Welcome to the Weekend Release Roundup, where we highlight what we think are the most interesting movies to hit theaters this weekend.
Going to the movies isn’t cheap, so we’re here to help you sort through your choices.
Although mainly due to one movie, this first weekend of October signals the start of an exciting fall season at the theaters. Audiences can expect the coming weeks to feature some awards hopefuls, peppered with other promising films, giving everybody a reason to head to their local theater. This week features a very, very marquee film, surrounded by some very, very paltry runners-up. A top-heavy week to be sure, but still – a week to get excited about.
#5 – Left Behind
Here’s the thing – most Nicolas Cage movies nowadays are of the train wreck/can’t-look-away variety. For an actor as talented as he is, that is deeply unfortunate. But until Cage experiences some sort of McConaughey-like revival (hopefully), all we can do is look on in morbid curiosity and hope the current stage of his career is just a long, bizarre piece of performance art. And for those who are still following that performance art, his latest film Left Behind may be one of the more curious choices the actor has made – which is quite a statement. Left Behind is an adaptation of the massively popular evangelical novels detailing the Biblical rapture. It has a fervent fan base, and has already been adapted into a series of films once before. Cage’s involvement in the film manages to be both surprising and not at the same time, which may be the only reason some people need to watch it.
#4 – Annabelle
In an era where even a moderately successful film can spawn a sequel, James Wan’s modest horror hit The Conjuring serves as the catalyst for this spin-off. Annabelle tells the story of a couple who move to a new home after a disturbing incident with a satanist, only to find themselves haunted by a doll somehow connected to the former satanic member. Audiences should make note that despite its spin-off title, James Wan had no involvement in Annabelle. The movie is directed by The Conjuring cinematographer John R. Leonetti, who has previously directed The Butterfly Effect 2 and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (there’s a pattern emerging here). Perhaps not the best pedigree of films, but for people looking for some early October scares, Annabelle is, well…an option.
#3 – Men, Women & Children (New York & L.A.)
Featuring a proven director, an interesting trailer, and Adam Sandler attempting to do something more than make another unwatchable comedy with his friends, Men, Women & Children would have previously been met with more enthusiasm. A few things happened in the prior weeks to change that; namely, the lukewarm response it received at the Toronto International Film Festival and the middling reviews that have come out since then. Still, the film has some things in its favor. Jason Reitman, director of films like Up In The Air and Juno, is still a respected and steady general behind the camera, and many cinephiles look to seek out his movies regardless of the reviews. Including Sandler, it also boasts a solid cast, with names like Rosemarie Dewitt, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Dean Norris, and Emma Thompson. The film is also topical, following both teens and adults as they attempt navigate the way the internet has changed the way we connect to one another.
#2 – Nas: Time is Illmatic (Limited)
While the sub-genre of the “rockumentary” can boast an impressive and celebrated list – among them: Don’t Look Back, Gimme Shelter, Anvil!: The Story of Anvil and even the rock-mock This is Spinal Tap – the rap-u-mentary (until a better name arrives) canon is noticeably barren. Hip hop heads have been clamoring for something more substantive than the predictable slew of Beef volumes or Tupac conspiracy theories that pollute a lot of rap-driven documentaries. While docs like Beats, Rhymes & Life have helped tell fascinating hip hop tales, they still leave a lot left to be desired. For many, Nas: Time is Illmatic is the eagerly anticipated rap doc people have been waiting for. It deals with one of rap’s greatest artists and details how he was inspired to record arguably rap’s greatest album. And for non-fans, perhaps a look into a world seldom seen, detailing a musical genre often misunderstood, can prove fascinating.
#1 – Gone Girl
Gone Girl is a movie that seemingly has everything going for it. It’s adapted from a popular book with an already built-in fan base, it boasts an A-list leading man riding a winning streak, and is helmed by a director who rarely has a misfire. Still, high expectations are a dangerous game in Hollywood, and Gone Girl could ultimately buckle under its own weight. If early reviews are any indication however, that’s not likely to be the case, as critics seem to be enthralled with David Fincher’s adaptation of the Gillian Flynn novel. Gone Girl tells the story of Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), who reports his wife missing on their fifth anniversary, and the media frenzy that follows him as he goes from grieving victim to prime suspect in her disappearance. With Gillian Flynn adapting the script from her own novel, the film is impressive for the amount of talent involved alone. But even if that isn’t enough to move audiences, the darkly atmospheric trailer should be compelling reason enough to watch.
The rest of this weekend’s releases: