November 2015 Movie Preview
The end of 2015 is now in sight. With ‘Spectre‘ out, we may have a couple of quiet weekends at the box-office but Oscar-season is about to kick into high-gear and it’s time for a few high-concept and prestige pictures. November is normally a great month, so let’s not waste anytime and take a look at what comes out in the U.K. over the next few weeks!
November 6th 2015
Director John Crowley has been an indie darling for quite a while thanks to Sundance hits like ‘Boy A‘ and ‘Is Anybody There‘, but the moment he even attempted to set-foot in the mainstream arena with the serviceable thriller ‘Closed Circuit‘ critics ravaged him for it. Crowley is now going back to the indie-scene with ‘Brooklyn‘, based off the book of the same name by Irish author Colm Tóibín with a script adapted by Nick Hornby who is riding high after his success with ‘Wild‘.
Honestly, I’m really looking forward to this. I love a good romance movie where the romance actually feels adult and mature. It’s one reason I hate young-adult romance movies is because their often mysoginistic and immature attitudes towards romance and love make for a near un-watchable experience (#FuckPaperTowns) but ‘Brooklyn‘ looks a lot more forward-thinking despite being a period movie. Saoirse Ronan is just an incredible young talent and with a supporting cast comprised of Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walter this could be something special. Oh yeah and 98% on RottenTomatoes at time of writing helps.
Despite angry cooking shows being some of the most popular “reality” TV around, that aspect of food has not really transitioned to cinema. We’ve had angry dancing (‘Black Swan‘), angry music (‘Whiplash‘) etc. but not angry cooking. It seems like ‘Burnt‘ might be the perfect recipe for bringing that concept to the big-screen with director John Wells, the showrunner of “The West Wing” and “ER”, writer Steven Wright fresh off the success of ‘Locke‘ and a cast comprised of Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Uma Thurman, Daniel Brühl, Alicia Vikander and Omar Sy.
So what’s gone wrong here? Reviews have been scathing and while the trailers haven’t done much to sell the movie, it didn’t look too bad. I’m actually interested in knowing why this movie hasn’t been so well received so that’s some strange anti-hype if ever I’ve seen it.
He Named Me Malala –
Let me tell you about Malala Yousafzai, a young woman from Pakistan. She is 18 years old and her family own a chain of schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region (NorthWest) where the Taliban had banned girls from having an education (and from shopping, watching television and listening to music). In late 2008, the BBC had the idea to have a student anonymously blog about their experiences and Malala’s father recommended her when no one else would volunteer because it would be too dangerous. Malala reported to the BBC in secret while the Taliban destroyed schools all around the country. She became more famous and notorious in the area and was even awarded the International Children’s Peace Prize.
However, in October 2012, because of her feminist activism, the Taliban stopped her school bus and shot Malala in the head. But she survived after intense surgery and has gone on to continue her crusade for girls/women to have the basic right of education as well as being the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at 17 in 2014 while campaigning for every child to have the right to an education by the end of 2015.
I repeat; she is 18 years old.
The documentary ‘He Named Me Malala‘ has received mostly positive reviews and I can’t wait for more people to hear her story. You have to actively TRY to mess up in order to do a bad job with this subject matter.
Kill Your Friends –
‘Kill Your Friends‘ is the feature length debut of TV director Owen Harris (“Black Mirror: Be Right Back”, “The Secret Diary of a Call Girl” and “Holy Flying Circus”) and based off the book of the same name by John Niven who has also written the screenplay for this adaptation. ‘Kill Your Friends‘ offers a look at the dirty underbelly of what is possibly the most corrupt and immoral industry of the 20th and 21st century; music.
Honestly, this looks real good. It kinda looks like a teenage/young adult version of ‘American Psycho‘ which seems really refreshing in this current landscape. We’ve seen how insane Nicholas Hoult can be earlier this year with ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘ and he’s a great young-talent who needs more strong leading roles to make up for flops ‘Jack the Giant Slayer‘ and the mediocre ‘Warm Bodies‘. But this looks great, the late-90s setting is rife for the exploitation genre and looks set to be another 2015 hit for the U.K. film industry.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse –
Coming out a week after Halloween due to the juggernaut that is ‘Spectre‘, this is another zombie-comedy in the vein of ‘Shaun of the Dead‘ and the aforementioned ‘Warm Bodies‘. Once again, the dead are rising from the grave and it’s up to the local Scouts in the area and a cocktail waitress to save the world with a made-at-home arsenal of weapons.
Honestly, this looks like a fun, dumb, teenage-aimed time at the movies but it’s getting slated by critics. And not the high-brow critics who naturally look down on stuff like this, but by the critics who normally embrace this camp, schlockey approach to horror-comedies. I think there will be some merit here, but the poor word-of-mouth and so-so marketing has not got me excited.
November 13th 2015
The Lady in the Van –
Funny story; Back in February 2015 I was attending an opening-weekend screening of ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel‘ and a trailer played for ‘The Lady in the Van‘. My screening, mostly comprised of people above the age of 50 were laughing at the trailer and really seemed to like what they saw, including then-22 year-old me. So imagine my surprise when I learn that this low-budget U.K. film being advertised in February was due to be released in NINE MONTHS! Babies will have been conceived and born in that time!! Why advertise such a good looking. but low-profile movie to that demographic that early!?
Anyway, ‘The Lady in the Van‘ is based off the Alan Bennett stage-play of the same name from 1999 which in turn is based off the true story of the elderly Mary Shepard who lived in a van on Alan Bennett’s driveway for 15 years. There was also a BBC Radio Adaptation from 2009 where Maggie Smith played the titular lady. Smith returns for this 2015 film adaptation which also has Alan Bennett return to write the screenplay and the original stage-play director Nicholas Hytner directs.
‘The Lady in the Van‘ looks charming, funny, humble and Maggie Smith is one of the most well-respected actors in the country. It would take a lot for this movie to sink but it looks like everything is set for this to be the feel-good movie of November.
Steve Jobs –
The co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, passed away in 2011. And you can guarantee that even before the ink on his death certificate had dried there were movie studios lining up to make a biopic based on one of the most influential CEOs of all time. Open Road films made ‘Jobs‘ in 2013 starring Ashton Kutcher which was considered a flop, “Funny or Die” made a parody movie ‘iSteve‘ starring Justin Long later that year and we now have ‘Steve Jobs‘ directed by Danny Boyle and written by Aaron Sorkin. However, forget a movie about the man Steve Jobs, I want to see a movie based around the making of the MOVIE ‘Steve Jobs‘.
Seriously, this was original a Sony movie with Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper and Leonardo DiCaprio in talks to portray the Apple co-founder and David Fincher to direct. However, Sony could not get the movie off the ground and for years it remained in limbo before being attained by Universal Pictures who brought on board Boyle and cast Michael Fassbender in the title role. There’s been so much drama behind the scenes but thankfully, according to early reviews, the wait seems to be worth it. An interesting three-act structure and a potential Oscar-push for everyone involved, ‘Steve Jobs‘ looks set to make a strong push for awards-season.
November 19th 2015
‘The Hunger Games‘ movie was average at best. ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire‘ had the distinction of being the only movie in history that is almost two and half hours long and literally has NOTHING of interest happen. ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1‘…I have not seen and will see probably the night before ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2‘ comes out.
There. There’s your context. This is a franchise that seemingly only exists to prop up the movie-poster industry as there have literally been HUNDREDS of different variants for the Mockingjay movies. The marketing has been limp with one trailer literally acting as a fan-tribute video (below) and while these franchise is leaps and bounds better than ‘The Twilight Saga‘ it’s still not exactly good. So yeah, this movie’s gonna make a ton of money and I’ll find out if the franchise actually got better during a two-day window.
Black Mass –
Now we move onto ‘Black Mass‘, otherwise known as “That Johnny Depp movie we won’t be embarrassed to see”. Depp, despite being one of the best actors of his generation, has squandered a lot of audience goodwill with terrible films like ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ and commercial flops like ‘The Lone Ranger‘, ‘Transcendence‘ and ‘Mortdecai‘. However, if early buzz from film festivals and a U.S. release two months ago is any indication, ‘Black Mass‘ looks like a potential Oscar Contender for not just Johnny Depp, but for co-star Joel Edgerton.
‘Black Mass‘ is based off the 2001 book “Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob” by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill which follows the rise and fall of Whitey Bulger, who was the most wanted man by the FBI for twelve years. This looks like a great crime movie, not too dissimilar to ‘Legend‘ from a few months back and Johnny Depp seems genuinely intimidating in the trailers. This looks like a great crime biopic to watch out for.
Those two words alone guarantee my butt in the theatre seat on opening day.
Tom Hanks plays James B. Donovan, an American Lawyer during the Cold War who has been tasked with overseeing the return of a pilot who was shot down over the Soviet Union in exchange for a KGB spy. A simple, but compelling set-up and a great true story that’s in the hands of masterclass filmmakers. Despite the heavy emphasis on the Coen Brothers with the screenplay during the marketing, they actually only did touch-ups and slight modifications from a script written by British newcomer Matt Charman, who also co-write ‘Suite Française‘ earlier this year.
Unsurprisingly, ‘Bridge of Spies‘ has had rave reviews from critics as it was released in the U.S. last month and looks set to be a strong Oscar contender.
Directed by openly gay filmmaker Todd Haynes comes ‘Carol‘, a same-sex romance movie starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. ‘Carol‘ made waves at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a standing ovation and was nominated for the equivalent of Best Picture (the Palme d’Or), Rooney Mara co-won “Best Actress” with Emmanuelle Bercot for ‘Mon roi‘ and also won the “Queer Palm” for its portrayal of LGBTs. It also stands at 97% on RottenTomatoes.
Just watch the trailer below and you’ll know if this is your type of film. It probably won’t be mainstream, but I’m sure it serves its target-audience more than adequately.
The Good Dinosaur –
While Pixar as a company usually gives the impression of a well-oiled machine, ‘The Good Dinosaur‘ has had possibly the most production-hassle within the studio since the original ‘Toy Story‘. Originally slated for a late 2013 release, the movie got pushed back to 2014 and was going to be Pixar’s single release that year as per-usual. However, during the Summer of 2013, the project was entirely dismantled and started again from scratch and was delayed over a year for this current release date. Meaning this is the first time Pixar has released two movies in one year with ‘Inside Out‘ coming out last summer. It also doesn’t help that in July THIS YEAR, Pixar removed the voice-cast (comprised of Lucas Neff, John Lithgow, Neil Patrick Harris, Judy Greer and Bill Hader) and brought in new actors (Anna Paquin, A. J. Buckley, Steve Zahn, Jeffrey Wright and Raymond Ochoa).
Yeah, that’s why the debut trailer for ‘The Good Dinosaur‘ back in July had hardly any dialogue. Because it hadn’t been recorded yet.
BUT, ‘The Good Dinosaur‘ still looks solid. I doubt it’ll be Pixar’s best after such a mismanaged production cycle, but let’s not forget that ‘Toy Story‘ was a mess behind-the-scenes before it got made. I think this could be pretty darn good.
So there ya go! Those are some of the bigger or more noteworthy releases coming out this month. I’m actually looking forward to most of the films here, but my most anticipated are, in no particular order;
- ‘He Named Me Malala‘
- ‘The Lady in the Van‘
- ‘Bridge of Spies‘
But what are YOU folks looking forward to this month? Are there any releases that I missed that you can’t wait to see? Be sure to sound off in the comments section below!
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Posted: 6th Nov 15