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 recognize “Our Lips Are Sealed” as the Go-Go’s best single, go cubein’, spend some quality time with Liam Neeson, tackle the controversial issue of abortion, and wine down for the weekend.

The Go-Go’s

Bless director Alison Ellwood for finally making the documentary that is a long time coming for one of the best bands that ever was.

The Go-Go’s are rooted in music history as not just a pop phenomenon but groundbreakers as well. Born out of the L.A. punk scene, Charlotte Caffey (lead guitar, keyboards and vocals), Belinda Carlisle (lead vocals), Gina Schock (drums), Kathy Valentine (bass and vocals) and Jane Wiedlin (guitar and vocals) didn’t play the part of bad girls – they were genuine punk rockers. Their 1981 debut album Beauty and the Beat, featuring the hits “Our Lips Are Sealed” (one of Rolling Stone’s Top 100 Pop Singles) and “We Got the Beat,” was one of the most successful debut albums of all time, No. 1 on the Billboard charts for six consecutive weeks and resulted in a Grammy® nomination for Best New Artist.

Those of us “olds” who grew up with The Go-Go’s on MTV knew the power of these five women. My own experience is colored by the number of times I watched the videos for “Vacation” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” as a young boy. The power and influence that this band had at their peak was, and is, undeniable. The story behind their ascension and eventual downfall into pop obscurity is one for the ages and this looks to be the definitive narrative.

The Speed Cubers

Director Sue Kim is getting in and getting out with this short new documentary.

Speed Cubing, which is the competitive sport of solving a Rubik’s Cube in mere seconds, has grown into a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. For nearly a decade in the sport, Feliks Zemdegs from Australia, has reigned unchallenged as the king of cubers, the greatest of all time.

That is, until now.

The cubing world was stunned when an unknown challenger named Max Park from California took home the Gold in 2017 and emerged onto the global stage. Since then, Max’s rise to the top has been swift and steady, save for one obstacle in his way – Feliks. The two have been trading wins and world records steadily, neither one able to truly dominate while the other still competes. But rather than developing into a bitter rivalry, Feliks & Max have instead grown their competitive relationship into a tender yet complicated friendship.

This is an extended short (clocking in at 40 minutes) so this will not take a lot of your time. If cameras weren’t here to capture the low-level drama, this would be the final story on your local news. It would be tucked away in the newspaper, relegated to the section where most stories go to die, but I’m glad this is a real documentary. These people who have this one, very specific skill just make me smile. They are good at solving a Rubik’s cube, and to see and to hear why they love it is affirming in some cosmic way. This trailer is wonderfully uplifting.

Made In Italy

Director James D’Arcy is having Liam Neeson do something a little different.

Made In Italy is a heart-warming father son story set in glorious Tuscany about bohemian London artist Robert (Neeson), who returns to Italy with his estranged son Jack (Richardson) to make a quick sale of the house they inherited from his late wife. Neither expects to find the once beautiful villa in such a state of disrepair…

Renovations go badly, with father and son soon finding themselves at odds. Robert’s comical lack of DIY experience leads him to seek help from some colourful locals including the no nonsense Kate (Duncan), an ex-pat making her living selling villas who quickly captures his attention. For Jack, the state of the house seems to mirror his search for memories of happier times with his mother. He soon falls for Natalia (Bilello), a vivacious young Italian chef, who restores both body and soul with delights from her local trattoria – until the pair find their developing relationship in jeopardy from Natalia’s jealous and threatening ex-husband. As Robert and Jack painstakingly restore the villa to its previous glory, they also start to mend their relationship. The future may now look quite different and surprise them both.

I can’t help but feel that this was just an excuse for everyone involved to make a movie in Tuscany. It’s not a bad thing, mind you, as these kinds of low-to-the-ground films are a rarity nowadays. This looks like a matinee you would watch on a lazy Saturday, a movie you would watch on TV when you’re in the mood for something light and airy, it’s inoffensive. Still, it looks charming.

Our Bodies Our Doctors

Director Jan Haaken certainly isn’t here for your approval.

This powerful film shines a light on new, unexplored aspects of the timely issue of abortion rights in America. The film introduces the audience to a new generation of female doctors who are putting themselves in danger in order to offer women reproductive choice. In one enthralling scene, the filmmakers follow the doctors to a medical school, where they answer questions from students about the dangers of performing abortions in America. The filmmakers were able to capture the true vulnerability of these young medical students and the fear inherent in their choice of whether or not to perform abortions. The film also brings to light the new reality of non-religious hospitals combining with religious institutions, and the real consequences of those mergers. There have been many recent films about the changing access to abortions in the American South, but this film shows that the threat is real for all of America, no matter what the laws say.

Hot on the heels of a supreme court ruling that helped, once again, affirm a woman’s right to choose what’s right for her, we’ve got a look at abortion from a doctor’s point of view. I would not purport to know if a movie could change the hearts and minds of anyone who has a stance one way or the other on this issue. However, for those who know this will never go away and that access to abortions can mean a life well-lived for a woman who needs one, these are stories that need telling.

A Seat At The Table

Directors David Nash and Simon Mark-Brown have made something you can enjoy after a long day, a long week, and a long pandemic.

For nearly a century France has reigned supreme over the world of fine wine. What if one country famous for punching above its weight took on the aristocracy, breaking the rules of the Old World and were “beating the French at their own game”. This is the story of New Zealand’s warp speed assent to the top of the wine world. We ask France’s best winemakers, the world’s greatest critics and most influential merchants one question. Has New Zealand earned a seat at the table?

Travelling from France to the United Kingdom to New Zealand the film covers all the key stories that now link both the new and old world. We hear both sides of each story from grape vines illegally smuggled in gumboots to climate change and the screwcap vs. cork debate. A Seat at the Table culminates with some of France’s most well-respected winemakers tasting New Zealand wine for the first time. Their responses are astounding to watch.

This will not blow up anyone’s Top 10 best documentaries list this year. However, it’s content like this that shows you where minor stories can become dramatic ones. The premise is interesting, the content looks engaging, and the trailer holds you throughout by dangling a little suspense. For those of you who have any interest at all in wines, you could pair this movie with a lovely Taco Tuesday dinner.

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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