Coming Soon: October

I’m about 3 days late with this, but finally had some time to get together the first of monthly installments on what’s hitting theaters as the year winds down.

If October is any indicator of the films to come in 2013, we’re in good shape indeed. These films encompass what’s being called the cinematic achievement of its time, quite possibly the most controversial scene in a film released yet, and the film gunning for soaring awards status a la Lincoln of last year. So without further ado…the films I’m keeping track of for October.

GRAVITY (October 4) – Alfonso Cuaron’s first film since Children of Men (2007), this is a film whose reputation precedes itself. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and…that’s it. That’s the cast. Starring Bullock and Clooney, the trailers have had the movie blogosphere on edge for months, and it’s not hard to see why. Once the film started screening (Venice, Telluride and Toronto in quick succession), the deal was all but sealed: this one’s gonna be big. Even the most cynical film writers are falling all over themselves for this one. With all the hub-bub, I decided over a week ago this would be my birthday plan: a complete indulgence of sight and sound – Gravity on the city’s biggest IMAX screen – followed but an indulgence of taste – a tiramisu at the cafe down the street for dessert. Look for this sensory roller coaster to garner noms every special effects/visual award out there, and who knows – maybe even acting, as I hear Bullock’s performance is pretty amazing, too.

A.C.O.D. (October 4) – Yet another Sundance selections that I didn’t see in Park City. The premise is admittedly charming – and timely. A.C.O.D. stands for Adult Children of Divorce. Which, you know, most of us are these days. I imagine the script was born of someone asking the question, “What is wrong with us, three decades after our parents split up?” Adam Scott stars, alongside Richard Jenkins, Catherine O’Hara (the divorced ‘rents), Jane Lynch and Parks & Rec on-screen wife Amy Poehler. I just recently re-watched Kids With Friends, and Scott’s grown on me as a leading man over the years. While I don’t think this one’s going further than maybe a few Independent Spirit Awards, I might check out for an hour and a half and go see this one. Catch the trailer here.

CONCUSSION (October 4) – Unlike the title above, this is one film I actually did see at Sundance, and it serves up a perfectly appropriate festival hit. It’s racy enough to add some edge to a regional event, but approachable enough that you don’t feel dirty as you leave the theater (see Blue is the Warmest Color). The story of a lesbian housewife who gets randomly knocked in the head with a baseball (Concussionget it?), she decides to risk her entire homelife by becoming a high-end, mostly daytime prostitute catering to other women. Robin Weigert gets a rare turn in the lead role (she’s “that girl” from so many shows, and supporting roles in indie flicks like The Sessions), and she seizes it boldly. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is a bit listless – there’s never really a chance to root for the lost housewife, never a reason to invest in whether she keeps hooking or stays home. Here’s the trailer.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (October 11) – I’m honestly not sure I’ll check this one out in theaters, mainly because it looks a bit intense (and at 134 minutes, looong) for my taste, personally. My interest has been slightly piqued following its NYFF preem earlier this week (it opened the fest) and the seemingly positive reception it received there. How much of that is just the momentum of one of the country’s oldest film festivals kicking off, one can’t be sure. But depending on how big a campaign the studio decides to run, I can see Hanks getting back in the Best Actor realm with this role. Check out the trailer, but remember to breathe.

THE FIFTH ESTATE (October 11) – Where the post-Festival buzz is glowing for Gravity and Captain Phillips, reactions have been markedly cooler for the Julian Assange pic starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Mainly, it sounds like reviewers are doing exactly what you just did when I told you a Brit best known for playing Sherlock and Khan bleached his hair to play the most divisive character in recent headlines – they’re scratching their heads. The film’s marketing has the sheen of a year-end awards run, but I’d be surprised if this one goes very far. You be the judge: trailer here.

KILL YOUR DARLINGS (October 16) – If memory serves, this was a fairly late addition to Sundance’s line-up, but that didn’t keep the screenings from selling out just as fast as every other big-name premiere. A biopic that offers Daniel Radcliffe (aka Harry Potter) the chance to prove is on-screen chops as beat poet Allen Ginsberg; he’s supported by a list of established thesps, including Michael C. Hall, Kyra Sedgwick, Jennifer Jason Leigh and ingenue Elizabeth Olsen, too. I actually haven’t seen Radcliffe in anything besides the Potter series, though he’s slowly building a respectable resume. See him as someone other than the boy wizard here.

12 YEARS A SLAVE (October 18) – Last year, I watched the Lincoln trailer for the first time and got chills. Then I watched it again. And again. And again. I can still hear the score soaring through the minute-and-a-half piece, elevating the whole thing to another cinematic plane. The film as a whole didn’t soar quite as high as expectations (though I thought it delivered, and then some; and no one argues DDL earned that Oscar), but it proved to be the most emotionally-charged drama of the year. All this to say, 12 Years A Slave is that for 2013. Bursting with a cast any one of whom a director would kill to have, look to Chiwetel Ejiofor to trancend them all. Guy is one of the most underrated actors of his day; look up the word “range” in a dictionary and it’s his face you’ll see, with Kinky Boots and 12 Years as exhibits A and B. Love Actually as exhibit C. Watch him in action here.

ALL IS LOST (October 18) – I admittedly don’t know much about this one except it seems to be Cast Away on a boat and it’s Robert Redford’s meatiest role in years. Which, let’s be honest, is probably enough to get me – and many others – to see it. The fact that it’s made by the guy who made Margin Call is also a selling point; that film never got the popular attention it deserved, and if All Is Lost has even a fraction of that tension and tautness, we’re all the better for it. The only real question is, what becomes his Winston? The nearly-dialogue-free trailer is here.

THE COUNSELOR (October 25) – A second appearance this month from Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender, Ridley Scott’s back in the director’s chair with a crime thriller so polished you’ll forgive any one of the beautiful people their sins. Javier Bardem chalks up yet another ridiculously-coiffed character (see: No Country for Old MenSkyfall); Cameron Diaz (groan) has leopard spots tattoed down her back. There’s gunfire and sex and…cheetahs. Because of course. The full trailer is on IMDb here.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (October 25) – This French films has been catching attention since it garnered the Palme d’Or at Cannes this spring (the fest’s top prize), but it seems what you’ll hear about more is the prolonged, apparently fairly graphic lesbian love scene. At it’s most basic a coming-of-age story of one teenager who falls for her friend, the scene – and the actresses’ infamous fall-out with the director – has overshadowed the film as a whole. Still, the critical acclaim intrigues me regardless of subject matter, so I snagged a ticket to see this one next week when it plays NYFF. See all the praise in the trailer here

IN THE NAME OF (October 30) – OK, I’m biased. This is one we’re releasing, and it’s been named one of the 8 Indie Films You Must See This Month. How can you argue with that? A Polish film about a priest working with troubled teens, this emotionally fraught drama doesn’t go at all in the direction you’d expect, and it’s all the better for that. Starring Andrzej Chyra (who’s apparently a star in his own right in Poland and sent me the sweetest email the other day, introducing himself), it opens at Film Forum on a Wednesday, running two weeks before expanding across the country over the next month or so. If you happen to see that it’s opening near you, do check it out. Indiewire and I agree it’s worth it. You can see our trailer here.

Bonus films this month: 

The 51st annual New York Film Festival is in full swing as I type this, and it just so happens to be a presentation of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the film org just blocks from my apartment. I’d joined the Society right after moving out here, mainly to take advantage of discounted tickets. Now that the festival’s rolled around, I took advantage of member ticket sales and snagged tickets to Blue, but also NEBRASKA (Alexander Payne’s latest, that doesn’t come out until mid-November) and THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (directed by and starring Ben Stiller, a Christmas Day release). Yes, all three of these films will be in theaters before long, and for a cheaper ticket price than festival tickets. But wheres’ the fun in that?