Welcome back to another week in the Trailer Park, where old plotlines are dusted off and given new (but not necessarily improved) life, Helen Mirren serves grieving matriarch realness, and Netflix continues to drop bangers with impunity. Let’s dive right on in, shall we?
Den of Thieves
Two decades is roughly the amount of time needed for something to be considered vintage, and it’s also apparently how long it takes for a movie to be expunged from our collective generational memory. Why are we bringing this up? Because “gritty Los Angeles crime saga” Den of Thieves is (as far as we can tell) basically a thinly-veiled remake of 1995’s Heat. Except instead of Pacino and De Niro, we get Gerard Butler and 50 Cent.
Heat was written and directed by Michael Mann, who you may know from The Last of the Mohicans, Collateral, Miami Vice, and many more, while Den of Thieves was written and directed by Christian Gudegast, who you may remember from...nothing! This is Gudegast’s directorial debut — until now, all he’s directed are rap videos (and suddenly, casting 50 Cent makes sense). We wish we knew which rap videos, because we’d embed them here for your enjoyment. To be fair, Gudegast has been in the screenwriting game for awhile now, with credits that include Vin Diesel vehicle A Man Apart and the recent action thriller London has Fallen, which also stars Gerard Butler. Yeah, we feel a lot better about this movie’s prospects now.
This trailer does feature some truly superlative mask work, which is an essential for any heist movie, in our humble opinion. We have skull masks! We have gas masks! We have weird plastic masks! The trailer is also a total ammosexual sausage fest. We saw one woman in the whole thing, and she was on a pole. And hey, nothing against exotic dancers or anything, but that does paint a pretty good picture of the kind of macho platitudes this movie may subject us to.
At the end of the day, we’re just still reeling over the realization that this is 50 Cent’s 15th feature film appearance. Needless to say we’re waiting with baited breath for his episode of Inside the Actor’s Studio! Den of Thieves is in theaters on January 19, but Heat is probably available streaming somewhere this very second. Just saying.
Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built
Like The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, this is a movie based on a tourist attraction— in this case, the Winchester Mystery House, which is sort of a tourist trap but also a somewhat popular Bay Area school field trip destination.
The film bills its titular setting as “the most haunted house in history.” We’d love to see the receipts for that claim. Anyway, Dame Helen Mirren lends this dubious premise considerable gravitas as Sarah Winchester, the widow and heir to the Winchester Repeater Rifle fortune. Reportedly driven mad over guilt from all those killed by the weapon her husband invented, Winchester ordered nonstop construction on the mansion until her death. It's the subject of one of the more fascinating episodes of the Bay Area design podcast 99% Invisible. The trailer promises spirits, souls, demons, ghosts, entities, apparitions, shadows, beings, devils, poltergeists, wraiths, and spectres, which is a whole lot of jump scares for the runtime. If you’re in the Halloween spirit, live near San Jose and can’t wait until February 2 for the theatrical release, you can take a tour of the real thing for about the price of two movie tickets.
What do Winchester: The House that Ghosts Built and Mudbound have in common? That’d be Jason Clarke, who is apparently having quite a year — he also stars opposite Blake Lively in All I See is You, which is now in theaters, and stars as Ted Kennedy in another upcoming historical drama, Chappaquiddick. While in Winchester he plays some sort of doctor-slash-ghostbuster, here he’s a farmer in rural Mississippi, trying to eke out a living while grappling with life in the South at the end of World War II. Based on a novel by the same name by Hillary Jordan, Mudbound is directed by Dee Rees, who as the filmmaker behind Pariah and Bessie, among other projects, seems like the right woman for the job.
The trailer spools out multiple narrative threads that suggest that the film is told from multiple perspectives, focuses on two families — one white, one black—and touches on themes of loyalty, adultery, racism, and the horrors of war. We also get a glimpse of none other than Mary J. Blige, who rounds out a stellar ensemble cast that includes Clarke, Carey Mulligan, and Garrett Hedlund, among others. The atmosphere is sticky, soulful, and very Southern, featuring rainstorms, overalls, and plenty of anti-black discrimination.
Mudbound will be available on Netflix on November 17, perfectly timed for Thanksgiving viewing with the family. Who knows, maybe it’ll even facilitate some difficult conversations you’ve been meaning to have!
Do you love previews? We sure do! Join us weekly in the Trailer Park, where we offer hot takes on cool Coming Attractions (popcorn not included).