Sunday, May 28, 2023

Preview: Remember, remember the films of November.

Oktoberfest has come and gone, and Thanksgiving is right around the corner. For November 2017, will we find ourselves thanking Hollywood for giving us the films we’ll be stuffing our faces with this month? Okay, that was a terrible “Thanksgiving” pun, but it’s worth pondering if we will come away from this month hungry for more, or inappropriately stuffed. Much like many months prior, I’m sure we can expect a little of both.

Before we move to November specifically, and only to add more food to the table, it’s worth noting a few of October’s film whose wide releases are only now carrying into November. Films like Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer will see further distribution this month. I won’t go into why you should look out of these films here (check out my October article for that), but for those of you too far outside the metropolitan areas, continue to keep these films on your radar.


Wide Releases

By now, you’ve probably already seen Thor: Ragnarok; in fact, we here at InSession Film have already reviewed it. Needless to say, we suggest you go and see it, especially if you’re already a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and especially director Taika Watiti. It may not be perfect, but who says you can’t have some fun in the midst of awards season? Speaking of fun, perhaps that’s also the end goal for films like Kenneth Branagh’s take on Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, featuring one of the most star-studded casts of the year (I won’t even mention them here for the sake of saving characters). Or if you just want innocent and carefree comedy, look no further than Daddy’s Home 2, which I will admit, the trailer made me laugh…a lot.

Thor and Hulk certainly aren’t the only superheroes battling it out this November though, prepare to gear up for the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, featuring the likes of Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flashpoint, Cyborg, and maybe even Superman? Justice League has a lot of curiosity surrounding it, mainly around Warner Bros bringing in the talented Joss Whedon to help oversee the film’s completion, after the unfortunate family tragedy Snyder had to take personal time off for. It also begs the question if Warner and DC are still in the midst of a catchup routine with Marvel; is Justice League too much too soon, or like Wonder Woman earlier this year do they have a hit on their hands? It may be easy to hate on these DC films, but deep down we are still hoping for a comeback.

But it is the holidays after all, which means good old holiday cheer at the movies. And the one to satisfy our holiday craving will most likely be Disney Pixar’s Coco, a musical visualization of Mexico’s Day of the Dead. Directed by Lee Unkrich, the man behind Toy Story 3, Coco sees Pixar going back to more original territory (unless you ignorantly keep comparing Coco to The Book of Life), and that alone should have you excited, especially in a year that has been rather lackluster in the animation department. If the Day of the Dead doesn’t satisfy your schmaltzy craving, perhaps The Man Who Invented Christmas (about Charles Dickens’ creation of “A Christmas Carol”) will do you just fine; and trust me, that one will surely be as sugary as a candy cane.


Limited Releases

If you’re like us here at InSession Film, you’re probably more excited for the more indie hopefuls, films that have already garnered critical success amidst the festival circuit. Will that include Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird? Starring the wonderful Saoirse Ronan, this coming-of-age tale seems to have the stamina to take it all the way to the Oscars; we couldn’t be more excited. This may also include Richard Linklater’s latest Last Flag Flying, starring Bryan Cranston, Steve Carell, and Laurence Fishburne, in a sort-of “sequel” to Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail with Jack Nicholson; early reviews suggest a slight miss for Linklater here, meaning we’ll just have to hold out hope for another Before film. There’s also Woody Harrelson’s performance in LBJ, the Japanese action film Blade of the Immortal, the true horror story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer in My Friend Dahmer, and Joachim Trier’s latest Thelma, all to keep your general eye on.

If Saoirse Ronan has some major competition for Best Actress this year, that will come in the form of Frances McDormand and her performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Many of us are already big fans of writer and director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths), so to hear his next film in all its profane glory is his best yet and a sure-fired Oscar contender is very exciting; plus you can’t be an all-star cast including Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, and Lucas Hedges. There’s also early buzz for the Netflix original historical piece Mudbound, starring Garett Hedlund, Carey Mulligan, and Jason Mitchell; the return of Nightcrawler director Dan Gilroy with the Denzel Washington led Roman J. Israel, Esq.; and the Louis C.K. directed I Love You, Daddy. Look out for all of the above.

Speaking of Oscar contention, the latest from Luca Guadagnino in Call Me by Your Name has been gathering massive acclaim since its premiere at Sundance. Starring Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Timothee Chalamet, the film has the edge to become the year’s most ravishing romance, supported by some of the year’s best male performances. But if there’s anyone to beat for Best Actor, that would be Gary Oldman in Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour. Portraying British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Oldman is already leading the pack, with plenty of backing by Focus Pictures to give Oldman his overdue Oscar. Will this be an earned win or a simple ploy just to garner an award? Time will tell, though early reviews say the film itself may be good, but not great.


Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday for a multitude of reasons; the great food, the time spent actually conversing with family, the joy of Thursday night football, but it also includes the sheer joy in finally catching up with some of the year’s best and most important films. Thankfully there’s much more to be excited about than not, and that’s certainly enough to give thanks for. No wonder it’s called Thanksgiving, I get it now.

Summary of films to look out for this month: Blade of the Immortal, Call Me by Your Name, Coco, Darkest Hour, I Love You Daddy, Justice League, Lady Bird, Last Flag Flying, LBJ, The Man Who Invented Christmas, Mudbound, Murder on the Orient Express, My Friend Dahmer, Roman J. Israel Esq., Thelma, Thor: Ragnarok, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

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