Movies To Be Excited About This Fall, 2018
I love going to the movies, I really do, but the frontmezzjunkies theatre train has really taken me on a wild ride these past few years far away from the movie theaters, but I hope as the fall approaches, I will find my way back to the movies, especially after discovering my new favorite movie theatre in Brooklyn, The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at City Point. Not only do they respect the film, have great parallel themed pre-shows, with very strict noise and phone rules, they also serve me beer and cocktails directly to my comfy seat throughout the film! It’s the best place ever, and I hope to see all the following films there, if I can, or else I’ll just have to watch curled up on my couch streaming them into my living room. Here’s a list of the ones that caught my eye when going through the EW.com fall preview list (click on the film title for a preview):
Now I must admit a lot of these films are not blockbuster material, and many are female centric, which might say a lot about me, I guess, but who could not be intrigued by these two female star-heavy productions: Lizzie starring the glorious Chloë Sevigny and Kristen Stewart. It’s twisted and seductive, with two strongly constructed female leads, so when the axe falls, I hope I’m watching (Directed by Craig William Macneill; Release Date: 9.14),. Then there is the finely corseted Colette with the stunning Keira Knightly in the lead. Many say she is giving the performance of her career, and from the clip it appears they might be right. Co-starring the magnificent Fiona Shaw and the handsome Dominic West, the sumptuous story is a must-see on my list (Directed by Wash Westmoreland; Release Date: 9.21). There is also the film The Wife starring Glenn Close that is opening late summer, and The Children Act with Emma Thompson and Stanley Tucci that seems most intriguing in scope and presentation, and both deserve to be included in this grouping, as they are all centered around amazingly interesting characters and each one sounds like they have been given a specific viewpoint that could really produce something very special. And maybe a few Oscar nominations. Yes, I’m talking to you Ms. Close and Ms. Knightly.
One can’t deny the legacy that Robert Redford has created around himself, his work, and his independent film festival, so to hear that The Old Man & The Gun will be his final acting project makes it especially inviting. Add the phenomenal Sissy Spacek and the talented Casey Affleck, who rocked my world with his performance in “Manchester by the Sea”, into the mixture, and we have a film that will definitely draw me to the cinema late September as if held at gun-point (Directed by David Lowery; Release Date: 9.28). It seems sweet and intimate, and Spacek is such a talented natural beauty, partnered with the Sundance Kid, that watching them converse has got to be pure heaven. Another one that intrigues, but I am doubtful whether I will actually be able to sit down in a movie theatre to see it, is the frighteningly creepy, The Nun, starring the young and so familiar looking, Taissa Farmiga, sister of The Conjuring film’s star, Vera (Directed by Corin Hardy; Release Date: 9.7). I can’t imagine gathering up the courage, as scary films, well, just plain scare me, tremendously and uncomfortably. I think it has something to do with why I love film and theatre so much. When done well, they have the extreme ability to enter my heart and soul, and make me feel whatever they want to, easily and fully. To invite in the feeling of being terrified, is just that, terrifying, and why would one want to do that to oneself? As I found watching the preview almost too much for my senses. Suspense is a different thing, though. I can handle a twisty spine-tingling adventure, but one that sets out to frighten and startle is just that. In spades. So I’ll probably pass, even though I was hypnotized by the clip.
More to my speed are these two documentary films: Hal, a film about the legendary filmmaker, Hal Ashby, who balked at convention and won when he created the classic film “Harold and Maude” (Release Date: 9.7), so “if you want to sing out, sing out“. The 1971 film was a surprisingly epic exploration of death, aging, and embracing the life we have, and even though I saw the film decades ago starring the phenomenal Ruth Gordon (Golden Globe nominee), it still resonates and inspires, so to learn a bit more about the maker is just too irresistible. Secondly, there is a delicate little documentary film about a group of legendary ladies gathering for tea and conversation, called Tea With the Dames. And to no one’s surprise, it brings together Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Eileen Atkins, and Dame Joan Plowright to do just that, drink tea and chat, and who doesn’t want to be invited to that table? (Release Date: 9.21).
One of the more compelling big starry pictures being released is the remake of A Star is Born, with first time director Bradley Cooper reinventing the classic Hollywood tale, and this one I can’t wait to attend. The clip shows an impressive and surprising musical turn by the handsome and talented Cooper (Broadway’s The Elephant Man), playing the troubled singer, battling his own fame and addiction. His singing and performance feels beautiful, simple, and excitingly well sung, stripping away his movie star sparkle in order to find new life in the role, and in the young lady talent he discovers. Donning the ingenue cap that Janet Gaynor (1937), Judy Garland (1954), and Barbra Streisand (1976) all once did to much acclaim, Lady Gaga attempts to show us she is more than the ‘monster’ and ‘American Horror Story‘ adored celebrity and star that we have grown fond of, and from what is being said of the two, they might have created something that is forever “Evergreen” and worthy of our movie dollars. (Release Date: 10.5)
There are a few titles coming up this fall that feel almost theatrical and stage-worthy, or at least feel inspired by the stage. The first being, The Happy Prince which was written and directed by its star, the fantastic Rupert Everett who I had the pleasure of seeing play the fascinating Oscar Wilde once before in The Judas Kiss. This time around, the film explores the same Wilde man but begins during the final years of the writer’s exile and imprisonment for “gross indecency”. “Love is everything” to Wilde, and he pays the price that one shouldn’t ever have to. Emily Watson and Colin Firth co-star alongside the lovely Colin Morgan as the man centered in Wilde’s eye. (Release Date: 10.10). Peterloo is yet another film coming from the mesmerizing Mike Leigh that seems important and worthy of our attention. It’s a gorgeous looking period piece about the 1819 massacre that left a dozen protesters dead at the hands of the British government. If it lives up to the master who wrote and directed the film, and is anything as gripping as the preview, it’s a battle that should not be missed (Release Date: 11.9).
Starring the Tony winning Cynthia Erivo (Broadway’s The Color Purple) and the incredible Jon Hamm, Bad Times at the El Royale, along with co-star Jeff Bridges and Chris Hemsworth checks in to a ’60’s motel that straddles the California and Nevada state line. With The Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard as head check-in man orchestrating it all, and the cast of cinematic pros arriving one by one, the premise is sure to be an exciting and strange stay at the El Royale for all of us, that is if the preview is any indication. It seems destined to thrill with its unconventional and twisty crime thriller structure, but the chance to hear Erivo sing, well, just about anything, is definitely worth the cost of a movie ticket, and then some (Directed by Drew Goddard; Release Date: 10.12). Beautiful Boy saunters into the field looking like quite the heart-breaking tale of a young man in trouble. He is played distraughtly by the talented Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me By Your Name“), driving fast into a collision with his father, played by Steve Carell doing all that he can to save him from himself. The clip suggests an anguished ride, hopefully to salvation, but it most definitely will bring tears to my eyes, I’m guessing, and I can’t wait (Directed by Felix van Groeningen; Release Date: 10.12). In the less intimate style of story telling, there is a period piece starring the amazing Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy. First Man takes a realistic, almost documentary-style glimpse at the men (and women) who all played a role in the expedition to the Moon by NASA (Directed by Damien Chazelle; Release Date: 10.12). Not exactly my kind of picture, to be honest, unless is manages to be something more than a history lesson layered with an overly glorified public relations piece about the Apollo 11 project.
I’m more interested in The Guilty, the Danish filmmaker’s tense feature debut centering on the adrenaline rising experience of an emergency-call dispatch operator who must find the way to save a kidnapped woman from certain death (Directed by Gustav Möller; Release Date: 10.19). It seems crisp and solidly unromantic in a way that Hollywood rarely is, strongly compelling in its coolness. Or maybe the interesting movie of the fall will be the modern noir film starring Anne Hathaway (Public’s Grounded) and Matthew McConaughey, Serenity. It seems that there might be little of that in this captivating tale of a fishing-boat captain being seductively convinced by his ex-wife to feed her current husband, played by the sexy and scary Jason Clarke, to the sharks. Will he bite, or will he be bitten in the process? It’s hard to guess, and if the style and the story mesh, then I’m biting (Release Date: 10.19). If that’s not your cup of moody tea, there is also a Ben Foster-led drama, with the actor, who was pretty Stella-tastic in St. Ann’s Streetcar Named Desire, starring in the double-crossing Galveston. The dark film is centered on a violent and dangerous hitman who rescues a young woman, played by the enigmatic Elle Fanning, who had been held captive (Release Date: 10.19). It might just be the thrill of the fall, if it’s a dark violent road you want to travel down.
For me, the real film of the fall is all about Queen. Not director Steve McQueen, who has made the compelling and fun looking Widows, starring the amazing Viola Davis, the powerful Michelle Rodriguez, and Tony winner, Cynthia Erivo (Broadway’s The Color Purple). A capper tale that looks to be so much more than just a heist (Release Date: 11.16). Nor is it, McQueen, the biographical documentary about the life and career of fashion designer Lee Alexander McQueen (Directed by Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui; Release Date: 8.20). The film I most desperately want to see is the film about the one and only, Queen, Freddie Mercury. And his electric rise to fame. His story is being told in Bohemian Rhapsody, starring the well cast Rami Malek (‘Mr. Robot‘) as the genius himself. This is the movie that I didn’t know I wanted to see until I heard about it a few weeks ago. That song, and that band had a dramatic and powerful impact on my life. Queen was the first big stadium concert I ever saw, sometime back in the 1980’s at the CNE Exhibition in Toronto, Canada. I also fondly remember meeting and sitting next to him one hot summer’s night in Ibiza, Spain telling him that story after being introduced to the legend by Elton John. He was most gracious and charming, celebrating, what turned out to be, his last big birthday gathering, and I’m still honored that I had that moment. That being said, this band’s story just has to be as thrilling a ride as it was for these gentlemen to skyrocket to stardom, and I. CAN. NOT. WAIT (Directed by Bryan Singer; Release Date: 11.2).
On a more current and dramatically important framework, centered around a similar theme that was just recently explored in “The Miseducation of Cameron Post“, Boy Erased arrives. Starring the compelling Lucas Hedges (MCC’s Yen, “Manchester by the Sea“) the film chronicles a young man coming out hard against the tightly held ideals of his parents, played by Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe who try to “strike this demon down“. The story, based on the true tale of a son sent to a Christian gay conversion therapy camp by his religious parents seems to be as strongly captivating as the timely “Miseducation..” was, but possibly more family focused as we watch the tattered family cut the ties that bind, only to witness the strength and power of motherhood. It should be disturbing stuff, and my hopes optimistically ride high on the shoulders of director, Joel Edgerton (“Bloodlock“) to make this tale as strong and assuringly real as this boy’s tale deserves, rather than creating something too rose-colored and sappy. This topic needs a harsh light shined upon it with a relentless vigor, especially with what is happening in the real world today (Release Date: 11.2). Hedges(“Lady Bird“) is also starring in the powerful Ben is Back with the pretty woman, Julia Roberts this time as his concerned mother. A Christmas story, somewhat, about drug addiction, recovery, and hope, penned by Peter Hedges, father of the star, and author of “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and “About a Boy“. With a tough-love spewing graveyard scene, this potent film will most likely pack a punch, highlighting the struggle of personal shame and the upending power of maternal love – yes, that again. It seems to be the story of the fall (Directed by Peter Hedges; Release Date: 12.7).
Now that I am once again fully hooked on the Potter/Rowling universe, thanks to the miraculous play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child currently casting its magic spell on Broadway, I’m thrilled and excited for another trip to the world of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. And with the return of the wonderful Eddie Redmayne (“The Danish Girl“), and the addition of the talented Jude Law as Dumbledore and the ever and always fascinating Johnny Depp as Grindelwald, what else is there to do but fly as fast as your broomstick can get you to a movie palace that is showing the new installment. “I’m scared, Professor Dumbledore“, scared that it won’t live up to expectations, but without a doubt I will cross my fingers and wands as I can’t wait to be swept up again by Newt and his mischievous beasts, especially the adorable newborn Nifflers (Directed by David Yates; Release Date: 11.16). Aquaman, on the other hand, is one of the many larger than life installments coming out of the DC universe that doesn’t thrill or excite me. I’m not a big comic book/superhero film fan, and although it stars a very appealing Jason Momoa as the fantastical man of the Ocean, I doubt I’ll swim too quickly over to his deep blue sea, even with the addition of the handsome Patrick Wilson (Broadway’s Barefoot in the Park) as his brother and nemesis, King Orm, and the stellar Nicole Kidman adding yet another caring mother role to her growing list of cinematic mothers (‘Big Little Lies‘, “Lion“). But if it’s on a plane as I fly over the Atlantic, maybe I’ll take the dive and give it a try,. Time and tide will tell (Directed by James Wan; Release Date: 12.21).
There’s the strange-looking Suspiria, based on a 1970’s Dario Argento’s horror film starring Dakota Johnson, with the real draw, naturally, being the phenomenal Tilda Swinton playing the dance teacher Madame Blanc to Johnson’s dancer. The young ballerina travels from Ohio to attend a prestigious and unusual dance academy in Berlin only to find a great deal of avant-garde expressionistic movement, dreamed up by the film’s choreographer Damien Jalet. It is impressive and dementedly creepy, dripping in the feeling of blood and violent shenanigans at every knotted end. It looks like a terrifying and bizarre journey, one that I’m not so sure I’m going to take (Directed by Luca Guadagnino; Release Date: 11.2). Much like the new chapter for Lisbeth Salander, now played by Claire Foy from ‘The Crown‘. The jury is still out just how interested I am to return to this new Swedish territory that is based on David Lagercrantz’s 2015 novel,. This is the first book to be written since Larsson’s 2004 death, having Lisbeth resurface as The Girl in the Spider’s Web. Directed and re-harnessed by Fede Alvarez (“Don’t Breathe“), the heroine looks a bit different, but the Swedish Millennium series hacker stays true to her complicated twisted Dragon Tattoo’d soul even if she doesn’t register as stone cold as the previous one. But it might just be enough to get me back in the theater seat to witness her revenge upon all the men who deserve it.
The kind of women that I’m really interested in though are the two battling it out over the ruling of England and Scotland in Mary Queen of the Scots. The royals, Queen Elizabeth I, played by Margot Robbie (“I, Tonya“), and her cousin and rival, Mary Stuart, portrayed by the always fascinating Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird“) are given a revisionary slice of the monarchy to gallop into war with. The film looks gorgeous and just like the famed Friedrich Schiller’s, Mary Stuart (a powerful play that I hope is making its way to Broadway soon), director Rourke has fashioned a dynamic face-to-face confrontation between Mary and Elizabeth, a scenario that never actually happened, historically speaking. If the two ladies find true emotional complexity in their historic, and totally fabricated, confrontation, then I shall be very pleased (Directed by Josie Rourke; Release Date: 12.7). Another real-life female trailblazer, the incredible Ruth Bader Ginsburg, played by the sweet-faced Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything“) arrives on Christmas Day in Mimi Leder’s biopic On The Basis of Sex. with a lovely supporting turn by co-star, Armie Hammer (2ST’s Straight White Men). The script chronicles the early years and magnificent rise of RBG, showcasing the life and legacy of this fascinating U.S. Supreme Court Justice, played out with humor, grace, and humanity, the qualities that helped make this woman the fierce defender of truth that she truly is. Long Live the Queen RBG (Directed by Mimi Leder; Release Date 12.25).
With an intriguing rear-view mirror vantage point, Viggo Mortensen (“Captain Fantastic“) plays a working-class Italian-American bouncer who gets hired to drive a wonderfully well-spoken and talented African-American pianist, portrayed by the glorious Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight“) on a performance tour through the 1960’s American South,. In the powerful Green Book, sure to elicit a strong emotional response, this seemingly beautifully created atmospheric piece is looking to drive the conversation forward about what it means to be an African-Americian in this country at that time, and in our present convoluted time (Directed by Peter Farrelly; Release Date: 11.21). Another one to watch out for, winning the Palme d’Or at Cannes, Shoplifters is a quietly touching drama about a family of thieves and a young girl that wanders into their clan. Legendary director, Hirokazu Kore-eda is determined to steal into your heart and present an thought-provoking alternative to what it means to be in a family of one’s own (Release Date: 11.23).
One can’t even start to express the insane oddity of the compelling film by Lars von Trier that casts Matt Dillion as an unapologetic serial killer in The House That Jack Built, co-starring a perceptive Uma Thurman (Broadway’s A Parisian Woman) as a woman who should have followed her gut instinct. It’s loud, shocking, and bold, with a strong dynamic intensity. And although it gives the impression that it might be hard to watch and definitely not a feel-good kinda film, one would be as unwise as Uma’s character, to expect anything but exciting and heart-pounding from this iconic film master (Release Date: 12.28). Roma, one of the many great films to be making its debut at the New York Film Festival, seems to be another strong visually arresting piece from an exciting filmmaker. This one comes from the keen eye of Alfonso Cuarón (“Gravity“), but unlike Lars, his black and white period piece is a simple and understated autobiographical exploration of his own middle-class family living and breathing in 1970’s Mexico City. Further up north, Andrew Garfield (Broadway’s Angels in America) stars as a confused doe-eyed neighbor in David Robert Mitchell’s Under the Silver Lake . Garfield looks perfect as he struggles against himself to find out what happened to that pretty girl who sparked fireworks that one starry night but was gone in the morning (Release Date: 12.7). It has a satisfying edge and feel as the film dives into a strangely symbolic mystery that boarders on erotic obsession.
But the one that is most exciting and terrifying to the young boy who lives forever inside this grown man, the one that fills him with wonder, nostalgia, but also nervous angst, is the much-hyped and discussed re-hiring of the most enigmatic nanny of them all. Mary Poppins Returns with Emily Blunt slipping into the proper turned-out shoes immortalized by the practically perfect Julie Andrews 54 years after she disappeared into the skies once her work was done. Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s Hamilton) is also on board, helping fill the slot that Dick Van Dyke dutifully did. But it’s really the next generation Banks family home that once again needs Mary’s wise magic and love. It’s the film of the holiday season that could inspire a new generation with intelligence, compassion, and joy. Or it might just depress us all if it turns out to be a sad disappointment. It’s a high bar to fly over, thanks to the dark P.L. Travers’ children’s books and the gloriousness of the 1964 Disney film, but here’s hoping it is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious or else director Rob Marshall (“Chicago“, Broadway’s Side Show) will have a lot to answer for (Release Date: 12.19).
Good luck to one and all, and I hope to see you at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema grabbing a pint or a cocktail, and silencing your cellphones for the feature presentation.