Stephen King’s It owned September (and most of the year) with over $300 million domestic to its name, while other high-ish profile films ranging from mother! to Kingsman: The Golden Circle have followed 2017’s trend of disappointing, if not outright bombing. Onto October – an odd month with movies that are not quite blockbusters and not quite Oscar contenders.
OCTOBER 6, 2017
Blade Runner 2049 – Blade Runner 2049 is easily the biggest movie of the month despite having a title that sounds like a late 90s syndicated show. I still have issues and concerns about this Denis Villeneuve movie (my earlier tangent here), but early reviews are making it sound as though this one actually exceeds expectations and is a worthy successor to the Blade Runner name.
My Little Pony: The Movie – Striking while the iron is lukewarm! Has the Brony fad passed entirely, or has it returned underground? I’m not entirely sure. Regardless, I don’t think My Little Pony is strong enough in the public consciousness to warrant a big screen feature (a lesson taught most recently by The Lego Ninjago Movie) but I could easily be wrong. And most likely am.
The Mountain Between Us – Idris Elba and Kate Winslet are stuck on a mountain and must rely on each other to survive, and maybe find love? Survival dramas are hit or miss, and even those that hit don’t usually hit until much later, like how The Grey eventually earned some cult fandom. The ‘adult drama’ genre itself has also seen much better days. The distinctly mediocre early reviews aren’t helping either (it’s actually at 52%, 5/10 average rating at the time of writing).
The Florida Project – Tangerine writer-director Sean Baker takes another gritty look at the hardships faced by youths in underserved communities, this time during a single summer. Early reviews are fantastic, and between Baker’s work, last year’s American Honey from Andrea Arnold, and other similar films, it’s nice seeing that this genre has some life and critical respect.
Brawl in Cell Block 99 – S. Craig Zahler’s follow-up to the fantastic horror Western Bone Tomahawk is a violent prison drama starring Vince Vaughn, whose quality dramatic work (True Detective Season 2, Hacksaw Ridge) has greatly exceeded his uniformly terrible comedic ones (The Hangover: The Business Trip, Google! The Movie) over the past decade. Terrific early reviews as well.
OCTOBER 13, 2017
Marshall – Starring Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Marshall is a biopic about a young Thurgood Marshall (future Supreme Court Justice) taking on a controversial case during his time as a lawyer with the ACLU. Boseman is a fine actor; the entire cast of Marshall is quite good, with Sterling K. Brown, Josh Gad, Kate Hudson, and Dan Stevens rounding it out. However, the courtroom drama (whether based on a true story or not) is a genre that feels played out. The lack of reviews so close to release also does not bode well.
The Foreigner – Martin Campbell (director of Goldeneye (the best of the Brosnan-era Bonds) and Casino Royale (still the best of the Craig-era Bonds)) helms a revenge thriller starring Jackie Chan and Pierce Brosnan. Chan’s body of work seems to be getting revisited with his recent lifetime achievement Oscar, and it will be interesting to see if he can pull off a more dramatic role than we are used to.
Happy Death Day – It’s the horror movie version of Groundhog’s Day/Edge of Tomorrow, and it actually looks like it has a darkly comic edge that is missing in most smaller horror features (Unfriended, Wish Upon, Annabelle: Creation, etc.).
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women – The true story of William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), the inventor of the lie detector and of the character Wonder Woman, and the polyamorous relationship that inspired him (with his ‘wonder women’ played by Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote). The most notable thing about this movie is the probably bad decision to make it a wide release. Sure, Wonder Woman did fantastic this year, but I doubt most of the audience that made the DCEU savior a success would be that interested in a serious drama about the unconventional sexual/romantic mores of her creator during the 1930s and 1940s. Movies about psychological researchers (e.g. Kinsey, Experimenter), while often quite good, are not usually the most mass friendly fare. The marketing’s focus on the allure Wonder Woman will almost certainly mislead a couple of viewers, who will be disappointed (at the very least), regardless of how interesting or well handled the subject matter is. Early reviews are moderately positive.
Breathe – Mo-cap pioneer Andy Serkis (Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, Caesar in the Of the Planet of the Apes) makes his directorial debut with a true story about a man with an advanced case of polio (Andrew Garfield) who follows his heart (to Lily James of Baby Driver and Darkest Hour). Yes, it’s a true story. Yes, Garfield is a good actor. Yes, polio is a terrible disease. But doesn’t it all sound so eye-rollingly melodramatic?
Goodbye Christopher Robin – Yet another true story, this one about AA Milne (Domhnall Gleeson)’s writing of Winnie the Pooh following his turn in World War I. No matter what horrors of war he faced, they still won’t be as as much of a downer as the title. The film’s rated PG, so clearly it won’t delve that much into either the man or his wartime experiences, which makes you wonder – who is this movie for? Young kids probably aren’t all that interested in the man who created Winnie the Pooh and adults would want something with more teeth. Early reviews are mixed/slightly positive.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) – Noah Baumbach is one of the best filmmakers today for slice of life dramedies, with his solo works like While We’re Young and collaborations with Greta Gerwig like Francis Ha. He’s also one of the few directors who knows how to use Ben Stiller effectively. Meyerowitz has even generated some positive buzz by starring Adam Sandler, and him not being terrible. Unfortunately, Netflix picked it up. While Amazon has had success in the feature film route, Netflix still has yet to double down on the critical success of 2015’s Beasts of No Nation. (Look at the streaming service’s list of original films; it’s really not that impressive.)
OCTOBER 20, 2017
Geostorm – We can only hope that Geostorm is as embarrassingly bad as the trailers make it seem. The debut feature from Dean Devlin, producer behind Independence Day, Godzilla and The Patriot, looks to contain all the worst tropes from disaster movies, a genre that has come and gone, and plays them with a seriousness befitting irony. It stars Gerard Butler, continuing his string of horrible choices, and a bunch of third choicers (Abbie Cornish, Jim Sturgess, and Andy Garcia as the President.)
The Snowman – Tomas Alfredson follows up his 2011 spy classic Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with The Snowman. Based on a Norwegian novel, The Snowman stars Michael Fassbender as a detective investigating a string of mysterious murders. As his pre-Tinker film, Let The Right One In, shows, Alfredson can be a master at establishing tension and horror amidst snow-covered landscapes, and it’s been way too long since Fassbender had a great role.
Wonderstruck – Todd Haynes’ (Carol, The Hours, I’m Not There) latest is based on a book by Brian Selznick (who also wrote the screenplay) about two kids from different eras who go on a quest that connects – despite the generational differences – in a way only movies can make things connect. There’s been a string of adult-oriented kids movies over the past couple of years (including the catastrophic The Book of Henry), and this one seems moderately well received based on early reviews.
Same Kind of Different As Me – This month’s biggest Christian movie is Same Kind of Different As Me, a joint feature between PureFlix and the continuously suffering Paramount Pictures. Greg Kinnear, who apparently only gets success in these roles anymore (2014’s Heaven Is For Real was his last real hit), stars as a man who befriends a special type of homeless guy and repairs his relationship with his estranged wife (Renee Zellweger) probably using faith.
Only the Brave – Is Real Life Bravery considered a sub-genre by now? In Joseph Kosinski’s (Tron: Legacy, Oblivion) Only The Brave firefighters fight fire. Some will die, some will live, but their sacrifice will mean something to someone and inspire someone to something. Respectable cast includes Josh Brolin, Jeff Bridges, Miles Teller, and Jennifer Connelly.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer – Yorgos Lanthimos follows up The Lobster with The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Reteaming with Colin Farrell and adding the likes of Nicole Kidman and Alicia Silverstone, Deer is getting great early reviews as an art house horror.
OCTOBER 27, 2017
Jigsaw – It’s been seven years since we last saw the torture pornographer Jigsaw, which means it’s time for a soft reboot.
Suburbicon – George Clooney directs from a script adapted by himself and regular co-writer Grant Heslov based on a Coen Brothers script. The trailer looks good, making the Matt Damon-starring film seem part Burn After Reading and part The Man Who Wasn’t There, but early reviews are disappointingly very negative.
Thank You For Your Service – Miles Teller attempts to make up for everything he’s done since Whiplash with two weeks in a row of him honoring heroes. Last week had Only the Brave with him as a firefighter, and this week has Thank You For Your Service, with him as a soldier. From the writer of American Sniper, Thank You For Your Service seems to be the homefront companion piece to the Oscar-nominated Eastwood-directed, Cooper-starrer.
Bill Nye: Science Guy - Over the past several years, Bill Nye has had a resurgence in popularity, most recently with the Netflix series Bill Nye Saves The World. This documentary looks at the life of The Science Guy and his attempts to follow in icon Carl Sagan’s footsteps.
So that’s October. The high point is obviously Blade Runner 2049, with a couple of smaller, but not wholly exceptional, other films. Then November rockets out of the gate with Thor: Ragnarok and the catastrophe in the making Justice League.