MOVIE BUFF-ET: Tentpoles and indie flicks make for a crisp and colorful fall at the movies


If you thought sequels and reboots were just spring and summer fare, you’ve yet to glom onto the tentpole mentality that’s pervasive and possibly a bit abrasive among Hollywood studios today.

Certainly, autumn through early winter was once a time reserved for more serious films or at least ones with Oscar bait attached to them, but since “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” proved in 2015 that any season is the right season for a sequel to make a billion dollars, studios have been staking tentpoles in any month they please.

Disney’s been involved with six films that have cleared the billion-dollar mark this year at the worldwide box office – “Avengers: Endgame,” “The Lion King,” “Captain Marvel,” “Spider-Man: Far From Home” (with Sony), “Aladdin,” and “Toy Story 4” — and “Frozen 2” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” appear to be safe bets to become the seventh and eighth when they open respectively on Nov. 22 and Dec. 20.

No doubt the Mouse is going to make its money. It also has “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” opening in time for Halloween on Oct. 18 when families are looking for something spooky but fairly family friendly. However, Disney and its various houses aren’t the only filmmakers with interesting movies vying for your time and money.

Here’s a sampling of some of the more buzz-worthy films scheduled release September through November.

It: Chapter 2 (Sept. 6)

The fall movie season starts off with a jolt next Friday with this sequel to 2017 horror blockbuster. This tale reunites the Loser’s Club 27 years later for some unfinished business with the murderous supernatural clown Pennywise. Starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader and Bill Skarsgard as the wicked clown.

The Goldfinch (Sept. 13)

Here’s a bit of that Oscar bait as director James Crowley brings Donna Tartt’s best-selling 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winner novel to the big screen starring Ansel Algort and Nicole Kidman.

Ad Astra (Sept. 20)

Brad Pitt plays an astronaut in search of his dad (Tommy Lee Jones), a renegade scientist who is lost in space working on an experiment that could doom Earth.

Rambo: Last Blood (Sept. 20)

Is this the last drop of blood Sly Stallone can squeeze out of Rambo? We’ll see. The Vietnam vet has yet to take on space aliens. I’ve seen all four of the previous Rambo flicks and enjoyed the first and the fourth one. I can’t break the string now?

Downton Abbey (Sept. 20)

Can the wildly successful TV program make a similar splash on the big screen? Let me know if you go see it. I’ll be watching “Ad Astra” or “Rambo: Last Blood.” Evidently the King and Queen come for a visit.

Judy (Sept. 27)

If there ever was a movie star whose life deserved the big-budget treatment, it is Judy Garland. The film, starring Renee Zellweger as the tragic icon, is based on the play “End of the Rainbow,” and it just might be an Academy Awards darling.

Joker (Oct. 4)

If Pennywise isn’t your type of scary clown, maybe Joaquin Phoenix’s portrayal of the Joker will be? I’m not sure about this one. It looks like a cross between “The King of Comedy” and “Taxi Driver,” which are both great Martin Scorsese films, but what does that have to do with Batman’s foremost villain? I guess we’ll see in October. Robert De Niro has a supporting role, and this Todd Phillips venture is already getting Oscar buzz.

Pain and Glory (Oct. 4)

If Pedro Almodovar directs a film, it’s worth noting. Antonio Banderas stars as a middle-aged film director whose creativity is sparked after making amends with an old colleague and friend.

Gemini Man (Oct. 11)

Will Smith stars and Ang Lee directs in this sci-fi, action-thriller that pits middle-aged assassin Smith against a 20-something clone. Or is there more to it? Wouldn’t this movie be more interesting if you didn’t learn about the clone in the trailer? The de-aged CGI skin on the younger version of Smith in the trailers doesn’t clear the uncanny valley for me.

The Addams Family (Oct. 11)

Gomez, Morticia, Lurch, Uncle Fester and the rest of the gang return in this creepy, kooky and altogether ooky CGI-animated flick that hits theaters just in time to stir up some frightfully funny Halloween antics for old and new fans alike.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap (Oct. 18)

“Zombieland” was a hilarious sleeper that made its bones at the height of the zombie craze in 2009, but I wonder if a decade is too long of a dirt nap for a sequel to be successful? It doesn’t hurt that the stellar primary cast of Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, and Jessie Eisenberg return with a reported cameo by a zombified Bill Murray, too.

The Lighthouse (Oct. 18)

Director Robert Eggers’ “The Witch” is the most disturbing film I’ve seen since I first saw “The Exorcist.” It has me wondering if I should dare see his latest effort “The Lighthouse,” which stars Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson as 1890s co-workers at a lighthouse on a desolate island off the coast of Maine. I hear rumors of mermaids and Lovecraftian-type horror.

Dolemite Is My Name (Oct. 25)

I’m not sure this Netflix-produced, comeback film for Eddie Murphy will actually make it to theaters in Northwest Arkansas during it’s limited release on Oct. 4, but it will make its Netflix debut on Oct. 25. Murphy brings his considerable talents to the role of Blaxploitation director Ray Moore in the movie directed by Craig Brewer of “Hustle and Flow” fame.

Terminator: Dark Fate (Nov. 1)

This is the sixth installment of the played-out franchise. It disregards everything that happened following “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” and picks up 27 years after that film. The movie does feature the return of Linda Hamilton, and Arnold Schwarzenegger is back again, too.

Harriet (Nov.1)

This biopic tells the truly amazing and courageous life story of Harriet Tubman and her work with the Underground Railroad during the Civil War.

The Marriage Story (Nov. 6)

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver step away from their Disney-based franchises to star in this Noah Baumbach drama that depicts a crumbling marriage.

Doctor Sleep (Nov. 8)

Ewan McGregor stars as little Danny Torrance all grown up in this adaption of the 2013 Stephen King novel that continued the story that he started in “The Shining” in 1977. It’s the second King sequel in three months. Will it shine at the box office?

Ford v. Ferrari (Nov. 15)

Christian Bale and Matt Damon star in this James Mangold-directed action-drama about the effort by auto designer Carrol Shelby and racer Ken Miles to construct a Ford product that could top a Ferrari in the 1966 Le Mans race. Word is that this could be an Oscar contender in several categories.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Nov. 22)

Tom Hanks sinks his teeth into the meaty role of Mr. Rogers, who is almost too good to believe. The movie depicts the impact Mr. Rogers had on a journalist (Matthew Rhys) who impeded himself within interworking of Rogers’ children television show for a short time and later kept in touch with the host.

Frozen 2 (Nov. 22)

The 2013 Disney mega hit finally receives a sequel, just in time for the holiday season. The adventures of magical sisters Elsa and Anna continue with Olaf the snowman, Kristoff the ice cutter and his reindeer Sven in tow. Is there any chance the music for this CGI-animated extravaganza won’t be as mind-numbingly catchy as the tunes from the first film?

The Irishman (Nov. 27)

This crime drama that features an all-star cast with Robert Di Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci is rumored to run three-and-a-half hours, detailing the life of mob hitman Frank Sheeran. The Martin Scorsese-directed epic is another Netflix film scheduled for a limited theatrical release on Nov. 1 that may or may not make it to Northwest Arkansas, but it does debut on Netflix on Nov. 27.

Many of the larger theater chains have opted not schedule Netflix films because of the shorter window of exclusive time they have to screen the movies before they are available for digital streaming on Netflix.

Most studios guarantee exhibitors a 90-day window before offering its films on Blu-Ray, DVD, VOD, or to a digital streaming platform. Netflix is only offering a 30-day or less window. Theater chains contend that most moviegoers would wait the 30-day period and watch the film at home rather than pay the theater’s price for tickets and concessions. Thus allotting space for a Netflix movie might cost the theaters money rather than make them money.

Netflix is seeking theatrical releases for it higher-profile and higher-quality projects to meet the Academy Awards’ criteria for nomination and award consideration.

New In Local Movie Theaters

  • Saaho(NR) 2 hr. 50 min. (watch trailer)
  • Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills

  • The Farewell(PG) 1 hr. 38 min. (watch trailer)
  • Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne

  • Bennet’s War(PG-13) 1 hr. 35 min. (watch trailer)
  • Playing at: Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne

  • Don’t Let Go(R) 1 hr. 43 min. (watch trailer)
  • Playing at: Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle Hills

  • Tod@s Caen(PG-13) 2 hrs. (watch trailer)
  • Playing at: Malco Pinnacle Hills