Can it really be November already? Yes, my friends, it does appear we’re on the verge of kicking off another holiday season and what better way to celebrate shorter days than with movie nights galore (do people even use that word anymore)? The best of this month’s offerings breadcrumb the trail from October’s spooky supernatural and horror through action/adventure and dystopian science fiction to tales of family drama based in truth. Speaking of familial drama — or utter harmony, as the case may be — if you’re looking for something to watch as you come down from your Thanksgiving gathering’s turkey and pie high, check out Branagh’s and Mills’ nostalgic black-and-white odes, and round out the month with the first of this year’s Christmas films (yikes!). Holy I’m not ready for all the shopping, Batman…
November 5, 2021 (Apple TV+)
Directed by Miguel Sapochnik (Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon, Altered Carbon); written by Craig Luck and Ivor Powell; starring Tom Hanks, Caleb Landry Jones, Samira Wiley, Laura Harrier, and Skeet Ulrich. Hanks is purportedly the last earthling (pay no attention to those other actors!), a man who builds a robot to keep him and the dog he found company. So, Cast Away: Apocalypse/Turner & Hooch edition? I mean, SOLD, right? Hanks is one of the few actors (we see you Robert Redford) who can carry a movie all by his lonesome, and the idea of him playing futuristic Geppetto is damned delightful. With Sapochnik at the helm, we’re in good hands for what’s sure to be a solid science fiction outing.
November 5 (Limited Theaters), November 11, 2021 (Netflix)
Directed and written by Rawson Marshall Thurber (We’re the Millers, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Central Intelligence); starring Ryan Reynolds, Dwayne Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Chris Diamantopoulos. Crime comedy caper about an FBI agent (Johnson) who makes the mistake of trying to use one criminal (Reynolds) to catch another (Gadot), aka the world’s most wanted art thief. Dubbed “Netflix’s biggest movie ever” by Johnson and showcasing this irresistible action/comedic trio chasing each other across the globe, just grab the biggest bowl of popcorn you have and settle in for the fun. Oh, and boys, don’t mess with Wonder Woman; you’re only going to embarrass yourselves.
November 5, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Directed by Pablo Larraín (Jackie, Lisey’s Story, Fugitives); written by Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke, Peaky Blinders, Serenity); starring Kristen Stewart, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall, Jack Farthing, Sean Harris, and Stella Gonet. As the trailer alludes, hasn’t this story been told ad nauseam? Perhaps, but Larraín and Knight would like to submit this alternate tale of Diana, Princess of Wales — in particular, the days surrounding that royal Christmas (1991) spent at Sandringham Estate. As voracious fans and viewers of The Crown know, Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles was already in shambles, but what we haven’t seen is Stewart’s full inhabitation of Lady Di, reportedly an Oscar-worthy performance. All in.
The Beta Test
November 5, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Directed and written by Jim Cummings (Thunder Road) and PJ McCabe; starring Cummings, McCabe, Virginia Newcomb, Olivia Grace Applegate, Jacqueline Doke, and Christian Hillborg. October may be over but good horror is a year-round event and this concept is a doozy. About-to-be-married Jordan (Cummings) succumbs to his less-brainy head and accepts an invitation for anonymous (ostensibly both parties) sex. Yes, you read that right. Of course, in this digital age, there’s no such thing as anonymous anymore, and so begins Jordan’s neverending nightmare of rippling effects. You know you wanna watch.
November 12, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Directed and written by Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Cinderella, Murder on the Orient Express, Artemis Fowl); starring Outlander queen Caitríona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, Jude Hill, Colin Morgan, and Lewis McAskie. Gorgeously filmed festival sweetheart, this is Branagh’s semi-autobiographical “love letter” to his hometown in the Northern Ireland capital, circa 1960. Explored from Buddy’s (Hill) point of view as a young lad growing up during The Troubles, with poignant memories of his working-class parents (Balfe, Dornan), grandparents (Dench, Hinds), and brother Will (McAskie). Branagh’s focus is on family rather than the political goings-on, and his charming tale is clearly headed for the awards circuit. We’re all in on what looks like a batch of incredible performances, especially by young Jude Hill in his first feature role.
November 12, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Directorial debut and written by Danis Goulet; starring Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Brooklyn Letexier-Hart, Alex Tarrant, Amanda Plummer, Rober Skanes, and Violet Nelson. Sparked by the police response to 2016’s Dakota Pipeline Access protests, a mother joins a resistance group to rescue her daughter from a post-war military academy where government-captured kids are forced into fighting. This science-fiction outing was also inspired by 2006’s Children of Men so gather round, fans of Cuarón’s award-winning thriller (meaning everyone!).
The Power of the Dog
November 17 (Theaters), December 1, 2021 (Netflix)
Directed and written by Jane Campion (In the Cut, The Portrait of a Lady, The Piano, Holy Smoke, Top of the Lake); starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Thomasin McKenzie, Genevieve Lemon, Frances Conroy, and Keith Carradine. Based on Thomas Savage’s novel about a rancher who takes a frightening interest in his brother’s new wife when the pair come home with their newborn child… then things take an odd twist. All I want to know is whether or not it’s really Cumberbatch whistling in the trailer, because that’s quite a talent for the man who simply cannot say “penguin.” Seriously though, the stellar cast and Campion’s brilliance guarantee you’ll want to catch this thriller; also featuring a score by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood.
November 19, 2021 (Theaters and VoD)
Directed and written by Jason Reitman (Tully, Up in the Air, Juno, Thank You for Smoking) co-written by Gil Kenan; starring Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace… oh and Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Ernie Hudson, and Annie Potts. With a little jump around Ghostbusters’ past to thirty years after the second film in the franchise, this entry pays a nostalgic visit to a farmhouse left to single mom Callie (hello, not for long with Paul Rudd around!) who just happens to be the granddaughter of Egon Spengler (played by the late Harold Ramis in the original film). While Callie and her kids catch up on their supernatural history, something strange is once again happening in the neighborhood and I’m guessing they’ll have to, you know, MAKE A CALL.
November 19, 2021 (Theaters, HBO Max)
Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men, Joe Bell); written by Zach Baylin; starring Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Jon Bernthal, Dylan McDermott, Demi Singleton, Tony Goldwyn, and Noah Bean. If you don’t immediately want to see this movie after watching that trailer, go back and try again! Here’s the true story of Queens Serena and Venus Williams and their father, who raised his daughters with a (78-page) plan for them to take over the world of professional tennis. And so they did. Let’s face it, we’re all going to be crying happy tears, so grab your tissues and get ready to cheer the champs.
November 19, 2021 (Theaters, VoD)
Directed and written by Mike Mills (Beginners, Thumbsucker); starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann, Scoot McNairy, Molly Webster, Jaboukie Young-White, and Woody Norman. Phoenix plays an uncle who takes his young nephew on a cross-country trip and I, like Uncle Johnny, am crying after that passage he read in the trailer (from Claire A. Nivola’s Star Child). It’ll be nice to see the softer, familial side of Phoenix, who often plays tortured leads, and the black-and-white framing is gorgeous.
A Boy Called Christmas
November 24, 2021 (Netflix)
Directed by Gil Kenan (Monster House, City of Ember, Poltergeist ); written by Kenan and Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel); starring Maggie Smith, Sally Hawkins, Jim Broadbent, Kristen Wiig, Toby Jones, Michael Huisman, and Henry Lawfull. Based on the Matt Haig book, a young boy goes on an adventure to find his father. We’re headed into the holidays and thus begins the parade of heartwarming movies and specials. May as well kick things off with an adorable moppet, his furry friends, and a most excellent cast of helpful adults.
November 24 (Theaters, VoD), December 10, 2021 (Netflix)
Directed by Nora Fingscheidt; (System Crasher) written by Peter Craig (The Town, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 & 2), Hillary Seitz (Insomnia), and Courtenay Miles (Mindhunter); starring Sandra Bullock, Viola Davis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jon Bernthal, Richard Thomas, Linda Emond, Aisling Franciosi, W. Earl Brown, Rob Morgan, and Toby Hargrave. Bullock returns to Netflix as a convicted killer released from prison, trying to reconnect with her younger sister, despite everyone standing in her way. Sure, maybe we’ve seen some version of this story before, but Sandy has really hit her stride, and just look at that incredible Daredevil cast (D’Onofrio/Bernthal) reunion.
November 24, 2021 (Theaters, Showtime)
Feature directorial debut and written by Stephen Caram (The Seagull); starring Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein, Steven Yeun, Jayne Houdyshell, Amy Schumer, and June Squibb. If broken families and the love they share is your Thanksgiving jam (think Parenthood), this adaptation of Caram’s Tony award-winning (and Pulitzer Prize-nominated) play is just the ticket. It’s good to know we’re not alone in our familial despair, right?
November 26, 2021 (Limited Theaters, VoD)
Directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master, There Will Be Blood, Punch Drunk Love, Phantom Thread, Inherent Vice); starring Alana Haim, Cooper Hoffman, Sean Penn, Maya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Tom Waits, Bradley Cooper, and Benny Safdie. There are certain filmmakers whose every outing is a must-attend event and PTA is one of them. This coming-of-age love story marks Cooper Hoffman’s (Philip Seymour Hoffman’s son) acting debut alongside singer/musician Haim and damn, what an adorable pairing. This Will Be Good.
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