Hi everyone, I’m back after a couple weeks away — partly because of the holidays, partly because the trailer selection just wasn’t very good. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t post another Cats trailer). I got to watch a few things during the break though, with the biggest being Joker.
There’s something incredible about indie filmmaking styles now being so mainstream that a major comic book movie is able to emulate them. All of Joker feels this way to an extent, but the clearest moments are the occasional sequences that have the camera floating close beside a silent, emotional Joaquin Phoenix, in the oddest of homages to Terrence Malick. I love how the filmmakers are trying to apply that vibe here, but it’s just way too hard to make that kind of emotional intimacy work with a character who, ultimately, is a clear-cut murderous villain. It makes for a lot of mixed tones and messages that the movie can’t quite line up, and frankly, probably shouldn’t.
One thing I will say I enjoyed is the movie’s (admittedly and appropriately controversial) music selection during the stairs sequence. The juxtaposition of a song so clearly associated with riling up crowds in sports stadiums with the seriousness of the film and the absurdity of the Joker suddenly becoming the Joker is just... perfect. I don’t think I’ve ever been so pleased by a musical cue.
Check out seven trailers from this week below... and since I left you all hanging the last two weeks, I’ve got a few bonus trailers below those that are from late November.
At long last, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is getting her own film. One of the wonderful things about the MCU is how willing the studio is to let individual films dive deep into different genres, and Black Widow really feels like a straight-up spy thriller. I mean, with some over-the-top, Marvel-scale action sequences too. But also with some intimate fights and drama. It comes out May 1st.
No Time to Die
Daniel Craig started his tenure as James Bond with a film that was not just good for a Bond movie, but was across the board worth watching. The rest of his Bond films? Not so much. No Time to Die is his final chance, and there are some big names on board to help out — Cary Joji Fukunaga directs, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge helped polish the script. For now, it kind of just feels like a Bond greatest hits collection; not so bad, but not so impressive, either. It film comes out April 8th.
Disney finally put out a full-length trailer for Mulan this week. It shows a colorful film, some gorgeous locations, and the setup to an obviously epic battle, while maintaining what feels to me like a really classic, Disney-approved storybook approach to the whole thing. It comes out March 27th.
Just Mercy has an all-star cast, with Jamie Foxx and Michael B. Jordan telling the true story of a man who was wrongly convicted of murder. This trailer is actually shorter than the first trailer that came out, but I think it does a much better job of just letting the movie play so that we can see how strong these performances are and why they’ll be worth watching. The film comes out on Christmas and expands wide on January 10th.
Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens
Awkwafina has very quickly become a must-see, hilarious on-screen presence, so it was only a matter of time before she got her own TV show. Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens (as I learned writing this: her name is Nora, and she is from Queens) looks like exactly the scrappy comedy show you’d want from her. It starts January 22nd.
The Assistant, written and directed by Casting JonBenet creator Kitty Green, looks like a tense and intentionally discomforting film about sexual assault and abuse of power in the workplace. The entire movie unfolds over one day in the life of a new assistant, as she begins to see what’s going on around her. It opens January 31st in New York and LA before expanding in February.
My greatest contribution to film analysis has been repeatedly stating over the last two years that dog movies are in. I don’t know how true it is that they ever left, but regardless: look. It’s another dog movie. They aren’t talking dogs, but somehow the creators got Willem Dafoe to be the star. So this is what a Disney+ movie looks like.
Since this column disappeared for a couple weeks, below are some trailers I wrote up the week before Thanksgiving but never posted — there’s another dog movie. Yes, you have to watch it.
As the self-appointed and unchallenged leader of The Verge’s premier Pride & Prejudice (2005) fan club, I’m delighted another Jane Austen adaptation is coming up. The film is the debut feature from Autumn de Wilde, who’s best known for her photography and music videos — and her attention to sharp style very much shows through. The film really seems to be going for a The Favourite kind of vibe, and while I loved that film, I’m not sure yet how well it’ll play within an Austen story. The film comes out February 21st.
Avenue 5 is the latest series from Veep creator Armando Iannucci. The show takes place some time in the future on a ritzy spaceship that’s host to a bunch of glamorous vacationing passengers, and it seems to be using that setup to give us a ridiculous comedy about class. It starts some time in January.
It’s not at all clear to me what’s happening here, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Janelle Monáe stars as an author who... somehow gets mixed up in some time-bending horror. It comes out April 24th.
The Call of the Wild
Sometimes it’s like, I get it, Harrison Ford is grumpy about having to do Star Wars stuff because he wants to go work on more important films. And then, I don’t know, there’s this thing with him and a CGI dog.