The following was written as part of a monthly column for Culture Fly
Halloween has passed so now it means we can start watching capitalist consumerism at work. It’s still too early to start playing Christmas tunes but that won’t stop the department stores from stocking their shelves with pressies. Luckily, the film industry has stacked cinemas with enough good movies to distract you from Jingle Bells.
First up is The Light Between Oceans (1st Nov), Derek Cianfrance’s romantic weepy. Starring Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender as a couple who adopt a shipwrecked baby, the film is on a mission to make you cry. Critics have given it a mixed reception, calling it contrived and one heart wrench too far, but with Vikander and Fassbender in the frame you know the acting will be electric. Not to mention, Rachel Weisz plays a supporting role and who doesn’t want to watch Rachel Weisz. Go for the cast and prepare to bathe in your own tears.
Arriving the same week is Nocturnal Animals (4th Nov). Tom Ford’s second directorial effort won the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival and follows Amy Adams’ Susan as she reads her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) debut novel. Sounds simple, right? Well, multiple storylines are at play and it is left to you to decide what is real and what is fiction. Ford goes two for two, delivering a film we called an “atmospheric masterpiece”. As you’d expect, it looks amazing and the performances, especially Michael Shannon, are to die for. All you need to do is look at the publicity photos to know this film is going to be fierce.
Adams also stars in Arrival (10th Nov) a first-contact film where she races to translate an alien language before it’s too late. Adams has always had a varied career and her two films this month show this — moody noir to a Dennis Villeneuve sci-fi pic. There is no stopping her and she needs an internet Oscar campaign because she deserves one more than Leo. The film has drawn raves and we gave it 5 stars. If you’re looking for a 2016 alien invasion movie that favours words and communication over weaponised skyscrapers, then Arrival is the movie for you.
It’s with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (18th Nov) that writer J.K. Rowling gives us new words to say about her wizarding world. This is November’s big film and one of the biggest of the year. The story follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he runs around 1920s New York trying to catch his magical monsters whilst fighting a good ol’ dose of prejudice. Like the best fantasy, Rowling’s work has always merged thrills with social commentary and the fact she has written the screenplay for Beasts is enough to get Potterheads into the cinema. 2016 is the year the wizarding world returned and this is not one to miss.
However, if wizards aren’t your thing, Indignation (18th Nov) is a nice bit of counter-programming. Set in the 1950s at an Ohio college, the film stars Logan Lerman as a student avoiding being drafted into the Korean war. It’s a snarky film and the best Philip Roth adaptation out this month.
Allied (25th Nov), Robert Zemeckis’s new joint, kicks off the last major movie week of the month. Zemeckis belongs to a school of directors whose work can be labelled the “prestige blockbuster”. They make films that straddle the line between awards and commercial success. Allied should be no different. The trailers have sold this Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard vehicle as a taut WW2-spy thriller but Zemeckis has compared it to the romance of Casablanca. If he and his team can craft a film half as good as that classic, we will have a film to treasure.
Out alongside Allied is Paterson (25th Nov). It stars Adam Driver as a bus driver named Paterson working in a town called Paterson. Beyond the combination of Jim Jarmusch and Driver, you need to watch this film because it is the rarest of beasts, it is a film that is able to create an engaging story out of a normal life.
Many of the films out this month were in LFF and A United Kingdom (25th Nov) was the opening film. Based on the true story of Prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and Ruth Williams Khama, the film details their interracial marriage and how the world reacted. Amma Asante crafts a detailed interrogation of what it means to be Britishand in this increasingly fractured world presents a strong argument against xenophobia. Watch this film because it’s a bright spark that’ll make you believe in the power of love.