November! When the holidays meet prestige! Blockbusters and Oscar bait mingle for your hard-earned currency! Last month was a morass of mediocrity, but this month more than makes up for it. Let’s dig in!
- ARRIVAL – November 11. Denis Villeneuve has become one of the hottest filmmakers working today, and this brilliant work will bridge the gap between the stellar SICARIO and the hopefully worthy BLADE RUNNER 2049. Amy Adams is a linguist who’s brought in to bridge the communication gap with an alien race, with the future of humanity at stake. This one’s been knocking audiences dead at festivals, it’s smart as hell and intense to boot. Hopefully its success will foster in a new wave of smart sci-fi.
- DOCTOR STRANGE – November 11, IMAX3D. Marvel has three main areas in its universe: Our world, the galactic expanse, and the mystical side. Now the films have broached the astral plane, and the results are fantastic. Reviews have been incredibly positive, and early box office numbers are strong, so it looks like Marvel has had yet another success on its hands, and it’s a must-see in IMAX3D.
- FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM – November 18, IMAX and RealD3D. JK’s back at it again! WB wanted more of the Potterverse, so she reached into the past and filled out the tale of a seemingly throwaway character, set in the muggle world of the 1920s. This is the first of five films, assuming that this one does well. *cough*
- MOANA – November 23, RealD3D. Disney’s streak will likely continue with this beautiful and unique look at Polynesian legend, featuring The Rock playing a demigod, and music from HAMILTION’s Lin Manuel-Miranda. Pretty much a guaranteed hit.
- RULES DON’T APPLY – November 23. Warren Beatty’s back behind and in front of the camera, telling a long-delayed story of Howard Hughes through the eyes of a young man (Hail Caesar’s Alden Ehrenreich) who is pulled into his universe and falls in love with a co-worker who Hughes may have eyes for as well. It looks kind of insane, which is well within Beatty’s wheelhouse.
- BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK – November 18, 120FPS3D!? Ang Lee broke new ground with LIFE OF PI, now he’s using 120FPS 3D to tell the story of a young soldier being lauded for bravery during the halftime show of a football game. During the visual and sonic blast, he suffers a series of flashbacks to the war and life that followed at home. The new tech is impressive but lost behind a frustrating narrative, it should be worth checking out assuming some screens here offer the four-times smoother framerate. This is the next step in filmmaking, improving on the frustrating 48FPS tech of THE HOBBIT.
- ALLIED – November 23. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are a couple thrust together in wartime, just tryin’ to make it work. Directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Steven Knight (EASTERN PROMISES) this could be something special, but I don’t really trust Bob anymore.
- BAD SANTA 2 – November 23. Billy Bob is back, and mama’s in town too! The rule of diminishing returns of comedy sequels will likely apply though, so don’t expect too much.
- HACKSAW RIDGE – November 4. I guess Mel Gibson is out of Hollywood jail, at least as far as directing goes. Here he tells the story of a heroic pacifist (Andrew Garfield) who saves lives on the battlefield despite his refusal to carry a rifle. Reviews have been very positive, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a thirst for war films these days, even positive ones.
- BLEED FOR THIS – November 18. Most recent true-life boxing films have failed at the box office, and this isn’t likely to buck the trend. Miles Teller plays Vinny Pazienza, who fought back from a broken neck to not just walk again but also fight. Director Ben Younger showed a lot of promise with BOILER ROOM back in 2000 but he’s had a rough go of it, I don’t expect this to bring him back.
- EDGE OF SEVENTEEN – November 18. Hallee Steinfeld made her debut in TRUE GRIT and stretched into pop, um, stardom, now she’s finally got a proper starring vehicle, but it seems a bit too precious. She’s playing a girl who feels significantly more advanced than her classmates but can’t seem to get a break, but really just comes off as holier-than-thou in the trailer. She’s a bit too amped up, and Woody Harrelson is her hateful guidance counsellor/teacher/father figure/whatever. I’m just not feeling it.
- SHUT IN – November 11. Naomi Watts is a long-suffering mother tending to her vegetative son while mourning her husband. She takes in a troubled young child who goes missing and, uh, ends up haunting her? The trailer is all over the place, and it just feels like it’s all a bit much. I’m sure it’s got a huge twist.
- TROLLS – November 4, RealD3D. Shockingly, the reviews for this have been pretty positive, but I just can’t deal with it. It makes no bones that it’s a sugary feel-good treat, but I’d likely be doubled over in stomach pain.
- ALMOST CHRISTMAS – November 11. First of all, no, it isn’t. Second, this movie is trying so hard to be a new family classic it hurts. It’s channeling pretty much every family holiday trope with the prodigal son, the sex crazy aunt, the fighting long-married couple, the cheaters, the perfect couples, burnt dinners, decoration disasters, and a recently deceased mother to boot. Top it all off with Danny Glover saying he’s too old for this shit and you’ve got BINGO! Waaaay too early in the season for this.
So there you go, lots of choices to use up your coupons and whatnot. But definitely see DOCTOR STRANGE in IMAX3D at the Scotiabank if you can, it should be incredible. December’s looking a little rough, with one major exception. We’ll look at that in, oh, four weeks.