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THE PHILM COLUMN: Fall Film Preview

September 6, 2017

Can you see that? The leaves hinting at a change in color. Can you feel that? The warmth of the hot August sun beginning to evaporate. Can you hear that? The cries of Minnesotans at the familiar realization that summer is ALREADY over.

But as the temperatures drop and the autumn apologists start claiming “this is really the best season, anyway,” rest assured, there’s more to look forward to then just your 70s-themed fondue-filled Halloween parties (that’s what everyone’s doing, right?)

This year’s final third has some promising films in store, and you don’t need to go far into the fall to find them.

“It” – Sept. 8, 2017

The Warner Brothers thriller and horror spectacle, “It,” is based off perhaps the most famous book from world famous novelist Stephen King, released in 1986.

And if you like creepy clowns, you’re in for a treat. Nobody likes creepy clowns, though, so I guess we’ll have to come up with some better reasons to give this latest remake a try.

The most recent Hollywood attempt at “It” came in 1990 when Tim Curry played the terrorizing clown, Pennywise. A cast of children – the recipients of terror – included Seth Green, Emily Perkins, Jonathan Brandis and Adam Faraizl. Reviews were mixed, and at the end of the day, it was a somewhat scary, not that memorable made-for-TV affair.

The new “It” has a bigger budget, bigger costumes, but not really bigger names. Bill Skarsgard – not to be confused with brother, Alexander Skarsgard – will play Pennywise. The cast of kids won’t knock your socks off with big names either. Even the director – Andy Muschietti – has only one other major film credit to his name: Mama, a horror film starring Jessica Chastain and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

It’s clear Warner Brothers feels the legend of “It” has enough clout to draw in audiences on its own.

This could prove fruitful – focusing on crafting a genuinely good, genuinely scary horror flick, rather than star power. It could also be lame – failing to draw out any kind of excitement from its audience.

Judging by how uncomfortable I felt just watching the trailer and seeing Skarsgard’s unpleasant makeup-covered clown face on a giant movie screen, I’m going to guess the former.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” – Sept. 29

If you haven’t seen “Kingsman: The Secret Service” – well, that’s your problem, not mine.

It received a nice but not great 75 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, but that’s an undersell. “Secret Service” was a goldmine. I had no idea what to expect going in, and what I found was a film that terrifically satirized decades of James Bond films, while also delivering no-thinking-necessary entertainment that Bond films revel in.

And the sequel, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” could be even better. Samuel L. Jackson played the bad news bad guy in the first film, and he did it with utter hilarity. This time, Julianne Moore is the heel – and, not that you care, I’m into it. She’ll be joined by other newcomers to the Kingsman cast in Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Elton John and Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones’ Oberyn).

Colin Firth, who died in the first movie, is somehow returning as Harry Hart, and Taron Egerton returns in his breakout role as Eggsy – the newest of the Kingsman secret service operatives. The second movie is about the Kingsman headquarters being destroyed and the world held hostage, forcing the Kingsman to team up with an ally spy organization in the U.S. to defeat the common enemy.

But the plot is hardly relevant, here. This is all about sharp wit and enthralling action. If Director Matthew Vaughn can deliver again, this one will be worth a couple hours at the movies.

“Blade Runner 2049” – Oct. 6

My level of excitement for “Blade Runner 2049” – the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic – is borderline embarrassing. It will be especially embarrassing if the movie turns out crap, but I have bounds of confidence in the team behind this one.

First of all, the director: Denis Villeneuve. He’s my personal favorite director on the scene right now. First, he surprised me with the focused, brutal, unpredictable “Prisoners,” starring Hugh Jackman and Paul Dano in 2013. He then twisted and turned me with the part-thriller, part-puzzler “Sicario,” starring Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro in 2015. And he absolutely knocked my socks off with 2016 best picture contender “Arrival,” starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. (See some of his excellent Spanish films from 2011 and earlier, if you really want to dive into his catalogue).

With that resume heading in, I’m confident Villeneuve won’t insult the groundbreaking, visually influential “Blade Runner” from decades ago. In fact, he might break some barriers of his own.

Outside of the director’s chair, a capable cast will show on screen. Ryan Gosling – who should not be famous for “The Notebook,” but instead “Drive” and “La La Land” – will lead the way. Harrison Ford will return as a 30-year-later version of Rick Deckard – a part he played with aplomb in the first film. Jared Leto joins the team, and while his DC Universe Joker was so-so, his turn in “Dallas Buyers Club” is enough to convince me. Proven commodities Robin Wright and Lennie James also join the cast.

And if you’re wondering where in this fictional world is Ridley Scott, have no fear, he’s returning as executive producer. So nothing’s going on-screen without the original visionary’s approval.

I’ll just say it – “Blade Runner 2049” is going to be great.

Other films (possibly) worth seeing in September and October:

“Mother” – Sept. 15: horror film with Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem

“The Lego Ninjago Movie” – Sept. 22: Animated comedy with Jackie Chan and a host of others

“The Mountain Between Us” – Oct. 6: Romantic drama with Idris Elba and Kate Winslet

“The God Particle” – Oct. 27: Mystery and suspense with David Oyelowo and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

 

By Philip Weyhe

SouthernMinn Scene | editor@southernminnscene.com |
115 5th Street West Northfield, MN 55057