Between Arrival and the trailers for Blade Runner 2049, Denis Villeneuve is looking like one of the hottest directors right now. He also got a lot of attention for Sicario back in 2015. I missed it then, thinking it looked like a rote action film, but I decided to watch it the other weekend to get a better sense of what Villeneuve's been up to.
There are some really gorgeous shots in the movie. But the thing that stands out to me most about Sicario is just how dramatically different it is from Arrival in the way it treats the woman at the center of its story. Where Arrival is entirely propelled by the actions of Amy Adams' character, Sicario keeps its protagonist, played by Emily Blunt, out of the loop on decision-making and knowledge. She's ultimately even told that her presence is just minimally necessary — and it's unfortunately true.
The two films are just worlds apart in what their protagonists are able to do. One gets involved, has ideas, explores, and pushes the story forward (Arrival). The other is stripped of her power and forced to wait and watch on the sidelines (Sicario). It's not entirely fair to write off Sicario's approach like that — it's trying to make a point about that lack of agency — but I'm not entirely sold on the detached, helpless feeling it creates.
Check out nine trailers from this week below.
Game of Thrones
HBO put out a first look at Game of Thrones season 7 this week. This season runs a short seven episodes, followed by a final six in season 8 next year. It's all wrapping up, and it all looks enormous and tense in this first trailer. The show starts again on July 16th.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
I'm normally the first to complain when a trailer is packed with computer-generated creatures and worlds instead of practical effects, but Valerian seems to be doing CGI right: going big and bright and filling every frame with something strange and wonderful to look at. This is either going to be amazing or a complete mess. It comes out July 21st.
Um, 100 percent yes to the Spider-vlog. A pair of new trailers for Spider-Man: Homecoming came out this week, and the one above, the international trailer, shows off much more of the movie's fun side. If you're interested in more, the other trailer's right here. The film comes out July 7th.
Can't Stop Won't Stop: A Bad Boy Story
Apple Music grabbed this documentary from Diddy on the rise of his label and the work that went into its 20th anniversary shows last year. It looks like an energetic, emotional retrospective, and it's highlighted by a huge roster of artists who pop up to tell the story. It comes out June 25th.
Ava DuVernay's TV series Queen Sugar is returning for a second season next month. The show has been largely well received, and OWN seems to be confident in what its creators are doing, having given them an extra few episodes for season 2. It starts up again on June 20th.
Speaking of Sicario, Wind River comes from the same screenwriter, Taylor Sheridan, and it happens to be his directorial debut, too. My colleague caught Wind River at Sundance earlier this year and said, in what is maybe the creepiest sentence written on this website to date, "The violence, in particular, is special." Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner star. It comes out August 4th.
Epix has put together a new adaptation of Get Shorty, Elmore Leonard’s 1990 novel about gangsters and B-movie producers in Hollywood. The series looks energetic and funny, and it has Ray Romano on board as a goofy film producer caught up in the middle of it all. The show starts August 13th.
Shimmer Lake has all the staples of a serious crime drama — a dark, washed-out look, a rural setting, questionable metaphors about morality — but it isn't taking them very seriously. The film is a dark comedy about a bank robbery, and it looks more and more ridiculous as this trailer goes on. It comes out June 9th.
I never played any of the Castlevania games, but it was hard to be a Nintendo fan growing up and not see the series everywhere. Now Netflix is adapting the property into an anime series, and this week it put out a first look — with a long, strange intro that makes sure you realize this used to be an NES game. It comes out July 7th.