Trailer Watch returns this week and it features, in one way or another, two biopics, two films based on novels, two films by first-time feature directors, a Netflix original, and a 4:3-shot film that's deeply steeped in everything 1990s. Oh that's right, there are a few period pieces too!
Lizzie (dir. Craig William Macneill)
Chosen as one my most anticipated films of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, I wrote: "A historical thriller about the Lizzie Borden murders starring Kristen Stewart and, in the title role, Chloë Sevigny? Sign me up! As a "true crime" and Unsolved Mysteries obsessive, I've long been interested in the case of the prolific Massachusetts case." Unfortunately, due to one scheduling conflict or another, the film, eight months later, remains one of my most anticipated, as I was unable to catch a screening back in snowy Park City, Utah.
My wait need not extend much longer. Not for the squeamish (but then again, if you were one, would you be reading about an upcoming Lizzie Borden movie?), the trailer looks equally brutal—that poor bird definitely seems hammered—and paranoid—the final line about the enemies of America is both humorously accurate and a chilling red herring put forth by the true killer. Sex and violence are all but guaranteed in the quick glimpses the trailer provides us, and I'll be damned if the ominous recurring musical note throughout the preview doesn't provide its own palpable sense of dread. And hey, did you know that tomorrow, August 4th, is the 126th anniversary of the murders? Timing is everything. Release Date: September 14th, 2018, via Roadside Attractions.
Love, Gilda (dir. Lisa D’Apolito)
A comedic icon, a celebrated actress, and a pioneer for women looking to find their place in sketch comedy, the late Gilda Radner was the first person cast on the now historic institution known as Saturday Night Live (SNL). This nonfiction debut feature from filmmaker Lisa D'Apolito has been in the works for a number of years now, and it appears to have been worth the wait, having received unprecedented access to Radner's personal journals and audio cassette tapes.
Former cast members from SNL partake in the reading of these personal heirlooms, and at times the filmmaker allows her subject (through said cassette tapes) to recount her story herself. Sure to be emotionally moving and, given the personality of the title character, expectedly hilarious, this documentary (which opened the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival), should follow in the footsteps of Won't You Be My Neighbor as a passionate remembrance of an adored American public figure. Release Date: September 21st, 2018, via Magnolia Pictures.
Nappily Ever After (dir. Haifaa al-Mansour)
If you assumed, going off of the film's title, that this would be a story about hair and the probability of an impending marriage, you would've guessed right. Complete with a line where someone says "you never let your hair down" as a metaphor for describing his strenuous workaholic girlfriend, the film follows Violet Jones (played by Sanaa Lathan) as a woman who was raised thinking that it was her hair that made her who she was; sometimes clothes make the man and hair makes the woman, I suppose. Once she decides to shave it all off, the intense social pressure present in all things appearance-focused goes with it and Violet finds a gentleman who respects her for who she is. If romance is an airplane flight, her hair was the baggage she was better left unchecking.
Directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour, this Netflix drama, based on a best-selling novel, looks pleasant and inspiring for those suffering from the belief that their physical appearance (and the unending care it takes to keep up it) is responsible for everything they've achieved in life. And hey, isn't that former Ghostbuster Ernie Hudson playing Violet's knowing father? Why yes it is. Release Date: September 21st, 2018, via Netflix.
Mid90s (dir. Jonah Hill)
Skate Kitchen meets Kids? The Florida Project meets Paranoid Park? Two-time Oscar-nominated actor Jonah Hill makes his feature directorial debut with Mid90s, a gritty, youth-based, 4:3 shot coming-of-age story starring Sunny Suljic as a young boy, Stevie, less wanting to get in with the wrong crowd than with really any crowd that will have him. Like its title indicates, the film takes place in an era in which CD-collecting was all the rage, Street Fighter 2 was the defacto video game of choice, and skateboarding was less a hobby than a budding culture. No word on if Bill Clinton makes a cameo appearance. Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea) plays who appears to be Stevie's brother, a young man wise beyond his years, but also, in Stevie's eyes, somewhat of a buzzkill.
With a sun-bathed, greyed out visual palette (the cinematographer, Christopher Blauvelt is minimalist filmmaker Kelly Reichardt's go-to DP), the film looks rough around the edges (and even center frame), which is very much the intended effect. Could this be the beginning of a prosperous directing career for Hill? Having worked with the likes of Martin Scorsese, Bennett Miller, David Gordon Green, and Cary Joji Fukanaga, he may be off to a solid start. Release Date: October 19th, 2018, via A24.
If Beale Street Could Talk (dir. Barry Jenkins)
Any follow-up project to Moonlight, the celebrated 2016 Academy Award winner for Best Picture, was going to prove an uphill battle, but writer/director Barry Jenkins seems to be more than up for the task with If Beale Street Could Talk, his third feature after Moonlight and Medicine for Melancholy. Based on the 1974 novel by James Baldwin, the film, at first glance, looks gorgeous, complete with archival voiceover by Baldwin himself, moving performances, lush cinematography (by fellow FSU alum James Laxton) and beautiful production design.
Many images from the trailer alone may haunt you, whether it be the metaphorical imprisonment at the 135th Street subway station, a conversation between lovers separated by a glass wall in prison, or the face of a white police officer pivoting toward the camera like he's participating in a criminal lineup. If you're unfamiliar with the source material, not much of the plot is revealed here, and it's final note, of a daughter trying to reach out to her mother—Regina King!—without having the words to do so, is a true heartbreaker. Release Date: November 30th, 2018, via Annapurna Pictures.