The fantastic films of fall

After a mediocre summer season, Hollywood hopes to redeem itself with unique, thought-provoking movies.

From left; Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman and Adam Driver in a scene from ‘This is Where I Leave You.’ (photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
From left; Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman and Adam Driver in a scene from ‘This is Where I Leave You.’
(photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
As autumn nears, the temperature cools, kids go back to school and adults can finally go to the movies. Summer is the season of the popcorn flick, where movies with the biggest and loudest explosions win the day (although this year, after a reported $4 billion drop in box-office revenues this season, Hollywood may want to re-evaluate the value of said explosions).
In the fall, Hollywood puts away the gigantic robots, mutant teenage ninjas and superheroes and trades them for dysfunctional families, tortured husbands and intrepid astronauts who (hopefully) will earn studios Oscar gold.
Below are some notable films hitting the big screen this fall.
Gone Girl (October 16):
Whodunit mystery films have been done to death, but if anybody can reinvent the stale genre, it’s acclaimed director David Fincher. With House of Cards, Fight Club and Se7en on his resume, it’s clear that Fincher knows how to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Ben Affleck stars in a Scott Petterson-like tale of a respected man who falls from grace when tabloids accuse him of murdering his wife. It is based on the popular 2012 novel by Gillian Flynn, “... few actors have that aloofness, that little bit of arrogance and inherent likability,” Flynn told the New York Times. Affleck’s charisma and natural charm can win over an audience even when he plays a man accused of doing something reprehensible. However, the novel’s legions of fans are waiting nervously to see if Fincher stayed true to the twist in the novel’s ending.
The Judge (October 23):
With such tropes as a hotshot, no-nonsense lawyer and a tense relationship between father and son, it’s easy to see The Judge as another example of ‘been there, done that.’ Robert Downey Jr. plays Hank Palmer, a high-powered lawyer who visits his childhood home in Indiana after his mother’s death. He becomes entangled in a suspenseful court drama when his father, Robert Duvall, a revered judge in the small town, is accused of a hit-and-run accident that happened on the night of the mother’s funeral. The film, which kicked off this year’s Toronto Film Festival, may be sprinkled with clichés galore, but the slick and cool Downey, going head-to-head with an impassioned Duvall, should still generate some semblance of cinematic magic.
Interstellar (November 6):
“Perhaps we have forgotten that we are still pioneers, and we’ve barely begun, and... our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us,” Matthew McConaughey’s southern drawl intones in the teaser trailer for the film. And if 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apollo 13 and Gravity are any indication, exploring the depths of space is something audiences (and Oscar voters) are clamoring for.
The film, which also stars Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain, is about a team of astronauts who travel through wormholes to save a resource-depleted earth.
However, knowing director Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento), this is not going to be a straightforward apocalyptic tale. The director will undoubtedly have plenty of reality-bending twists and turns up his sleeve that will be sure to confound viewers and make them see the ever-popular saving the world narrative in a new light.
Dumb and Dumber To (November 13):
Fall may be the season of sophisticated, nuanced fare, but even adults need a break from the overwrought love affairs and doom and gloom peppering this season’s lineup. Those looking for comedy relief can find refuge in the sequel to the 1994 buddy comedy of two idiots too stupid for us not to love. The story picks up 20 years later, as the dimwitted duo Lloyd and Harry (Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels, respectively) search for Harry’s long-lost daughter. The real joy will be seeing these two showbiz heavyweights revert, after two decades cementing their place in Hollywood, to being utterly ridiculous, reveling in the lowest-common-denominator jokes that are bound to follow.
This is Where I Leave You (December 4):
With Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne and Jane Fonda, This Is Where I Leave You presents a who’s who of comedy heavy-hitters. The story revolves around the Altmans, a family forced to live together under one roof while sitting shiva for their deceased father. And, as usual when grown children must cohabit after decades of living independently, opportunities to reminisce – and resent – each other abound.