As the leaves change colors and the weather cools down, it’s time for LGBT folks to find their way to the hottest movies in town. Whether it be drama, comedy, Westerns, fantasy or action, there is at least one film for everyone to watch this fall. And some that you might want to skip.
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
Already in theaters, Meryl Streep plays the aging but inimitable Florence Foster Jenkins, a major patron of the arts in New York in the 1940s who helps put on various theater productions but decides that she wants to be an opera singer. The only problem is that she can’t sing, leading to a series of comedic situations with co-star Hugh Grant. Streep is masterful in her presentation of this comedy role which also has poignant moments. Look also for some delicious gay innuendo with her accompanist, played by Simon Helberg (“Big Bang Theory”).
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
The long-awaited film based on J.K. Rowling’s book picks up on the magical world of Harry Potter but this time with a setting in the U.S. in 1926. British magical zoologist Newt Scamander (played by Eddie Redmayne) chases magical creatures that escaped from his briefcase and are creating havoc in New York (where havoc always seems to reign). Even though there is a lot of fun in the chase of the events, there is also a serious undertone of current political events as wizards and beasts are blamed for events and people seek to segregate them. If you loved the Harry Potter films, you will enjoy the spell-casting, the acting and the magical creatures.
“The Beatles: Eight Days a Week — The Touring Years”
A documentary made by Ron Howard, this follows the Beatles through their rise to fame starting in 1962 until their last public concert in 1966 in San Francisco. For those who love the Beatles or want to see a well-presented slice of history, this will be a delightful journey into the past.
“Birth of a Nation”
Not the controversial 1915 film about the Ku Klux Klan, this movie about the story of Nat Turner’s 1831 slave uprising is purposefully named to point out issues of racism today and the issues about the famous rebellion that killed dozens of Southern slave owners and created fear in many of the whites living in Dixie. A well-crafted film that will create discussion across the country and will be a slam dunk for Oscar nominations.
The latest Marvel film starts Benedict Cumberbatch as a surgeon whose hands are mangled in a car accident and ends up in Nepal looking for a mystic to help him. Tilda Swinton plays an androgynous character, who with Karl Mordo help Dr. Strange to enter a mystical multiverse, after which he develops magical powers. The surrealism and effects in this film will attract many who are tired of the traditional comic hero genre. This will be a big hit. Just don’t eat too much before you enter Strange’s bizarre universe.
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
The latest Star Wars film about the rebel spies who steal the original Death Star blueprints, placing this film just before the original Star Wars 1976 film. Any and all “Star Wars” fans will find that the force is with them on this film. Definitely have to get to the theater to catch this one.
Must-See With a Carolina Connection
A surprisingly good movie about the USAirways flight that was headed to Charlotte and had to land on the Hudson River in New York. Tom Hanks does a masterful job playing pilot Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, and the film keeps your attention as it portrays well the investigation that follows.
“Queen of Katwe”
A well-done movie about the true-life story of Ugandan slum girl Phiona Mutesi who becomes a world-renown chess whiz. This was based on an article and later a book by University of North Carolina lecturer Tim Crothers. Lupita Nyong’o stars in this movie and does a masterful job as the mother of Phiona. Lupita will likely get another Oscar nomination off this effort. A great film.
More Local Connection
Based on the true story of what happened in Charlotte, Zach Galifinakis plays a bumbling armored truck driver as he and two others try to steal $17 million from the armored car. Interesting because of the local angle but not a great movie.
Tom Hanks returns to play the role of Robert Langdon in this third movie based on Dan Brown’s novels. This is a great thriller with a lot of twists and turns that moves through Europe on a madman who is using Dante’s classic description of hell as a blueprint for destroying the world.
Yet another remake of the Seven Samurai and the 1960 Western with Steven McQueen and Yul Brynner. The movie thankfully has a different set of rough characters protecting a Western town from an evil industrialist. Some good acting from Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, among others, but the plot seems too much like every other Western.
Ben Affleck stars as an autistic forensic accountant who works for criminals, then ends up working for a legitimate company and ends up telling the truth to a CPA who seeks to blow the whistle on the crooks. There is a lot of good action and suspense, and also a clever look at the mind of someone who is on the autistic spectrum. A likely Oscar nominee.
“Jack Reacher: Never Go Back”
If you want endless action, this movie starring Tom Cruise will be a good film for you. Cruise brings back the badass military policeman Jack Reacher who has to learn to team with a woman who has his old job. Not a great movie, but fun to watch.
For all of you raunchy sex-addicts, this is the movie for you. A group of supermarket products is led on a discovery of what really happens when they are chosen to leave and head home. They are horrified by the truth and led by a sausage to fight back. This Seth Rogen movie takes every opportunity to make fun of and offend every nationality, ethnicity, race, color and creed, with lots of overt sexual references. Probably better when it comes out at Redbox, but definitely a guilty pleasure.
“Bridget Jones’s Baby”
The original “Bridget Jones’s Diary” was clever money, but in the latest sequel Bridget (Renee Zellweger) finds herself pregnant but is not sure whether the father is Colin Firth or Patrick Dempsey. Acting is not bad, but the plot is and in short order you won’t care who is the baby daddy. You can see better drama on the “Maury Show.”
This period drama could be the sleeper of the year. Brad Pitt and Marion Cotillard are undercover spies who share romance and secrets in both London and Casablanca. You can’t help but think of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman and others from that glorious period of cinematic history. This thriller will please many and the costuming and cinematography promises to be outstanding.
“The Light Between Oceans”
A story of a couple who live in a lighthouse in Australia and suffer a tragedy when the wife has a miscarriage. The couple suffers until a boat drifts onto the island with a baby and her dead father. The wife finds purpose in life again and wants to keep the tiny girl, but the husband meets a bereaved woman on land who could be the mother. Agonizing decisions torment this couple. Beautiful cinematography, and Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander make this movie work.
A drama based on the true story of the infamous BP oil rig which explodes off the coast of Louisiana. The movie does not focus on the oil company, however, but on the sacrifices and courageous acts of the regular people involved in the disaster. Mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson and Kurt Russell turn this into a pretty good movie, though at times it goes a bit overboard in the attempt to show the human side of this horrible time.
A story of a fraternity pledge and the hazing, girls, booze and brotherhood. You already lived this in college or saw it happen. The only saving grace is seeing Nick Jonas with few or no clothes.
Another in the series of “Blair Witch” movies. You already know what is going to happen. Don’t bother.
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
An American teen lands on a strange British island where children have oddities such as two mouths and where young ladies transform into birds. This is another bizarre Tim Burton movie which picks up on a popular 2011 novel. If you loved the “Nightmare Before Christmas,” this will be a good movie for you or for the teens in the crowd. But for most, this movie is just a bit too, well, peculiar.
Another video game made into a movie. If you have played the game, you know the plot. Michael Fassbender is both a death row inmate in modern times, but also is his deadly Spanish ancestor from the 1400s that are connected by a strange device. This movie will please those who played the game.
No, this is not a movie about those people you chat with on Twitter, Grindr and Tumblr. This is about those fuzzy-haired creatures with the bright colored hair (also known as troll dolls) that you may have played with as children. Even though they fight with giant monsters called Bergens (not Candace Bergen), the movie is a happy world full of catchy tunes and adorable trolls. If you have young kids, they will love it. Otherwise, go back to your social media.
The newest of the Disney heroines is a Pacific Islander who lived 2,000 years ago and ventures out to save her people by finding the shape-shifting demigod Maui. The movie is full of Polynesian culture but promises to have a fresh touch in terms of music with tunes written by Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda. For the kid at heart and for all kids, this promises to be the best Disney movie that has come out in a while.
The storks have been put out of the baby-delivery business, but one bird can’t be dissuaded from delivering one human newborn before his cranky boss discovers his plans. Good animation but thin plot line.
A clever animated film that plays off the reality TV shows like “American Idol,” but starring animals. This is a delightful film with sharp animation, lots of humor and a ton of popular music. This is one for all ages. Go see this one.
“Bad Santa 2”
As if the first movie wasn’t bad enough, here comes another dose of Billy Bob Thornton as the crusty and obnoxious ol’ St. Nicholas. Even Kathy Bates and Christina Hendricks, who join him for the holidays, can’t save this film. Save your money.