Film — it means different things to different people. For old folks, it’s the art of capturing a fat man falling into an enormous stack of cream-pies while a jazz trumpet plays in the background (see: Citizen Kane, I think?). For youngsters, it’s the art of capturing a cat tumbling into a big stack of cream-pies (see: Cloverfield? I don’t know…). Regardless of how cinema has changed in its application of cream-pies through the years, though, movies in the fall season have always been a more cerebral, award-worthy bunch than their summer cousins. Here’s a selection of the releases to help carry you through the colder months.
Besides being written and directed by P.T. Anderson, the force behind one of the greatest films of the last decade (There Will Be Blood), The Master is swathed with the kind of ridiculously talented cast (Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman) and pummeling intensity (a plot revolving around the rise of a Scientology-like cult) that means it’s going to be damn good. The only potential pitfall is the five-minute interlude of Philip Seymour Hoffman enjoying Burger King at the halfway point — but they had to finance it somehow, right?
Daniel Plainview playing Abraham Lincoln in a film directed by Steven Spielberg? Oh man! This is roughly twelve-thousand fan-fiction authors’ dreams come true! Imagine the possibilities: Archeologist Abraham Lincoln running away from a boulder with his sidekick Ulysses S. Grant! Daniel Day-Lewis delivering a rambling Gettysburg Address predicated on milkshake-drinking and beating people with bowling pins! The movie ET redone with slow pans and Civil War-era music. Wow! I clearly don’t understand how this “Hollywood” thing works! One thing I’m pretty sure of though? This movie should be incredible.
You know that feeling you get when you see a magician setting up an elaborate trick involving banana peels, rings of fire, and juggling knives? It’s thrilling, right? It might be a disaster; it might be something sublime. Either way, it’s going to be an amazing show. That’s what’s so intriguing about the Wachowski Brothers’ first movie since 2008. Based on a critically acclaimed novel containing six interlocking stories spanning 1850 to a post-apocalyptic future, Cloud Atlas has the potential to be their best film since the first two-thirds of the Matrix trilogy. Or it could be an absolute train wreck. Exciting.
There is something incredibly comforting about seeing a Bond movie, even if it brings up memories of our colonial oppression under British rule. The line “Bond. James, Bond” is going to be used. Incredibly beautiful women (like Helen McCrory) will dress in very uncomfortable outfits in very cool places (New Delhi, Shanghai, Scotland). Bond and his cohorts will talk in that kooky cockney accent of theirs, and audiences in the USA will get a good laugh out of their incomprehensible attempts to speak American. But there are also reasons to be interested in this one in particular—Javier Bardem with inexplicably blond hair, the introduction of a young Q (sorry John Cleese), and the conflict between M and Bond finally brought to a head.
As if being named after the third best Fugees song of all time wasn’t enough, Killing Them Softly has Brad Pitt playing an enforcer investigating a heist, James Gandolfini playing James Gandolfini, and direction by Andrew Dominik, the guy who made The Assassination of Jesse James. From the trailer, it looks like a phenomenally bloody caper, with the sort of criminal incompetence that brings to mind Pulp Fiction and a story rooted in the recession. If it turns out well, look for its sequels Ready or Not and Fu-Ge-La in the coming years.
The team behind The Hurt Locker, back to chronicle the search for and assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Looks incredibly intense.
After Thanksgiving, you’ve essentially acquired the habits and appearance of a Hobbit. What better film, then, for the drunk, chubby, foot-hair covered masses to waddle out to than the first in Peter Jackson’s trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit? Whether its watching bunch of dwarves scale mountains, catching the appearance of a possibly even creepier Gollum, or just drifting to sleep to British narration provided by a guy named—no kidding—Benedict Cumberbatch, this movie should contain the perfect series of fuzzy moving pictures to project in front of your sleep and turkey-swollen eyes.