Saturday, November 7, 2015

What I want to see in... November 2015

When people find out that you write about movies, the first thing they want to know is what's playing now or opening soon that's worth seeing. So I often find myself scrolling through a couple of lists I keep in Evernote: one of movies I've seen, the other of upcoming films that look interesting. I create the second list each month when Ed Gonzalez at Slant asks his reviewers which movies they'll want to write about for the month starting six or eight weeks out.

I thought I'd start posting my list of upcoming movies here, as a way of keeping track of the movies I expect--or hope--to like. This month’s list is long, since a lot of good stuff always gets rolled out at this time of year, and it all opens here in NYC.  If I review one of these, or interview someone attached to it, I'll link to my piece from this list when it's published. If I don't write about it, I may add a sentence or two about the movie after I've seen it.

Hope this helps you figure out what you're interested in seeing. Are there other movies you're looking forward to?

In Jackson Heights

Ok, I've seen this now, and I'm glad I did. I wanted more on some of the cultures that make Jackson Heights one of the most multicultural neighborhoods not just in the city but in the nation (where were the Indians and Pakistanis?), but it's very good on Jackson Heights' LGBT history and on what immigrants bring to this country, the price they too often have to pay to get/stay here, and how the real estate investors behind so-called Business Improvement Districts are attempting to gentrify and homogenize this area just as they have other parts of New York. As always, Frederick Wiseman documents things that would have happened without him, and he finds plenty of evidence of a strong neighborhood with a proud history, which a lot of smart activists are fighting to keep affordable and livable for the people who made it what it is.

Sand Dollars

I saw this one and liked it very much


Just saw this: a well told story about a well told story. Now, THAT'S how you do a movie about investigative journalism. (are you listening, Truth?)


This one did not disappoint either. A suspenseful and fascinating coming-of-age story set in a time and place that feels both intriguingly unfamiliar and totally real.

The 33

This one really let me down. (My review.) An interesting story, though, for sure.

Casa Grande


Finally got into a screening of this one: interesting, smart, nuanced story that reproduces its milieu pretty impeccably.


Saw this one recently. It's a distinctive, unsettling, dystopian black comedy about an unhappy stand-up comic marooned in some of the more alienating parts of America.

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words 

A loving tribute--like the title says, largely her her own words, through diary excerpts, letters and home movies--of a great star who defied convention to live her life on her own terms. My review.

James White

Excellent movie. My interview with Christopher Abbott.


Censored Voices

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Before: Because Jennifer Lawrence. And Philip Seymour Hoffman. And to see The Capitol go DOWN! After: Oy, what a disappointment.


Tom Hardy as both of the gangster Kray brothers. 


Just saw this and thought it was quite wonderful, and I'm glad more movies like this, about the virtual imprisonment of women in so many parts of the world, are getting made these days -- including Dukhtar, Frame by Frame, Gett, and Osama, to name a few. It's a story that needs telling, and Mustang tells it well.

The Secret in Their Eyes

Before: Because the original, Chilean version was a very good smart, moody thriller, because I want to see Chiwetel Ejiofor and Julia Roberts onscreen together, and in spite of Nicole Kidman. The trailer looks promising, too, doesn't it? After: Oy vey. Roberts does two modes: vibrant and cheeky in the flashbacks and drained of nearly all life in the present-day scenes. She's very good, but her story soon starts to feel stalled-out and undercooked, as undead as her character. Ejiofor shoots off empathy and urgency like a sparkler, but even he can't bring this thing to life.

The Good Dinosaur 

Hey, it's Pixar. That said, the director was replaced and the script rewritten when it was pretty close to completion, so something obviously wasn't working. But maybe it got fixed in the overhaul. Plus, I like this premise for a kids' movie: sounds like a nice way to make some basic evolutionary science go down easy.


Sweaty Betty

Very glad to see this one is making it into theaters at the end of this month. I was won over by it at South by Southwest this spring: it's a sweet, sometimes sad, often funny story about a low-income black neighborhood outside Washington, D.C. made by a couple of very talented filmmakers who grew up there. Here's my review of it for Brooklyn Mag.

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