The movie calendar, like the seasons, follows clearly established patterns. The winter months are the dumping ground for bad movies. Who wants to go to the movies in February anyway? Spring and summer are blockbuster seasons, when Marvel and DC relentlessly cram 2-3 franchise movies each down our collective throats. Now, however, we’re into the fall movie season and movies that adults might actually enjoy. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the big movie releases for the end of September and October.
Deepwater Horizon—The latest Peter Berg-Mark Wahlberg collaboration (see also last year’s Lone Survivor) tells the story of the crew of the offshore oil rig, Deepwater Horizon. The rig, which exploded on April 20, 2010, triggered the largest oil spill in American history. The explosion killed eleven of the one hundred twenty-six crew on board. The rig sank thirty-six hours later, but continued spilling 4.9 million barrels oil into the Gulf of Mexico until July 15, 2010, causing irreversible damage to Louisiana’s coastal ecosystems and resulted in billions of dollars worth of fines to BP and the other companies that ran the rig. The film, focusing on the immediate aftermath of the explosion, slides neatly into Wahlberg’s movie sweet spot—ordinary guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Hopefully he doesn’t try a Southern accent.
The Birth of a Nation—Nate Parker stars and directs this retelling of a slave uprising in Virginia in 1831. Parker plays Nat Turner, a literate slave preacher who led some seventy or so slaves in rebellion against their masters in Southampton County, Virginia. A white militia eventually quelled the rebellion, but not before the deaths of some 55-65 whites. The film looks to be a worthy companion piece to 2013’s Twelve Years a Slave that told the story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film’s title is a deliberate play on W.B. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation that premiered in 1915 and portrayed African Americans as animalistic predators seeking to destroy good, white Christian Americans. Parker’s film seeks to reverse nearly a century of Hollywood minimizing or ignoring the horrors of one of America’s original sins.
The Girl on the Train—This mystery thriller stars Emily Blunt as an alcoholic who hasn’t taken to her divorce particularly well after discovering her husband cheated on her with another woman. Her drinking and general instability get her caught up in a missing person’s investigation where (SHOCKER) she goes from witness to suspect. The film seems bent on capitalizing on the psychological and mystery elements that made last year’s Gone Girl so popular. The real question is whether the film can take its pulpy origins and make something entertaining.
The Accountant—According to the film’s description, Affleck (in a non-Batman role) plays an accountant who is more interested in his spreadsheets than in dealing with other people. He works as a forensic accountant for various criminal organizations, shielding their money from the Federal government. He is pursued by a Treasury agent (J.K. Simmons) and the standard chase movie hijinks seem to ensue. The rest of the promising cast includes Anna Kendrick, Jeffrey Tambor, and John Lithgow. Whether the film can rise above what seems to be a rather formulaic plot remains to be seen.
Inferno—If you’d forgotten that there was another one of these Dan Brown novels/movies coming, we can’t blame you. Angels and Demons came out in 2009 and garnered only a 37% from Rotten Tomatoes. It did, however, make $485 million dollars, so maybe we can understand why Sony Pictures insisted on another sequel. The plot seems to be exactly identical to the two previous movies down to the conspiracies, threats to humanity, and a disposable female sidekick (we’ve gone from Audrey Tautou to Ayelet Zurer to Felicity Jones). So at least you know what the movie will be about, not that we’d recommend actually seeing it however.