This Week In Trailers: Crock of Gold, City So Real, Zappa, Couples Therapy: The COVID Special, Murder on Middle Beach

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising?

This week, we’re off to see a different side of Chicago, wonder if Shane MacGowan’s insurance ever offered dental care, try to solve a murder mystery, get to know Frank Zappa a little better, and stop being polite while starting to get real.

City So Real

Director Steve James can’t let go of Chicago.

From Academy Award-nominated Steve James, the 5-part documentary series shows a complex portrait of Chicago, the quintessentially American city, from the history-making 2019 mayor’s race to the tumultuous summer of ‘20.

The senseless violence that leads news stories when people talk about Chicago unfairly overlooks a Midwest city that is a vibrant cultural and metropolitan gem situated up against Lake Michigan. The trailer breaks it all down in a way that helps contextualize not only the gnarled and complex issues at play, but also the hope that comes with those who are trying to make it better. The pull-quotes are wonderfully peppered throughout, and the tight editing helps to give the subject matter a heavier sense of gravitas. One to watch, for sure.

Crock of Gold

Director Julien Temple, who gave us the other-worldly treasure that is 1988’s Earth Girls Are Easy, looks at a legend.

Chronicles the life and music of the legendary singer-songwriter Shane MacGowan leading up to his 60th birthday celebration.

Shane MacGowan’s teeth are probably the one thing people notice most when they see the man, but to listen to him, there’s no denying his prowess behind the mic. “Fairytale of New York” is, perhaps, one of those gems that you let play whenever it starts up, and it perfectly captures the man’s ability and jaunty spirit when he lays into a tune. The trailer effectively establishes who this man is, why we should care, and, most importantly, why we should consider giving up our time to learn more about the man with a million-dollar smile.

Zappa

Over four years ago, I talked about Alex Winter’s project that delves into the life of Frank Zappa.

An in-depth look into the life and work of musician Frank Zappa.

What Zappa lacked in commercial success in terms of sales, he more than made up for it with the largess of his personality and influence. The man has endured and has been a hallmark for hundreds of musicians simply because of how profoundly unique he was as a thinker, composer, and human being. In this trailer, Winter captures the musician’s life while leaning on the activism that kept him in the spotlight and the new music he created right up until his death. It’s a doc I wouldn’t have normally considered, but Winter’s documentary work has been nothing if not compelling.

Couples Therapy: The COVID Special

It doesn’t get much more timely than this.

When the COVID lockdown hits New York in March, renowned therapist Dr. Orna Guralnik is deep in therapy with many couples in crisis. Suddenly, these couples find themselves facing a radical new reality – they are literally trapped together. In therapy sessions conducted entirely over Zoom, the couples’ struggles push Dr. Guralnik to the limits of her insight and skill. Some couples are forced into conflict they can no longer avoid; some rise above to discover renewed love and connection. All emerge with their relationships profoundly changed.

One thing we’re all dealing with, but perhaps not talking about, is how quarantine has affected our interpersonal relationships. Those of us navigating the intricacies of intimacy during these times are grappling with issues on a daily, if not hourly, basis. I’ve been rejecting any attempt at turning this global moment into entertainment, but I am absolutely consuming this for sure.

Murder on Middle Beach

There’s being close to the source material, and then there’s director Madison Hamburg, who takes it to a new level.

Murder on Middle Beach, a four-part documentary series directed by first-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg, examines Hamburg’s complicated journey to solve an unspeakable crime and absolve the people he loves while seeking out answers within his own fractured family and community.

The series revolves around the case of Barbara Hamburg, Madison’s mother, who was brutally murdered on March 3, 2010 near her home in the upper-middle class enclave of Madison, Connecticut. Investigators speculated this was a crime of passion, but without sufficient evidence, the case grew cold.

Over the course of eight years, Hamburg interviewed his family members and many others to learn more about his mother’s life and gather evidence in hopes of solving her murder. Along the way, he uncovers a web of familial and local secrets, connections to shadowy figures, and years-old resentments in his deceptively serene hometown.

Not only do you have a true crime story, which is all the rage right now, but you have someone intimately involved in the case who is looking for answers. The trailer delicately sets up what has brought us all together while also laying the groundwork for how we’re going to explore this crime. There is something cinematic, and heartbreaking, about the path we go down here; we’re not just viewing this as a subject, we’re seeing how every uncovered moment and revelation affects our subject/director. Fascinating.

Nota bene: If you have any suggestions of trailers for possible inclusion in this column, even have a trailer of your own to pitch, please let me know by sending me a note at [email protected] or look me up via Twitter at @Stipp

In case you missed them, here are the other trailers we covered at /Film this week:

    • The White Tiger Trailer – It held my attention all the way through
    • Two Weeks to Live Trailer – Pass
    • Stardust Trailer – Congratulations, the worst trailer I’ve seen this year
    • Crazy, Not Insane Trailer – Absolutely, yes
    • Freaky Trailer – I’ll wait until it hits Hulu
    • Saved By the Bell Trailer – Harmless and toothless
    • The Midnight Sky Trailer – Indubitably
    • Selena: The Series Trailer – It’s not my jam, but it could be someone else’s
    • Becoming You Trailer – Cute
    • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Trailer – More of the same
    • The Life Ahead Trailer – Not my thing but it looks decent enough
    • The Crown: Season 4 Trailer – This is what you’ve been waiting for
    • Songbird Trailer – Horribly tone-deaf
    • Halloween Kills Trailer – Niiice
    • Willy’s Wonderland Trailer – Cannot. Wait.

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