From the art-house to the multiplex, from the very small to the very large, November looks to offer a plethora of titles for a diverse range of cinematic tastes. Here we try to survey what’s coming out and what’s on our radar. There’s sequels to successful franchises, spectacles, biopics that have slayed the festival circuit, and even an original premise or two. Join us for our preview of what to look forward to at the movies for the month of November.
10 ) HORRIBLE BOSSES 2
The sequel to the surprise 2011 hit comedy re-teams Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day on another scheme to vanquish another horrible boss. This go around Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis), and Dale (Day) take on slick and scuzzy investors Chris Pine (Star Trek Into Darkness) and two-time Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained) after they dupe the trio’s new business venture. Convoluted schemes and “kidnapings” ensue. Former horrible bosses Kevin Spacey (whose Dave Harkin is now in prison) and Jennifer Aniston (whose Julia Harris is in sex addiction recovery) return for the fun as well. Sean Anders (That’s My Boy) directs from a script he co-wrote with John Morris (the duo have earned R-rated comedy credentials after scripting the films We’re the Millers and Hot Tub Time Machine.)
Buzzometer: 4/10 – While the original Horrible Bosses had a refreshing concept, a flint of topicality given the job market crisis and a nutty Strangers on a Train conceit three years ago when it premiered, the sequel has a seemingly been there/done that feel to it. The sequel comes across as a lazy retread in the trailers, a la The Hangover Part II. Then again, Waltz seems a welcome addition to the buffoonery, so perhaps it will surprise.
Release Date: November 26th
9) THE HOMESMAN
Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) headlines this frontier drama directed by Tommy Lee Jones playing an independent-minded pioneer woman who enlists the help of a claims jumper (Jones) to escort three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa. Based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout, Jones co-wrote the screenplay with Kieran Fitzgerald and celebrated its world premiere with an in competition berth at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Grace Gummer (Frances Ha), Miranda Otto (War of the Worlds) and Sonja Richter (The Killing) portrays the three looney women and the impressive ensemble cast includes John Lithgow (Love is Strange), Tim Blake Nelson (O Brother, Where Art Thou?), William Fichtner (Black Hawk Down), James Spader (Secretary), Oscar nominated actress Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) and Oscar winner Meryl Streep (who co-starred with Jones in the 2012 comedy Hope Springs.)
Buzzometer: 4/10 – The trailer is fairly impressive, laying out a stunning visual palette while focusing on a peculiar, yet interesting premise, which may represent a thoughtful and mature dramatic work. Yet the early reviews were fairly mixed coming out of Cannes earlier this year and it was quite a while after its premiere before upstart distributor Saban Films (with an assist from Roadside Attractions) picked up the title. Still, Jones proved himself a first rate filmmaker with his underrated debut feature The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) and the leading role seems perfectly within Swank’s wheelhouse. Saban and Roadside all planning an awards campaign for the actress.
Release Date: November 14th (limited)
8) DUMB & DUMBER TO
Twenty years ago, Peter and Bobby Farrelly made their feature film debut with Dumb & Dumber, a silly romp about two good natured, but intellectually challenged best buds Harry Dunne and Lloyd Christmas (played by Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey.) Little was expected from the cross-country gross-out comedy at first, except that Carrey was coming off the one-two success stories of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and The Mask earlier that year. The film ended up becoming the sixth most popular movie of 1994 and helped usher in not just the reign of Jim Carrey, the movie star, but also the Farrelly brothers’ sick but sweet comedy sub-genre, the effects of which are still being felt today (The Hangover, 21 Jump Street.) Daniels and Carrey return for more low intelligence hijinks, this time trying to find Harry’s long lost child. Kathleen Turner co-stars and Jennifer Lawrence, a fan of the original, makes a cameo appearance. The Farrellys wrote the screenplay alongside Sean Anders and John Morris (Horrible Bosses 2) and Farrelly mainstays Mike Cerrone (Me, Myself and Irene) and Bennett Yellin (Dumb & Dumber.)
Buzzometer: 5/10 – Twenty years is a long time to wait for a second outing (the less said about the Carrey and Daniels-less 2003 prequel Dumb & Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd the better), and with that it may be difficult to assess the power of the first film on a new generation. Yet even if only for nostalgia’s sake, there’s reason to believe Dumb & Dumberer 2 and its lowbrow charm will find an audience.
Release Date: November 14th
Jon Stewart wrote and directed the fact-based drama concerning Maziar Bahari, a journalist who in the summer of 2009 was detained by the Iranian government and held captive for 118 harrowing days while on assignment covering the violent election protests occurring in Tehran. Gael Garcia Bernal (Babel) portrays Bahari and Oscar-nominated actress Shohreh Aghdashloo (House of Sand and Fog) portrays his mother. Bahari, who was born in Iran but later became a Canadian citizen, was working for Newsweek at the time of his incarceration and was arrested because he filmed the violent protests that occurred during the tumultuous election – his only human link was his mysterious interrogator known as “Rosewater” (portrayed by Kim Bodnia, Serena, in the film). The film is based on The New York Times bestselling memoir Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival that Bahari wrote with Aimee Molloy.
Buzzometer: 5/10- The focus of the story resonates with likely an even more bristling topicality now than it even did last summer when Stewart stepped down from his Daily Show hosting duties to film his passion project in light of the many recent Islamic State journalist captures. Topicality aside, Rosewater comes with an expectation factor that’s altogether different (and necessary) within our contemporary film culture – one perched on a grander, more socially conscious scale. Stewart premiered the film at the Telluride Film Festival last month, where the movie was well received. Yet reviews and possible awards potential should hardly be the talking points here, for just as Stewart’s witty and incendiary satire of journalism with The Daily Show has become a seemingly more reliable bellwether for the truth than most American journalistic outlets, the ambition behind Rosewater is part of its allure.
Release Date: November 7th (limited)
6) THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
James Marsh, the Oscar-winning documentarian of Man on Wire, examines the early life and love of physicist Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Rising British talent Eddie Redmayne (Les Misérables, Tony winner for John Logan’s 2009 play Red) portrays a young Hawking, budding scientific mind who battles ALS and falls for his beloved, Jane (played by Felicity Jones, Like Crazy, The Amazing Spider-Man 2). Anthony McCarten (Death of a Superhero) penned the script, an adaptation of Jane Hawking’s book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen. The film sparked some of the strongest buzz of any titles at the recent Toronto Film Festival (where the film had its world premiere), prompting awards consideration. Oscar nominee Emily Watson (Breaking the Waves) and Charlie Cox (Netflix’s upcoming Daredevil) co-star.
Buzzometer: 6/10 - The Theory of Everything seems like classic Oscar bait – it a biopic (check) of celebrated treasure (check) who must battle a debilitating disease (checkmate). Focus Features certainly hopes that’s the case for a film that seems to cross A Beautiful Mind with the British sensibilities of The King’s Speech, with perhaps a dash of My Left Foot thrown in for good measure – all three of those titles won Academy Awards (the first two claiming the top prize). Aside from that, Redmayne and Jones have been on the verge of breaking out for years and Marsh already has a celebrated reputation with his acclaimed documentary films. The downside: this may well turn out to be just a crowd-pleasing, BBC-type affair that never quite finds an audience, or worse the film may stand more as a respectful piece of filmmaking, rather than a passionate one. There’s also a chance that the similarly themed The Imitation Game could steal its thunder.
Release Date: November 7th (limited)
5) THE IMITATION GAME
Emmy winning actor Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, August: Osage County) stars in this British period piece as real-life mathematician Alan Turing. During World War II, Turing helped crack the German enigma code, by many accounts a key accomplishment in the Allied victory. Despite being a hero and a masterful logician, whose work in computer science paved the way for all of us who live online, Turing was disgraced because of he was a homosexual, something of which was illegal in Great Britain at the time. Morten Tyldum (Headhunters) directs this picture from Graham Moore’s screenplay, adapted from Andrew Hodges’ book. Oscar nominee Keira Knightley (Pride & Prejudice), Matthew Goode (Match Point) and Mark Strong (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) co-star.
Buzzometer: 6/10 – The Imitation Game was one of the biggest films to emerge from the fall festival season. After premiering at Telluride, it swept Toronto by storm, winning the People’s Choice Award at the festival’s end. The big question is whether the film can go the distance as a legitimate awards contender. The Weinstein Company, who picked up the film for a record sum earlier this year, clearly has confidence in the title by anointing the film a prominent Thanksgiving weekend slot – the same one the distributor slotted eventual Best Picture Oscar winners The Artist (2011) and The King’s Speech (2010) – the latter of which marks a strong comparison title to The Imitation Game. While early reviews are promising, there is still a glimmer of suspicion as to how the film deals with the gay aspect of the story, which may ruffle feathers in either direction if it’s merely glossed over or laid on too thickly. There’s also a chance that the similarly themed The Theory of Everything could steal its thunder.
Release Date: November 21st (limited)
4) BIG HERO 6
The latest animated feature from Walt Disney Pictures adapts the Marvel comic created by Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau. The action comedy explores the relationship between a prodigy named Hiro Hamada (voiced by Ryan Potter, Super Ninjas) and a plus-sized inflatable robot named Baymax (voiced by Scott Adsit, 30 Rock.) Together they form a rag-tag group of superheroes. Scripted by Don Hall (The Princess and the Frog) and Jordan Roberts (March of the Penguins) and directed by Hall (Winnie the Pooh) and Chris Williams (Bolt.) Maya Rudolph (Inherent Vice) and Damon Wayans Jr. (Lets Be Cops) round out the voice cast.
Buzzometer: 7/10 - Marvel is officially everywhere and even though Disney has claimed that Big Hero 6 is not affiliated with live-action Marvel Cinematic Universe, the film still reads a part of a deeper plan within the company to eventually put up on screen nearly everything Marvel Comics has ever created. Still, with an arresting trailer and an immaculate polish, Big Hero 6 looks to be an investment that will likely pay off. Disney animation is on a tear lately, one year after Frozen became the highest grossing animated feature of all time and won two Oscars; the success looks to continue.
Release Date: November 7th
From director Bennett Miller (Moneyball), Foxcatcher tells the lurid true story of how the wealthy eccentric John du Pont (played in about-face dramatic turn by Steve Carell) ingratiated himself into the lives of Olympic wrestling brothers Mark and David Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.) The chilly results end in one of the most bizarre and fascinating behind-the-scenes sports stories of all time. Miller directed from a script by E. Max Frye (Something Wild) and Dan Futterman (Capote.) Oscar winning actress Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller and Anthony Michael Hall round out the cast.
Buzzometer: 7/10 - It’s not the buzz that was ever a problem with Foxcatcher, it was the wait. The film was expected to be released last fall but was delayed at the last minute. Yet, despite the long wait, distributor Sony Pictures Classics likely couldn’t have expected a better outcome. Instead of opening at the AFI Film Festival last film, Foxcatcher was held to premiere in a competition slot at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where reviews largely positive reviews chimed in and Miller won the coveted directing prize. Since then, the film has wowed festival goers and critics at Telluride and New York. The work itself looks like a chilling, yet insightful look at a devastating story with Carell, Tatum and Ruffalo in the hunt for awards prospects come the year end. Now, if the rest of us could finally just see the damn thing already!
Release Date: November 14th (limited)
2) THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1
Jennifer Lawrence is back as Katniss Everdeen, Hunger Games champion and beacon of hope to fight for the freedom of Panem, in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, the first of the two part finale in this ridiculously successful young adult favorite. After the devastation at the end of Catching Fire, Katniss leads the rebellion. Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) directs, returning for his second outing to the franchise with a script by Danny Strong (Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Emmy winner for Game Change) and Peter Craig (The Town.) Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman return as well. Julianne Moore enters the franchise as President Alma Coin.
Buzzometer: 9/10 – After two outrageously successful outings, it won’t take much convincing to get packed movie theaters here. However, the more pressing matter with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is that it’s just, part one. There’s no way the film in anyway can feel much more than a calculated strategy by ensure the audience returns for finale in one years time. With that lack of closure, Part 1 may well fall slightly short on terms of expectations and ambition. A similar tactic was used with the Twilight and Harry Potter franchises, and on television notably with the break-up of the final season of Breaking Bad. Some day, hopefully, the trend will come to an end. However, it won’t be The Hunger Games that does it.
Release Date: November 21st
Few directors have the cache of Christopher Nolan or the ambition. The cache came from his Dark Knight films, which turned Batman back into a respectable commodity and kick-started confidence that Warner Bros. could use the DC Comics collection to create a vivid universe to rival Marvel. The ambition comes from the visual virtuosity and layers of storytelling the auteur utilizes in every film he’s created – from the uber-indie Following (1998) to his breakout puzzler Memento (2001.) Heck, Nolan can even convince cost-averse distributors to shell out extra dough to ensure his latest - the sci/fi drama Interstellar – gets to seen on screen in 70mm prints. Interstellar, one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year, stars recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaghey as an explorer searching in the great unknown of space as humanity’s time on Earth is seemingly coming to an end. Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Ellen Burstyn and pretty much everyone else with a SAG card co-stars in the film. Nolan scripted the film with his brother Jonathan.
Buzzometer: 9/10 – While most of the plot details are still mostly under wraps (which again speaks to Nolan’s clout – that’s an impressive trick for any contemporary film, let alone one of the most anticipated), the curiosity over Nolan’s latest epic is nearly out of this world. After Alfonson Cuarón’s Gravity showed the possibilities of what outer space can look like with modern technology, it’s dizzying to wonder what Nolan can create (supposedly most of the effects are in camera and CG here) and because the film hasn’t been unveiled just yet, the possibilities and potential are to the moon.
Release Date: November 7th
ALSO OPENING IN NOVEMBER:
- THE BETTER ANGELS- Terrence Malick protege A.J. Edwards directs this black and white tale of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood. (November 7th – limited)
- BEYOND THE LIGHTS- Belle‘s Gugu Mbatha-Raw headlines this new drama from the director of Love & Basketball. (November 14th)
- HAPPY VALLEY- Documentary about incarcerated coach Joe Paterno. (November 26st- limited)
- PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR- Penguin spin-off of the Madagascar animated franchise. (November 21st)
- THE WAY HE LOOKS- Brazilian festival hit about two young boys who fall in love. (November 7th – limited)