Pumpkin-Spiced Cinema, Or: Your Preview of 2019 Fall Films

Parasite infects local theaters in October. Photo courtesy Neon Films

Fall brings on the excitement for cozy sweaters, Halloween, gourd-flavored beverages, and, for me, a swath of artistic, socially relevant, entertaining films. Having had my ear to the ground for news of films that have been the talk of global film festivals this year, I give you the releases coming out within the next couple of months that you should keep on your radar.

JUDY
Renée Zellweger stars as ultimate diva Judy Garland—and that fact alone should perk your ears up. If you know anything about Garland’s life, you know it won’t be an easy watch; otherwise, strap yourself in for a biopic that details the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, yet triumphant life of one of the greatest American entertainers that ever lived better than any Behind the Music doc could ever do. The film chronicles Garland’s early rise as a promising talent; her career’s highs and lows, as well as the strain it put on her relationship with her children; and her excessive alcohol and drug abuse. It’s the Judy biopic we’ve all been waiting for. (Release date: Sept. 27.)

PARASITE
Bong Joon-ho’s latest film has been the talk of Cannes this year—and for good reason. It’s an exceptional suspense thriller that kicks into high gear in the second half, after its characters have been established, and the tonal shift takes your breath away. A young man (Choi Woo-shik) from a struggling, lower-class family takes on a gig as an English tutor for the rich Park family. After meeting the Parks and discovering they’re looking for an art tutor for the youngest child, Ki-woo enlists his younger sister Ki-jeong (Park So-dam) to act as an art teacher, but she poses as his cousin. Little by little, Ki-woo’s family ingratiate themselves under the Parks’ employment. There’s too much plot beyond that to wrap up in a single sentence, but suffice it to say it’ll blow your mind. (Release date: Oct. 11.)

JOJO RABBIT
This Mel Brooks-meets-Dr. Strangelove farce couldn’t be more relevant despite the fact it takes place during World War II. The titular character is a member of the Hitler youth (Roman Griffin Davis) who is undergoing training to be a Nazi soldier, and his imaginary friend is none other than der Führer himself (played by writer/director Taika Waititi). JoJo struggles to maintain the same blind nationalism of his peers, but he comes to see his country’s political ideology challenged when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl in their attic. While it has plenty of zany, Looney Tunes energy to carry the comedy forward, it still holds a lot of heart and lessons about compassion (oh, yeah, and fuck Nazis). Definitely a much-needed satire for our times. (Release date: Oct. 18.)

THE LIGHTHOUSE
Robert Eggers’ second feature film, following his acclaimed The VVitch, stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe. Secluded in a lighthouse on an isolated island, their old-world machismos clash, and they face off in a most terrifying case of cabin fever. Shot in lustrous black-and-white, this is a tête-à-tête you can’t miss. (Release date: Oct. 18.)

THE IRISHMAN
Martin Scorsese teams up again with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci to portray the stories of various crime bosses throughout America post-World War II, including the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. While it features a heavily-CGI’d De Niro, it showcases the myriad threads connecting organized crime to mainstream society, from politics to Hollywood. Expect to see a limited theatrical run before it hits Netflix. (Release date: Nov. 1; Netflix: Nov. 27.)

EMA
Filled with reggaeton bangers and electric dance numbers, Ema concerns a young mother (Mariana Di Girolamo) and wife to a demanding choreographer (Gael García Bernal). Their marriage has become even more strained because of an incident that involved their young son, after which he is removed from their custody. With the help of her fellow dancers, Ema begins to take charge of her life and learn to live, love and create art again. (Release date: TBA.)

PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE
Winner of Best Screenplay at Cannes, Céline Sciamma’s film unpacks the relationship between artist and subject in this historical drama. Young artist Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint the wedding portrait of a young woman (Adèle Haenel) named Héloise. Because of her resistance to anything involved with her upcoming marriage, Marianne is tasked to complete the portrait in secret and poses as a friend and handmaiden. The two become closer as they feed each other more intimate details of their lives, and their friendship blooms into a romance. (Release date: Dec. 6.)

Aimee Murillo

Aimee Murillo is calendar editor and frequently covers film and previously contributed to the OCW’s long-running fashion column, Trendzilla. Don’t ask her what her favorite movie is unless you want to hear her lengthy defense of Showgirls.

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