The fall festival season is a two-act display, September and October presenting an often cool mix of Oscar vehicles, genre entertainment, and typical audience-oriented drama and horror fare. November is where the season kicks it into high gear, pushing uncommonly dignified studio fare to match the heat generated by festival favorites finally making their way to theaters. While the festival in New York and the Twin Cities gave the Film Misery staff a head start on late season releases, you’ll finally be able to check them out yourself as the next two months fly by. So sit back, relax, and prep your wallets for a costly, but exciting end of year celebration of cinema!
Here are the highlights in new releases, and what you can expect on Film Misery during the month of November:
Wide Release on November 2
For all intents and purposes, Flight was the last big debut of the festival season, and the reaction from New York critics was solid, if not sensational. It most notably brings Robert Zemeckis back into the awards fold after three exercises in his attempt at pioneering the motion capture technology. Though those may have turned audiences off the director, he’s still the same man who made sensationally appreciated films like Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Forrest Gump. He has a firmer footing in the social cinematic landscape than most working directors, so though Flight may not turn out to be a resounding return to form, it is Zemeckis back to working more hands on with his actors. That prospect attached to talent like Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood, and what I hear is a strong cameo by up-and-comer James Badge Dale, make this appealing as a notable dark horse of the season. [View the Trailer]
In a year where Pixar and Studio Ghibli have been working in the safe zone, there have been drastically few CG features worth celebrating. The closest we’ve come is the jovial conclusion to the self-correcting Madagascar franchise. This month brings us the last two big animated films of the year, and Dreamworks looks to be going the Monsters vs. Aliens route with Rise of the Guardians, which will likely be entertaining in its own right. Where Wreck-It Ralph stands above the crowd is how it takes up the Pixar slot of heartfelt family entertainment, a role Disney has emulated without imitating it. Bolt and Tangled have established Disney animation as something bright and beautiful, but with no less wit and heart within them. It’s inconceivable to think Wreck-It Ralph won’t follow suit, not to mention offering up geek gamer easter eggs aplenty along the way. [View the Trailer]
A Late Quartet
Limited Release on November 2
Given that last year saw him taking up in a couple rather diminished supporting roles in The Ides of March and Moneyball, it’s quite a fresh change of pace to see Philip Seymour Hoffman back in the primary spotlight. The only snag is that already happened two months ago in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, which made good on all the ridiculous minor roles Hoffman has played for PTA to get to this point. That, along with embarrassing title confusion with Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet, have made A Late Quartet seem like a blip on the radar. Such a shame, as everything about the film appears to be more than merely solid, not just for center-stage Hoffman, but also for recently squandered actors like Catherine Keener, Christopher Walken, and… Wallace Shawn? Rex Vizzini Wallace Shawn? How more impossibly perfect a quartet could you ask from a drama? [View the Trailer]
Wide Release on November 9
Two years ago I honesty believe that James Bond was officially, permanently dead. MGM had fallen into chaos, and it looked as if there was no hope in sight for The Cabin in the Woods, Red Dawn, and the long running spy franchise. Two years later, with the intervention of Sam Mendes and company, not only is Bond alive, but surging forward with greater purpose than ever before. I doubt Skyfall will be Bond’s absolute finest hour, given personal reservations (ugh, those things again) against Daniel Craig’s emotionally absent use of dialogue. That said, there’s no denying the immense talent involved, not only in the casting of Ralph Fiennes, series regular Judi Dench, and flamboyant Javier Bardem, but even more so below-the-line. Thomas Newman can strike emotional chord with even the most oversimplified of films, Roger Deakins is inevitably in the Oscar conversation for unstoppably gorgeous cinematography, and director Sam Mendes brings a formal stride the franchise has frankly been missing. Also, Adele did the freakin’ title song! Let’s face it. There’s no way Skyfall doesn’t totally rock! [View the Trailer]
If you start a fight with Justin Jagoe against Steven Spielberg, prepare to be taken down in fiery agony. I may be condemned myself for merely questioning the director’s integrity, but I’m certainly not in favor of many of the director’s recent works. The man went through an oddly stalled period of dramatic autopilot for much of the last decade, only recently emerging with the surprisingly invigorating The Adventures of Tintin. Lincoln could see Spielberg going in one of two directions. He could go back into the dull, self-indulgent tedium of films like Munich and War Horse (Please don’t mount my head on your wall, Justin), or he could display an uncommon reserve and resurgence of dramatic integrity. From what we’ve heard out of New York, I feel unusually comfortable putting my faith in the latter. Daniel Day-Lewis does also tend to take the edge off of even the most uncertain of projects. [View the Trailer]
Limited Release on November 16
It seems so long since Joe Wright’s latest collaboration with Keira Knightley has been on the radar, Vinny Tagle having reviewed the film for the site in early September with mixed feelings about Wright’s stylistic tendencies. Many have had this complaint about Wright’s prior filmmaking, saying all the tools at his disposal go for style over substance. Much of that has diminished the film’s greater ambitions in the way of Best Picture, but it has all but solidified Anna Karenina‘s place in the technical races. Wright is a below-the-line force to be reckoned with, each of his films featuring outstanding cinematic set pieces, his latest being almost a single continuous set piece, literally. Call his films incomplete, but you certainly cannot call them thrill-seeking. It’s that ambition that makes Anna Karenina in some ways a critic proof movie for critics. [View the Trailer]
If you were waiting in anticipation for me to change my mind about Life of Pi, you’ll be sad to hear that little has changed about my unsatisfied opinion from NYFF. That includes my utterly gobsmacked reaction at the visual majesty of Ang Lee’s direction, far surpassing any of his previous work in terms of sheer ardor. I understand the likelihood of other viewers finding the film more captivating and enlightening than it was for me, and I can’t look upon such as a bad thing. If Ang Lee can be lauded critically and commercially for challenging himself more than ever, even if just on a technical level, that is an outstanding accomplishment in the medium. It would certainly be a significant step forward from last year when Hugo reached similar reactions but got little traction with audiences. I wish Life of Pi, and all those who should see it, the best of luck, all in hopes that it will lead to bigger and better things from its director. [View the Trailer]
Silver Linings Playbook
Wide Release on November 21
The third case in a row of a Film Misery writer being less than enthusiastic about an anticipated film, Justin recently cautioned us that Silver Linings Playbook may not be quite the frontrunner Toronto audiences led us to believe. That said, we at Film Misery so rarely see eye to eye, and few tepid reactions have been able to stunt my anticipation for David O. Russell’s typical-looking romantic comedy. Why not? Because to say David O. Russell isn’t entirely in love with convention is to say Nicolas Winding Refn doesn’t fetishize everything he comes in contact with. Just as The Fighter brought a bone-cutting edge to the inspirational sports drama subgenre, Silver Linings Playbook looks to exude a much quirkier optimism that had me clicking my knees with joy at the first trailers. This is still one to keep a close eye on this awards season, as well as simply for accessible entertainment. [View the Trailer]
Limited Release on November 23
Where all the Oscar hype around this project has originated from, I have no idea. Making a film about a legendary director does not immediately entitle you to that director’s legend. The best such films recently have paid homage to such legends through their storytelling, as in The Artist and more currently Frankenweenie. Hitchcock frankly looks to play more on the side of My Week with Marilyn, but a cast with thespians like Helen Mirren, Anthony Hopkins, and rising talents like Scarlett Johansson and Michael Stuhlbarg, I do have a downtrodden optimism about this project. It could be fun, but I think the legendary director might just be rolling in his grave at the sight of this. Then again, he was responsible for trailers like this, so maybe this is an apt tribute. [View the Trailer]
There’s always at least one film I’m eager to share conversation with other film lovers about, but can’t because the rest of the world hasn’t seen it. I’m still waiting for some deep conversation regarding last year’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, but Rust and Bone looks to be gaining serious momentum after a disappointed tangle with Cannes earlier this year. How anybody could possibly not fall for the empowering sentimentality of Jacques Audiard’s latest escapes me, having fallen deeply in love with the film back in September. Though Marion Cotillard seems on a destined course to a second Best Actress nomination, I hold out hopes that the world will finally catch on to Matthias Schoenaerts before it’s too late. The time is nearly arrived for the world to enchanted by a work of such extreme love, and I can only hope people give back the love they receive. [View the Trailer]
Killing Them Softly
Wide Release on November 30
Harvey Weinstein, what the hell are you stalling for? Killing Them Softly was supposed to come out back in September, making the perfect gangster triple-punch with Lawless and Gangster Squad (now set for January). Now it finds itself placed unenthusiastically on the week after Thanksgiving. It’s never been a particularly fruitful frame, and I’m honestly not sure why. When a film gets the cold shoulder at Cannes, the last thing you should do is continue cowering your project until it has lost its relevance. Vinny gave quite an appreciative review of the film back in September, indicating that the Brad Pitt crime thriller is worth checking out, but also indicating that the film’s heavy allegory for American politics may have been the reason it’s been put off so long. Whatever the reason, the wait’s almost over. [View the Trailer]
Other November Film Releases:
The Man with the Iron Fists – November 2
The Details – November 2
A Royal Affair – November 9
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 – November 16
Red Dawn – November 21
Rise of the Guardians – November 21
The Film Misery Podcast Returns!
After a long hiatus for Phil and Alex, thanks to the latter’s golden little Oscar of his own, the two are finally back to conversing about all things movies! Having just posted a long overdue and deeply invested conversation about Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, as well as discussing a handful of films they’ve seen in the time since they last talked, expect (or at least hope) things to be keep going enthusiastically forward. Expect discussions on Wreck-It Ralph, Skyfall, and plenty of the other films listed above to entertain you when you feel the need to talk to somebody about movies.
Given all the exemplary writing that’s been going on the past two months, it would be a shame to stop now. The writers here are working always to give you enough movie news to whet your appetite for weeks to come, with new Blind Spots being exposed like My Dinner with Andre, and plenty Master Moments still to be plumbed. And hey, we may finally be able to finish the long dormant Classic Docs marathon this month! So don’t turn away! We’re just getting started!