November movie guide
Your monthly collection of cinematic selections
Well this one snuck up on me.
November holds two of this year’s biggest releases in the first two weeks, along with a few other curiosities to fill in the back end of the month.
Let’s dive right in because I can’t wait to talk about...
Marvel continues to venture further into their cosmic canon as everyone’s favorite prince of Asgard, Thor, finds himself imprisoned on an alien planet and forced to battle gladiator-style.
“Ragnorok” brings back some familiar godly faces, including Tom Hiddleston as Loki and Idris Elba — fresh off the bomb that was “The Dark Tower” — as Heimdall. Joining the cast are Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, Thor’s captor; Cate Blanchett as Hela, the goddess of death; and Tessa Thompson as the bounty hunter Valkyrie.
Mark Ruffalo is also making his return as Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk — strongest there is, pleased to meet you. “Ragnorok” will serve as the first entry in an unofficial Hulk trilogy as well as continuing the story of our buzz-cut-but-still-strapping god of thunder, taking elements from Greg Pak’s “Planet Hulk” comic.
The previous “Thor” films have been enjoyable, though not among the best Marvel has to offer. But “Ragnorok” has managed to look fresh and exciting due to director Taika Waititi’s involvement and some truly inspired viral marketing — thanks Darryl. The film looks to be forgoing the original’s space-Shakespeare seriousness and the sequel’s cosmic “Game of Thrones” meets “Two Broke Girls” tonal inconsistency.
This is the most interesting a “Thor” film has looked and frankly the most excited I’ve been for a Marvel film in some time. That’s saying a lot since Marvel continues to churn out consistently watchable films while their Distinguished Competition (DC) has given us only one solid entry, four years into their cinematic universe.
“Murder on the Orient Express”
Kenneth Branagh, the man who brought us the first “Thor” movie, directs and stars in this Agatha Christie adaptation — now with 100 percent more Imagine Dragons.
Detective Hercule Poirot (Branagh) boards the Orient Express train and is approached by a fellow passenger to be his personal bodyguard. Poirot declines because that is a weird thing to ask a stranger on a train, but the next morning the passenger is found stabbed to death.
Poirot decides to solve this classic locked-door mystery and his fellow passengers become suspects, made up of a star-studded cast and Josh Gad. Willem Dafoe, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley and Penélope Cruz are joined by Johnny Depp, whom we can only assume is very jealous that Branagh gets to have the most ridiculous facial hair in the film.
Can DC give us two good movies in a row? Probably not. But everyone is going to see this movie anyway.
“Justice League” finds our heroes recovering from the fallout of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” just like most of the audience. Batman and Wonder Woman must gather Aquaman, Cyborg and the Flash in order to combat the coming forces of Apokolips.
Zack Snyder has sole directing credit for his third installment of the DCEU, but he left the project in May after the death of his daughter. Joss Whedon was brought on board to punch up the script and direct reshoots, which gives hope that the film will be a cut above Snyder’s previous efforts.
It looks as though DC decided to play Marvel’s game by bringing in the man who gave us “The Avengers” to helm their big team-up flick. “Justice League” should be DC’s last chance at cementing their cinematic universe as a serious competitor to Marvel’s, which is what they’ve been trying to do since “Man of Steel,” by giving audiences a dark and gritty alternative to Marvel’s lighter fare. This trailer is filled to the brim with quips and Batman riffing with Aquaman and the Flash, presumably to show audiences just how Marvel-ous a DC film can be.
But the point that DC has missed, and has been missing since 2013, is that audiences don’t go to Marvel movies in droves for quips and to see their favorite heroes punch each other for a bit before making up. Marvel made audiences fall in love with these characters over the course of years, so when they did team up, it meant something.
DC assumes we care about Batman and Superman because we recognize the brand, but has done no work to make these depictions into anything close to likeable characters. Patty Jenkins was able to pull it off with Wonder Woman, but can that goodwill carry a film when audiences don’t give a flying fish about this Aquaman or the Flash?
"I Love You, Daddy"
Oh, Louis. Louis, Louis, Louis. You’re not making it easy on yourself.
Louis C.K. has had an interesting couple years. He was the biggest name in stand-up comedy and the closest thing sitcoms had to an auteur before his television series “Louie” quietly ended. He self-funded a web-series, “Horace and Pete,” which was quietly rolled out and met with acclaim, all while rumors of him harassing female comedians on tour began circulating thanks to a blind item by Gawker and some vague podcast interviews which are no longer available and the people involved have explicitly stated were not in reference to C.K.
C.K. has repeatedly refused to address the rumors in interviews and said that any acknowledgement from him will only lend credence to something that deserves none. I want to believe you, Louis. And I think I do.
But is making a movie about a sleazy 68-year-old filmmaker who tries to woo a 17-year-old girl really the best look at the moment, buddy? In what appears to be an homage to Woody Allen, a filmmaker who is no stranger to sexual assault allegations?
Chloë Grace Moretz stars as the young lady, while the appropriately creepy John Malkovich plays the old filmmaker. C.K. will play the role of Moretz’s father who tries to prevent his daughter from falling for the creep.
C.K. is a gifted filmmaker. He directed all five seasons of “Louie” and shot “I Love You, Daddy” entirely on black and white 35 millimeter film. The film will mark his first cinematic directorial effort since 2001’s “Pootie Tang.”
I’m excited for this movie, Louis. I’m with you all the way. I just hope the art does not imitate life in this case.
David Tunis-Garcia is a managing editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org