In the movie world, fall means one thing: awards season. As the year progresses, more and more of the year’s most critically anticipated low(ish)-budget movies premiere at film festivals and are subsequently released to the public. It’s an exciting time to be a movie fan, so I picked out a few of the movies I’m really looking forward to seeing between now and the next issue. Keep in mind that there will be significantly more releases in November and December, but here are a few to whet your appetite. I’ve organized them by release date, and I encourage you to record some of the dates if any of them interest you. Even if you aren’t typically a fan of independent movies, I highly encourage you to go out at see at least one this year. I’m almost certain you’ll enjoy it.
As far as October movies go, this one pretty much dominates the landscape. An R-rated comic book movie with a lead performance from one of the industry’s most respected dramatic actors (Joaquin Phoenix) is an enticing premise, to say the least. It seems to be a unique mix of mainstream comic book appeal and low-budget “prestige” filmmaking. Initial reviews from its premiere at the Venice Film Festival were stellar, projecting an image of a groundbreaking new turn in the comic book genre with an outstanding performance from Phoenix. It even picked up the festival’s top award. As the hype has settled down, however, they have been replaced by a less enthusiastic (but still generally good) reaction, mostly centered around criticism of the film’s trite anti-capitalist messages. It should be an interesting watch, especially for fans of more traditional comic book movies. We live in a society.
Oct. 4, 2019.
The newest work from Bong Joon-Ho, one of Korea’s most well-respected filmmakers, “Parasite” seems to be the consensus favorite of all of 2019’s international premieres. It may even turn out to be the year’s best movie, international or not. The film premiered at Cannes, widely considered the most prestigious film festival in the world, and won its top award, the Palme d’Or. That is a very, very big deal. Critics have praised its effective satire coupled with sound filmmaking and great acting, all of which come together to create a clever examination of modern society. Even if you aren’t a fan of foreign language films (or you’ve never seen one before), the reviews alone are enough to justify a trip to the theater. It is easily the movie I’m most looking forward to in the next couple of months.
Oct. 11, 2019.
“The Lighthouse” is an oddball. It is director Robert Eggers’ follow-up to his quiet horror hit, “The VVitch” (or just “The Witch.” It’s much easier to spell). The movie stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as keepers of an isolated lighthouse with no one but each other for company. It is a deliberately artsy movie, filmed completely in black-and-white with a nearly square aspect ratio. The trailers alone indicate an intensely intense tone, toeing the line between thriller and straight-up horror. Dafoe is at his absolute strangest (something to be excited about), and those who have seen the movie are praising Pattinson’s performance as the newcomer. It is definitely not a movie that everyone will be interested in, but if you are at all intrigued by two men slowly growing to hate each other in black-and-white, go ahead and see it. I know I will.
Oct. 18, 2019.
Dolemite Is My Name
In contrast to some of the heavier entries above, “Dolemite Is My Name” is a light-hearted return to form for star Eddie Murphy. Despite his legendary status as a comedian, Murphy has not found cinematic success in a long time (his last ‘fresh’ movie on RottenTomatoes was “Tower Heist” all the way back in 2011). However, this newest turn from director Craig Brewer seems to be a huge step in the right direction. In a film inspired by a true story, Murphy stars as a struggling comedian in the 1970s who reinvents himself as a cartoonishly vulgar hero in an effort to capitalize on the ‘blaxploitation’ phenomenon. The film has emerged as somewhat of a fan favorite among critics, who have praised Murphy’s performance alongside the film’s intelligent comedic tone. “Dolemite Is My Name” will be released directly onto Netflix, so it’ll immediately become widely available to the public.
Oct. 25, 2019.
“Waves” is a nuanced family drama, one of the staples of independent filmmaking. However, this particular entry seems to have set itself apart from the rest of the field. It follows an African-American family in Florida as the son and daughter navigate the last few years of high school, encountering a number of challenges as tensions grow following a devastating loss. It is a look at the dynamics that both divide and connect families, and the way we can overcome obstacles together. Despite a somewhat low-profile premiere, “Waves” is one of the highest rated movies to come out from the Telluride Film Festival, and is slowly gathering steam as a potential Academy Award contender.
Nov. 1, 2019.