Fall Films Show Family Affairs Gone Bad (and Beyond)
As we look ahead to fall, we see several intriguing films coming out that focus, in one way or another, on family. While every year brings plenty of movies that focus on family matters, this year boasts what might be the single most astonishing film about a family ever created—Richard Linklater's masterpiece Boyhood. This gorgeous, meditative dance with time exposed the beauty, love, hardship and turmoil of one single family over 12-years, a feat of filmmaking that is all the more breathtaking for being in the service of a film that actually moves you. This fall’s family-centered films are a touch darker, however, involving death, betrayal and a separation that literally spans galaxies. The latter film, by that grand architect of the epic, Christopher Nolan, certainly aspires to greatness (and the trailer looks, well, great), and all of these films look refreshing in their own, specific ways.
This Is Where I Leave You – September 19
Based on Jonathan Tropper’s novel (he also wrote the script), This Is Where I Leave You centers on the gathering of the four, flailing Altman siblings at their old family home after the death of their father. They're instructed in no uncertain terms by their mother that they’ll be spending seven days together, straight, sitting Shiva, and into that house they pour their many issues and their associated spouses, children, girlfriends and riffraff. The cast is, in a word, stellar. Jason Bateman is Judd Altman, our protagonist who is already deep into growing his "I give up" beard after finding his wife in bed with his boss. Tina Fey is his sister, Wendy, married to the obnoxiously, willfully oblivious Barry. Corey Stoll is the serious, responsible brother, Paul (he's married to Alice, played by Kathryn Hahn, no less), and Adam Driver as baby brother Phillip, a troubled, selfish, charming playboy who brings his older girlfriend (Connie Britton!) to the Shiva. And finally, there is the Altman matriarch, Hillary, new of breast, infuriatingly open-minded and progressive—played by Jane Fonda. The book was a romp, darkly funny and, at times, deeply sad—this cast promises to be able to hold up their end of the bargain and deliver the pathos and heart that made the book sing.
Gone Girl – October 3
This is the second film in our lineup that's based on a best-selling novel (in this case, a juggernaut), with a script by the author. Gillian Flynn's 2012 novel Gone Girl was the must-read book of the 2012 summer, and now it's a film by a man who managed to ring suspense out of the creation of Facebook, so you can just imagine what he'll do with Flynn's psychological thriller. The hook is simple; Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) has gone missing, and it's looking increasingly likely that the person responsible is her husband, Nick (Ben Affleck). The novel made ingenious use of shifting perspectives, unreliable narration and turning thriller tropes upside down and inside out. Is Nick guilty? Did he murder his wife? Why did he smile at the press conference announcing she'd gone missing? Gone Girl was impossible to put down as a book, and much as he did with another page turning, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Fincher will no doubt masterfully bring the excitement from page to screen.
St. Vincent – October 24
There's a lot to like about this little family saga. First, there's Melissa McCarthy getting to play a single mom named Maggie, who's not also required to rob a bank, stop someone from robbing a bank, or be the comedic foil to a straight man (played, in the past, by Sandra Bullock and Jason Bateman). And then there's Bill Murray. That would be enough, wouldn't it? McMarthy and Murray? Murray and McCarthy? Maggie and her 12-year old son Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) move into a new home in Brooklyn. Murray is her neighbor, and his name is, wait for it, St. Vincent de Van Nuys. Maggie has to work long hours and needs a sitter for Oliver, and St. Vincent, often drunk and/or gambling, needs some cash. So naturally, have the old drunk watch the precocious pre-teen. There's also a pregnant stripper named Daka (Naomi Watts), and lots of off kilter bonding between the old man and the fresh faced kid. None of this really matters though because, again—McCarthy and Murray. See it.
Interstellar – Nov 7
Few films are more hotly anticipated than Christopher Nolan's Interstellar. It's got all the hallmarks of a Nolan film; it's prodigiously ambitious, has an incredible cast and many sensational sequences filmed with jaw dropping scope and spectacle. But what Interstellar looks to have in the very center of its hugeness, an element that Inception and even his Dark Knight trilogy lacked, is the concerns of a single family. Matthew McConaughey is Cooper, an engineer and father of two who is asked to join a team of experts aboard a spaceship in attempt to save mankind. Just a small ask there. The catch is Cooper is traveling distances so great that, even if he could make it back, his children would be long dead. Can he safe the planet and stay connected to his kids in some way? Can he come back before they're gone? These two central questions may just help add real feeling to Nolan's already unquestionable ability to awe us and ground this galaxy spanning epic in matters of the human heart—giving us the best of both worlds.