November opens with solid slate of films

With Halloween in the rear-view mirror and Thanksgiving and Christmas not yet on the horizon, it’s a surprisingly interesting week in theaters with four new releases debuting before Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” debuts on Nov. 11 to suck all the attention away from other movies.

If you are planning on seeing “Wakanda Forever” on opening weekend, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to pre-order tickets now.

Here’s a brief preview of the surprisingly solid slate of movies that open this weekend.

Armageddon Time

Director James Gray’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age drama is about a young Jewish boy Paul Graff (Michael Banks Repeta) and his Black friend Johnny (Jaylin Webb) who both struggle with prejudices growing up in the 1980s. The movie reportedly pulls few punches dealing with the subject matter and is getting middling to good reviews.

The Banshees of Inisherin

The dramatic-comedy reunites Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson, who starred in “In Bruges,” as drinking buddies, whose friendship goes sideways when Gleeson’s character decides his lifelong buddy Farrell is too dumb to associate with any longer. The film is getting solid to strong reviews.

The Return of Tanya Tucker

The documentary is about Country-music legend Tanya Tucker’s struggle to return to the stage after suffering from depression following the death of her parents. The film is getting strong reviews.

One Piece Film: Red

“One Piece” is a beloved anime franchise, and this off-shoot features Uta, a renowned singer who conceals her identity while performing. This is the story of Uta revealing her identity at a live concert. The movie has a 100 percent positive score on Rotten Tomatoes as of Nov. 2.

Review: Enola Holmes 2

Millie Bobby Brown and Helena Bonham Carter in Enola Holmes 2 (Netflix)

Millie Bobbie Brown, of “Stranger Things” fame, co-produces and stars in “Enola Holmes 2,” a predictable but fun follow-up to the original film. It debuts today on Netflix.

If you enjoyed the first film, you’ll probably get a kick out of this sequel, directed by Harry Bradbeer. It’s an entertaining and comical, mostly all-ages who-done-it with Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel” and “The Witcher”) returning as Enola’s famous and brilliant but troubled older brother Sherlock.

Like the first movie, Brown breaks the fourth wall in this film often. You’ll either find that fun or tedious, and that might play a large factor in whether you enjoy this movie or not.

Based on the young-adult series by Nancy Springer, the film features Enola setting up her own detective agency in 1880s London with little luck. Those interested in hiring a detective are seeking her brother and not her, but when an adorable waif Bess (Serrana Su-Ling Bliss) needs help finding her missing older sister Sarah (Hannah Dodd), the game is afoot.

Enola infiltrates the workhouse factory where Sarah worked, and before long her case dovetails with one her brooding brother Sherlock is working.

Neither the plot nor the mystery are great shakes, but Brown is a capable comedienne with a winning charisma that makes her fun to watch. Cavill is solid as Sherlock though he does seem a bit buff for the part, and his warning to Enola not to become obsessed with sleuthing like him is tender and heartening.

Brown is a star and she outshines her would-be beau Lord Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) in every scene. Their lack of chemistry leaves the viewer wondering why Enola even bothers with him.

Holmes fans will see where the story is going well before the mystery totally unfolds, but the joy of watching the movie is seeing Brown’s star rise before our eyes.

(PG-13) 2 hr. 9 min.
Grade: B-

New in Local Theaters

New in Local Theaters – Nov. 4, 2022

Armageddon Time (R) 1 hr. 55 min. (trailer)
(Malco Razorback, Malco Pinnacle)

The Banshees of Inisherin (R) 1 hr. 54 min. (trailer)
(AMC Fiesta Square)

The Return of Tanya Tucker (R) 1 hr. 48 min. (trailer)
(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle, Malco Towne)

One Piece Film: Red (PG-13) 1 hr. 55 min. (trailer)
(AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Springdale, Malco Towne, Malco Pinnacle Hill)

Classic Corner – Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Steve Martin and John Candy in Planes, Trains & Automobiles (Paramount Pictures)

Thanksgiving is arriving a bit early this year, well, Thanksgiving on the big screen that is.

“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is playing at 3 p.m. Sunday and 7 p.m. Monday at the Malco Razorback in Fayetteville and the Malco Pinnacle Hills in Rogers in conjunction with Fathom Events.

There are scores of Christmas movies, and if you connect horror movies to Halloween like I do, then there literally thousands of them to pick from. But what about Thanksgiving?

That’s a tougher call. Thanksgiving has to be the most cinematically under-serviced holiday of all.

However, director John Hughes’ “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” is so funny, perfect, and right that it almost makes up for the dearth of Turkey Day films.

The 1987 road comedy captures perfectly the hustle, bustle, and even the loneliness the holiday season can exacerbate in our modern society.

Everyone has felt the pain of Steve Martin’s Neal Page as circumstances conspire to blow up even his most carefully drawn up plans.

And if we don’t recognize his frustration in ourselves, then we at least know of someone who has at least a smidgeon of the loneliness that drives John Candy’s Del Griffith to be a world-class pain in the rear.

Those unavoidable truths lift “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” above other funny but lightweight comedies.

However the movie is memorable for its hilarity. Candy’s let-it-all-hang-out, blowhard Del drives Martin’s fastidiously high-strung Del absolutely batty as the latter struggles to get home to his family for Thanksgiving.

And, all these years later, the pillow scene remains as uncomfortable as it is funny.

If you’ve never seen “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” you’re in for a treat. If you have seen it and elect to watch it again, it’s like catching up with an old, funny pal during the holidays.