Monthly Preview: November 2013

First off, apologies for the lack of content this past week; things have been kinda stressful in the real world, hopefully I can get the rant machine back on track going into November.

And speaking of November… holy SHIT is this month a desolate wasteland of moviegoing. I can’t recall the last time the options this late in the year were this uninteresting to me. A large part of this is that several movies that were intended to get a release this month have been pushed back to December for one reason or another. But regardless of the reason, the remaining movies slated for November are by and large uninteresting; I had to stretch to even get the list as long as it is now. So, without further ado here’s my guide to the slowest November ever, after the jump.

Dallas Buyer’s Club: the Matthew McConaughey Renaissance continues with this surprisingly fun-looking drama from director Jean-Marc Vallee. The story focuses on a rabble-rousing ‘80s Texan who becomes infected with AIDS, and turns to illegal means to get the drugs he needs to actually survive. When the drugs turn out to be a massive black market commodity, he begins selling them, and in the process seems to find some peace. While McConaughey looks to be in his now-usually-awesome form here, the show could easily be stolen by the nigh-unrecognizable Jared Leto playing a transvestite prostitute that becomes his business partner. The biggest surprise though is the tone, which based on this trailer is a lot lighter than you’d expect for a drama about AIDS. Seems like a nice, performance-driven feature to usher the month in.

Wind Rises: While my experiences with Hayao Miyazaki are still limited to Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away, I’m still very excited to see what appears to be his final feature film, a movie focusing on the very grounded story of the designer of the Japanese Zero fighter plane. It’s easy to see how Miyazaki’s usual themes of imagination and peace-versus-war would play into this story, even without watching the trailer, and seeing such a grounded and adult story being told through animation is terrific. I hope that this movie can be a good example of how animated movies can be more than just kiddie adventures and musicals, though obviously time will tell on that one. Unfortunately we won’t really find out the answer to that question until at least next winter, as Wind Rises won’t get a full release until Feb. 22nd. It is getting an Oscar-qualifying run in New York and LA starting November 8th, which is when I plan to see it. Hopefully everyone that can will do the same.

Frozen: This one is a textbook example of the not-that-old saying “Don’t judge a movie by its trailer.” While every preview so far has emphasized the goofy humor and the side characters, and shown very little of the character work or musical numbers, I’m willing to have faith in the latest movie from Disney Animation, who’ve had a solid run in with both Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph the last few years (Tangled having also been a movie that was made to look more immature than it was in the trailers). With a killer voice cast including Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, and a storyline that is apparently built around a sisters relationship, it should be another solid modern Disney musical, and a fun break from the usual late-year Serious Movie season.

Oldboy: At this point I’m kind of stretching. While I’ve been curious to see Spike Lee’s remake of the Korean classic, the trailer didn’t do much to establish it as being any different from the original. Having said that, I’m a big enough fan of Lee (and the awesome cast which includes Josh Brolin, Sharlto Copley, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L Jackson) that I’m still hopeful the final product will be something worthwhile. The big question is whether it properly straddle the line between being the sort of mainstream-ish hit thriller that Lee could use right now (a la Inside Man) and still maintaining the harsh, unforgiving nature of the story. Time will tell, and I’m hopeful, but when this makes my Most Anticipated list, you know it’s a slow month.

Despite how much I enjoyed Iron Man 3 and how cool I think Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks, I’m really not particularly excited for Thor: The Dark World, but it looks decent enough that I’ll probably see it at some point down the line; similarly The Hunger Games: Catching Fire also looks like a solidly-made blockbuster, and I liked the first movie well-enough, but it’s also something I can wait indefinitely to see; and although it’s title is needlessly over-explanatory and makes it sound like the start of a franchise, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom looks like a perfectly serviceable biopic that if nothing else can be a great showcase for Idris Elba and Naomie Harris.

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