London, UK (BBN) – From the sequel to Blade Runner to Jackie Chan in a serious dramatic turn and a Vincent van Gogh animation, give these films a watch, writes Christian Blauvelt.
Blade Runner 2049:
Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner is, for many, the apex of cinematic cool: a dystopian sci-fi thriller set in the future that is shot like a film noir. Harrison Ford is back as Deckard, a cop who hunted down killer robots, in this sequel, set 30 years later – and now he’s joined by a younger police officer played by Ryan Gosling, reports BBC.
Ford, one not given to demonstrative displays of excitement, has called Blade Runner 2049 the best script he’s ever read. And it’s directed by rising visionary Denis Villeneuve, who dazzled many with his alien first-contact drama Arrival, a film of stunning narrative depth and visual acuity that may have also gone over Academy Awards voters’ heads. His Blade Runner 2049 could do the same, and its box-office prospects could be limited because studio Warner Bros allowed it to have a restricted rating.
But early reviews have been rhapsodic, with Indiewire’s Anne Thompson suggesting that Roger Deakins, the beloved cinematographer who’s never won an Academy Award, “may land his Oscar at last… stunningly beautiful.” Released 5 October in the UK, 6 October in the US and 12 October in South Korea. (Credit: Warner Bros)
‘Scandi noir’ is thriving on television but may have cooled for Hollywood studios a bit after David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo failed to become a franchise.
However Universal believes in the cinematic appeal of the series about Detective Harry Hole by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø. Michael Fassbender steps into the shoes of this ace investigator, who is called upon to solve a murder that occurred during the first snow of winter which may be connected to decades-old cold cases.
Rounding out the cast are Charlotte Gainsbourg, Rebecca Ferguson, JK Simmons and Toby Jones, and they’re being directed by Tomas Alfredson, the Swedish film-maker behind the icy original Let the Right One In and the 2011 version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Released 13 October in the UK and Norway, 20 October in the US and 26 October in Israel. (Credit: Universal Pictures)
At the age of 63, Jackie Chan has largely put his virtuosic stunts and balletic fight choreography behind him. But he is venturing into the revenge-thriller territory most recently occupied by Liam Neeson in the Taken franchise, with The Foreigner. Martin Campbell’s drama follows Chan as an immigrant to the UK whose daughter is killed in a terrorist attack – and vows to get payback.
On his quest for bloody satisfaction he encounters odd bureaucratic resistance from a political figure played by Pierce Brosnan, who Campbell previously directed in his first 007 outing, GoldenEye. Campbell’s sensibility for action is always impressive, but it’ll be interesting to see if he can elicit brooding intensity from Chan, whose acting throughout his career has often drifted toward the comic, becoming a kind of contemporary Buster Keaton. If he can deliver a performance suited for a nuanced drama, it’ll be a stunning reinvention. Released 12 October in Australia and Russia and 13 October in the US and Turkey. (Credit: STX Entertainment)
As the man behind Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven, I’m Not There and Carol, Todd Haynes is not a film-maker you’d ever expect to direct a movie for children. But that’s just what he’s done with Wonderstruck, an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s 2011 novel of the same name. It follows two children, one who lives in 1927, the other in 1977, their respective journeys of self-discovery and the mysterious connections between them. Appearances from Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams suggest that Wonderstruck is a movie that should appeal as much to adults as kids, however.
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter writes, “Alive with the magic of pictures and the mysteries of silence, this is an uncommonly grownup film about children, communication, connection and memory.” Opening 20 October in the US and 26 October in Hong Kong and Singapore (Credit: Amazon Studios)
The Death of Stalin:
Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop is one of the most celebrated political satires of all time – it even made BBC Culture’s 100 greatest comedies list – and his TV work, such as The Thick of It and Veep are showered with awards. (Julia-Louis Dreyfuss just won her sixth Emmy in a row as the star of Veep, an unprecedented streak.) But now Iannucci’s turning his biting wit away from the present moment and back to the USSR in 1953, right at the moment that a mad scramble for power consumed the highest ranks of the Soviet government following the demise of Stalin.
Steve Buscemi plays the man who would ultimately win the game, Nikita Khrushchev, with Jason Isaacs as the great World War Two hero Georgy Zhukov, Simon Russell Beale as NKVD sadist Beria, Michael Palin as unctuous foreign minister Molotov, Jeffrey Tambor as Stalin’s brief successor Malenkov, and Andrea Riseborough as Stalin’s daughter Svetlana. BBC Culture’s Caryn James has given the film four stars and says, “It is one of Iannucci’s most consistent, convincing tropes that at various times everyone in power seems idiotic.” Released 20 October in the UK and Ireland and 26 October in Hungary. (Credit: IFC Films)
It’s a miracle that Loving Vincent even exists. Made over several years – BBC Culture first wrote about it in October 2017, it’s a film in which every single frame, some 65,000, has been created by hand as oil paintings. Polish directors Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman felt this was the best way to capture the dreamy essence of Vincent van Gogh’s life and work – particularly during the stormy final months of his life, as he battled mental illness and hurtled toward suicide. Most of the images recreate or evoke well-known Van Gogh paintings, and since so many of his paintings were of portraits, Kobiela and Welchman structured their film via a series of interviews, in which the subjects who sat for Van Gogh, such as Postman Roulin and Dr Gachet, recall their relationship to the artist and the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death. The directors brought in 115 oil painters, specially retrained to gear their technique for animation, to create the paintings that would make up the movie – each would take about 40 minutes to complete. Released 6 October in Canada, 13 October in the UK and Ireland and 20 October in Finland and Sweden (Credit: Good Deed Entertainment)
Pray you never get an invitation to a dinner soiree like this one. “A comedy of tragic proportions” is the tagline of The Party, a new film by Sally Potter, the visionary British auteur behind Orlando and The Tango Lesson. Kristin Scott Thomas decides to celebrate her appointment as Shadow Minister of Health with a few close friends, and absolute disaster ensues. Which is a shame because the guest-list is impeccable: Cillian Murphy, Cherry Jones, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer, Timothy Spall, Bruno Ganz. If these same actors were staging this as a play on Broadway or the West End they’d need a wheelbarrow to collect all their theatre awards – as it’s a small independent film it will struggle to get much distribution in cinemas at all. Such is the reality for bracing works of art geared for grown-ups. Perhaps its marketing should stress the fact it’s only 71 minutes? Released 12 October in Denmark and 13 October in the UK (Credit: Picturehouse Entertainment)
Russian master Andrey Zyvagintsev has directed two of the finest films of this century to date: The Return and Leviathan. The latter, his most recent film, was a withering, vodka-fuelled look at bureaucratic corruption in northernmost Russia. Zyvagintsev’s choice of drolly inserting clearly visible portraits of Vladimir Putin in the offices of malicious government officials suggested a political culture of cronyism, in which, as US gangsters used to say, “the fish rots from the head down”. Russia’s Ministry of Culture hated the film. For his new effort, Loveless, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes, he shot the film – about two estranged parents who have to come together after their child goes missing – in and around Moscow but with no Russian government financing or support. Speaking to him at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, I asked him what he makes of the political situation in Russia. “It’s complicated,” he said through an interpreter, and added nothing more. Zyvagintsev prefers to let his films do the talking. Released 19 October in Greece (Credit: Sony Pictures Classics)
Life After Flash:
In the mode of Jodorowsky’s Dune, expect another documentary ode to grand ambition, cheesy execution and cultish devotion in Life After Flash, this non-fiction account of 1980’s much-loved-by-fans Flash Gordon. The documentary delves into the making of the film, how it became a phenomenon and campy touchstone for many enthusiasts and what impact the film has had since on the lives of its actors, including Sam J Jones, Melody Anderson, Topol and Brian Blessed. Also expect much talking-head rhapsodizing from Flash Gordon celebrity superfans Stan Lee, Brian May, Michael Rooker, and Robert Rodriguez, whose commentary will undoubtedly be punctuated by the wearing of his signature black cowboy hat. Released 2 October in the UK.