Fall Preview: Films

  • by David Lamble
  • Tuesday September 3, 2019
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Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in the upcoming film "Judy." Photo: David Hindley, courtesy of LD Entertainment and Roadside Attraction
Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in the upcoming film "Judy." Photo: David Hindley, courtesy of LD Entertainment and Roadside Attraction

The slate of heavyweight Fall Films headed our way becomes all the more challenging a year away from a game-changing election and on the 500th anniversary of the introduction of African slaves to the English-speaking New World. Some of the best of the award-season entries will make pit-stops in Toronto, New York and our own beloved Mill Valley Film Festival (October). Remember: In an age when virtually no one sees anything coming, film artists — gay, lesbian, straight, bi, trans, queer and decline-to-state — are among the most reliable tea-leaf readers.

"Judy" Filmmaker Rupert Goold offers a narrative take on Judy Garland's last full year (1968), specifically her final London concert tour. Renee Zellweger appears as Garland, with Rufus Sewell as her influential hubby Sid Luft, and Jessie Buckley as he male assistant. (Sept.)

"Ford v Ferrari" High-octane auto-racing gets a powerful fuel injection in director James Mangold's film drama pitting Matt Damon as car designer Carroll Shelby against Christian Bale as racecar driver Ken Miles. The mid-1960s-set tale concerns the Le Mans auto race. (Nov.)

"Hustlers" Writer-director Lorene Scafaria brings us one of those tales based on true events, this time about a bevy of Manhattan strippers who used the 2008 financial meltdown to get cash-wealthy guys any way they could. Julia Stiles is the reporter who uncovers the case, while the strippers are played by Constance Wu, Cardi B. and Jennifer Lopez. (Sept.)

Brad Pitt as an astronaut who goes into deep space in Ad Astra. Photo: 20th Century Fox  

"Ad Astra" The 50th anniversary of the first Moon landing is marked by a sci-fi tale from director James Gray. An astronaut played by Brad Pit shoots off into deep space to locate his dad (Tommy Lee Jones). With Liv Tyler, Ruth Negga and the venerable Donald Sutherland. (Sept.)

"Parasite" South Korea is the setting for director Bong Joon Ho's twisted family drama about a poor clan who schemes their into a wealthy family's Seoul estate. (Oct.)

"Joker" Batman returns yet again with a stellar cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Marc Maron, and Dante Pereira-Olson as the franchise's top guy, Bruce Wayne. (Oct.)

"Vivarium" A young couple looking for the perfect home find themselves trapped in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical houses. Writer-director Lorcan Finnegan adapts a story by Garret Shanley. With Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg and Jonathan Aris. (TBA)

"A Rainy Day In New York" The 48th drama from Woody Allen concerns the travails of a young couple. The comedy drama starring Timothee Chalamet is being rolled out in European markets with large numbers of Woody fans in the face of an unofficial boycott of the famed director's work led by the family of his former life partner, Mia Farrow. The buzz around the film suggests it will eventually get an American theatrical run. (TBA)

"Where'd You Go, Bernadette": Richard Linklater, the Texas-raised filmmaker who gave us the term "Slacker" to describe promising youth who have not yet emerged from their cocoons of T-shirts, jeans and sneakers, directs Oscar winner Cate Blanchett (2005) as the lead character taken from Maria Semple's popular novel. Bernadette's midlife crisis is shared in Seattle with a daughter, a hubby (Billy Crudup) and a golden retriever dubbed Ice Cream. (Now playing.)

"Good Boys" Comic actor Seth Rogen ("Superbad") produced this funny exploration of the pitfalls of exiting the sixth grade. The film has some crowd-pleasing one-liners ("Two weeks into the sixth grade, and I'm already a social piranha.") The boys Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L, Williams) and Thor (Brady Noon) are approaching puberty with America's favorite social problem. (Now playing.)