Film Fix: What to watch and look for in October


By: Jonathan W. Hickman, Film Fix
Check out the below list of streaming and big screen options you’ll have during the month of October.

What to Binge: The Haunting of Hill House (October 12) – Mike Flanagan is the horror director of the moment.  His success with Netflix’ “Gerald’s Game” served as a perfect audition for this 10-episode series based on the Shirley Jackson novel, which was adapted back in 1963 in the Robert Wise film “The Haunting.” The trailer for this “Hill House” teases both creepy horror elements and complex drama, as a family deals with personal addictions and quite possibly a house that is out to get them.  Cast includes the always fantastic Carla Gugino, the star of Flanagan’s “Gerald’s Game.”

Worth Checking Out: Making a Murderer: Part 2 (October 19) – The major splash for Netflix in 2015, which became a cultural happening, “Making a Murderer” was a water cooler sensation.  But since the show’s release, questions surfaced necessitating, for good or bad, a second chapter. Filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos return to the scene of the crime and continue to cover the legal battles of Steven Avery and his younger co-defendant Brendan Dassey.  The question this time around is whether viewers will embrace the story for another sure to be grueling experience.

What Movie to Watch: The Shining (1980) – Stephen King material is hotter than ever these days, with 2017’s “It” becoming the top-grossing R-rated horror film of all time (more than $700 million worldwide).  And while King was reportedly not happy with Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of his best-seller, it has become a massive cult phenomenon even finding its way into Stephen Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” just this year.  With the highly anticipated sequel “Doctor Sleep” being shot locally, “The Shining” is worth another watch.

What to Avoid: Angel Eyes (2001) – Back in the early 2000s, Jennifer Lopez was on a roll.  “Angel Eyes” was an opportunity for her to tackle dramatic material within a complex, if also contrived, narrative. And the performance is fine, but the film is lacking.  In the movie, Lopez plays a police officer who forms an awkward relationship with a mysterious man (Jim Caviezel), who is emotionally damaged by trauma.

What to Binge (well kinda): Into the Dark: The Body (October 5) – This monthly anthology series takes a more restrained approach—the anti-binge.  Releasing but one episode a month, the inspiration for these dark tales comes from the holiday in the month of its release.  Therefore, episode one, clocking in at a feature film running time, is set on Halloween night, when a hitman is forced to transport a body and folks think that he’s really got one killer costume.

What Movie to Watch: RBG – Sure to be nominated for numerous best documentary film awards for this year, “RBG” is an informative and emotional biography of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Supreme Court’s trail-blazing justice.  The focus on Ginsburg’s greatest court victories before she made her way to the top bench is the heart of the film. Note that there is a narrative Ginsburg bio-pic titled “On the Basis of Sex” that is slated for a December release.

Worth Checking Out: Results – Independent film director Andrew Bujalski gave us the very solid comedy drama “Support the Girls” a couple months ago, and “Results” is another good example of his work.  Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders star in this quirky romantic comedy.

What to Avoid: Daddy’s Home 2 – If you didn’t get enough of the Mark Wahlberg/Will Ferrell cartoon “Daddy’s Home” in 2015, then you might be able to stomach another go round.  Of note: Mel Gibson and John Lithgow play a couple of diametrically opposed fathers in this tepid sequel. Watching the trailer is enough for this one.

What to Binge: Mr. Robot: Season 3 – With the popular series ending in 2019 with season 4, and if you missed it when it aired last year, Prime subscribers have an opportunity to catch up.  The series starring Rami Malek and Christian Slater is about a super hacker who becomes involved in a global conspiracy. It’s an inventive and edgy thriller worth block viewing.

What Movie to Watch: Carrie (1976) – This is potentially binge-worthy, because, in this spooky month, Amazon is releasing the 1999 kind of sequel to this 1976 take on the the Stephen King novel that started his amazing career.  And the same material served up another “Carrie” in 2013, directed by “Boys Don’t Cry” helmer Kimberly Peirce, starring Chloë Grace Moretz. While that film was okay, for my money, Sissy Spacek’s performance as the telekinetic title character in Brian De Palma’s version makes this one best of the three films, and it’s definitely worth revisiting.

What to Avoid: An American Werewolf in Paris – It’s too bad that John Landis couldn’t have directed and wrote the sequel to his truly superb 1981 film “An American Werewolf in London.” And while “Paris,” the long overdue revisiting of the ideas introduced by Landis, isn’t a really terrible film, there are far better movies this month to watch (like the “Carrie” sequel mentioned above).  Let’s hope that John’s talented son Max Landis gets it right with his reboot of “London” that has been announced.

A Star is Born (review)
Maybe not exactly an arthouse offering, this one will undoubtedly factor into the end of the year awards races.  And for Lady Gaga, who was already a household name for her voice, she steps out fully, as both a musician and an actress delivering an award-worthy performance.
“A Star is Born” is Bradley Cooper’s reimagining of the famous Hollywood property that has been made four times now.  In this telling, Cooper (also writing and directing here) plays alcoholic country rock superstar Jackson Maine, who discovers singing talent Ally (Lady Gaga) and gives birth to her career.  The two fall in love, but when Ally’s career takes off and Maine’s crashes, the question is whether their relationship will survive.
“A Star is Born” is grand Hollywood entertainment featuring terrific musical and acting performances.

Halloween (October 19)
While “A Star is Born” is sure to have legs at the box office, this direct sequel to the seminal 1978 slasher film is likely to have one of the biggest October weekends.  And while there have been several sequels to John Carpenter’s famous 1978 horror entry “Halloween,” few of them were able to capture the film’s scary pulse. Word is that this sequel is the real deal.
In “Halloween (2018),” original final girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising her iconic role) returns for one last confrontation with the evil killing machine Michael Myers.  Expect old-fashioned scares, with some newfangled sensibilities, in this October shocker.