Due for release this October, the film Mid90s has a new trailer that arrives as the promising promotional material for the potentially auspicious directorial debut of Jonah Hill (best known as a partner-in-laughs to many Seth Rogen films).

Skateboards are shaped A24 at the beginning, which is the studio name.

A film named after a particular time period is under considerable pressure to nail the feel of it, and apparently Hill and co. are more than up to the task. Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter (Comes Tears)” is a possibly counterintuitive musical choice to represent an era that is at first subtle: while the hit had its heyday in 1964, Wu-Tang Clan would prominently sample it in 1993. There is also a convincing parallelism in the montage of CDs and 16-bit video games from twenty-five years ago, roughly the same length of time between the Rene’s music and the period of the film. By the 40 second mark, however, it’s revealed that we’re listening to the Wu-Tang track after all; Hill’s director’s card is synched to the opening Wu-Tang beats, which are matched by a more active but no less nostalgic montage of skateboarders and long-haired, grungy smokers.

At 1:15 with a tonal shift to look at the protagonist kid’s tumultuous home life we hear Omega’s 1969 song “Gyöngyhajú lány” (roughly translated from Hungarian as “Pearls In Her Hair), probably best known as sampled by Kanye West on his 2013 album Yeezus. Events escalate from there as it becomes increasingly clear, if it wasn’t already, that we’re dealing with a classic coming of age story from a director who is more than likely parlaying semi-autobiographical sentiments into this project (Hill is currently 34). The title card, arriving at 2:10 in its gloriously 90s serif font, is similarly synched to the music. The music is simply given a quick fade out after a promise that the film is “coming soon.”

In terms of editing and presentation, there’s something to be said for simply taking two complementary songs, not necessarily of a vintage or persuasion directly coinciding with the time period of the film (Wu-Tang aside) and giving the visuals room to breathe as the song is allowed to play unabated. 

Worthy of note, as an aside, is that trailers in general have become events in their own right in our culture in a way that we haven’t really seen before: just last week, many celebrated the 10th anniversary of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and with it, the beginning of the current resuscitation and subsequent renaissance of the epic trailer as both promotional artefact and professional art form. That’s as true for the Nolans of the world as it is for the Hills, and we at Trailaurality can’t wait to see and hear what happens next. 

– Curtis Perry