Metro Weekly

Film: Fall Arts Preview 2015

The Martian: Matt Damon

The Martian: Matt Damon

Fall really only means one thing in the cinematic world: it’s Oscar season. Studios will rub shoulders as they desperately cram the schedule with movies they hope will bring home a statue — and the resulting inflated box office receipts. There’s Emily Blunt as an idealistic FBI agent, Eddie Redmayne as the first transgender woman to undergo gender reassignment, Tobey Maguire as a chess master, and Rooney Mara as a store clerk in love with a married woman, to name but a few of the performances that’ll captivate audiences this season. Sprinkled amongst these performance-driven pieces are the usual blockbusters, of course, from sci-fi escapism to high-drama realism, with a detour to the top of Mount Everest and the World Trade Center to boot. Horror is also surprisingly present this year, with Eli Roth and Guillermo del Toro doing their best to make audiences jump. There’s even a hideous remake of an ’80s animated classic, if that’s your thing. Something for everyone, then.

SEPTEMBER

EVEREST — If you’ve ever looked at the world’s highest peak and wondered why anyone would try to climb it, Baltasar Kormákur’s film will do nothing to change your mind. With a starry cast including Jake Gyllenhaal and Josh Brolin, it depicts — in immersive 3D, no less — the events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, when a blizzard led to one of the mountain’s deadliest climbing seasons. If you have a fear of heights, perhaps head to a 2D showing. (9/18)

MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS — Something of an outlier in the young adult genre, the Maze Runner series nevertheless shares countless similarities with the Divergent and Hunger Games series — dystopian tones and plucky adolescents are both here in equal measures. Expect even more action as our tortured maze-dwellers escape into the outside world, where they’ll desperately seek for the same incredible profit margins as the last film. (9/18)

BLACK MASS — An unrecognizable Johnny Depp stars as Whitey Bulger, the infamous Boston mobster whose crimes were ignored by the FBI after he became an informant for them. Set in the ’70s and ’80s, when Bulger’s criminal activities peaked, early reviews suggest Depp’s performance is a game-changer for his career. (9/18)

SICARIO — Incredibly timely given the barbed words being used in the GOP presidential race, Emily Blunt stars as an FBI agent swept up in the drug war taking place on the US-Mexico border. Tasked with bringing down a drug lord, Kate Mercer (Blunt) joins forces with a covert assassin (Benicio del Toro) and learns the human cost of the drug cartels’ dominance in Mexico. Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Prisoners) directs. (9/18)

PAWN SACRIFICE — Did you know that one of the most exciting clashes between the U.S. and the Soviets occurred over a chessboard in Iceland 40 years ago? No, really. American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) challenged Russia’s Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) to defend his world title and both nations’ governments became embroiled in the ensuing match. Edward Zwick’s film depicts the build-up to and fallout from the historic bout — and no doubt hopes to score an Oscar nom for Maguire’s performance as the troubled Fischer. (9/18)

ABOUT RAY — Critics so far seem split on Gaby Dellal’s film — a Boy’s Don’t Cry for a more tolerant world — which follows Ray (Elle Fanning) and his transition from female to male. Ray’s mother (Naomi Watts) and grandmother (Susan Sarandon) must come to terms with his transition while trying to persuade his estranged father to approve of the process. We can quibble over its schmaltzy nature and cisgender actor, but that About Ray exists at all speaks volumes about Hollywood’s increasingly diverse nature. (9/18)

THE INTERN — Proving she has a penchant for mature themes, Nancy Meyers (It’s Complicated) writes and directs a film about ageism, the potential boredom of retirement, and the classic adage that experience never gets old — it’s even the film’s tagline. Oscar-winners collide as Ben (Robert De Niro) takes an intern role at Jules’ (Anne Hathaway) upstart fashion website, eventually mentoring her in both business and life. It seems relatively inoffensive, if a little paint-by-numbers — much like Meyers’ last effort. (9/25)

THE GREEN INFERNO — Eli Roth brings his typically over-the-top style to another film about clueless Americans stumbling into danger. Well, technically they crash into it when a plane full of doe-eyed youths eager to help save the rainforest plummets into the midst of an uncontacted tribe. It’s Hostel, but outdoors. (9/25)

STONEWALL — No film has generated as much controversy amongst the LGBT community as Roland Emmerich’s retelling of the birth of the modern gay rights movement. Accused of whitewashing history — literally, by handing the narrative to a fictional white male (portrayed by a straight actor, Jeremy Irvine) — Stonewall‘s makers seem to have diluted the contribution of major figures in the community, particularly trans women of color. Its release is already threatened with boycotts, suggesting that Emmerich’s final cut will have to be incredibly different to its trailer in order to succeed. (9/25)

LABYRINTH OF LIES — What if, a mere thirteen years after WWII ended, most Germans had no idea what happened in Auschwitz? A pretty chilling thought — even more so when one realizes that it’s true. Post-war, thousands of Nazi soldiers and officials returned to normal life and were ignored by a country that only wanted to heal. Labyrinth of Lies offers a facts-based retelling of the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, in which prosecutors tracked down and convicted those who had helped killed hundreds of thousands of Jewish people and other minority groups. Johann Radmann (Alexander Fehling) is the prosecutor in question, with Giulio Ricciarelli’s film already selected by Germany to contend for the foreign language Oscar next year. (9/25)

THE KEEPING ROOM — Take the middle portion of Gone with the Wind — when Scarlett O’Hara desperately struggles to save a run down Tara in the face of an advancing Union Army — dial up the tension, lower the number of inhabitants, and burn the curtain dresses. What you’re left with is The Keeping Room, which depicts two sisters and their female slave working to keep their farm in the absence of any men. Enter two Union soldiers on a murderous rampage, who have the farm in their sights, and there’s all the ingredients for a empowering thriller as the women fight to defend all they have. (9/25)

MISSISSIPPI GRIND — An endlessly unlucky gambling addict (Ben Mendelsohn) teams up with a younger gambler (Ryan Reynolds) and sets off on a road trip to try and win back the debts he owes. It’s a dramedy that’s part buddy film, part road movie, part character study, with some critics calling it Reynolds best work. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck (Half Nelson) write and direct. (9/25)

THE REFLEKTOR TAPES — Do you want to see a documentary about the making of Canadian band Arcade Fire’s fourth studio album, Reflektor? Wait, you do? Oh, well enjoy this mix of interviews, concert footage and documentary work. (9/25)

OCTOBER

THE MARTIAN — A lone survivor of a freak storm is left stranded on the Martian surface, desperately hoping to be rescued. No, this isn’t 2000’s dreadful Mission to Mars, but the latest effort from Ridley Scott. Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is the astronaut in question, struggling to survive with dwindling supplies and limited means of contacting his rescuers 140 million miles away on Earth. Think Gravity but even further from home. It’s shaping up to be one of fall’s unmissable films. (10/02)

LEGEND — Tom Hardy plays double duty as the Kray twins, London’s most notorious gangsters during the ’50s and ’60s. Leading a brutal campaign to take over the city, the Krays became minor celebrities thanks to mingling with politicians and film stars. Hardy’s performance as Reggie Kray is masterful, but his portrayal of Ronnie — who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia — borders on parody. Thankfully, it doesn’t derail this stylish, brutal, and often humorous film. (10/02)

LONDON HAS FALLEN — 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen, which imagined a North Korean-led attack on the White House, generated okay reviews and an okay profit, which was evidently sufficient enough to warrant a sequel. This time, the focus is London, as world leaders converge for the Prime Minister’s funeral. A nefarious group has other plans — expect the British capital to be blown up in a multitude of ways as Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Aaron Eckhart all return to try and figure things out. (10/02)

THE WALK — Another film to avoid for the height averse, The Walk is Robert Zemeckis’ (Forrest Gump, Cast Away) telling of Philippe Petit’s incredible story. In 1974, Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his friends launched a wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center — digitally recreated to incredible, and poignant, effect — which Petit then proceeded to walk across. It’s in 3D, so if you’re even remotely acrophobic, don’t watch it. (10/02)

CRIMSON PEAK — When Stephen King calls a film “fucking terrifying,” you know you’re onto something. Guillermo del Toro’s horror follows Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowski) as she’s swept up by the charming Sir Thomas (Tom Hiddleston) and taken to live with him and his sister (Jessica Chastain). Unfortunately, the house Edith finds herself in is a living, breathing, terrifying entity, filled with ghosts of residents past. (10/16)

BRIDGE OF SPIES — Tom Hanks, Stephen Spielberg, wartime drama, big budget? Color us intrigued. Inspired by (or, liberally adapted from) the 1960 U-2 incident, in which an American spy plane was shot down by Soviet forces, Hanks stars as James B. Donovan, tasked with negotiating an exchange between the American pilot and a Soviet prisoner in bleak East Berlin. (10/16)

THE LAST WITCH HUNTER — Big-budget, supernatural fantasy adventure, starring Vin Diesel as an immortal witch hunter (complete with hilariously fake beard) who has to team up with a witch to save us fragile humans. Meanwhile, Elijah Wood wisecracks as his religious sidekick. A sequel has already been greenlit, which is only going to make it more awkward when this inevitably bombs. (10/23)

JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS — It’s nice that Molly Ringwald and Juliette Lewis are back on the big screen, but this live action take on the ’80s animated show looks awful. (10/23)

SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE — Not too sure about this one. Take the nerdy losers from Superbad, drop them into Scouts uniforms and throw them into a town slowly being overrun by zombies. Expect gross out humor, graphic violence and dashes of horror, but whether it’s funny after initial premise wears thin remains to be seen. (10/30)

NOVEMBER

SPECTRE — Bond is back. There’s a new M, a new Aston Martin, and a new purpose for Daniel Craig’s British secret agent: taking down the mysterious Spectre, a shadowy criminal organization. Skyfall was a welcome return to form for the franchise, so there’s high hopes for Spectre. Once again directed by Sam Mendes, while Sam Smith has been tapped to sing the theme. (11/06)

THE PEANUTS MOVIE — It nails the aesthetic, the series’ trademark humor seems present, the gang are all here, and above all else it just looks like goodhearted fun. Plus, who can complain about more Snoopy in their life? (11/06)

TRUMBO — Bryan Cranston stars as Dalton Trumbo, a Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. It’s a pretty star-studded affair, with Helen Mirren, Diane Lane, John Goodman and Elle Fanning, but initial reviews suggest that while performances are excellent the film itself is more TV-movie than cinema darling. (11/06)

THE 33 — Based on the 2010 Chilean mining disaster, in which 33 men were trapped inside a collapsed mine for over two months. Antonio Banderas is Mario “Super Mario” Sepúlveda, who was tasked with sending daily video logs to rescuers to keep them appraised of the men’s condition. (11/13)

BY THE SEA — Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are on-screen together for the first time since Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Jolie wrote and directed the film, which follows a couple on vacation as they struggle to revive their failing marriage. (11/13)

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 2 — Jennifer Lawrence must be grateful for the incredible exposure (and regular, massive paycheck) of the Hunger Games franchise, but all good things must end. Let’s also not forget that her co-star Josh Hutcherson used his notoriety to launch an incredible anti-LGBT bullying campaign, Straight But Not Narrow. What’s that? Talk about the film? If you don’t know what’s going on over in Panem by now, there’s really no point. (11/20)

CAROL — Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, directed by Todd Haynes, in a sumptuous, ’50s-set piece where Therese (Mara) falls in love with the older, married Carol (Blanchett). We’re sold. (11/20)

CREED — This is, essentially, the seventh Rocky film. We’re just going to leave it at that. (11/25)

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN — A tale oft told in various incarnations — including last year’s dreadful I, Frankenstein — this horror/action incarnation casts Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) in the lead role. He meets a young Victor Frankenstein (James McAvoy) and ultimately witnesses the birth of the famed monster, making fugitives of both men as the authorities try to shut Frankenstein down and the monstrous being threatens their lives. (11/25)

THE DANISH GIRL — Lili Elbe was a transgender pioneer, one of the first in the modern age to live openly and undergo gender reassignment surgery. Her story is brought to life by Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables), with last year’s Best Actor-winner Eddie Redmayne in the title role. Many questioned why a cisgendered actor should play her, but those fears were quickly allayed not only by Redmayne’s own words of support and dedication to the role, but also critical reaction to strong, Oscar-worthy performances from both he and Alicia Vikander as Lili’s supportive wife — even if critics seem to be less than enamored with the script. (11/27)

THE NIGHT BEFORE — If you’re not in the mood for a period drama, a sci-fi drama, or Pixar’s latest (presumed) masterpiece, there’s a Seth Rogen comedy waiting to give you his typical brand of humor. Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie are three friends who decide to have one final Christmas Eve blowout, with the expected alcohol and drug consumption and celebrity cameos of most Rogen/Evan Goldberg-penned films. (11/27)

THE GOOD DINOSAUR — In an uncharacteristic move, Pixar has two feature films releasing in one year, following summer’s excellent Inside Out. The Good Dinosaur imagines a world where the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs missed the Earth, allowing them to survive to meet our early human ancestors. The film follows an unlikely friendship between one human and a bright green Apatosaurus named Arlo.(11/27)

MIDNIGHT SPECIAL — Little is known about writer-director Jeff Nichols’ upcoming film, as there’s no trailer yet available. It stars Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst and Adam Driver in a film about a father who runs away with his son after learning that the latter possesses supernatural powers. (11/27)

DECEMBER

KRAMPUS — Not in the mood for more light-hearted holiday fare? Try this Michael Dougherty-helmed film, shot in similar style to his cult 2007 horror Trick ‘r Treat. Adam Scott and Toni Collette star in a film about a boy who accidentally summons a demon after having a bad Christmas. (12/04)

THE HEART OF THE SEA — Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind) tackles the story that inspired Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) is First Mate of the whaling ship Essex, which was attacked and sank by a massive sperm whale, stranding the crew in the Pacific Ocean for 90 days. Sailing for South America, the men were forced to resort to cannibalism to survive. Another joyful holiday film. (12/11)

STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS — This is it, folks. The biggest movie of the year. Nothing else is as anticipated, hyped, nor marketed as the return of the world-conquering sci-fi franchise. With Luke, Han Solo and Leia returning for a tale set 30 years after Return of the Jedi. J.J. Abrams takes the helm, with George Lucas kept at arm’s length from the production of the new trilogy — so there’ll be no Jar Jar Binks-style attempts to inject comic relief. (12/18)

SISTERS — Going up against Star Wars seems like a fool’s errand, but clearly someone over at Universal thought it was a good idea. It’s a shame, really, as this film about two sisters who throw one last party at their parents house shows a lot of promise — not least because the sisters in question are the incredible duo of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, who even managed to make Baby Mama watchable. (12/18)

KUNG FU PANDA 3 — Did this franchise really need a third film? The story of Jack Black’s tubby, martial arts-wielding Panda has been well trodden by this point. What’s that? The second film made $650 million? Ah, okay. (12/25)

JOY — David O. Russell just can’t get enough of Jennifer Lawrence (or Bradley Cooper, for that matter). Lawrence stars as single mother of three Joy Mangano, perhaps better known to Americans as the inventor of the self-wringing “Miracle Mop.” The film focuses on four generations of her family, including Robert De Niro as her father and Cooper as an executive at HSN, where Mangano sold her mop to great success. (12/25)

THE REVENANT — Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Babel, Birdman) swaps a Broadway theater for the 1820s American frontier. Leonardo DiCaprio is Hugh Glass, a fur trapper mauled by a bear and then robbed and left to die by his companions (Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter). Glass recovers from his wounds and sets out on a cross-country trek to exact revenge on the men who wronged him. It looks bleak and gritty, with an almost unrecognizable DiCaprio, but Glass’ story is certainly a compelling one to tell. (12/25)

More Fall Arts 2015

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