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This Week In Trailers: Death of a Ladies Man, Canvas, Assassins, The Surgeon's Cut, The Ripper

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 lose our minds, talk to a doc, jet on over to Malaysia to kill our brother, try to solve a murder mystery in England, and see what looks like an animated tearjerker.

Death of a Ladies Man

Director Matt Bissonnette looks like he captured something great with one of the best in the business.

Gabriel Byrne plays Samuel O’Shea, a roué professor who has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. This is causing him to revel in his past and hallucinate in the present. He also has two kids and a marriage that is falling apart. A Frankenstein sidles up to the bar at one point, and his father who died when he was a boy, keeps popping up to have a chat. Often his reveries turn into joyous song and dance numbers, all of them inspired by the music of Leonard Cohen. As things get even more disorienting, Samuel decides to retreat to a rural area of Ireland. There, he meets a perfect local woman in the form of Charlotte (Jessica Paré). She is the same age as his children, but she responds to the older man’s roguish charms and intelligence, grounding him at a time when he worries he might be losing his mind.

I’m smitten by this entire trailer. Byrne is putting on a clinic showing, simultaneously illustrating how to play it small and how to play mental illness so it all feels heartbreaking and believable. He’s not overacting, he’s not melodramatic, he’s not whipping glasses against a wall to show how frustrated he is that he’s losing his cognitive abilities. If anything, it looks like he’s pulling back, he’s looking inward and keeping his performance subtle. Maybe it’s the Irish in me, but watching him navigate his way through a high concept idea like this, with that accent, is a delight.

Assasins

Director Ryan White better watch his back.

The puzzling murder of #KimJongUn’s brother in an Malaysian airport sparks a captivating investigation. At the center of the story, two women are on trial. Who are they? Fierce assassins or pawns in a twisted game? The story goes far beyond the headlines, probing further into each woman’s upbringing, one in rural Indonesia and one in Vietnam. #ASSASSINS questions every angle of this case, from human trafficking to high-level political espionage to the inner dynamics of the North Korean dynasty.

One of the more egregiously public assassinations in recent memory surely has to be the killing of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un’s brother in a Malaysian airport. It has a little of everything that you would want from a ripped-from-the-headlines documentary on a man killed in broad daylight: intrigue, connections to high-powered government officials, patsies, deception, and, ultimately, the question of who green-lit the whole operation. It’s not quite as intriguing as the JFK murder, but in today’s day and age, it’ll do.

The Ripper

Directors Ellena Wood and Jesse Vile are giving us more true crime to sink our eyeballs into.

For five years, between 1975 to 1980, the Yorkshire Ripper murders cast a dark shadow over the lives of women in the North of England. 13 women were dead and the police seemed incapable of catching the killer. No one felt safe – and every man was a suspect.

It’s obvious we all have a voracious appetite for true crime, and we will not stop as a nation until every slaughter of innocent life gets the documentary treatment it deserves. As far as these kinds of crimes, this would be at the top of the list for a true whodunit fan in that you have a serial killer who went on a rampage for five years. It’s got all the trappings of a good night’s television so rejoice at your latest expose on who killed 13 women.

Canvas

Director Frank E. Abney III knows what he’s doing.

CANVAS tells the story of a Grandfather who, after suffering a devastating loss, is sent into a downward spiral and loses his inspiration to create. Years later, he decides to revisit the easel, and pick up the paint brush… but he can’t do it alone.

I watched this trailer a few times and, every time, I was utterly enchanted with it. There’s a mood, a tempo, a style, that is just unmistakably human that comes through the screen. After looking at Abney’s reel, I can see how that Pixar glow rubbed off on his work. You don’t need to visit the uncanny valley to make animation somehow feel lifelike. You just need to play this trailer to see how you can make 3-D animation look poetic. I don’t know what is going to happen here, I still don’t know what it’s about, but in an age when we all have too much to choose from, there is just no way I will pass this one up.

The Surgeon’s Cut

The importance of healthcare workers here, and around the world, cannot be emphasized enough.

They’re philosophers, storytellers and pioneers in their fields. Four surgeons reflect on their lives and professions in this inspiring docuseries.

The dedication, the lives they are affecting, these aren’t just the stories of some rubes who work in an office. The trailer smoothly and effortlessly positions this as a documentary not without a point of view but is sharing the point of view from those who are putting in the work.

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:

    • A Disturbance in the Force Trailer – But of course I need to see this
    • His Dark Materials Season 2 Trailer – Spared no expense
    • Pieces of a Woman Trailer – Heavy on the melodrama
    • Tom and Jerry Trailer – 9-year-olds, rejoice!
    • The Godfather, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone Trailer – Nice try
    • Zack Snyder’s Justice League Trailer – Already over it
    • Small Axe: Lover’s Rock Trailer – You can feel the intensity
    • The Stand Trailer – Nah
    • Let Them All Talk Trailer – Something for the more mature crowd
    • Safety Trailer – Treacly
    • We Can Be Heroes Trailer – Could be a pleasant diversion for a young’un
    • Godmothered TrailerEnchanted this isn’t
    • Chaos Walking Trailer – Wut?
    • The Wilds Trailer – Could barely make it to the end of this one
    • One Night In Miami Trailer – Glimpses of greatness
    • MLK/FBI Trailer – So very timely
    • Giving Voice Trailer – Aspirational
    • The Underground Railroad Trailer – So very good

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