10 Most Anticipated Movies of October

October is an exciting time for movies. Thanks to Halloween, the month is prime real estate for horror movies and other genre films. Not only that, but it’s also smack dab in the middle of Oscar season. Whatever you’re into, October has something for all movie lovers!

This October in particular has me quivering with excitement. There’s something to look forward to each week! Here are the films I’m most looking forward to next month:

Blade Runner 2049

Release date: October 6th

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Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner from 1982 is a seminal sci-fi motion picture. Its influences on subsequent films can be seen and felt through the years. That said, I never believed the film needed a sequel. I still don’t. However, it’s tough to say no to the talent involved. Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival) is arguably the hottest director in Hollywood today. Likewise, Ryan Gosling is arguably the hottest on-screen talent in the industry right now and the draw of putting him opposite Oscar-winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyer’s Club) is irresistible. Cinematographer Roger Deakins has shot some of the most transfixing images in cinema history (The Shawshank Redemption, A Beautiful Mind, Skyfall, Sicario) and by the look of it, he’s immaculately recaptured the iconic, neo-noir styling’s of the original. Team those four up with returning Blade Runner veterans like Hampton Fancher (screenwriter) and Ridley Scott (producer) and then say Harrison Ford will be reprising his role as Deckard? Take my money.

The Florida Project

Release date: October 6th

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I know two things about The Florida Project and its originator Sean Baker: 1.) The guy’s previous works include Tangerine, which was shot on an iPhone, and 2.) I saw the trailer once and have been sold ever since. Willem Dafoe is one of my favorite under-appreciated actors and he always shines in these smaller, independent titles (though judging by the trailer, I’m not so sure how much screen time he’ll get). However, the real highlight of what I’ve seen so far is Brooklynn Prince. The young actress just oozes charisma and seems like a perfect fit for the role of a snarky, rebellious child. Her credits don’t include much up to now, but if this film is as charming and sincere as it looks, The Florida Project could be a star-maker.

Happy Death Day

Release date: October 13th

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I love horror. It’s my favorite genre. I especially love slasher flicks. Psycho, Peeping Tom, Halloween, and Scream are some of my all-time favorite films. Happy Death Day seems to be paying homage to those types of movies while having fun in the process. From its Halloween-inspired cake poster to Jessica Rothe’s indulgently silly performance to the Groundhog Day manipulation of time to the killer’s oversized mascot helmet, everything about this film looks ludicrous and amusing. Count me in for a slice.

The Foreigner

Release date: October 13th

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Jackie Chan is a cinematic icon who’s known for doing his own, insane stunt work and fight choreography. Lately, the martial arts legend has withdrawn from the spotlight and mostly taken up work voice acting in family-friendly animations such as the Kung-Fu Panda films and the recent sequel to The Nut Job (which he was the best part of, I might add). With The Foreigner, Chan resurfaces to the public eye with a good, old-fashioned revenge tale and I for one can’t wait to see the honorary Oscar-winner do what he does best: kick some serious ass. Plus he’s teaming up with Martin Campbell, who’s proven to be a competent action director with GoldenEye, Casino Royale, and the Antonio Banderas-lead Zorro films. It doesn’t hurt that Chan is starring opposite someone as talented as Pierce Brosnan. Plus, it’s always fun to see a previous Bond star play a villain.

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women

Release date: October 13th

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Dr. William Moulton Marston is famous for three things: creating Wonder Woman, inventing the lie detector, and being in a polyamorous relationship with two women. With Professor Marston & the Wonder Woman, the story of the women behind the man behind the woman (as the film’s tagline goes) finally gets the silver screen treatment it deserves and it couldn’t come at a better time. From the initial controversy of the Wonder Woman comic itself to the scrutiny surrounding the relationship that influenced its creation, this story is ripe with timely, dramatic potential. Not to mention the film stars Luke Evans and Rebecca Hall, two phenomenal actors no doubt worthy of such rich material.

The Snowman

Release date: October 20th

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Again, The Snowman is a film I know very little about and I’m doing everything in my power to keep it that way. That said, I do know Director Tomas Alfredson helmed Let the Right One In, which is a poignant, disciplined example of dramatic horror. If he can bring those same sensibilities to a methodical, cat-n-mouse murder mystery like The Snowman and effectively utilize the prolific talents of an actor like Michael Fassbender, then I’m totally game. Not to mention the bizarre imagery in the trailer has haunted me ever since I watched the damn thing. It begs questions that I must know the answers to!

Jigsaw

Release date: October 27th

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It seems odd, doesn’t it? Placing the eighth installment of a horror franchise on any “Most Anticipated” list? Maybe. But keep in mind there hasn’t been a new Saw movie in seven years. That’s the better part of a decade and exactly how long the series initially ran once James Wan (Insidious, The Conjuring) flipped the switch back in 2004. Babies born that year are starting grade school this year! In other words: it’s been a minute, so you’ll have to excuse my enthusiasm for Jigsaw. Plus it’s being directed by the Spierig Brothers, who are responsible for one of my all-time favorite films in Predestination. Sure, their films don’t always stick the landing– ahem, Daybreakers— but they’re always brimming with creativity, which is exactly what a long-running franchise like this needs. So cue up the tapes, Billy, papa wants to play a game!

Thank You for Your Service

Release date: October 27th

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I haven’t read the David Finkel novel that Thank You for Your Service is based on, but by all accounts, it’s a powerful read. That comes through in the trailers. PTSD is a tragic reality for a lot of vets returning from active duty. While many films attempt to communicate the devastating effects that the disorder can have on the lives of those who suffer from it, not many movies delve into how it affects the lives of those closest to them. Thank You for Your Service, at least judging from its trailers, seems to be all about that family dynamic and Haley Bennett with Miles Teller seems to be a perfect matching. Thankfully, over the last few years, Miles Teller has dug himself out of being typecast as the frat boy/ YA heartthrob and established himself as a serious actor thanks to his work in films like War Dogs and Whiplash. Thus, I have complete faith that he’ll dedicate himself whole-heartedly to this role and do right by those living his character’s reality.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Release date: October 27th (Limited)

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I’d hate to sound like a broken record, but The Killing of a Sacred Deer is yet again one of those upcoming films that I know next to nothing about. I, however, absolutely adored The Lobster, a 2015 film also written and directed by Athenian filmmaker (you don’t hear that very often) Yorgos Lanthimos. That film also starred Colin Farrell, who is one of my favorite actors, period. The addition of Nicole Kidman can only be a positive thing. The two always commit themselves to their work, disappearing into every role. Plus the synopsis for The Killing of a Sacred Deer promises a “sinister” turn and both Farrell and Kidman excel given edgier material.

Suburbicon

Release date: October 27th

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Obviously, I’m a fan of when big-name Hollywood talents team up to make a movie. I crossed that bridge with Blade Runner 2049 and The Snowman (see above). This time around, George Clooney is pairing with Matt Damon to realize a script written by Joel and Ethan Coen. Now George Clooney as a director tends to be hit or miss, but the fact that he’s been around a while and has previously crafted some strong cinema (Good Night, and Good Luck; The Ides of March) means that I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when it comes to Suburbicon (at least for now). Plus, the Coen Brothers are such a singular voice in the industry and I’ll watch anything they’ve put their hands on. It also helps that Matt Damon has the chops to match their quirky wit.


Those are my ten most anticipated movies of October. What movies are you guys and gals looking forward to next month? Anything I missed? Drop down into the comments section and let me know!

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Jamie Lee Curtis Returning for More ‘Halloween’

The original Scream Queen is returning to the slasher series that started her career.

Blumhouse Productions tweeted on Friday: “Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode in HALLOWEEN, released by Universal Pictures October 19, 2018. #HalloweenMovie.”

Laurie Strode herself confirmed the news, tweeting: “Same porch. Same clothes. Same issues. 40 years later. Headed back to Haddonfield one last time for Halloween.

Curtis has played the iconic killer’s sister in a number of Halloween films, including the 1978 original, Rick Rosenthal’s Halloween II (1981), and Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998). Curtis also made a brief appearance in 2002’s Halloween: Resurrection.

2014 Texas Film Awards

AUSTIN, TX – MARCH 06: Danny McBride (L) and David Gordon Green pose backstage with his award during the Texas Film Awards at Austin Studios on March 6, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/FilmMagic)

In regards to the new film, David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Eastbound & Bound) will direct as well as co-write the script with frequent collaborator Danny McBride (yes, that Danny McBride).

During an interview with CinemaBlend, McBride was asked where the new film fits within the storied Halloween continuity. McBride had this to say:

“You know, it’s not a remake. It’s actually, it’s gonna continue the story of Michael Myers in a really grounded way. And for our mythology, we’re focusing mainly in the first two movies and what that sets up and then where the story can go from there.”

As you may recall, Steve Miner and Jamie Lee Curtis also used Rick Rosenthal’s sequel as the jumping off point for Halloween H20: 20 Years Later. Does this mean McBride and Green’s new film will offer yet another reality for the character of Laurie Strode, one that also stems from Halloween II but in another direction? Guess we will have to see.

While on Empire Podcast, McBride also offered some insight into his and Green’s approach to the material:

“I think we’re just trying to strip it down and just take it back to what was so good about the original. It was just very simple and just achieved that level of horror that wasn’t corny. And it wasn’t turning Michael Myers into some supernatural being that couldn’t be killed— that stuff to me isn’t scary. I want to be scared by something that I really think could happen. I think it’s much more horrifying to be scared by someone standing in the shadows while you’re taking the trash out as opposed to someone who can’t be killed pursuing you.”

While hardcore Halloween fans might be turned off by the notion of demystifying yet another cherished horror icon (*cough* Friday the 13th *cough*), there is more good news. Original Halloween director and franchise co-creator John Carpenter is on board to produce and seems fairly optimistic about the project:

“David and Danny both came to my office recently with Jason Blum and shared their vision for the new movie and … WOW. They get it. I think you’re gonna dig it. They blew me away,” Carpenter wrote then. “I might even do the music. Maybe. It could be kind of cool. And you’ll get to see it in theaters on October 19th, 2018.”

It’s been a number of years since John Carpenter has had anything positive to say about any of the Halloween sequels, so the fact that he’s willing to come back and produce this new one in addition to (possibly) scoring the music is a good sign.

Again, the untitled Halloween sequel is set to film this fall and will hit theaters October 19th, 2018. Just in time for Michael Myers’s 40th anniversary!

What do you all think about Jamie Lee Curtis returning to Halloween? Does it make you any more excited to see another film in the long-running franchise? Or are you about over the whole thing? Let me know in the comments below! I want to hear your thoughts!

Review: Darren Aronofsky unloads a fury of theological cynicism in ‘mother!’

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer

Year: 2017

Rated: R

I would very much like to start this review off with a disclaimer. mother! is not the film Paramount would have you believe it is. According to their misleading marketing campaign, mother! is a psychological horror film akin to Black Swan (also by Darren Aronofsky) but with Rosemary’s Baby-esque aspirations. That’s not the case here.

What is true is that this is distinctly an Aronofsky film. However, mother! is a beast unto its own. It has its own agenda. More correctly, writer/director Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler) has his own agenda here and that includes discharging unto unknowing moviegoers a fury of theological cynicism towards the current state of the world.

It’s difficult– no, impossible– to fault an artist for expressing himself through his art, especially when that artist is as prolific and talented as Aronofsky and the art in question is as deeply unsettling and singularly unique as mother!

I was compelled by this film (for reasons I’ll get to in a minute) and if you are interested in checking it out then I highly recommend doing so. Just make sure that when you do, it isn’t on the pretense of experiencing anything you’ve seen in the ads.


mother

At the premiere of mother!, writer-director Darren Aronofsky passed out a statement on the conception of his new film. According to the filmmaker, mother! is the product of a fever dream, which is fitting because that’s exactly what it comes across as.

Jennifer Lawrence plays Mother (none of the characters are given actual names). She’s sweet and passive and married to a sulking poet named Him (Javier Bardem), who is a generation older than her. Despite the age gap, she is madly in love with him.

From the onset, their world exhibits sleepy, dreamlike qualities. Their large Victorian fixer-upper sits out in the middle of the countryside with no roads and no driveway. There is no cell or internet service (that’s how they like it) and their closest neighbor is the distant, ever-swaying tree line that completely encompasses their house in all directions (though they occasionally reference nearby structures like a hospital, we never see any).

Despite the couple’s apparent isolation, unexpected guests begin showing up at their doorstep. This is where previously unspoken tensions between husband and wife begin to boil over as Him openly welcomes Man (Ed Harris), a heavy smoker looking for a place to stay. Mother, on the other hand, isn’t too thrilled with the idea of taking in someone they don’t even know.

The two men hit it off gloriously while Mother takes up the mantle of hesitant hostess. The camera follows close behind (often times uncomfortably so) as she staggers from one room to the next, making drinks, preparing the guestroom and cooking meals.

The next day we meet Man’s hard-drinking, motor-mouthed wife, Woman (Michelle Pfeiffer), who shows up and immediately stars making herself at home– nosing around the house, leaving messes behind, and prying the young Mother with lewd questions. Pfeiffer is slick and slithering in the role and plays it with profound intrigue.

Jlaw

As Him spends more and more time with his guests (Mother prefers to call them “strangers”), he spends less and less time with his wife. Mother’s dream of living a peaceful, quiet life with her husband fades further from reality as more guests arrive and take over (WHAT IS GOING ON?!).

Coincidentally, this is where Aronofsky dials up the weirdness. We get more biblical imagery, including when the two sons of Man and Woman show up to settle a family quarrel. Friends of the stranger’s family randomly start painting Mother’s home. But it doesn’t stop there.

Eventually, the whole house is overrun by a mass of strangers. Sweaty dance parties ensue, riots burst out against the police, and entire wars unfold (we’re talking full-on WWI trench warfare). Many folks are beaten, imprisoned, and some are even murdered.

These are expertly crafted sequences with nice flow. Aronofsky shoots them with a dizzying focus on Lawrence that makes it impossible not to feel her stress and confusion. In turn, Lawrence gives one of her best performances since her Oscar-winning turn in Silver Linings Playbook. Though she doesn’t get much dialogue (outside of yelling at people to stop messing up her house and crying to her husband), she conveys everything with a simple stare or cock of her head.

Bardem gives an otherworldly, flamboyant performance that seems better suited for a stage play than a film. Still, his work never feels disingenuous and I was compelled by the character’s selfish self-indulgence.

mother! ultimately film feels like a bowel movement of bad vibes that Darren Aronofsky just had to get out. As a filmmaker, Aronofsky often works in hyperbole and symbolism and though that gets a bit heavy-handed towards the end, I believe he’s crafted a visually stunning, thought-provoking and timely piece of art that’s one of the most unique films I’ve ever seen.

Grade: A-

mother! is surely going to cause some discussion. As such, I want to hear from you. What did you think of this insane film? Did you think it was just a flashy, meaningless film? Let me know in the comments below!

J.J. Abrams will write, direct ‘Star Wars Episode IX’

The Saint of Soft Reboots is back. According to a small post over at StarWars.com, Lucasfilm has confirmed that J.J. Abrams will return to close out the trilogy he himself launched back in 2015 with Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

The post also mentions that, in addition to directing Episode IX: Insert Subtitle Here, Abrams will be co-writing the script along with Chris Terrio (Argo, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice).

In addition to the breaking news, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy released a pleasant statement:

“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy.”

That’s all the objective news there is to gather from the update. If you’re interested in my thoughts on the Abrams hiring, see below.

JJ

Obviously this is a safe bet for Kathleen Kennedy and Lucasfilm. Not only has J.J. been heavily involved in the sequel trilogy, but he is the guy who cinematically revived the Star Wars brand and its cultural relevance. The importance of Abrams to this beloved universe cannot be understated.

Having said that, I was disappointed by The Force Awakens. I thought it was an overly safe retread of A New Hope and though I enjoyed the film overall, I found it to be a bit dull as a result.

The Star Wars universe is so, incredibly vast. The possibilities for new and exciting adventures is endless. However, Lucasfilm is obviously more concerned with covering their asses and steering the ship safely into harbor at this point. They don’t want another situation similar to what happened with Gareth Edwards on Rogue One or Lord and Miller on what was once their young Han Solo spin-off.

It is Hollywood, so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. It just pains me to watch as a franchise I love is so blatantly milked of what it’s worth. Not to mention Abrams and Rian Johnson (Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi) are two of the most talented sci-fi visionaries of their time. It’s a shame to see their creative sparks dowsed for the sake of making an easy buck.

Anyways, this is huge news and there are bound to be a lot of opinions on Abrams hiring. I want to hear from you guys. What do you think about the direction Lucasfilm is taking here? Hit me up in the comment below and let me know!

‘IT’ Feeds On Record-Setting Box Office Numbers

It’s Monday, which means the official weekend box office numbers are in and they’re great news for IT (check out my video review here). According to Box Office Mojo, the New Line and Warner Bros. adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved novel has scared up a phenomenal $123.1 million domestically (in the U.S.). That easily blows the original projections of $50 million (which it made on Friday alone) down the storm drain.

Along the way, IT broke multiple box office records:

  • Best September opening ever (Topping Hotel Transylvania 2, which previously held the record with just over $48 million).
  • Best Fall opening (previously held by Gravity with $55.7 million).
  • Best opening for an R-rated horror film (previously Paranormal Activity 3 at $52.5 million).
  • Best opening for a horror film of any MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) rating.

The only major box office record that IT couldn’t devour was best opening for an R-rated movie. That title still belongs to Deadpool, which made $132.4 million on its opening weekend.

Coming in second place this weekend was Open Road’s new release Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon, which made just over $9 million. That’s a difference of over $110 million between first and second place and represents the fifth largest gap between No. 1 and No. 2 at the box office, all-time.

home again

Reese Witherspoon stars in “Home Again”

After three consecutive weeks on top, Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard fell to third place this weekend. The Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson action/comedy brought in an extra $4.85 million.

New Line and Warner Bros. also clutched the fourth slot this weekend with Annabelle: Creation, which brought in $4 million dollars. The new domestic cume for the horror spin-off prequel sits at $96.2 million. It won’t be long until the film breaks the $100 million mark and becomes the only August release to do so.

Rounding out the top five this weekend is the Weinstein Company’s Wind River. The last installment in Writer/Director Taylors Sheridan’s unofficial American Frontier trilogy  brought in $3.2 million.

In all, this is great news for the box office in general after last week’s historical slump. Apparently people were just saving their money for something they really wanted to see.

What do you all make of this news? Did you expect IT to break $100 million? I know I didn’t. Leave me your comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Review: Eerie “IT” will chill your bones and warm your heart

Director: Andy Muschiettie

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Fin Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Bill Skarsgard 

Year: 2017

Rating: R

IT is arguably one of Stephen King’s most involved and inscrutable works. The book significantly ties into King’s greater literary universe and explores abstract concepts that aren’t always easy to visualize or interpret, especially if you are unfamiliar with many of the author’s other stories.

That in combination with some of the more– ahem– avant-garde material in the novel might explain the lack of attempts at a big screen adaptation since King first published IT back in 1986.

Thankfully, Director Andy Muschiettie (Mama) and his screenwriters Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman accessibly scale back the more confounding, cosmic elements of King’s terrifying tale to focus in on the coming-of-age story at its core. And why not? It’s the strongest, most relatable aspect of the book and so too of the new film.

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Bill Skarsgard as IT, aka Pennywise

By now I’m sure you’re at least somewhat familiar with the iconic scene that sets everything into motion. It’s a rainy autumn afternoon in the small, fictional town of Derry, Maine. A young, sickly boy named Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) sends his baby brother Georgie (Jackson Robert Scott) outside to play with a nifty paper boat. Almost immediately, the S.S. Georgie (as it’s christened) is swallowed up by a storm drain.

Just then, what should appear from the dark, damp abyss but a jovial, dancing clown (Bill Skarsgard). Calling himself Pennywise and claiming to be a friend, the gleaming anomaly offers Georgie his boat back. Paying no attention to the drool running from the clown’s mouth or the accompanying dead-eyed stare, Georgie reaches into the drain and– well– let’s just say Pennywise ain’t exactly runnin’ a charity here.

Sadly, Georgie is just the latest in a long line of children who’ve recently gone missing in Derry. And things might have stayed that way too. You see, nobody in Derry is too keen on actually investigating these disappearances. None of the adults anyways.

Holding out hope that his younger brother is still alive, Bill employs the aid of his closest friends (they call themselves the Losers Club) to investigate the Barrens, a local tract of muddy land where the nearby river meets the city sewage. Here the Losers hunt for George; instead, they discover they’re the ones being hunted.

IT-Losers

One by one, the Losers have their own traumatizing run-in with Pennywise wherein IT terrorizes them by taking the form of their greatest fears. Among these malicious manifestations are a deformed nun; an oozing leper; and the crispy, headless corpse of a dead child. Though we only catch brief glimpses of them, each shape is vividly repulsing and impossible to un-see. That’s the genius of Muschiettie’s approach.

However, the ultimate success or failure of IT hinges on its casting, which is why I’m enthusiastic to report that Muschiettie and company have positively nailed the casting and all the way around too.

Bill Skarsgard is an impressive follow-up to Tim Curry, who had an iconic turn as Pennywise during the IT miniseries back in 1990. Though his performance isn’t as flamboyant as Curry’s, Skarsgard still captures the whimsical spirit of the child-eating clown.

While you may buy a ticket to see Skarsgard as IT, you will walk away remembering the Losers. Spending time with the central group of kids here is a joy and even though there are seven of them, each is allotted a healthy dose of screen time; not just to explain their individual encounters with Pennywise, but also to explore the deeper (and oftentimes scarier) conflicts in their lives.

The chemistry among the young cast is infectious. It’s difficult to resist their shared charm but easy to believe that these kids would actually be friends in real life. Though their story seems otherworldly at times, their earnestness with each other and the audience feels very grounded. Ultimately, I felt scared when they felt scared and happy when they felt happy because I cared.

Grade: A

IT is setting fire to a number of box office records. That means plenty of people are heading out to see it, which means there ought to be plenty of opinions. How did you enjoy IT? Did you opt not to go because you hate clowns? Hit me up in the comments below! I want to know!

IT: Video Review

HIYA, GEORGIE. The highly anticipated big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s beloved IT novel is finally here! Check out our video review below!

What did you all think of IT? Let us know in the comments below!