Twelve films to watch this October


Twelve films to watch this October

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

(Credit: Warner Bros)

Nicholas Barber picks this month’s must-see releases, including sci-fi epic Dune, a Velvet Underground documentary and Wes Anderson’s latest offering.

(Credit: Searchlight)

Antlers

In the latest horror-drama to be produced by Guillermo del Toro, a school teacher (Keri Russell) and a sheriff (Jesse Plemons) suspect that a supernatural creature is lurking near their small Oregon town. Not that Antlers is a straightforward monster movie. The story is rooted in Native American tales of the Wendigo, so the director, Scott Cooper (Hostiles), consulted Professor Grace L Dillon, “the country’s foremost authority” on the subject. She “really educated me that for Native Americans, First Nations, it’s not folklore, it’s not a myth,” Cooper told Indiewire. “They truly, truly believe in it, because it represents greed and colonialism when we first came to the shores of what is now America, and pillaged all of their resources and forced them [into] cannibalism… out of that rose the Wendigo.”

Released on 28 October in Australia and New Zealand, and 29 October in the UK, Ireland, the US and Canada

(Credit: Bleeker Street)

Mass

Special effects and exotic vistas are all very well, but sometimes it can be even more electrifying to see four actors having a quiet conversation in a small room. In Mass, Fran Kranz’s writer-directorial debut, Jason Isaacs, Martha Plimpton, Ann Dowd, and Reed Birney play two couples who meet in grim circumstances. Years earlier, the son of one couple murdered the son of the other in a school shooting. Now, on the advice of a therapist, the four grief-racked parents meet in a church to talk over what happened. Kranz’s devastating chamber piece “is a beautifully-judged and tender work that attempts to reckon with the unthinkable,” says Hannah Strong in Little White Lies. “It’s a study of human pain and anger in painstaking detail, supported by a script which is hauntingly realistic without dipping into mawkish or exploitative territory.”

Released on 8 October in the US and 15 October in Canada

(Credit: Apple+)

The Velvet Underground

Todd Haynes directed a biopic of Iggy Pop and David Bowie (Velvet Goldmine) which turned the singers into fictional characters, and a biopic of Bob Dylan (I’m Not There) in which six different actors (including Cate Blanchett) played the lead role. Unsurprisingly, then, his affectionate documentary about The Velvet Underground is more idiosyncratic than the average rock-doc. Using a split-screen format throughout, the film explores New York’s art scene in the 1960s, uncovering the bruising childhoods and avant-garde influences that were shared by the band’s fractious founder members, Lou Reed and John Cale. “A brilliantly told story, which causes hearts to soar and break in equal measure,” says Jo-Ann Titmarch at HeyUGuys, “Haynes’ evocation of the band and the time is vivid and loving. If you love music then you’ll love this film.”

On Apple TV+ from 15 October

(Credit: Universal)

Last Night in Soho

Edgar Wright’s sumptuously weird time-travel horror-comedy stars Thomasin McKenzie (Jojo Rabbit) as a fashion student who is stressed by life in noisy, aggressive central London. She is happier when she slips back to the glamour of the swinging ’60s, where her identity merges with that of an aspiring singer, Anya Taylor-Joy (The Queen’s Gambit). But maybe Soho in the 1960s has a threatening side, too. Jason Solomons in The Wrap says that “this is by far the director’s best film since his Shaun of the Dead debut, using a soundtrack of The Kinks, Walker Brothers, Cilla Black and Dusty Springfield to propel us on a hugely enjoyable, campy and stylish, yet genuinely scary path that also touches on mental health issues, sexual predators and the demons of creativity”. Last Night in Soho also features sterling performances from two ’60s icons, Terence Stamp and the late Diana Rigg, in her final role.

Released on 22 October in Canada and 29 October in the UK, Ireland and the US

(Credit: Black Spark)

Lamb

Maria (Noomi Rapace) and Ingvar (Hilmir Snær Guðnason) run a sheep farm together in a remote Icelandic valley. Neither of them has been happy since the loss of their daughter, so when they find another child to adopt, they don’t hesitate… never mind that the baby has rather more hooves and wool than you’d expect a baby to have. What’s stranger still is that the smitten couple treats the child as if she is perfectly normal, which makes Valdimar Jóhannsson’s atmospheric folk horror/ deadpan comedy both explosively funny and spine-tinglingly eerie. “Jóhannsson’s stunningly assured first feature… is a disturbing experience,” says David Rooney in The Hollywood Reporter, “but also a highly original take on the anxieties of being a parent, a tale in which nature plus nurture yields a nightmare”.

Released on 8 October in the US and 14 October in Australia

(Credit: Searchlight)

The French Dispatch

Wes Anderson fans rejoice: the writer-director’s 10th film is his most Wes Anderson-ish ever. In The French Dispatch, he takes his meticulous style to new extremes, so barely a frame goes by that isn’t ornamented with a split screen, a freeze frame, a sans serif caption, a florid voiceover, or a switch between monochrome and garish colour. Beneath all these elaborate quirks is an anthology of three whimsical short stories set in the fictional French town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, and supposedly drawn from the pages of a New Yorker-style magazine in the mid-20th Century. Timothée Chalamet, Benicio del Toro and Léa Seydoux star alongside such Anderson regulars as Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman. “While it is sometimes hard to keep up with the dizzying level of detail and whirlwind storytelling,” says Sophie Monks Kaufman in Hyperallergic, “it is a consummate pleasure to be in the world of The French Dispatch”. 

Released on 22 October in the UK, Ireland, the US and Canada

(Credit: Lex Records)

The Show

Alan Moore is one of the most important figures in cinema today, even though he has never worked on a film before. What he has done is write countless game-changing graphic novels, several of which have been adapted into films (Watchmen, V For Vendetta, From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and several more of which have had a vast influence on 21st-Century superhero blockbusters. Now at last he has scripted a film of his own, directed by Mitch Jenkins. The Show is a detective yarn about a mystery man (Tom Burke) scouring the streets of Northampton for a jewel thief (Darrell D’Silva), but it’s also a surreal, magical, nocturnal odyssey. “An unrepentantly trippy Noir that assaults the senses, cackling all the while,” says Kristy Puchko at IGN movies. “The Show offers a supremely intoxicating adventure, ripe with imagination, rank with decadence, and rabid with more, more Moore.”

Released on digital download on 18 October

(Credit: 20th-Century Studios)

(Credit: 20th-Century Studios)

The Last Duel

The 83-year-old Sir Ridley Scott is busier than ever, with two films due in cinemas this year, House of Gucci and The Last Duel. Mind you, maybe that should be “four films”, because The Last Duel is three films in one. Set in 14th-Century France, Scott’s Medieval epic is based on the true story of France’s last legally sanctioned duel. The jousting combatants are Jacques LeGris (Adam Driver) and Jean de Carrouges (Matt Damon), who accuses LeGris of raping his wife (Jodie Comer). The twist is that we see events three times over, from the perspectives of the main characters, and each section is scripted by a separate writer: Damon, Nicole Holofcener (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) and Ben Affleck (who co-stars as a louche count) each take a turn. Rafael Motamayor in Collider says that The Last Duel has “a nuanced, complex script, phenomenal performances that should be studied in acting class, and some of the best Medieval fight scenes put to the screen”.

Released on 15 October in the UK, Ireland, the US and Canada

(Credit: Warner Bros)

Dune

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s version may have collapsed in pre-production, and David Lynch’s was a flop, but now at last we have a big-screen Dune that may actually do justice to Frank Herbert’s science-fiction novel. Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival), this is a sombre, sweeping epic which runs for 155 minutes and still only covers the first half of the book. The budget is colossal, the crew is top-notch, and the cast is packed with big names, including Timothée Chalamet, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Zendaya and Dave Bautista. As space operas about psychic-powered young heroes on desert planets go, it may never be as popular as Star Wars, but, says Clarisse Loughrey in the Independent, “It is a film of such literal and emotional largeness that it overwhelms the senses [and] of such intimidating grandeur that it’s hard to believe it even exists in the first place.”

Released on 21 October in the UK and Ireland, and 22 October in the US and Canada

(Credit: Carole Bethuel)

Titane

For only the second time in its history, and for only the first time since 1993, the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival was won by a film directed by a woman. Even if it hadn’t received one of cinema’s top prizes, though, Julia Ducournau’s Titane would be a must-see. “In the follow-up to her sensational and literally faint-inducing debut, Raw,” says Sarah Kurchak in The Spool, “Ducournau has significantly upped the ante and created a film exponentially more brutal, beautiful, borderline unbearable, and absolutely brilliant”. The film is a gory, blackly-comic shocker about a serial killer (Agathe Rousselle) who has sex with a car and then hides from the authorities by disguising herself as the missing son of a steroid-addled fire chief (Vincent Lindon). But even that summary doesn’t convey just how feverish Titane is.

Released on 1 October in the US, 7 October in Germany and 8 October in Spain and Sweden

(Credit: Arté France Cinema)

(Credit: Arté France Cinema)

Bergman Island

Fårö is the small island in the Baltic Sea where Ingmar Bergman lived and shot several of his most celebrated films in the 1960s and 1970s. Fans and film-makers flock there, hoping to be as inspired as the great Swedish auteur was: in Mia Hansen-Løve’s enigmatic drama, Bergman Island, two of those pilgrims are Chris (Vicky Krieps) and Tony (Tim Roth), a married pair of writer-directors. Tony is there for a retrospective of his violent thrillers. The insecure Chris is stuck on her latest screenplay, but the island gives her an idea that unfolds as a film within a film starring Mia Wasikowska and Anders Danielsen Lie. “Bergman Island acts like a love letter to Bergman,” says Alysha Prasad in One Room With A View, “but stands on its own as a film that focuses on the artists’ journey of storytelling itself. And if all of this isn’t enough, we get to witness Wasikowska dancing to The Winner Takes It All by Abba.”

Released on 1 October in Sweden and 15 October in the US

(Credit: 20th-Century Studios)

(Credit: 20th-Century Studios)

Ron’s Gone Wrong

The first feature-length cartoon from a new British studio, Locksmith Animation, Ron’s Gone Wrong is a family comedy about the differences between social media and physical interaction. Its schoolboy hero, Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer), is given what seems to be the ideal toy, a shiny robot which is programmed to be his friend – assuming it works properly. The snag is that this particular robot, Ron (Zach Galifianakis), barely works at all. “Children want someone who agrees with them, who wants to play the same games as them… and that’s the type of dream the technology world offers you,” the film’s co-writer and co-director, Sarah Smith, told Peter Gray at the AU Review. “And in our movie, Barney ends up with Ron, who’s completely dysfunctional and broken, who doesn’t agree with him and doesn’t know anything about him, and they have to build this relationship from that point.”

Released on 15 October in the UK and Ireland and 22 October in the US and Canada

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