Reviews of the Past: First look at fall’s best, rest of ’15

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BY ROGER THOMAS

When I first started contemplating a list of films for the fall and the rest of 2015 that I am most anticipating, I immediately thought of “Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens.” After all, this film opens on Dec. 18, three days before the beginning of winter. Then I realized there are so many compelling titles opening soon, I probably need to do two articles, one for September and October now, and one for November and December. So here are the top ten films to which I am most looking forward in the next two months. I’ll have November and December later in the year. Some will disappoint and others take their place, but it seems like it is going to be a good early autumn.

September

“The Visit” (Opens Sept. 11): Yes, the trailer seems to be over the top, but this is the first scary work of M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Signs” and “Unbreakable”) in quite a while. It may turn out to be nothing, but I, for one, am hoping this will be the comeback film for a director that deserves many more hits.
“Black Mass” (Sept. 18): Gangster films are like boxing movies, it sometimes seems we have had our quota for two lifetimes. But the trailer is captivating both because of the make-up that almost makes Johnny Depp unrecognizable and the amazing performance that trumps even the make-up artists’ work.
“Everest” (Sept. 18): There are many things I have concluded that I will never do. Climbing a snow-capped mountain is one of those, or really any mountain at this point. As I watched the trailer for this film, it drew me into the story and created an excitement within me. I hope the film is as good as the trailer.
“99 Homes” (Sept. 25): Michael Shannon and Andrew Garfield are two actors who have not yet received the attention they deserve. Garfield’s work in “The Social Network” and Shannon’s work in “Take Shelter” says it all.

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“The Walk” (Sept. 30): Joseph Gordon- Levitt stars in the true story of a street performer, Philippe Petit, who stretched a wire between the World Trade Center buildings while they were under construction and then he tried to walk the wire. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, who has given us “Forrest Gump,” “Back to the Future,” “The Polar Express” and “Cast Away,” just to name a few.

October

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“The Martian” (Oct. 2): Ridley Scott directs Matt Damon, who plays an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars. The trailer is incredibly emotional. Hopefully, it will not feel like a replay of “Gravity” but something unique and touching.

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“Pan” (Oct. 9): A few years ago I heard a film critic pose the question: “Has there ever been a really good ‘Peter Pan’ film?” I actually enjoy the 2003 version with Jeremy Sumpter in the title role. Just judging from the trailer, this new version with intriguing twists on the original just might become my favorite. It’s directed by Joe Wright, who gave us “Atonement”, the best film of 2007 in my humble opinion.
“Steve Jobs” (Oct. 9): You know the name and much of the story. There has already been one bio-film. But the trailer makes this one seem to be much more aggressive in telling the story. Plus, the film is directed by Danny Boyle, who directed “Millions,” “127 Hours” and his Best Picture-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire.”
“Bridge of Spies” (Oct. 16): This is probably the one film I am most anticipating. Director Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks in a historical legal drama with American and Russian spies. It’s Spielberg’s first film in three years and it opens in less than two months. I am excited!
“Suffragette” (Oct. 23): Three reasons this film is on the list: Carey Mulligan, who will hopefully score another Oscar nomination since she did not win for “An Education” in 2009; Meryl Streep, who gets to redeem herself for “Ricki and the Flash” and the plot about the equality of women, a fight that is still sadly being fought around our world.

  Roger Thomas is a member of the North Carolina Film Critics Association. He reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.

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