by Dakota Drobnicki
It! Thor: Ragnarok! Justice League (if that’s exciting now after Wonder Woman turned out to actually be really good)! Star Wars Episode VIII! Kingsman 2, Blade Runner 2, Daddy’s Home 2, Bad Moms 2, Madea Halloween 2, Pitch Perfect 3, Saw 8! Not to mention the Flatliners, Jumanji, and Death Wish reboots nobody asked for! Murder on the Orient Express! My Little Pony: The Movie! The LEGO Ninjago Movie! Look at all those sequels, reboots, adaptations and cash-ins on existing properties coming out this fall and holiday season!
Granted, there are a number of those movies above that I do want to see, but a constant complaint about the state of modern cinema is that “original” movies are nonexistent. Believe it or not, this isn’t true by any means, but many of the “original” movies that do hit the big screen get overshadowed by the onslaught of adaptations and follow-ups that inevitably get more media attention.
There’s a good chance you’re already dead set on seeing at least some of the movies above, so let’s get you up to speed on stuff you might otherwise miss. Keep in mind that I have no idea how many of these movies will actually come to the Bemidji theater, and I left out movies that I had a good hunch wouldn’t show up here.
dir. Doug Liman
How many of you also witnessed the nine-figure dumpster fire that was The Mummy this summer? In front of what was easily Tom Cruise’s worst movie in several years, I saw the trailer to this more down to earth drama, and the whiplash of apparent quality between this and The Mummy was staggering.
Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal, a CIA-hired pilot who abandons his duties and becomes a massive drug runner, hanging with the likes of Pablo Escobar. Cruise looks to be way more in his element here than he was in The Mummy, and it also helps that Doug Liman, who helmed Cruise’s criminally overlooked Edge of Tomorrow, is directing this as well.
dir. Darren Aronofsky
As of this writing, there isn’t a trailer out for Darren Aronofsky’s new horror film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, but its cast and the colorful poster showing Lawrence presenting her freshly ripped out heart pique my interest more than Aronofsky’s last film Noah did. The IMDb trivia page says it’s another one of his films that’ll be shot on 16mm film, which means it’ll probably be a visually striking endeavor; the last recent mainstream film I know was shot on 16mm was the first third of Steve Jobs. Unfortunately, there’s not much else I can say at this point in time.
dir. Reginald Hudlin
The last time I saw Chadwick Boseman star in a biopic, it was in the underrated Get On Up, where he played James Brown well enough that he completely overcame the issue of not actually looking anything like the King of Soul. I don’t know if this one will measure up to Get On Up or 42: The Jackie Robinson Story, or even if I can judge it by the typical biopic standard. I say that because the trailer implies it won’t cover Thurgood Marshall’s time as a Supreme Court justice, but rather one of his earliest cases as a lawyer.
dir. Martin Campbell
Let it be known that I’m a proud card-carrying member of the Cult of Jackie Chan, so whether or not this particular film is gold or dumpster juice, I’ll likely find some aspect to really enjoy it on. Retiring from his own stunt work seems to have actually increased his work ethic, with three smash hits since last year (Skiptrace, Railroad Tigers and Kung Fu Yoga), and even more on the immediate horizon. I don’t know if it will do well here or not, but it doesn’t really matter; in China it’s guaranteed to be a big hit.
Jackie co-stars in this one with former Bond actor Pierce Brosnan, in what looks to be one of Jackie’s more serious movies as of late. He’s a dad out for vengeance when his daughter is killed in an IRA bombing, and Brosnan plays a government official rooted in the IRA who’s hiding the identities of the bombers from Jackie. How he managed to get a government position while proudly repping the IRA, I have no idea, but that’s beside the point. The trailer looks intense and promises a well-crafted thriller, but even if it isn’t either of those things, I’m happy to have another Jackie Chan movie I can actually see theatrically.
HAPPY DEATH DAY
dir. Christopher B. Landon
To be honest, I don’t even know if the Bemidji theater will get this one or not. When it comes to Blumhouse movies, they seem to only go for the higher-profile titles; for example, they skipped on The Belko Experiment, Sleight and Lowriders this year despite advertising each of them in one form or another, and even with Get Out they didn’t start showing it until its third week out. I hope they do, this one looks reasonably enjoyable.
Basically, the movie is Groundhog Day or Edge of Tomorrow, but about a college girl who gets murdered on her birthday by a mysterious masked figure, who can apparently follow her no matter how differently the day plays out from time loop to time loop. It doesn’t look to be an out-and-out screwball, horror comedy like the director’s last film Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, but close enough, I suppose?
dir. Dean Devlin
For those of you who don’t know who Dean Devlin is, he was notably the right-hand man of Roland Emmerich in his prime; the two collaborated on Universal Soldier, Stargate, Independence Day, the bad American Godzilla and The Patriot. This is important to mention because this new pile of disaster porn, which is Devlin’s own directorial debut, looks like something Emmerich would splurt into a toilet after eating some especially rancid leftovers.
If the horrendously dull trailer to this one isn’t a big enough red flag, it should also be noted that it went through a long streak of delays and had heavy reshoots directed by Danny Cannon, known for directing TV shows and Judge Dredd (the Stallone one from the 90s, not the good one). When Warner Bros. is more confident in abominations like The Legend of Tarzan and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, that’s a wonderful sign.
dir. Lee Unkrich & Adrian Molina
There are a number of people who assume that every single animated film that comes out these days is the work of Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks, and I can imagine that those people would be confused by this new Dia De Los Muertos-inspired movie after seeing the trailer. They might ask “Didn’t Disney do The Book of Life already?” to which the answer is a concrete no, that was a different company. Technically Disney didn’t do this particular film either, Pixar did (think of the difference between Disney and Marvel; the same is true here).
Now, Guillermo Del Toro didn’t produce this movie, but if it follows the paths of the better Pixar films as of late, that won’t matter quite as much to me. Having a protagonist with aspirations of being a musician scores it a lot of relatability points with me off the bat, but the trailers also promise some massive-scale visuals a la Inside Out that have me excited.
THE DISASTER ARTIST
dir. James Franco
I really, really, really hope that the Bemidji theater picks this movie up, since their history with A24 properties is hit and miss (they nabbed The VVitch and It Comes At Night, but mysteriously kicked Free Fire off of their schedule at the last possible second). If you aren’t familiar with The Room, your life has been a lie up to this point and you need to watch it as soon as you can. After you do that, read the fantastic book this film is based on, which follows the production of The Room and tries to give context on the life of Tommy Wiseau, the madman who masterminded it.
Yes, this movie might be an adaptation of a book, which would technically push it out of the guidelines I set above, but this is the kind of oddball, once-in-a-lifetime film (not unlike The Room in that regard) that deserves all of the coverage and support it can get. Also, just look at that cast. Having watched The Room numerous times since high school, I never imagined in a million years that a movie of Tommy Wiseau’s story would have a cast with Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, Sharon Stone, Alison Brie, Hannibal Buress and the brothers Franco… yet it fits perfectly all the same. If I have to beg for this movie to come here, I’ll get on my hands and knees without a microsecond of hesitation.
THE SHAPE OF WATER
dir. Guillermo Del Toro
I was at Guillermo Del Toro’s exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in March and felt like I’d stepped into film-nerd heaven for the hour or so I was in there, so it’s safe to say I have extremely high hopes for his next film. However, not once while I was there did I see any promotional materials at all for this movie, which worries me a bit for its financial potential; Crimson Peak, for example, bombed at the box office partially because it was mismarketed as a full-on ghost movie.
There isn’t a trailer out at this time, but I can only hope that there is one by the time this issue hits the stands, that I can soak in and drool over every frame of. Believe me, I will.
dir. Steven Spielberg
December 22nd (major cities)/January 12th (wide)
Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks? A fragmented release plan taking advantage of Academy requirements? Looks like this one is aiming straight for Oscar gold! This is the kind of down to earth project Spielberg probably needs right now after The BFG completely faceplanted at the box office last year.
It’s a film about the struggle two Washington Post editors faced from the government to publish the Pentagon Papers, which famously revealed how the Johnson administration had beefed up their military efforts in Vietnam behind the American public’s back. However, the film seems to be caught in controversy for supposedly not giving due focus to the New York Times’ role in the events the film is covering. Whether or not it paints a perfect picture of this particular slice of American political history, the question remains: will it also be just as humdrum as most of Spielb