It’s so easy to miss a AAA trailer these days, even with all the endless marketing build-up around teasers, pre-trailers (“in one day,” etc) and other forms of cinematic hype. A good trailer is an art form, one that is able to convey a movie’s plot, tone and style all while resisting that ever-present urge to score it to a slowed-down pop song. So here’s the Trailer Park, where we’re parking all the trailers you may have skipped, missed or want to revisit from the past week. Appreciate them. Nitpick them. Figure out if the movies they’re selling are actually going to be any good. That’s all part of the fun, after all.
This week, we’ve got a first trailer for Pixar’s upcoming original Turning Red, Sundance favorite documentary Flee, the latest from slow-burn master Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Memoria) and more.
Director: Domee Shi
Release Date: March 11, 2022
When you’re a studio with the kind of accolades and resume of classics that Pixar has produced, you’re going to get the benefit of the doubt most of the time, but by any standards, the studio’s upcoming animated feature Turning Red looks like a bit of an odd one. Releasing its first teaser, Turning Red is the story of Mei, a young teenager trying to survive an intensely overprotective mother, while dealing with a rather awkward quirk of her own: Whenever she gets too excited or emotional, she transforms instantly into a massive red panda. Which is to say, Turning Red feels like it has elements of the likes of Inside Out, Brave and Luca all in its DNA, but the result feels particularly jumbled in this trailer…or maybe that’s just the result of the Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life” being jammed into it so guilelessly. And why is she turning into a red panda the size of a rhinoceros, when actual red pandas are more like the size of a poodle? All questions that will surely be answered down the line. Regardless, Turning Red will make diversity history for Pixar, being the company’s first film directed by a nonwhite woman, Chinese-born Canadian Domee Shi. Shi has risen through the ranks at Pixar in the last decade as a storyboard artist and then director, working on films such as Inside Out, Incredibles 2 and Toy Story 4 before having her career breakthrough when she directed the endearing short film Bao in 2018. Bao went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, setting Shi down the path to direct her first feature in the form of Turning Red. The film is set in the early 2000s, suggesting that Shi may have based some of its elements on her own childhood. That would explain the Backstreet Boys, at least.—Jim Vorel
Director: Jonas Poher Rasmussen
Release Date: TBD
Executive produced by actors Riz Ahmed and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Flee released its first trailer. The documentary follows an Afghani man named Amin Nawabi, who has harbored a secret for 20 years that threatens to derail both his own life and the life of the man he’s about to marry. From director Jonas Poher Rasmussen—Amin’s personal friend—Amin’s story of his journey fleeing from Afghanistan as a child refugee is told mostly through animated reenactments. After its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, it was acquired for U.S., British, and French distribution by Neon, Curzon Artificial Eye and Haut et Court respectively. The film had been initially set for a world premiere at Cannes in 2020, but was pushed when the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The film was included in Paste’s Top 10 Films of Sundance 2021, with Andy Crump writing that “Rasmussen isn’t using Amin to make suffering porn. He’s letting Amin tell his story his way. Animation only ultimately acts as a veneer. Even through the layers of artifice, what this movie shows us may be one of cinema’s most harrowing refugee stories.” Following Sundance, the film screened at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, winning the award for Best Feature Film.—Brianna Zigler
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Release Date: July 15, 2021 (Cannes)
Set for a world premiere on July 15 at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, Palme D’or-winning Thai writer/director Apichatpong Weerasethakul returns with his first feature in six years—and not only that, but his first English-language film as well. A mesmerizing trailer was released today for the Tilda Swinton-starring Memoria. The official synopsis for the film dubs it a “bewildering drama” following a Scottish woman (Swinton) who, while in Colombia, hears a loud noise at daybreak and “begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome.” The film will feature cinematography from Sayombhu Mukdeeprom who, in addition to working on Luca Guadagnino’s Suspiria and Call Me by Your Name, collaborated with Weerasethakul previously on three films, including 2010’s award-winning Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. The haunting, suspenseful trailer offers a glimpse into the enigmatic film, which has built up years of anticipation with very little prior revelations. Having spent his career working outside of the studio system, a Neon distribution may grant Weerasethakul a wider reach post-Cannes.—Brianna Zigler
Director: Kristine Stolakis
Release Date: August 3, 2021 (Netflix)
The “pray away the gay” movement, which utilized conversion therapy to psychologically brutalize LGBTQ+ people into a more socially acceptable shape, is still a terrifying niche lurking in today’s society. In the ‘70s, it was having its beginnings. Pray Away, the upcoming Netflix doc executive produced by Ryan Murphy, looks at the movement’s start with Exodus International and at where its founders and most prominent spokepeople ended up today. The answers the trailer gives us are those you’d expect: They are the same as they always were, because conversion therapy was and always will be a damaging and hateful hoax. The film looks to be a moving analysis of this trend and a series of self-confrontations from those that helped perpetrate it out of a socially induced self-loathing. Expect tears!