Fall Movie Preview (2016)

The Magnificent Seven (2016)
The barbecues are winding down with Labor Day celebrations.  The spirit of school is in the air, so the streets are clogged even more (and even more than that here in Los Angeles), the Targets and Walmarts of the country are filled with whinny brats screaming for candy while agitated parents are dragging such brats down stationary aisles and into fitting rooms so they don’t have to come back to these shopping cart bumper car infested places until the next couple of weeks when they run out of toilet paper.  But the soccer moms won’t get out of the way so you can grab some body wash and spray starch and get the heck out of there (as they do when they clog up the lines chit chatting carelessly with other girlfriends in line at Starbucks … like in Los Angeles).  Which means one positive thought to dwell in the midst of such craziness, the next season of movies are underway!  The Venice, Telluride, and Toronto film festivals are revealing this year’s first batch of Oscar hopefuls and we all have some positivity to look forward to this autumn while getting ready to prepare our families for the upcoming school year where the weather’s cooling to that perfect breeze and feeling where it’s not too extreme on one end or the other … unlike Los Angeles.  

Summer 2016 was a complete crap show.  A very disappointing season of what preeminent production value has to offer.  What was highly anticipated was either a disappointment or simply “meh”.  And what was simply “meh” was simply “meh” when we initially went into the film because everything else to see was … “meh”.  No, not even Star Trek: Beyond.  A film I keep hearing was “spectacular!”  It was slow to “engage” and take flight, and when it finally did … yup, you took the words right out of my mouth … “meh” (don’t forget to tilt your head to the side when you say that).  

But it’s officially Oscar season, and the first stops on the road to the big night have been taken.  More importantly, there’s a slew of new films coming out to look out for and to be enriched by.  Watching millionaires give other millionaires little pure golden statuettes has its place on the totem pole.  Especially when they all hate each other and most of them are catty, ungrateful, stuck up, snobby people who probably are undeserving in the first place (gave it to this actor when the other actor or director CLEARLY deserved it and wasn’t even nominated, etc.) when there are people doing real good in the world, starting with the reporter interviewing the snobby actress on the red carpet, making 40K/year before taxes, living in a tiny efficiency in Culver City (West LA) with her 2 cats.  Just to get the word out to us little folk about what to take your screaming brats to who wanted candy at Walmart while struggling to get them to try on their new back to school pants so you wouldn’t have to come back and play bumper carts.  But I digress. 

Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone in La La Land (2016)
With westerns making more and more of an impression on me, such as Quentin Tarantino’s recents: Django Unchained (2012) and The Hateful Eight (2015) (paying homage to my favorite movie :).  Or 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and The Assassination of Jesse James; or True Grit (2010), or even more recently The Rover (2014), I’m looking forward to Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven debuting at Toronto and to the public later this month.  I wasn’t a fan of the original, but Seven Samurai (1954) the Japanese CLASSIC that the original is based upon, because it’s a western in disguise, is an all-time favorite of mine.  So I’m eager to see Denzel Washington take on something he normally doesn’t engage in which is nice.  I think his main co-star of the film, Chris Pratt, is yet another celebrity famous for being popular and yet another person taking up space and jobs away from a much more deserving actor who’s put in the work, extremely more talented, and just needs that one big break to get things going with their career (basically all of my friends) and Magnificent Seven, or Jurassic World or Guardians of the Galaxy would’ve been that big break … but Chris Pratt is so cool and likable!!  The kind of guy you want to have a beer with, right?  

The film with probably the most attention at the start of this season is Damien Chazelle’s La La Land.  Hot off the heels of his critically acclaimed (definitely not by me) Whiplash that took home 3 Oscars, is his newest film … a musical!  Starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Chazelle takes us on another love letter to Hollywood and the beauty of ... Los Angeles.  Fingers crossed he gets the story together this time by tying up the loose ends with the secondary story that flows through a feature length narrative and that the music moves me in such a way that combined with the right acting of a look into the camera or a reaction of sorts as the guy perfectly charms the girl, etc as the perfect crecendo that simply brings me to tears.  All the characteristics that made Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist the best movie of 2011.  A musical and silent film that touched hearts on both sides of the fence (critics and the general public) and was well deserving of all the praise it received.  I went to the theater seven times and had the same magical experience each time.  I watch the DVD to this day.  THAT’S what good storytelling can do!  With La La Land I hear the music is nice but professional singers and musicians aren’t used so it slightly suffers, yet, the overall goal is still accomplished.  Still looking forward to this one as I’ve heard great things about it nonetheless.  It’s received standing ovations and is what all us critics are talking about on the first stops on the road to the big dance this February.  So, I’m hopeful and happy for this one!  

Clint Eastwood is back in the director’s chair again with Sully, no not your favorite, lovable monster from Disney/Pixar, but Tom Hanks is the pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who saved his passengers by landing his faulty plane in the Hudson river in 2009.  And yes, okay I’ll say it, we just had a movie exactly like this with Denzel Washington in Robert Zemeckis’ Flight (2012)!  A pilot who landed a faulty plane, upside down at one point, in a field.  Nonetheless, Eastwood has had some time to calm down from releasing a film every year, so maybe this one will be interesting and unrushed.  

Tom Hanks is Sully (2016).
An early film that is sure to cause controversy on the political side of us all is Oliver Stone’s latest, Snowden.  Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the quarrelsome Edward Snowden.  Who supposedly Skype’d in a Q&A session from a private, unknown location after one of the premiere screenings.  

Mel Gibson is in the director’s chair again after a little break with much anticipated WWII drama Hacksaw Ridge.  And speaking of directors getting back in the chair again, Warren Beatty after 15 years away from in front of the camera and 18 behind it, is centering around Howard Hughes with Rules Don’t Apply this November, unless he decides to debut it at AFI.  A move that helped The Big Short last season.  Dennis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners, Enemy), currently filming the sequel to Blade Runner (blah to the original), is creating a little noise with Arrival (yet another space flick, a definite trend in Hollywood now).  Terrence Malick premiered his nature documentary (you know, what IMAX was originally create for and what my generation know it as and went on school field trips to the museum partly for) Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey at Venice.  Ewan McGregor is making his directorial debut with American Pastoral in which he co-stars with Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning in a Phillip Roth adaption (so many actors trying to direct now).  And Eleanor Coppola, 80, supposedly the oldest directorial debut if we’re not counting documentaries is releasing Paris Can Wait.  A road trip movie for adults of a film director’s wife (Diane Lane) going to Paris with an associate of her husband (Alec Baldwin).  

Moonlight is another film receiving A LOT of attention this season about three stages in the sun and moonlight of a black, gay kid.  Natalie Portman, while writing and directing a film of her own (A Tale of Love and Darkness) and in early release, is portraying Jackie Kennedy in the aftermath of the assassination.  I’m looking forward to François Ozen’s remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s anti-war, black and white, broken lullaby, FrantzThis one looks really artsy and right up my alley.  The “sex change action flick” Reassignment with Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez does not, however, it is a different kind of movie apart from the similar drivel released this summer.  Sigourney Weaver getting revenge on the hit man who tried to take her out by changing his sex and working for her now, enter Michelle Rodriguez with guns as a more edgy Lara Croft.  So, should be interesting nonetheless.  As is the animated My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea making its debut at Toronto. A Single Man’s director Tom Ford is back after a hiatus with Nocturnal Animals and I am the Pretty Thing that Lives in the House seems pretty interesting as it finds its footing at Toronto.  

Frantz (2016)
There are handfuls of other films I could get into like The Founder, or the much anticipated The Birth of a Nation, amidst its director's rape scandal, or Bryan Cranston stealing the show at Telluride last night in Wakefield, or at Venice with his work on In Dubious Battle, but, so far, I’ve got my plate pretty full.  Throw in the fact that this is an election year and I’m 4 years older and have to actually start caring about the legislation and effects thereof, etc. that take place in our country and you’ve got yourself a packed autumn that will soon be replaced by school letting out for a few weeks to have the screaming brats around a little longer and relatives overstaying their welcome while eating your leftover mac n’ cheese, and stuffing with cranberry sauce.  

Now I'm hungry.

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