Monthly Preview: October 2015

calendar2Following the very stacked and very satisfying collection of films that September brought us is no easy feat, but October is certainly going for it. This time around, we are graced with a bunch of A-list behind-the-camera talents that should hopefully bring us some really impactful films. While this ultimately seems like a very serious, drama-heavy month, it should at the very least be very very GOOD drama, as you’ll see after the jump.

The Martian: I’ve never been a particularly passionate fan of Ridley Scott; aside from a few legitimate classics, most of his films are mediocre, disposable bores. However, The Martian looks to be the rare anomaly in his career that is not just well-made but flat-out great. If that turns out to be the case, I’ll probably give a lot of the credit to screenwriter Drew Goddard and the impeccable cast, though it’s worth noting Scott has clearly crafted some beautiful images as well. Besides Scott’s momentary redemption, I’d also hope that this latest hard science fiction adventure will be the inspirational tale that some of its recent brethren never fully became. My hopes couldn’t be higher for this one, so fingers crossed.

Steve Jobs: While Aaron Sorkin’s television career might have lost some of its luster (sorry Newsroom, the critics I like say you weren’t good), his cinema career is going just fine. In fact, depending on who you ask, it might be achieving new heights with Steve Jobs. While the dense and intense Sorkin script is the major feature here, it also sounds as if Michael Fassbender and Danny Boyle have brought their A-games as well, which should lead to a very impactful experience. The only question remaining is: how harsh do they get with the infamous Mr. Jobs? While I’m sure the film will be good either way, I think the harsher the film is, the better. Let’s see if that holds true with the finished product.

Truth: It’s interesting to see a film about Rathergate come out so close to an Aaron Sorkin movie, because it’s easy to imagine a version of this story being told by Sorkin himself. As it stands I’m very interested to see what James Vanderbilt does in his directorial debut, if for no other reason than he was the screenwriter behind the still-somehow-underrated Zodiac. He certainly has some impressive help here, with Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford in the leads and a killer supporting cast besides. The early festival reviews make this sound like a companion piece to the likes of All The President’s Men and Good Night, And Good Luck, albeit with a more disappointing conclusion. This one may ultimately be an also-ran as far as the awards are concerned but I’m very intrigued to see how it turns out.

Crimson Peak: Guillermo del Toro is one of my favorite filmmakers, and how could he not be? His unending passion for genre stories, his stunning visual sensibilities and his natural storytelling instincts make for a perfect cinematic storm with each new film he makes, and Crimson Peak is no exception. Here, he returns to the type of gothic-styled supernatural fable he made his name on, aided by a stunning cast and his usual brilliant production design. The end result seems to be a supremely moody, intensely atmospheric and somewhat kinky film that should stand out nicely amidst all these awards-hungry dramas. Early word out of Fantastic Fest was very good, and if there is one festival crowd you want approving a film like this it’s that one. This should be another solid win for GDT, and thus for audiences.

Bridge of Spies: I just wrote my second long-form piece on Steven Spielberg this past weekend, so I couldn’t be more primed for his latest ideological historical drama. Of course, being his first film after the understatedly brilliant Lincoln is more than enough to get me excited anyway. I fully expect this to be another mature and optimistic effort from Spielberg, one that straddles the line between legal and espionage thrillers while also delivering a timely message about American morality. I also expect Tom Hanks to once again capture that aura of common decency that he is synonymous with, and that Spielberg has used as well as anyone over the years. While there is not a lot of buzz on this one right now, I fully expect that to change once people have seen it. That’s when everyone remembers how amazing Spielberg is and Bridge of Spies starts turning up on people’s end-of-year list.

Beasts Of No Nation: Skipping past the potentially huge ramifications of Netflix’s first original feature film, Beasts Of No Nation just looks flat-out fantastic. Director Cary Fukunaga has had a terrific run to start his career, and Idris Elba looks to be top-notch as usual as a fearsome-yet-charismatic antagonist. Combine that with what is supposed to be a terrific child actor turn and a criminally-ignored humanitarian issue and this could wind up being a film with real weight. The buzz from the festival circuit has been solid, and I have no reason to think the film won’t deliver. And the fact that it’s on Netflix means there is no excuse for not checking it out.

Suffragette: Last year, one of the most impactful films I saw was Selma, a movie that captured in moving and visceral terms what it took to attain civil rights progress for African-Americans. This month, I hope to see a similarly-visceral approach to women’s suffrage in England with Suffragette. Packed to the rafters with great performers and boasting a creative team that is both accomplished and intriguing, I have high hopes here. If nothing else, I don’t think I’ll ever look at the mother from Mary Poppins the same way again after this film.

Also, I want to make special mention of the awesome-sounding Western Bone Tomahawk, which is allegedly being released at the end of this month but has yet to put out a trailer or get reviewed by anyone. It’s premiering tonight at Fantastic Fest, so I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled to see if the film lives up to the intriguing premise.

Meanwhile, Freeheld looks like a very predictable but heartwarming and likable tale of love and gay rights; The Final Girls looks like a wild bit of fun, though I wonder how sharp its satirical edge will ultimately be; I’ve heard interesting things about Victoria, a German one-take action film, that has intrigued me without really exciting me yet; I’ve heard nothing but good things about Room, featuring another great Brie Larson performance, but it’s more of a curiosity to me than anything else; and finally, Last Witch Hunter looks like a goofy and ridiculous urban fantasy story, of which there are far too few in film, that will hopefully fall closer to the Riddick end of the Vin Diesel Solo Movie Spectrum.

And that’s October! I pity anyone that can’t come out of this lineup with at least one film for their Favorites list for this year. Keep checking this blog and you’ll see which ones make mine!

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