Fall Movie Preview: November 2013

I always think of the autumn film season as containing the heavy hitters of the year. No matter what I see or don't see, I'm pretty guaranteed to be attempting to catch up on movies released around this time before an Oscar pool lands on my desk next February. So imagine my surprise when I skimmed through the articles about November's movies in the Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview, and found almost nothing to sink my teeth into. Weird! Even the ones worth mentioning below are maybes (or in one case, an outright no). It's been a fairly weak season for both movies and television, but I have no complaints about that - it gives me a chance to finally catch up on older things I've been meaning to get to. Martha Marcy May Marlene, here I come!

November 1

About Time: This didn't make much of an impact on me the first time I read about it, but every piece of internet chatter I've seen since then has made me more interested. It's about a young man who learns that the men in his family are able to skip through time. But this is no Looper-esque thriller. It's apparently a lot more philosophical, and raises good questions about the things in life that really matter to us. I doubt I'll see it in theaters, but it sounds like a great rental.

Ender's Game: This is the outright no I mentioned above. And it's not just because of the loathsome Orson Scott Card, who wrote the book the movie is based on and serves as producer on the movie (though that's the biggest reason). The word "boycott" is thrown around too much these days. I think it should signify an organized group who pledges to avoid a product/service, and encourages others to do the same. Me choosing not to spend my money on any Card-related property is not a boycott. But even setting aside Card's personal politics, I still wouldn't be interested. I'm seemingly one of the few people who didn't really care for the book, I found Asa Butterfield kind of grating in Hugo, and the early reviews of this movie agree that it's fairly bland and generic. At this point, it's got about six strikes against it, and I won't be going anywhere near it.

November 15

Great Expectations: Watching a film adaptation is certainly not equivalent to reading the book it's based on, especially if that book is an enduring classic. However, it can be a good way of introducing yourself to the story, if the film is made well. My only exposure to Bleak House was the miniseries, and here we are at another Dickens masterwork that I was somehow never exposed to in high school. Mike Newell is an adept director, and I'm sure Helena Bonham Carter and Ralph Fiennes will acquit themselves well, so if this gets any sort of decent reviews, I look forward to settling in with it some snowy evening.

November 20

Her: A lot of movies pull me in simply by virtue of an intriguing premise. In this one, Joaquin Phoenix plays a writer who buys a computer operating system whose voice is so engaging and sympathetic that he begins to fall in love with it. Scarlett Johansson provides the computer's voice, which is inspired casting. Her rasp is half the reason I sat up and took notice of her in Ghost World. Amy Adams and Rooney Mara play the women in the protagonist's life, so it's a solid cast all around. Add Spike Jonze in as the director, and I'm officially interested.

November 22

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: Middle entries are usually the weakest points of trilogies, but judging from the trailer for this movie, it'll be plenty exciting. Though I dislike most of the dystopian YA fiction that joins The Hunger Games on the shelves, I did enjoy this series. Some of the casting of the other fighters in this return to the arena has me scratching my head, but I'm more than willing to give the newbies a shot. I still think Lenny Kravitz was a terrible choice for Cinna, though.

Nebraska: I really like Alexander Payne's movies, and this upcoming one has some interesting facets to it. It's the first movie of his that he directed from a screenplay that he didn't write. It stars Will Forte in a non-comedy role. Nebraska is a black and white drama about an old man (Bruce Dern) and his son on a cross-state road trip to collect a sweepstakes prize. Dern has already won an award at Cannes for his role in this movie, and I haven't read a thing about it that doesn't suggest I'll quickly be adding it to the list of Payne's successes.

November 27

Frozen: The characteristics of animated movies that will or will not grab my attention seem so arbitrary. Why does this musical version of "The Snow Queen" appeal to me so much, when things like Turbo and Epic pass by with a shrug? The female leads may provide a clue. In this movie, Idina Menzel voices a queen that has accidentally cursed a land with eternal winter, inspiring her sister (Kristen Bell) to go on a journey to break the spell. I have seen no indications of this movie's quality; it could be be delightful, insufferable, or anything in between. It's definitely on my radar, though. Anyone want to loan me a kid I can pass off as my niece so I can go see it without seeming creepy?


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