I’ll be in my trailer… watching trailers: The past is a mirror

Join us every week for a trip into the weird and wonderful world of trailers. Whether it’s the first teaser for the latest instalment in your favourite franchise, an obscure preview for a strange indie darling, whether it’s good, bad, ugly or just plain weird – your favourite pop culture baristas are there to tell you what they think.

Julie: One night in 1964, four luminaries gather in a hotel room to celebrate Cassius Clay’s surprise win over Sonny Liston. The men are Clay himself, later that same year he would become known as Muhammad Ali; Malcolm X, then on the cusp of leaving the Nation of Islam; legendary NFL footballer Jim Brown and superstar Sam Cooke. The film is taken from the play by Kemp Powers and is Regina King’s directorial debut. Yes. That Regina King. It has great buzz (is this woman just brilliant at everything?), and how can it not with this concept. Leslie Odom Jr., of Hamilton fame plays Cooke, Eli Goree portrays Cassius Clay, Aldis Hodge is Jim Brown and British born Kingsley Ben Adir is Malcolm X. One Night in Miami not only looks stunning, but engaging and thought-provoking. Certainly a film for our time, informed by the convictions of legends past.

Sam: Finally a trailer for a new movie to look forward to in 2021 – and one with both an intriguing cast lined up (Jodie Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch, Shailene Woodley): The Mauritanian by powerhouse director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, Touching the Void, State of Play). Finally, Guantanamo and its illegally held terrorism suspects become the focus of a seemingly spellbinding tale of potentially wrongfully accused (Tahar Rahim) defended by a defense attorney (Foster) – to what already seems like riveting effect in the trailer! Who else than Macdonald after all should tackle one of the remaining ‘hot potatoes’ about the questionable consequences of 9/11 for human rights and the rule of law?

Matt: Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching Steve McQueen’s series of films Small Axe, which he made for the BBC. They’re about an anthology about the lives of Black Brits in London during the ’60s and ’70s. As you can imagine, it’s not exactly fun fare, and it’s difficult not to come away from several of the films with feelings of anger. That anger may be exactly what is called for, mind you, as the themes of racism and police brutality are still highly relevant and it’s simply inadequate to keep pointing the finger at the United States without taking a close, uncomfortable look at these issues in Europe as well. At the same time, though, McQueen makes Small Axe into a celebration of the culture he depicts. Ignore the silly, boring critics’ discussion about whether this is TV or film and spend the time watching Small Axe instead.

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