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OPINION | NEW MOVIES: A huge spate of movies ready to fill theaters once again

Fall features by Philip Martin | September 17, 2021 at 6:53 a.m.
At 91 years old, Clint Eastwood is likely the oldest person ever to direct and star in a major Hollywood motion picture. “Cry Macho,” the 40th movie he has directed since 1971, opens in theaters and on HBO Max today.

Summer still has five more days to go. But the summer movies have already blown through, leaving us with a few 'tweeners and benighted stragglers and horror films to fill out the "scary season" that runs out about Halloween. After that, buddy, the floodgates open.

I'm not going to make any predictions about box-office numbers in the final quarter of the year, but will observe that there's some pent-up supply about to come rushing into local theaters. And maybe, following Disney's example, a bit of a retrenchment on the day-and-date releases we've been enjoying throughout the pandemic. (Which hasn't faded away yet.)

This week sees the latest Clint Eastwood movie to come down the pike, "Cry Macho." According to all the publicists we hounded, Warner Bros. wasn't making the movie available for critics to see in advance, which is usually a bad sign, but Eastwood movies are notoriously hard to prejudge.

It's based on N. Richard Nash's 1975 book of the same name, which began life as a screenplay and was converted to a novel when the author couldn't sell it. After the novel became a hit, Nash re-submitted the screenplay, allegedly without changing a word, and it was picked up by 20th Century Fox in 2000. Originally Arnold Schwarzenegger was supposed to star in it.

As happens, nothing happened with the screenplay until Eastwood got hold of it two decades later. He hired screenwriter Nick Schenk, with whom he'd worked on "Gran Torino" (2008) and "The Mule" (2018), to work on the script, which is about a broken-down old rodeo cowboy (Eastwood) who goes to Mexico to save the son of his former boss (Dwight Yoakam). It's a neo-western set in 1979. I'll watch it.

At 91, Eastwood is likely the oldest person ever to direct and star in a major motion picture. (Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira, who died in 2015, made several short films after he turned 100; Lillian Gish starred in "The Whales of August" when she was 93.)

Also opening this week is "Blue Bayou," which stars 40-year-old writer-director Justin Chon alongside Oscar-winner Alicia Vikander. Chon plays a Korean living in Louisiana and facing the threat of deportation.

Next week, we should get "The Eyes of Tammy Faye" in local theaters. It stars Jessica Chastain as televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker, with Andrew Garfield as her husband Jim.

Sept. 24

"Dear Evan Hansen" -- Ben Platt reprises his Tony Award-winning role as the title character in this adaptation of the acclaimed musical. Also stars Kaitlyn Dever, Julianne Moore and Amy Adams.

Oct. 1

"The Many Saints of Newark" -- Michael Gandolfini, son of late "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini, steps in to play the younger Tony in this prequel to the hit HBO series written by original "Sopranos" creator David Chase. Directed by Alan Taylor, it also stars Ray Liotta, Vera Farmiga, Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll and Leslie Odom Jr.

"Venom: Let There Be Carnage" -- Andy Serkis directs this comic book sequel that returns Tom Hardy as the title character, with Woody Harrelson playing the antagonistic symbiote Carnage. Also with Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Stehphen Graham and Reid Scott.

"The Jesus Music" -- This survey of the history of Christian Contemporary Music is neither as dynamic nor as ambitious as its well-edited trailer.

Oct. 8

"No Time to Die" -- Finally, James Bond is back. Daniel Craig stars for the fifth time; Cary Joji Fukunaga directs and Ana de Armas, Rami Malek, Lea Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, Jeffrey Wright, Christoph Waltz, Naomie Harris and Ralph Fiennes also appear.

"Lamb" -- A supernatural drama starring Noomi Rapace and Hilmir Snaer Gudnason as an Icelandic couple who find a strange newborn abandoned on their farm. Directed by Valdimar Johannsson.

Oct. 15

"Halloween Kills" -- Yet another Michael Myers movie. David Gordon Green, who did 2018's "Halloween" reboot, is back, along with Jamie Lee Curtis. Judy Greer, Andi Matichak and Will Patton also star.

"The Last Duel" -- Ben Affleck and Matt Damon wrote the screenplay and star in this buzzy historical drama about a duel between a knight and the man his wife accused of raping her. Directed by Ridley Scott, it also stars Jodie Comer and Adam Driver.

Oct. 22

"Dune" (theaters, HBO Max) -- Another much anticipated film. Denis Villeneuve directs a cast that includes Timothee Chalamet, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac, Jason Momoa, Rebecca Ferguson, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgard, Dave Bautista and others in an expensive remake of Frank Herbert's epic 1965 sci-fi novel.

"Ron's Gone Wrong" -- An animated adventure about an awkward middle-schooler who forms a connection with Ron, his digitally connected B-bot. The voice cast includes Zach Galifianakis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Olivia Colman, Kylie Cantrall and Ed Helms.

"The French Dispatch" -- Wes Anderson returns with an anthology based on stories that appeared in the fictional publication "The French Dispatch." The ensemble includes Timothee Chalamet, Benicio Del Toro, Willem Dafoe, Lea Seydoux, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Jeffrey Wright, Elisabeth Moss, Christoph Waltz, Bill Murray, Rupert Friend, Liev Schreiber, Anjelica Huston and Frances McDormand.

Oct. 29

"Last Night in Soho" -- Director Edgar Wright co-wrote this film about an aspiring fashion designer mysteriously transported back to the 1960s. It stars Thomasin McKenzie, Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Terence Stamp, Rita Tushingham and Diana Rigg.

"Antlers" -- A teacher (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) living in small-town Oregon come to believe a student is secretly harboring a supernatural creature. Directed by Scott Cooper.

Nov. 5

"Eternals" -- Chloe Zhao ("The Rider," "Nomadland") directs a Marvel superhero movie about an alien race of immortal beings defending the earth from evil forces. With Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Kit Harrington and Gemma Chan.

Nov. 12

"Belfast" -- Kenneth Branagh's movie about the the trials and tribulations of a young boy and his working-class family in '60s Belfast is being touted as a probable multiple Oscar winner. It stars Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds.

Nov. 19

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" -- Another "Ghostbusters" sequel; this one stars Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard, ­Mckenna Grace, Sigourney Weaver, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Bokeem Woodbine and Paul Rudd. Directed by Jason Reitman.

"King Richard" (theaters, HBO Max) -- Will Smith plays Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams, in this bio-pic that's getting some good word-of-mouth. With Jon Bernthal, Dylan McDermott, Tony Goldwyn, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton. Directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green.

Nov. 24

"House of Gucci" (theaters): Ridley Scott's second film of the season is based on Sara Gay Forden's 2001 novel "The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed." Adam Driver, Lady Gaga, Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, Jared Leto, Jack Huston and Jeremy Irons star.

"Encanto" -- An animated musical featuring songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda about the only child in a magical Colombian family that doesn't have superpowers. Stephanie Beatriz, Diane Guerrero and Wilmer Valderrama are in the voice cast. Directed by Jared Bush, Byron Howard and Charise Castro Smith.

"National Champions" -- A college quarterback (Stephan James) calls a players' strike to bring attention to concerns of equality and fair compensation for student athletes. Directed by Ric Roman Waugh. With J.K. Simmons, Timothy Olyphant, Jeffrey Donovan, Tim Blake Nelson, Kristin Chenoweth, Lil Rel Howery and Alexander Ludwig.

"Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City" -- A reboot of the "Resident Evil" film franchise. Directed by Johannes Roberts and starring Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Neal McDonough and Donal Logue.

Dec. 2

"Nightmare Alley" -- Guillermo del Toro directed and co-wrote this thriller remake about a manipulative carny and a dangerous psychiatrist. Cast includes Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Willem Dafoe, Ron Perlman, Toni Collette, Mary Steenburgen, David Strathairn, Tim Blake Nelson, Jim Beaver and Richard Jenkins.

Dec. 3

"Wolf" -- Writer-director Nathalie Biancheri describes her film as "a story about a boy, Jacob, who believes that he's a wolf and it's set in a clinic which cures people who have this illness, which is actually a real illness called species dysphoria. They believe that they're an animal trapped in a human body." Cool. Lily-Rose Depp, Paddy Considine and George MacKay star.

Dec. 10

"West Side Story" -- A lot of people are holding their breath waiting for Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the 1957 musical. Starring Ansel Elgort, Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose and Rita Moreno.

"Violence of Action" -- An action thriller about an ex-Marine who joins a paramilitary organization to continue supporting his family. With Chris Pine, Gillian Jacobs, Ben Foster, Eddie Marsan, Florian Munteanu. Tarik Saleh directs.

Dec. 17

"Spider-Man: No Way Home" -- Everyone knows Spidey's secret identity in this, the third installment in Marvel's new "Spider-Man" franchise. Jon Watts returns to direct. Tom Holland returns as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. With Zendaya, Marisa Tomei, Benedict Cumberbatch, Willem Dafoe, J.K. Simmons, Jon Favreau, Benedict Wong, Jamie Foxx, Martin Starr and Alfred Molina.

Dec. 22

"Sing 2" -- Anthropomorphic animals sing in this animated sequel. The voice cast includes Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Nick Kroll, Pharrell Williams, Bobby Cannavale, Halsey and Bono. Directed by Garth Jennings.

"The Matrix Resurrections" -- Director and co-writer Lana Wachowski and stars Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss return for this addendum to the "Matrix" trilogy. The cast also features Christina Ricci, Jada Pinkett Smith, Priyanka Chopra, Jonathan Groff, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Neil Patrick Harris.

"The King's Man" -- A prequel to the previous two "Kingsman" films that explores the agency's origins. Directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Djimon Hounsou, Stanley Tucci and Matthew Goode.

"A Journal for Jordan" -- Denzel Washington directs a drama about a soldier who keeps a journal for his son in case the worst happens. With Michael B. Jordan and Chante Adams.

Dec. 23

"Liquorice Pizza"-- Paul Thomas Anderson's follow-up to 2017's "Phantom Thread" is set in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley during the 1970s. It's about a high school student (the unknown Cooper Hoffman) who works as a film actor. Also starring Bradley Cooper, Ben Stiller, Maya Rudolph, Tom Waits, Benny Safdie and Alana Haim.

Dec. 25

"American Underdog" -- Zachary Levi plays the former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner in this bio-pic that charts his progress from supermarket clerk to Super Bowl MVP. Directed by brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin, it also stars Anna Paquin, Dennis Quaid and Adam Baldwin.


In Justin Chon’s New Orleans-set drama “Blue Bayou,” which opens theatrically today, Chon plays Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean adopted as an infant by an American family who now faces deportation because he was never naturalized. Alicia Vikander plays his wife.
In Justin Chon’s New Orleans-set drama “Blue Bayou,” which opens theatrically today, Chon plays Antonio LeBlanc, a Korean adopted as an infant by an American family who now faces deportation because he was never naturalized. Alicia Vikander plays his wife.

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