The summer of 2016 may best be remembered for a glut of uninspired and unnecessary sequels, remakes and high-concept films that nobody wanted to see. The studios continue to shovel endless mediocrity in to theaters then seem shocked when audiences don't bite. While a few made some money, the vast majority of them received critical and box-office failure. With that now behind us, it's time to move on to the season of fall, where we will be offered fare that is much more creatively inspired and thoughtfully challenging. There are quite a few coming soon that look quite promising but I have narrowed down to the films that have particularly piqued my interest.
All release dates are subject to change:
Release date: September 30, 2016
British writer/director, Andrea Arnold won the Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival for the third time with her latest drama, "American Honey". With an explosive performance by newcomer, Sasha Lane, the actress stars as a teenage girl who gets swept up with a group of young misfits traveling across the Midwest selling magazine subscriptions to make quick cash. This also gets her involved with some heavy drug use, tender romance and violent crime. Riley Keough, Shia LaBeouf and several real-life street kids co-star.
"MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN"
Release date: September 30, 2016
The title "Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children" pretty much says it all. The film is based on the best-selling YA book about an orphaned teenage boy (Asa Butterfield) who ends up going to live at a home made up of strange children with some peculiar talents, run by a caring headmistress, Miss Peregrine (Eva Green). But there is a band of evil creatures called the "Wights" that are seeking out these children to destroy them, lead by the treacherous Mr. Barron (Samuel L. Jackson). And who better to bring this dark fantasy to life than Tim Burton, the man who has enchanted and unsettled audiences for years with his own peculiar brand of gloomy film making.
"THE BIRTH OF A NATION"
Release date: October 7, 2016
Actor Nate Parker and his debut project as a writer and director "The Birth of a Nation" has been all over the news of late but it's not been directly about the movie. Despite all of the unsettling circumstances surrounding Parker, I plan to see his film for two reasons; I have no problem separating the art from the artist and I don't believe in continuing to condemn someone who has been acquitted of a crime. As for the film, Parker also stars as Nat Turner, a slave who was taught to read so he could preach from the Bible to his fellow slaves to keep them obedient. However, Turner soon becomes aware of what he's doing and begins to encourage his people to violently rise up against their oppressors.
Release date: October 21, 2016
Inspired by the play "In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue" by Tarell McCraney, "Moonlight" follows Chiron, an African-American man through three key stages of his life; childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Beginning with life on the tough streets of Miami with his crack-addicted mother (Naomie Harris) as a nine year old to struggling to suppress his true sexual desires as a teenager to trying to find acceptance for who he is as a young man. Three different actors play Chiron at each period with Trevante Rhodes, a former Track and Field athlete turned actor, playing him as an adult. This is the long-awaited second film from writer/director Barry Jenkins who made one of my favorite films in 2009, "Medicine For Melancholy".
Release date: October 21, 2016
Another actor making his directorial feature debut is Ewan McGregor and he's tackling the work of a major American novelist. "American Pastoral" is based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Philip Roth and features one of his best known characters. Seymour "Swede" Levov (McGregor) is a very successful businessman with a former beauty queen wife (Jennifer Connelly) and lovely teenage daughter (Dakota Fanning). His seemingly perfect life begins to unravel when his daughter becomes involved in an act of political terrorism. Following the sublime "Indignation" from James Schamus, this will be the second film of Roth's distinctive work this year.
Release date : November 4, 2016
One of my favorite Marvel comic books as a kid was "Doctor Strange" so I'm quite thrilled that a movie about him has finally been made. Benedict Cumberbatch is perfectly cast as Stephen Strange, a top neurosurgeon whose career comes to an end due to a tragic accident. In search of healing and enlightenment, Strange travels to Asia where he encounters the Ancient One (the one and only, Tilda Swinton) who guides him on a course of the mystic arts. With Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen, Benjamin Bratt and Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Release date: November 4, 2016
Following the amazing sci-fi, supernatural thriller, "Midnight Special" released earlier this year, writer and director, Jeff Nichols is back with a completely different type of film, "Loving" tells the true story of Richard Loving (Joel Edgerton), a white man and his wife, Ruth (Ruth Negga), an African-American woman who dared to marry while living in the deeply segregated South. They were arrested and sent to prison in Virginia in 1958 for violating the state's anti-miscegenation laws. The Lovings fought the charges and took their case all the way to the Supreme Court.
Release date: November 16, 2016
I don't know how well "Elle", the latest film from the controversial director of "Basic Instinct" and "Showgirls", Paul Verhoeven, will be received here in Puritanical America but I, for one, can't wait to see this. One reason is for the appearance of Isabelle Huppert, one of cinema's greatest actors. The other is how Verhoeven, known for his fascination with sex and violence, will handle this disturbing story of a business executive (Huppert) who is attacked and sexually violated. She manages to track down the perpetrator of the horrific crime with a plan to enact revenge. Or does she have something else in mind?
Release date: November 18, 2016
Fashion designer, Tom Ford surprised everyone with his assured debut as a film director with his 2009 feature, "A Single Man". He finally has found some time away from his busy day job to make a follow-up film. Based on the novel, "Tony and Susan", "Nocturnal Animals" is about Susan (Amy Adams), an art gallery owner, who is given a manuscript from her ex-husband (Armie Hammer), asking for her opinion. The book tells the violent story of a family vacation that turns deadly (which is visualized in the film) and triggers in Susan memories of some dark events that occurred during their marriage. An impressive cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Michael Shannon, Isla Fisher and Laura Linney.
Release date : November 23, 2016
"Allied", the new film from Oscar-winning director, Robert Zemeckis, is in the spirit of those World War II romantic thrillers from the '40's. Two of Hollywood's current glamourous movie stars, Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard play an assassin and French spy who fall in love during an assignment to kill a German official in Casablanca. Yes, the film is a little too obvious but it still looks great.
Release date: December 16, 2016
For his third film as a director, Denzel Washington brings to the big screen "Fences", the first feature of the work by the acclaimed playwright, the late August Wilson. Washington and his co-star, Viola Davis recreate the roles they each won a Tony for during the 2010 Broadway revival of this Pulitzer Prize winning drama. Based on the screenplay draft by Wilson (with a light polish by fellow playwright, Tony Kushner), it tells the story of a former Negro league baseball player, who now works as a trash collector, as he struggles to provide for his family while trying to accept what has become of his life.
Release date: December 21, 2016
I remember clearly the first film I ever saw by Pedro Almodóvar. It was "Law of Desire" way back in 1987 during a trip to Toronto. I was a young man from the Midwest, completely shocked and mesmerized by the high drama, droll humor and uninhibited sexuality featured on the screen. And I became a hardcore fan ever since. That was actually the Spanish director's fifth feature at the time and with, "Julieta", this will be his twentieth production. This new melodrama, which uses several short stories by Alice Munro, is about a middle-aged Julieta (Emma Suarez) who desperately wants to make contact with her long-estranged daughter that she hasn't seen or heard from in over ten years. So the mother decides to write a letter to her child, revealing all the painful, dark secrets that she has kept hidden from her.