Movie lovers have always found hope, reassurance and, of course, escape during anxious times. Now that we’re finally here in November, and this three ring circus masquerading as an election will (finally!) come to an end early next week, and there’s a crammed slate of titles all the way through the end of the year that should give plenty of options to find what each of us needs at the cinema or on VOD.
While it’s looking like another strong month of releases (many with awards hopes), the film of the month is one that won’t get a ton of theatrical play, unless you live in a city that has a cool arthouse theater to make room for it. Nor will it get any wards heat. But that shouldn’t deter you from seeking out and experiencing “Evolution,” director Lucile Hadžihalilović‘s second feature film. It’s a chilling cross pollination between arthouse horror, sci-fi and coming of age, and though we saw it at last year’s TIFF, it’s been worth the wait for it to make it to US screens. If you’re an adventurous moviegoer, or if you just want something exciting, fresh and brilliantly constructed, this is the one for you.
Here’s what coming out the rest of the month, with many more in the honorable mentions section at the end of the post. Let us know what you’re looking forward to seeing this month in the comments. And happy movie watching.
Synopsis: Based on a true story, the film follows Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter who were arrested and sent to prison for violating Virginia’s laws about interracial marriage.
What You Need To Know: Though he’s been a filmmaker of enormous promise for a decade now, Jeff Nichols has made films with a lot to admire, even if they haven’t always found a big audience. But expect that to change with “Loving,” which won rave reviews at Cannes and looks all but certain to be a major awards player the rest of this year. Jess’s review called it “as polished a film in terms of craft and performance as Nichols has ever made,” featuring a number of excellent performances, including a “mesmerizing” one from the film’s breakout Ruth Negga, and it ultimately proves to be a “heartfelt and strangely convincing testament to a truth that sometimes sounds naive: love wins.” Expect to hear a lot about this one.
Release Date: November 4th (Limited)
Synopsis: When surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange loses the use of his hands in an accident, he travels to the East in search for a cure, becoming a disciple of the mystic arts and eventually the superhero Doctor Strange.
What You Need To Know: Marvel are currently riding high following “Captain America: Civil War,” arguably the best film of the dozen or so that they’ve made so far, leaving some big footsteps for “Doctor Strange” to follow in. The mystical adventure has easily the best cast on paper of the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far with Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Mads Mikkelsen, and some impressive behind-the-scenes collaborators, including Michael Giacchino’s first Marvel score. Our mixed review of the film confirms some of our doubts about director Scott Derrickson and his vision, but still found plenty to like: “There is no disputing this is clearly one of Marvel’s better efforts. And, yes, attempting to break from the expected shackles of a lineage of other origin movies is difficult, but you still feel the formula straining at the core of ‘Doctor Strange.’ And at this point, we simply can no longer grade this picture — or any other superhero movie for that matter — on a curve.”
Release Date: November 4th
Synopsis: The true story of Desmond T. Doss, the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honor after saving the lives of 75 of his comrades in the Battle of Okinawa.
What You Need To Know: Not long after the release of Mel Gibson’s last (and I’d argue, best) movie as director, “Apocalypto” ten years ago, the filmmaker’s personal life blew up in the tabloids and consistently overshadowed his work. Subsequent comeback attempts have faltered, but “Hacksaw Ridge,” which he directed, could be the one to do it. Gibson’s always been a talented filmmaker, particularly when it comes to action, and this WWII drama seems to deliver on both that front and the religious elements that saw “Passion Of The Christ” become such a hit. Though our review from Venice was more mixed-to-negative on the film than most critics — “Gibson, whose lack of directorial subtlety but skill with action both reach an apex here, is not content to tell the true story of Desmond Doss and his unshakeable, courage-giving faith. He wants to convince us that his faith was, in fact, the truth” — it has the potential to break through with critics and audiences.
Release Date: November 4th
Synopsis: When alien ships land on Earth, language expert Louise Banks is tasked with finding a way to communicate with them.
What You Need To Know: As if to warm up for the “Blade Runner” sequel, Denis Villeneuve goes sci-fi for the first time with “Arrival,” an adaptation of Ted Chiang’s short story by “Lights Out” writer Eric Heisserer. But this is much more “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind” than “Independence Day” as far as first contact stories go, with a truly global scope and a thoughtful approach with more than one surprise in store. Villeneuve’s on a good run (and continues to work with the very best DPs, with “Selma” and “A Most Violent Year” lenser Bradford Young on board here), but this might be the first time that one of his scripts has been as strong as his directing talents, as per our review out of Venice, which stated “it’s Villeneuve’s dedicated intelligence that brings it off the page and onto the screen with an apparent simplicity that connotes a refreshing faith not just in the material, but in the audience.” And Paramount is apparently super high on the film, which bodes well. Could this be this year’s equivalent to “The Martian” or “Gravity,” whip-smart sci-fi that plays at both the box office and with awards types? We hope so.
Release Date: November 11th
Synopsis: A successful woman survives a horrific sexual assault, and tracks down the man who was responsible.
What You Need To Know: With ten years passing since “Black Book” (and not counting his feature/doc hybrid thingy, “Tricked“), and with the director well into his 70s, we’d started to worry that we wouldn’t see another movie from Paul Verhoeven. But he roared back at Cannes this year with “Elle,” a film that’s one of his best, and one of the most daring pictures of the year. As Jessica Kiang wrote in Cannes, where the film played to strong notices, “The cinema of the #problematic may have just found its ‘Citizen Kane,’ ” with the film being a “massively complex genre thriller” that’s able to “make you laugh at all the wrong things.” And its center is Huppert, who’s rarely been better with a performance of “such lightness, such wit, such bright disingenuous eyes” that it could even figure into the Oscar conversation. It’s sure to spawn a thousand thinkpieces, but the debates should be just as much fun as the movie.
Release Date: November 11th (Limited)