another lap around that track. Still, the trailer is a delight. It’s simple, doesn’t have complex issues it needs to work out, and is fairly straightforward with its narrative. A small indie with a little heart would be just wonderful right now, and this promises to be just that.

Ghost Tropic

If small, intimate stories were a genre, director Bas Devos looks to have crushed it.

Khadija (Saadia Bentaïeb) is a fifty-eight-year-old Maghrebi cleaning woman living in Brussels in the wake of the 2016 bombings that shook the city. After work one night, she falls asleep on the last subway train, wakes up at the end of the line and has no choice but to make her way home—all the way across the city—on foot. Along the way, she has a series of encounters: with a security guard, a convenience store clerk, a group of teenagers. She asks for help and she gives it and slowly, steadily makes her way.

The trailer is such a delight simply for how quiet it is. Nothing is going on and I love it. Literally, the first minute is all about the setup. Although we’re told nothing, around the first minute we totally get where this is going. It raises the hair on the back of your neck a little, but then it completely disarms you. It’s soothing, it’s gentle, and the mood is one of wonder, of what a city at night can be like when not fraught with danger. Heck, it may take a sharp left somewhere but I need this.

The Swerve

Director Dean Kapsalis is giving us a slow burn.

Holly seems to have it all: two kids, a nice house, a good job as a teacher, and a husband with his career on the way up. But there are troubling signs that all is not right in her world. The insomnia. The medication for the insomnia. The dreams from the medication for the insomnia. (Are they even dreams?) And then there’s the mouse that appears in her home. Upsetting her already delicate balance, it sends her spiralling out of control. Writer/director Dean Kapsalis’ feature debut explores a week in the life of a woman on the verge in this haunting meditation on mental illness.

Emblematic of 2020 in general, this movie seems more like a mirror on what many of us have been feeling. Still, this looks to be delving deep into psychosis with its presentation of reality versus what are hallucinations. It is rough around its edges, and it feels like a debut feature from a director who is working with what he has, but, still, there’s enough to get me excited about checking out some fresh talent.

Kingdom of Silence

Director Rick Rowley is throwing haymakers in Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s general direction.

A political thriller examining the complex relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and how the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi amplified entanglements between the two countries. The film, executive produced by award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (ENEMIES: THE PRESIDENT, JUSTICE & THE FBI, Citizen K) and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright (The Looming Tower), shines new light on Khashoggi’s remarkable journey – from the battlefields of Afghanistan to the halls of power in Riyadh and Washington, from the Arab Spring to the rise of Saudi Arabia’s new Crown Prince.

Knowing that Gibney is executive producing this documentary, knowing full well Gibney has his own powder keg of a documentary taking aim at Trump, this is an exciting time for political docs. These are the kinds of stories that are almost too unbelievable when taken at face value. Journalist Jamal Khashoggi walks into a consulate in Istanbul, is summarily killed/dismembered, no one seems to know anything, yet all fingers point back to MBS. It’s an exercise in brazen power and, hopefully, this story looks to clarify, directly, that a man was killed because some prince had his feelings hurt. The trailer hides no detail and makes all these insinuations so I’m eager to devour this one.

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:

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