Though the temperature outside tells me it’s still summer, it’s unofficially fall next week when our calendars flip over to September, even though autumn doesn’t really begin until Sept. 22.
We’re already being inundated with ads for pumpkin-spice everything and Labor Day sales. Any day now, all the big-box stores will stow away the back-to-school supplies in favor of Halloween and Christmas accoutrements, joining the fervor Hobby Lobby started just after the Fourth of July.
It sounds like I’m complaining, but actually I’m revved up for fall. It’s my favorite time of the year. To me, all the best stuff happens between September and January, and I’m looking forward to all of it, even if the Delta variant continues to rage.
Heck, I’m even looking forward to getting my covid booster shot. It’s a small discomfort compared to the normalcy it will continue to allow in my life.
Part of that normalcy is, of course, attending movies in theaters, their natural habitat. While the summer offered some decent entertainment after covid all but shuttered the theater-going experience for the better part of a year, this fall is stacking up to be even more entertaining for movie buffs and casual fans alike. Here’s a rundown of some of the most anticipated films opening this fall.
Shang-Chi & the Legend of the 10 Rings – Sept. 3
Marvel releases perhaps its riskiest venture since “Guardians of the Galaxy” in 2014 with this film that introduces a character to the big screen that hasn’t truly been popular in the comics since the height of the Kung Fu craze in the 1970s. That said, “Shang-Chi” & the 10 Rings” has gotten excellent reviews coming from preview showings for critics in Hollywood and theater exhibitors at Cinemacon in Las Vegas. If there is a sure bet with movies, right now, it is Marvel’s output. This might be Disney’s biggest hit of the pandemic era, since it will not debut day and date on Disney Plus. Aquafina is reportedly great in her supporting role, and leading man Simu Liu appears to be a star in waiting
The Card Counter – Sept. 10
This Paul Schrader film featuring Oscar Isaac as a tormented gambler, haunted by his past as a military interrogator. Tiffany Haddish and Willem Dafoe have supporting roles in this movie that could be an Oscar contender.
The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Sept. 17
From the trailer, I’m not sure if this Michael Showalter film is a comedy or tragedy. Maybe it’s a little of both. Jessica Chastain stars as Tammy Faye and Andrew Garfield plays her televangelist husband Jim Bakker, whose religious organization burned bright and hard before burning out amidst fraud, corruption and scandal in the 1980s. There’s a lot of talent at play with this movie, told from Tammy Faye’s point of view, and that has me both intrigued and kind of repulsed.
Dear Evan Hansen – Sept. 27
Ben Platt stars as a teen with social anxiety disorder, who is attempting to deal with the death of a friend in this musical — yes musical — directed by Stephen Chbosky. The play has gotten great reviews as an upbeat tear-jerker. That dichotomy, strangely, has me interested.
The Many Saints of Newark – Oct. 1
Has it really been more than 13 years since “The Sopranos” faded to black with the dulcet tones of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” playing in the background? It has, but that hasn’t stopped series creator David Chase from delivering a Tony Soprano origin story centered around the Newark race riots of 1967. Late series star James Gandolfini’s son, Michael, stars as young Tony in this film that’s sure to attract fans of the original series, but the project shows promise of being an entertaining crime film in its own right.
No Time to Die – Oct. 8
Covid delayed this Cary Fukunaga-directed Bond film for more than a year, but what is believed to be Daniel Craig’s swan song as 007 is just over a month away from finally opening. Has the waiting game created a greater anticipation for this sprawling spy thriller that’s nearly three hours long or will the movie be DOA? Your guess is as good as mine.
The Last Duel – Oct. 15
In this ambitious period piece, Ridley Scott directs from a script written by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Nicole Holofcener that’s centered around a 14th-century rite of combat duel, told from three distinct point’s of view. I guess chivalry isn’t dead, but is it being misused by one of the principal characters or all of them? Adam Driver plays a knight accused of raping the wife (Jodie Comer) of another knight, played by Damon. Affleck sports blond hair and goatee in a supporting role in this movie that should be quite entertaining, considering the talent brought to bare.
Halloween Kills – Oct. 15
Seemingly immortal killing machine Michael Myers is back for another shockingly violent go-around with survivor Jamie Lee Curtis and what looks like the whole town in this sequel to the 2018 reimagining of the series’ second film. I lost interest in this franchise after watching the John Carpenter 1978 original on HBO 40 years ago; however, aspects of the trailer sorta gives me vibes of the 1935 Universal classic “The Bride of Frankenstein.” That might not be enough to get me into a theater to watch it, but it did pique my interest, at least momentarily.
Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage – Oct. 15
“Venom” was somewhat of a surprise hit for Sony in the fall of 2018, and the studio hopes to duplicate that success as the comic-book anti-hero (Tom Hardy) battles his arch-foe Carnage (Woody Harrelson). There are rumors the movie might be bumped to next year because of the recent surge of the Delta variant of covid-19.
Dune – Oct. 23
For many this Denis Villeneuve adaptation of the classic 1965 Frank Herbert sci-fi novel is the most anticipated film of the year. The trailer looks great and the cast including Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Rebecca Ferguson and Jason Momoa is impressive, but how well it does, depends on how it connects with hard-core sci-fi fans as well as general audiences. Villeneuve’s sequel to “Blade Runner” was a box-office disappointment and a fairly boring movie, if you ask me. Could this be a repeat?
The French Dispatch – Oct. 23
The latest Wes Anderson film is an anthology of stories fixed around a French weekly magazine with its articles making up the fabric of the film starring a gaggle of stars, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Timothee Chalamet to name just a few.
Last Night in Soho – Oct. 29
This horror movie is from the mind and point of view of Edgar Wright who cast Thomasin McKenzie as Eloise, a young fashion student living in London in the 1960s who suffers from haunting dreams or visions of a decadent woman or perhaps her alter-ego. You be the judge.
Eternals – Nov. 5
The film boasts an all-star cast with Angelina Jolie, Selma Hayek, Kit Harrington, Kumail Nanjiani, and Robert Madden among others, and its directed by Academy Award winner Chole Zhao of “Nomadland” fame. As esoteric as Shang-Chi is to a general super-hero fanbase, “Eternals,” one of master storyteller Jack Kirby’s final creations for Marvel, is even more so. Will this art-house super-hero flick be another in a line of successes for Marvel? Maybe a better question is will it be an Academy Award contender under Zhao’s deft direction?
Ghostbusters: Afterlife – Nov. 12
This long-awaited reboot/sequel garnered excellent notices from a preview showing at Cinemacon in Las Vegas this week. Starring Paul Rudd, McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, and Sigourney Weaver along with cameos by Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, the film is directed by the talented Jason Reitman, son of original “Ghostbusters” director Ivan Reitman. The younger Reitman might just deliver the sequel some of us have been waiting for since the 1980s.
Top Gun: Maverick – Nov. 19
Speaking of throwbacks to the 1980s, Tom Cruise stars in the long-awaited sequel to the film that made him a bonafide superstar. Can he recapture similar magic three-and-a-half decades later? With Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly, and Jon Hamm in supporting roles and Joseph Kosinski directing, I wouldn’t bet against him.
King Richard – Nov. 19
Will Smith vies for an Oscar, starring as Richard Williams, the father of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. The film, directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, details how Williams raised his daughters, using unconventional methods, to beat the odds and become champion tennis players.
Encanto – Nov. 24
Thanksgiving brings this Disney animated movie about a young Columbian girl, who is the only person in her family without magical abilities, and the struggle the situation creates for her and them. The voice cast includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stephanie Beatrize, Diane Guerrero, and Wilmer Valderrama.
Nightmare Alley – Dec. 3
This is the first film from director Guillermo del Toro’s since his Oscar winning movie “The Shape of Water,” and it is based on the 1946 Lindsey Gresham novel about a manipulative carnival worker (Bradley Cooper) and his lover, a mysterious and wicked psychiatrist, (Cate Blanchett). Unlike the rest of del Toro’s oeuvre, the movie has no supernatural elements, but it is described to be unsettling and weird. An adaptation of the novel was made in 1947, starring Tyrone Power, Joan Blondell, Collen Gray, and Helen Walker. It’s considered a noir standard. It will be interesting to see del Toro’s interpretation of this sordid tale.
West Side Story – Dec. 10
Director Steven Spielberg offers his interpretation of the classic musical, which is a more modern take on Shakespeare’s “Romeo on Juliet.” The 1957 original is an all-time classic. It will be interesting to see what Spielberg can add in this re-make, which is also his first musical. The film stars Rachel Zeglar and Ansel Elgort as the star-crossed lovers
Spider-Man: No Way Home – Dec. 17
John Watts’ third movie in the Spider-Man series is expected to be a doozy when everyone’s favorite wall-crawler (Tom Holland) visits Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and asks him to cast a spell that will make the world forget his secret identity, which was revealed by villain Mysterio at the end of the series’ previous film. Unwittingly interrupting Strange while he is casting the incantation, Spider-Man sends reality spiraling out of control, and he and the Master of Mystic Arts have to handle the fallout, which includes connecting continuity from previous Spider-Man films that starred Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield to the current iteration. Though no one has confirmed it, Maguire and Garfield are rumored to make appearances in the movie. We’ll find out just in time for Christmas.
Parallel Mothers – Dec 24
Director Pedro Almodovar directs his favorite actress Penelope Cruz in this movie about a middle-aged woman who winds up pregnant, much to her chagrin. She works along with a teen who is also pregnant unexpectedly. Expect the movie which debuts at the Venice Film Festival to be an Oscar contender.