11 films for fall -- from the Batman tale 'Joker' to the biopic 'Judy'
School resumes. Daylight saving time doesn't. And the movies slide into serious award-season mode by jettisoning the light and frothy films of summer.
At least it used to be that way. In the age of vertical integrations and multiplatform release schedules, the fall movies have evolved into a homogenous mixture of upscale awards bait and late-summertime film fun.
Sequels still figure heavily into the schedule with titles such as "Zombieland 2: Double Tap," "Maleficent: Mistress of Evil," "Rambo: Last Blood" and "Terminator: Dark Fate."
("Frozen 2" apparently didn't get the memo on using a colon in its title.)
One of the great mysteries of movie marketing remains why Hollywood continues to resurrect nostalgic baby boomer TV shows.
Nonetheless, here we have new reboots of movies already based on the 1960s gothic comedy series "The Addams Family" (maybe it'll show us a Thing or two) plus the infamous 1970s prime-time series "Charlie's Angels."
So what movies look to be the most promising? Here come a few, in order of release date:
"Ad Astra" -- Writer/producer/director James Gray promises this will be the most realistic portrayal of space travel ever filmed. Brad Pitt stars as an astronaut trying to locate his father, whose experiments could threaten the universe. (Sept. 20)
"Downton Abbey" -- Nothing classes up a movie schedule more than a historical drama based on an artsy soap opera imported from Great Britain by way of PBS. When King George V and Queen Mary visit Downton Abbey in 1927, the Crawleys and their servants get into a dither. Original actors Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton star. (Sept. 20)
"Rambo: Last Blood" -- "I'm gonna tear you apart!" Sylvester Stallone promises as ex-soldier John Rambo goes into R-rated action to protect his family from ruthless gangs. (Sept. 20)
"Judy" -- After blowing audiences away in the Oscar-winning musical "Chicago," the brilliantly versatile Renée Zellweger scores with a heart-rending interpretation of a bruised and damaged Judy Garland 30 years after starring in "The Wizard of Oz." (Sept. 27)
"Joker" -- Just about the time we've been Jokered to death by DC Comics' most famous uber-villain, the always surprising Joaquin Phoenix has generated glowing reviews for his sadistic take on the man who becomes Batman's arch nemesis. (Oct. 4)
"Dolemite is My Name" -- Eddie Murphy stars as the immortal Rudy Ray Moore during the making of his 1975 Blaxploitation classic "Dolemite." Watch out "Shaft" and "Super Fly" (and their remakes). (Oct. 4)
"The Lighthouse" -- Designer/director Robert Eggers created such an atmospheric art house horror tale with 2015's "The Witch" that I want to see what he does with this color-drained tale of two 1890 lighthouse keepers (Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson) slowly going mad in their relative solitude. (Oct. 18)
"Harriet" -- Tony-winning actress Cynthia Erivo plays Harriet Tubman as director Kasi Lemmons' drama follows her from slavery to freedom, then to the Underground Railroad to help others. It's the sort of socially important drama that Academy voters love. (Nov. 1)
"The Irishman" -- The ninth movie in which Martin Scorsese directs Robert De Niro. It's the story of Frank Sheeran, a mob hitman who winds up participating in the disappearance of labor leader Jimmy Hoffa. Netflix financed this project budgeted at $159 million, but reports say it tops $200 million. With Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel, Ray Romano and Joe Pesci. (Nov. 1)
"Ford v Ferrari" -- Power hitters Christian Bale and Matt Damon star in this fact-based drama about the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans Race where the Ford Motor Company pulled out all the stops (and checkbooks) to beat automotive rival Ferrari. (Nov. 15)
"It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" -- Who else but Mr. Nice Guy Tom Hanks could fill the shoes (and sneakers) of ordained clergyman Fred Rogers as the genial host of the beloved family TV series "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood"? Here, Rogers helps a cynical journalist (Matthew Rhys) rewire his point of view. (Nov. 22)
Note: Don't forget that you can obtain updated movie release dates by going to the Chicago Film Critics Association website (chicagofilmcritics.org) and tapping on the "Now Playing" subhead.