COVID-19 is over! Movies are back! And everything is… safe? Hardly. It’s been a weird 2020.5 (an adjunct year that started in March) and it’s been going on for about 2.5 years so far. Sundance and Berlin in the 1st half of 2020 were definitely a few years ago and the new normal is so normal… it’s ok to go back to theaters? We’re as dubious, nervous and hesitant as you. In fact, we’d given up on doing most kinds of film festival previews this year—we threw any ideas of a summer film preview out the window given that the summer schedule kept constantly changing and any predictions about reopening theaters turned out to be as premature and overly optimistic as we all thought.
But now, September approaches and all is fine, right? Whether we like it or not, theaters are reopening, and that’s just the reality as anchored by Warner Bros.’ “Tenet.” So it’s with a precautious sense of… is this responsible? Is this moral? Is this confusing to audiences? We’re putting together a fall film preview.
And that said, it’s very possible this schedule falls apart entirely. Scientists have warned that the fall could be a COVID-19 disaster all over again, so please keep that in mind if you’re heading into the theaters. Personally? We’re mostly in the luxury of receiving digital screenings for films so we don’t have to brave the theaters—so far anyhow, that could change. So, while we can’t make any decisions for you, we hope you fully realize there are risks involved in movie theater going still and that will still be the case even if Christopher Nolan’s new mind-melting movie is in theaters. Our recommendation? If you do decide to go to a movie theater, a) wear an N-95 mask and b) don’t eat during the screening. Just be extra safe about it for yourself and everyone around you. It’s a tricky and unprecedented time.
Do movie reviews of movies in theaters mean endorsement of seeing movies in theaters? Is a fall preview much the same thing? Are we complicit in all this? We’re all in uncharted territory here, and potentially morally dubious ground. All we know is that we think your safety, your loved ones safety, and our safety is paramount above all things, and especially entertainment. So with all that consideration, here’s all the movies that are scheduled to come out this fall we think are worth highlighting—not necessarily seeing in theaters—and a few that seemed poised to “come out” this fall in some form or another be it in theaters, or on one of the many streaming channels.
And again, the main disclaimer is: this entire schedule is all subject to change. Again, experts have warned us about the fall and another COVID-19 spike and we should take that seriously no matter what we’re doing, but especially when we’re indoors with others. Make sure you wear a mask, social distance whenever possible and please, stay safe and take every additional precaution you feel necessary. – Rodrigo Perez
“The Mole Agent” – September 1
One of the most strangely successful hybrid films you will ever see, “The Mole Agent” manages to meld the spy movie genre with that of a heartfelt observational documentary. Maite Alberdi’s empathetic film establishes a premise in which an 80-year-old man named Sergio Chamy infiltrates an assisted living home, in order to investigate patient abuse allegations. Despite the dark-seeming subject matter, the movie exudes compassion and humanity, miraculously able to infuse humor and charm into the inevitably discouraging fact that death comes for us all, and we must not forget to express deep care for the ones we love, before the time comes when life is taken out of our hands. – Andrew Bundy
“Tenet”- September 4
Considering it seemed like the sole discussion point film discourse revolved around this summer, we should probably talk about “Tenet.” Theatrical release problems aside, Christopher Nolan’s sci-spy bender – which seems to be playing more with localized time manipulation/inversion than literal time travel (yes, yes, genre semantics) – has more than a little hype to live up to. Between the legions online breaking down whether shots are presented in reverse motion, to science geeks theorizing it may be tackling concepts akin to causality and parallel universes (parallelisms being a particular obsession throughout Nolan’s body of work), most film fans are hoping for the same kind of inventive movie-going experience the big budget maestro has delivered many times before. Frankly – and, again, COVID factors notwithstanding – there are few reasons to suggest the craft quality will be anything less. Sporting an incredible cast (John David Washington, Kenneth Branagh, Elizabeth Debicki, and Robert Pattinson), Nolan has yet to drop the ball on a release; though his ability to entice/orient viewers into the complex watchwork of his cinematic wizardry is about to be put to the ultimate test. – AB
“I’m Thinking Of Ending Things” – September 4
The desperation of Charlie Kaufman’s dispirited protagonists can be summed up by the title of the writer-turned-director’s latest screen adaptation: “I’m Thinking Of Ending Things.” Based on the acclaimed novel of the same name – described as a literary horror thriller, but we’ll see how that holds up in Kaufman’s hands – the acclaimed creator has partnered with Netflix for the release of his latest bohemian frolic. Starring Jessie Buckley (phenomenal in “Wild At Heart”) as Cindy, a despondent woman second guessing her relationship with her boyfriend, Jake (Jesse Plemons, whose role as Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son in “The Master” is starting to feel more and more apropos as his career unfolds). The pair take a road trip to Jake’s family farm, where his totally normal-seeming parents (the amazing Toni Colette and David Thewlis) reside. Kaufman – who recently released his debut novel, Antkind – is one of the rare names whose reputation can turn just about every moviegoer’s head, and the trailer is a good indicator audiences are in for more of his meta-sorrowful brand of despairingly strange. – AB
“Mulan” – September 4
Disney’s announcement that their live action remake of “Mulan” would not release in theaters, but be available for $29.99 on Disney+ (with the paid monthly subscription on top of it) is sure to cause ripples throughout the industry. But rather than ominously debate what this means for the future of everything, let’s discuss the actual movie. Helmed by Niki Caro (“Whale Rider”) and starring Liu Yifei as the titular folklore legend, the new interpretation of the material is reportedly much closer to the original Chinese tale than the animated film. Though there were a few red flags raised after some concerning script leaks early in development, the trailers have been stunning, showing off its veteran cast (including Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Rosalind Chao, and Tzi Ma – cinema’s current Asian Dad forefather) while proudly flexing the wuxia martial arts influence. The animated movie remains a seminal uplift fantasy for young women, queer, and Asian audiences alike; here’s hoping the live-action rendition can recapture the resonant emotion of its songs like “Reflection” for a whole new generation. – AB
“The Devil All The Time” – September 16
Netflix’s ‘The Devil All The Time” has a stacked cast. Based on a sprawling gothic crime novel in the vein of William Faulkner or Cormac McCarthy, Antonio Campos’ sinister looking flick begins in post-WWII Ohio, following the lives of several characters all the way through the Vietnam War. Painting a landscape rundown by ruthless lowlifes and the religiously corrupt, young Arvin Russell (Tom Holland) must face off against the foreboding menace looming over his rusted hometown. Also starring Bill Skarsgård, Riley Keough, Jason Clarke, Mia Wasikowska, and a balls to the wall Robert Pattinson (playing a preacher!), the trailer boasts a ruff n’ tuff Elmore Leonard-esque aesthetic with a disquieting and ill-omened atmosphere. – AB
“Antebellum” September 18
“Antebellum,” looks like one hell of a film. The exact nature of its supernatural conceit is being skillfully obscured by the marketing, but the trailer sports fantastic cinematography and is frightfully intriguing. After being singled out by a mysterious secret society, acclaimed author Veronica (Janelle Monáe) wakes up in a nightmare reality – the antebellum South – where she must find the means to escape. Seemingly reminiscent of something like David Fincher’s “The Game” made by the devilish lovechild of Jordan Peele and M. Night Shyamalan, “Antebellum” (which also stars Jena Malone, Jack Huston and Gabourey Sidibe) appears to be a tremendously assured debut from writing/directing duo Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz.
“Kajillionare” – September 18
After being paid to attend a pregnancy class in which she learns that some parents actually show affection for their children, Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) realizes that her lifelong upbringing as a con artist has been tunnel-visioned by the mother and father who groomed her (Debra Winger and Richard Jenkins), having spent the majority of her existence aiding their petty swindling jobs in the pursuit of becoming a “Kajillionaire.” After encountering the free-spirited Melody (Gina Rodriguez) during one of her parent’s scams, Old Dolio starts questioning if there may be more to life than simply doing what she’s told. Miranda July is one of the most talented comedic voices in film right now, her latest being a wonderfully oddball take on the grifter family sub-genre, using “a dose of wonky sweetness to leaven the existential despair at the impossibility of human connection,” from our review. – AB
“The Nest” – September 18
It’s been some time since Sean Durkin’s creepy cultish debut, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” premiered out of Park City (back when people were surprised to learn there was a third Olsen sister) and the film community has anxiously awaited the Best Director winner’s follow-up. Durkin makes his eerie return to the torn-family drama with “The Nest,” starring Jude Law and Carrie Coon (we’d show up just for her) as two parents who move their fractured unit out of Reaganomics Country and into a spooky mansion in 1980s England. Like his first film, the movie was lauded with raves out of Sundance, Jessica Kiang writing, “’The Nest’ is a somber, grown-up sort of movie, made with remarkable poise and maturity, and a level of craft so compelling it can be difficult to tear your eyes from the screen.” – AB
Feels Good Man – 9/4
All In: The Fight For Democracy – 9/9
I Am Woman – 9/11
Sibyl – 9/11
Rent-A-Pal – 9/11
The Secrets We Keep – 9/16
Blackbird – 9/18
Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs – 9/18
Enola Holmes – 9/23
The Artist’s Wife – 9/25
Ava – 9/25
The Glorias – 9/25
Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles – 9/25
Greenland – 9/25
Misbehaviour – 9/25
We Are Many – 9/25