We love to wax nostalgic at PoP!, but sometimes it’s what’s yet to come that most quickens our nerd pulses. For better or for worse, let’s start the speculation over what’s making us Future Tense.
It’s that special time of year again. The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler, and the multiplexes start getting a little more diverse. Fall and early Winter are my favorite movie seasons because that’s usually when the most interesting films get released, and while this Summer had its share of quality flicks, it looks like Hollywood has once again saved the best for the latter months of the year. This Fall looks to have a particularly healthy mix of big-budget crowd-pleasers, quality family fare, and awards contenders, and the following films are near the top of my can’t-miss list.
This week brings us the newest film from David Fincher, the world-renowned director who gave us Fight Club, Zodiac, and The Social Network. The film stars Oscar-winner and future Batman Ben Affleck as a man who finds himself the main suspect in the case involving the disappearance of his wife (Rosamund Pike) in a small Missouri town. While the plot seems at first glance like typical Hollywood thriller fare, Fincher’s involvement all but guarantees something out of the ordinary, as does the original novel by Gillian Flynn on which the film is based. The stacked supporting cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Tyler Perry (yes, THAT Tyler Perry), and Casey Wilson. Fincher’s flair for impeccable visuals and high tension mixed with that interesting mixture of onscreen talent all but guarantees that Gone Girl will be yet another triumph for him.
Birdman, opening October 17th
One of the strangest and most fascinating releases of the season is the newest film from Mexican auteur Alejandro González Iñárritu (Babel) which many are predicting will revive the career of its once highly-bankable star, Michael Keaton. In an eerie mirror to reality, Keaton plays a washed-up actor whose most famous role was as the star of a successful superhero movie who is desperately trying to mount a comeback while juggling several personal and professional problems. The brilliant blending of star and premise is enough to get me interested in it, and the impressive supporting cast that includes Edward Norton, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, and Zach Galifanakis makes the film even more enticing. Both the trailer and the advance buzz from notable film bloggers and critics who saw the film at festivals indicate that Birdman could be one of the best and most disturbing films of the year.
The Book Of Life, opening October 17th
On the slightly less disturbing side of the spectrum, mid-October also brings us this visually-stunning animated feature co-produced by Guillermo Del Toro. Sporting an impressive voice cast and a gorgeous three-dimensional animation style reminiscent of Mexican Day of the Dead iconography, The Book Of Life taps into the same kid-friendly mixture of supernatural themes and light-hearted comedy that made The Nightmare Before Christmas and ParaNorman so appealing to both kids and adults. While Disney’s animated offering is sure to be an easy moneymaker, the trailer for The Book Of Life hints that this charming, offbeat family film could be the sleeper hit of the season.
Horns, opening October 31st
With Halloween falling on a Friday this year, it’s a no-brainer that a high-profile horror film would premiere on that day, but who would have expected that it would star Harry-Freakin’-Potter? Based on Joe Hill’s bestselling novel, Horns tells the story of a depressed young man (Daniel Radcliffe) mourning the death of his longtime girlfriend (Juno Temple) who wakes up one day to find a pair of devil horns growing from his forehead that grant him mysterious powers and abilities. While this film hasn’t been granted very positive advance reviews, as a big fan of Joe Hill’s work, I am quite anxious to see one of his best-known novels brought to the big screen and am curious to see if Daniel Radcliffe can avoid eternal typecasting by playing a far more sinister role than he has in the past.
Interstellar, opening November 7th
Thanks to the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception, Christopher Nolan is one of the few filmmakers who can successfully open a movie based on his name alone, a phenomenon that has been validated by all the advance anticipation for his newest film Interstellar. When the first teaser trailer for this nearly three-hour sci-fi drama premiered earlier this year, tons of filmgoers were down for it without even knowing any plot details. Now that more information about the film has been revealed, enthusiasm has continued to grow, and with just a little over a month to go before its premiere, Nolan fans the world over are hoping that it’ll be this year’s Gravity in that it’ll combine eye-popping special effects with visceral human drama.
Big Hero 6, opening November 7th
Also arriving on November 7th is Disney’s newest bid for animated world domination, co-produced by none other than Marvel Studios. Early trailers and teasers for this sci-fi comedy about a boy and his inflatable robot pal invite favorable comparisons to Disney / Pixar’s 2004 superhero masterpiece The Incredibles, only this time they are able to use characters and ideas directly from Marvel Comics instead of making a riff on the Fantastic Four that was infinitely better than any past (or future) Fantastic Four movie. Big Hero 6 is loosely based on the little-known Marvel Comic of the same name, which is sure to bring in an equal amount of families and older comic fans in droves, and if it becomes a bonafide success (which is not a huge if considering Disney’s track record lately), it could open the door for more animated Marvel adaptations set outside of the main MCU (Power Pack, anyone?).
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, opening November 21st
I wasn’t a huge fan of the first film of the Hunger Games franchise from 2012 but was pleasantly surprised by its much-better followup, Catching Fire. That 2013 film had a richer, more interesting storyline and a more confident directing style, and its game-changing finale left me quite interested to check out the remaining two films in the series. With Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer) back to helm the two-part adaptation of Mockingjay, the final book in Suzanne Collins’ original Young Adult trilogy, and Jennifer Lawrence basically doing no wrong in the acting department nowadays, I find myself quite enthusiastic about a movie series I never expected to give a single damn about two years ago.
Inherent Vice, opening December 12th
Not a lot of people saw Paul Thomas Anderson’s brilliant and challenging The Master when it came out in 2012, but I sure did, and it quickly became one of my favorite films in recent memory. Now, two years later, the suddenly quite-prolific Anderson reunites with Joaquin Phoenix (who also starred in my favorite film of last year, Spike Jonze’s Her) in this adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 detective novel. Set in 1970’s Los Angeles around the time of the Manson murders, Inherent Vice stars Phoenix as a drug-addled private eye investigating the disappearance of a former girlfriend, which according to the recently-released trailer brings him into contact with a number of eccentric and unsavory individuals. Also starring Josh Brolin, Reese Witherspoon, Jena Malone, Owen Wilson, and Benicio Del Toro, Inherent Vice promises to be the most fun and irreverent detective flick since The Big Lebowski, and with Anderson behind the camera and Phoenix starring, I am counting the days until December 12th.