Donald Clarke's great big autumn movie preview
What better way to get you through the dark winter nights than beneath the flickering lights of a warm movie theatre? Donald Clarke runs through all the cinema releases between now and the new year
Ancient cannibalistic religions have less eccentric calendars than does the movie universe.
The long run-in and dreary aftermath to Christmas do now harbour the odd blockbuster. Hang on for the second Thor movie, the second Hobbit film
and – Lionsgate Pictures dearly hope – the first episode in a long-running Ender’s Game franchise. We now expect a horror film in January (the latest Paranormal Activity flick). School holidays bring animations such as Turbo, Cloudy With Meatballs 2 and Frozen.
But let’s not fool ourselves. We are, a full five months ahead of the ceremony, about to launch ourselves into Oscar season. The studios’ stubbornness in sticking a certain type of movie in this (now yawning) window borders on the absurd. By the time the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis opens in January, it will be a full seven months since it premiered to applause at Cannes. Is it really fair to prioritise the few thousand members of the academy over the millions of cinemagoers who want to see the Coens’ latest?
The notion is that, if you open a film any earlier, confused voters will forget its existence. So, in a few weeks’ time, we get to watch Tom Hanks in the properly thrilling Captain Phillips. Four months later – after Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, George Clooney’s The Monuments Men and a dozen other contenders – we will be treated to the early front-runner, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. Couldn’t we space these things out a little more? Take a deep breath . . .
HOW I LIVE NOW
Kevin Macdonald directs Saoirse Ronan in an adaptation of Meg Rosoff’s young-adult novel concerning the aftermath of a nuclear attack. The film’s conjuring of English rural idylls – all damp fields and Sandy Denny – is particularly effective.
SUNSHINE ON LEITH
We can think of worse things than a jukebox musical based on the works of the Proclaimers. Peter Mullan appears in a tale that will undoubtedly feature pleas for friends to correspond regularly while visiting the US.
THE TO DO LIST
It looks as if one of the things that young Aubrey Plaza (a person not a mall, apparently) has “to do” before the end of the film is have full sex. Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Rachel Bilson also appear.
THE FIFTH ESTATE
Bill Condon’s film stars the unavoidable Benedict Cumberbatch in a study of Mr Wikileaks Julian Assange. Apparently Assange begged Cumberbatch not to appear in the film. That worked out well.
How many Euro do you get for your grey pound these days? The latest attempt to attract the older demographic finds Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan returning to Paris for a second honeymoon.
Tom Hanks stars as the captain of a container vessel overrun by pirates in the latest kinetic true story from Paul Greengrass. You won’t need to be told that the camera flies about the place with all the dizzy fluidity we expect from this director.
Nicole Holofcener, director of Friends with Money, offers up another serious comedy set among better-off Americans. James Gandolfini is, somewhat poignantly, receiving great notices for one of his last performances.
I smell the approach of half term. Thisanimation from DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox has Ryan Reynolds voicing a racing snail. Oh stop. You think a synopsis of Dumbo would sound any more sensible?
JACKASS PRESENTS: BAD GRANDPA
If you are a member of the Jackass posse, you must be used to the question: “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” The team’s latest film actually tries to build a fictional plot around the pranks. Are you sure . . . ?
CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS 2
The smell of half-term is still with us. The first one was pretty funny and actually rather touching. Part two promises to beeven more deranged in its orchestration of hurtling foodstuff.
Nobody mention marriage equality. Oops, too late. The adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s space opera stars Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley in tale of combat, endurance and nasty space insects.
THE SELFISH GIANT
Very, very loosely based on Oscar Wilde’s similarly titled story, Clio Barnard’s harrowing social realist piece won mighty applause when it played at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes.
THOR: THE DARK WORLD
And you thought super-hero season ended months ago? Foolish, puny mortal! Chris Hemsworth is back as the god of thunder. TV specialist Alan Taylor takes over directing duties from Kenneth Branagh. The first film was actually pretty good.