October is an interesting month for film releases. The blockbuster season is a distant memory and awards season is just getting started. Some festival favorites finally hit wide release, while others are chasing the spooky atmosphere of the season. However, there aren’t many major horror movies this month (and no, “Boo! A Madea Halloween” doesn’t count); instead, it seems that the dominant genre for October is adult thrillers. Sure, there’s a comedy and a drama or two in the mix, but mainly it’s thrillers aimed at grownups with twists, turns and some sophisticated action. Who knows if any of these will succeed at the box office, but here’s what’s on the docket for the month.
“The Birth of a Nation”
Who: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aunjanue Ellis and Gabrielle Union What: Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, orchestrates an uprising. When: October 7th Why: There’s been a lot of discussion around “The Birth of a Nation.” First, there was tons of hype about the film coming out of Sundance, but more recently, the talk has become about writer/director/star Nate Parker’s previous rape allegations. For some, that’s a deal breaker and they won’t go see the film; others have learned to separate the art from the artist and will take the movie on its own merits (see Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, etc.). Based on word of mouth, the film is a harrowing, emotional experience that does a good job of connecting audiences to this historical event while finding the humanity amid all the horrible actions of the time period.
September is an odd time in the cinematic schedule, no longer part of the summer blockbuster season but still too early for the prestige awards bait of later months. It doesn’t even have a particularly well-known holiday like Halloween to gear towards programming. With that being said, the September slate is a mixed bag of some very promising films, most of them original (only two sequels and one remake in the bunch). Can “Blair Witch” live up to the original and the hype that’s been steadily building for it? And what about true-life stories like “Sully,” “Snowden” and “Deepwater Horizon?” Is there enough in each of those to tell a gripping tale? Only time will tell.
Who: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Paul Giamatti, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Brian Cox What: A corporate risk-management consultant has to decide and determine whether or not to terminate an artificial being’s life that was made in a laboratory environment. When: September 2nd Why: Made by Luke Scott (music video director and son of Ridley), this sounds like an intriguing, original sci-fi film that will be both entertaining to watch and actually grapple with some heavier, headier stuff. Also, the cast is pretty much stacked with talent, including Anya Taylor-Joy, who has proven to be an incredible actress at a young age with her performance in “The Witch” and whose role as the AI in question should be suitably captivating. This may be a retread of “Ex Machina,” but considering that was a brilliant film, that’s no knock on “Morgan,” which looks to be a mix of Alex Garland’s thriller, Luc Besson’s “Lucy” and an especially engrossing episode of “Black Mirror.”
Summer is winding down, and with it goes the last vestiges of the blockbuster season. But there are still a few tentpole movies left which, along with some offbeat choices, make for an interesting August at the theaters. There’s only one sequel and two remakes in this month’s offerings, and the rest are refreshingly off-kilter originals that hold a lot of promise for entertainment. Laika returns to deliver astonishing visuals with their latest, while the DC Comics movieverse tries to rebound from “Batman v Superman” with “Suicide Squad.” And the whole thing is capped off by one of the most enjoyable, intense thrillers released this year. It’s an intriguing and original list of films for August, so let’s get to it!
Who: Margot Robbie, Will Smith, Jared Leto, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje What: A secret government agency recruits imprisoned supervillains to execute a dangerous black ops mission in exchange for clemency. When: August 5th Why: “Suicide Squad” looks like an absolute barrel of fun that mixes everyone’s love of antiheroes with a dash of “The Dirty Dozen.” Based on the hit comic book of the same name, the film finds a bunch of colorful supervillains riffing off each other while trying to save the world (or just themselves). The trailers make it look like a promising blockbuster, though writer/director David Ayer (“Sabotage,” “Fury”) isn’t exactly known for delivering fun films, usually preferring the grittier side of things. Perhaps he’s found the perfect balance between the ultraviolent, grim world he normally inhabits and a more heightened experience that’s actually enjoyable to sit through.
With summer blockbuster season in full swing, July is surprisingly full of original releases. Sure, there are three sequels, a remake and a reboot, but the rest are original (or adapted) films that seemingly have something to offer everyone. From horror to comedy, intense drama to family-friendly fare, and even some of those patented, action-packed blockbuster franchises, July looks to be an eclectic month for moviegoers.
Who: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement and Rebecca Hall What: A girl named Sophie encounters the Big Friendly Giant who, despite his intimidating appearance, turns out to be a kindhearted soul that refuses to eat children. When: July 1st Why: Steven Spielberg returns both to family fare and summer spectacle with this adaptation of the beloved Roald Dahl book. On hand are some seriously funny people (Hader, Clement) and the always-welcomed presence of Oscar-winner Rylance to help deliver the story of childhood outcasts and strange friendships that helped cement Spielberg’s reputation back in the Amblin days of the ’80s. Will this be a return to form or too sentimental for most crowds? Will the darker elements of the story translate to the movie? And does that mean Spielberg’s old relishing of darker tones in children’s films will also return? Lots of unknowns, but this film may surprise a lot of people.
Summer blockbuster season rolls on as June brings sequels to previous box office successes, a few new comedies, and a couple of films that look to start franchises of their own. For those that like large explosions and massive battles, there’s a lot to offer this month. There’s less on hand for those that prefer smaller fare, but you’ll still find a couple movies worth seeking out in June. All this and a farting corpse film that will tug at your heart strings!
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows”
Who: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Stephen Amell, Tyler Perry and Laura Linney What: The Turtles return to save the city from a dangerous threat. When: June 3rd Why: The first “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” film under producer Michael Bay was a big hit with families and even a few die-hard TMNT fans. Those nostalgia-based fanatics get to relive the cartoon on the big screen in this outing that finds the ultimate mash-up quartet finally facing off against the likes of Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady. Gonzo casting like Tyler Perry as the scientist that eventually becomes a bug man may point to this film being a bit more interesting than its precursor, and hey, Megan Fox is always fun to watch.
“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping”
Who: Andy Samberg, Imogen Poots, Bill Hader and Sarah Silverman What: When it becomes clear that his solo album is a failure, a former boy band member does everything in his power to maintain his celebrity status. When: June 3rd Why: With two cult favorite comedies under their belts, directors Akiva Schaffer (“Hot Rod”) and Jorma Taccone (“MacGruber”) – two-thirds of the comedy music group The Lonely Island, along with Andy Samberg – are back to deliver what may be the “This Is Spinal Tap” for the social media generation. Samberg is great at playing blustery buffoons with big egos, and this film looks to skew all manner of elements of both pop music and celebrity culture. Plus, it involves Samberg fighting another old guy, this time in the form of Martin Sheen. What’s not to like?