The start of the fall means a handful of things: the return of professional football, an uptick in malt-heavy seasonal beers, classes starting up again, and, more importantly, time for some really good movies. With the final third of the year ahead of us, studios are putting out their best and most prestigious efforts in a mad rush from now until the end of the year, the deadline for Oscar contention.
That means that in the next few months alone we can look forward to new efforts from Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Andrew Dominik, David O. Russell, and even RZA! It’s a good time to be a movie fan.
Of course, the real movie event of the fall opens just next week, when we’ll be able to get our first look at The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson’s first directorial effort in the five long years since There Will Be Blood drank our collective milkshake. Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman both look absolutely stunning in this thinly-veiled depiction of the rise of Scientology, though early word suggests that said story takes a back seat to the intense and complicated relationship between those two main characters. Besides, if that weren’t enough, September closes out nicely with Rian Johnson’s Looper – a mind-bending time-travel thriller that’s already wowed Toronto audiences, and affirmed the notion that the Brick director is indeed the real deal.
October promises Martin McDonagh’s eagerly awaited follow-up to In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths, which (thanks to the magic of test screenings) we can already tell you is violent, hilarious, very film-literate, and insanely entertaining. Would you expect any less from a movie that pairs Sam Rockwell with Christopher Walken, though? The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer’s adaptation of David Mitchell’s sprawling tome Cloud Atlas looks like it has the potential to be a masterpiece or a disaster, but based on the six-minute trailer that dropped over the summer, we’re inclined to think the sheer ambition of the thing makes it a must-see.
Advanced buzz on Argo seems to suggest that Ben Affleck cements his legacy as this generation’s Alan Pakula, this being another damn good and damn entertaining mid-budget drama for adults in the wake of The Town and Gone Baby Gone. And then there’s Killing Them Softly, the new film by Assassination of Jesse James director Andrew Dominik, which gathered a lot of talk at Cannes for its melding of political allegory with crime genre thrills. Of course, if it’s half as good as Dominik’s last movie, that alone means it’s worth seeing.
Once November rolls around, you know we’ll be dying to see The Man with the Iron Fists – the directorial debut of RZA (based on a script by him and Eli Roth), which looks like a crazy, stoned fantasia of kung-fu, nakedness, rap music and extreme gore. That opens opposite Flight, Robert Zemeckis’ eagerly anticipated return to live-action and escape from the uncanny valley, and Wreck-It Ralph, which looks nostalgic in all the right ways. Then the next week, we get two big ones: Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, which will be worth checking out if only to see Daniel Plainview take on Honest Abe, and Skyfall, which looks like a much needed return to form for the Bond franchise after the interminable, dull shenanigans known as Quantum of Solace.
The week of Thanksgiving brings Silver Linings Playbook, another look at dysfunctional family dynamics from David O. Russell that follows his fantastic 2010 effort, The Fighter (and again, thanks to test screenings, we can tell you that this one is gonna be quite good, too). Finally, there’s Ang Lee’s 3D adaptation of Life of Pi, which seems like it could really go either way. Will the insane visuals of that trailer live up to an emotional core equal to that of The Ice Storm and Brokeback Mountain, or is this Hulk all over again? We shall see.
For sake of brevity (and in the interest in preserving relative accuracy when discussing “fall” movies), we’ll stop things before the madness of December and the greater holiday season. Yet all the same, in the months ahead, there’s going to be a lot to look forward to, and most importantly, a lot to see.
The Master (Sept. 14)
Looper (Sept. 28)
Seven Psychopaths (Oct. 12)
Argo (Oct. 12)
Cloud Atlas (Oct. 26)
Killing Them Softly (Oct 19)
The Man with the Iron Fists (November 2)
Flight (November 2)
Wreck-It Ralph (November 2)
Lincoln (November 9)
Skyfall (November 9)
Silver Linings Playbook (November 21)
Life of Pi (November 21)