Alright everyone, it’s time for Star Wars. I’m writing this before I’ve seen the new movie, so instead I’m going to write about The Last Jedi, which I think did some very smart things to set up this film, even if it may have also made life a little trickier for J.J. in other ways, too.
The smartest thing The Last Jedi did for the trilogy was kill off Snoke — an empty plot device — and set up Kylo Ren as the ultimate villain. The absolutely palpable tension between Rey and Kylo (and more broadly, their shared battle between light and dark) gives the story a core worth caring about. The trilogy is all about these two people, even if, you know, the entire galaxy is at stake too. (Trailers suggest The Rise of Skywalker brings in a new ultimate villain, and I question whether that’s the right decision.)
What I think makes things trickier is how The Last Jedi ends. It’s fully open for Abrams to take where he’d like. That may be quite freeing, but it also means that — despite being eight films into a nine film saga — there’s no obvious next step, let alone an end point beyond the good guys winning this round. Abrams keeps talking about tying up eight films’ worth of plot, but the problem is, that’s not really true. It’s mostly just been film after film, without a clear trajectory. I think that’s part of the fun of these movies, but it also makes for difficult endings when so much of the framework has to be established within the final movie.
Check out 11 trailers from this week below.
(P.S. I’m off for the holidays next week, but I’ll see you all again in 2020!)
Here’s the latest from Christopher Nolan. Tenet, which he wrote and directed, appears to be a time-bending action thriller that has its heroes trying to stop a bad guy or something (IDK they mention World War III and nukes) while other characters are going backward in time in front of them. The visual effect is very trippy and a little weird to watch, but I imagine it’ll make for a cool premise. The film comes out July 17th. (I must note, I’m not sure I’ve seen a trailer before that ends with the message: “SEE THE TRAILER IN THEATERS FOR MAXIMUM EFFECT.” What effect? What? Vision? It’s just bigger!)
I didn’t realize this when the first trailer for 1917 came out: the entire film is presented as if it were a single unbroken shot. Long takes are an effect that can easily be misused, but I get the impression that it makes a lot of sense here — the film is about two soldiers racing across France to deliver an urgent message about an impending ambush, and the unbroken shot should play up the impact of that ticking clock. It comes out January 10th.
Top Gun: Maverick
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a trailer quite like this. The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick is basically just a triumphant dose of nostalgia — two minutes of wow aren’t Tom Cruise and Top Gun the best? — without actually getting into the substance of the movie at all. But I guess substance doesn’t matter here. It’s Tom Cruise. It’s Top Gun. We know what we’re gonna get. It comes out June 26th.
The Woman in the Window
The latest from my boy Joe Wright (director of the 2005 Pride & Prejudice) is a Rear Window-style thriller that has a woman confined to her home trying to unravel a murder she believes she’s witnessed. Except, unlike Rear Window, The Woman in the Window seems to get increasingly strange as things go on, with the mystery folding back on her. It comes out May 15th.
Here’s the latest trailer for Onward, Pixar’s fantasy twist on a road movie. Despite the cute mashup, the premise and world somehow still feel familiar, and it’s kind of tempering my interest. The movie looks like an entirely pleasant and fun trip, but I’m just not sure it’ll be any more than that. The film comes out March 6th.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always
Written and directed by Eliza Hittman, Never Rarely Sometimes Always is about a teenage girl who travels from rural Pennsylvania to New York City to get an abortion, where consent of a parent isn’t required. The movie looks absolutely devastating, filmed like a quiet, awkward, uncomfortable indie, but with a powerful coming of age story underneath. It comes out March 13th.
Apple’s next TV show is an anthology series with Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon serving as executive producers. Each episode features a story about a person or family trying to move to or otherwise make it in America. That seems like a somewhat tricky thing to build an audience around given the constantly rotating cast, but it’s also the kind of heartwarming content Apple seems determined to build its brand on. The stories are based on pieces in Epic — which, full disclosure, shares the same parent company as The Verge. The show comes out January 17th.
Buffaloed has Zoey Deutch playing an absurdly high-energy hustler who seems to have no ethics and will stop at nothing to make money and get out of her home town. Early festival reviews have been good so far, and the movie looks enjoyable raucous from this trailer. It comes out on Valentine’s Day.
John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch
John Mulaney made this wonderfully offbeat looking comedy special that is ostensibly a children’s show but in reality seems to be a wacky variety special filled with songs and visuals and guest stars, including David Byrne, Jake Gyllenhaal, and quite a few more. It comes out December 24th on Netflix.
Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus star in this remake of Force Majeure, a 2014 Swedish comedy that earned rave reviews when it came out. I never saw the original, so I’m not sure how well they’ve been able to translate the humor (the original film’s director is on board as an executive producer). It looks a touch bland to me, but at least it’s different than most comedies right now. It comes out on Valentine’s Day.
I don’t even know where to start.