Vampires Vs. the Bronx
Movies about immortal bloodsuckers may have outlasted their mid-2010s pop-culture peak, but this clever blend of horror, comedy and social satire proves that this ancient trope has more than enough staying power. It’s set in a historically Black neighborhood in the titular borough, which finds itself under a more prosaic and familiar threat: gentrification. But in this prescient vision, such gentrification comes with an extra set of Caucasian vampires prepared to suck the life—yes, you can read that two ways—out of a tight-knit minority community.
The Forty-Year-Old Version
A big hit at Sundance and other 2020 festivals, this is the artsy but crowd-pleasing feather in Netflix’s cap this month. It’s written, directed, produced and starring breakthrough performer Radha Blank, who drew on her own biography as a theatre artist who, after her once-promising playwriting career fizzles, decides to become a rapper at 40, specializing in the midlife anxieties of a woman of color. This one has me at the punny title—and even more so the black-and-white cinematography.
Available Oct. 16:
The Trial of the Chicago 7
Aaron Sorkin penned this script about the seven protestors charged with inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention way back in 2007 as a project for Steven Spielberg to direct. Thirteen years later, Sorkin himself in in the director’s chair, and the movie’s release couldn’t be timelier, with comparisons to 1968 filling our screens during our own tumultuous summer of civil unrest. A star-studded biopic about the necessity of protest to a functioning democracy, it stars Sacha Baron Cohen rather stunningly embodying protest leader Abbie Hoffman; the cast also includes Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Eddie Redmayne and Mark Rylance.
ON AMAZON PRIME
Black Box and The Lie
This month, Amazon is rolling out four psychological horror flicks from Blumhouse, one of the genre’s smartest purveyors (Blumhouse is responsible for “Get Out,” “Insidious” and “The Invisible Man”). The first two, dropping Oct. 6, are “Black Box,” a “Black Mirror”-like story of a widowed father who lost his memory in a traumatic car accident, and who undergoes an experimental treatment that pits his brain against cutting-edge science; and “The Lie,” about a teenage daughter whose claims of killing her best friend unravel as allegations of parental abuse rise to the fore. The next two Blumhouse titles, “Evil Eye” and “Nocturne,” drop on Oct. 13 on Prime.
Available Oct. 16:
The critics’ hosannas have been pouring in for this highly personal yet broadly political documentary from Garrett Bradley, which won Best Director in the Documentary category at Sundance 2020. It follows the persistence of Fox Rich, an entrepreneurial mother of six boys—at least two of whom have never lived with the father—in her endless campaign for the release of her husband, Rob G. Rich, from his 60-year prison sentence for a robbery both committed in the early 90s. It weaves together video diaries from Fox and her sons’ lives with stark black-and-white images of her daily struggles to free her husband from the prison-industrial complex; it looks like a must-see.
Available Oct. 23:
On the Rocks
Writer-director Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation,” “Marie Antoinette”) returns with this highly anticipated comedy, which she says is influenced by the high jinks of directors like Blake Edwards. Lighter in tone than her previous fare, it appears to nonetheless have the potency of truth. It stars Rashida Jones as the suspicious wife of Marlon Wayans, whose sudden long hours with a new coworker lead her to suspect the worst—and to seek unorthodox counsel from her bon vivant father, played to critical acclaim by Bill Murray.
ON HBO MAX
Available Oct. 17:
David Byrne’s American Utopia
I don’t have to imagine how exhilarating this concert film from the former Talking Heads frontman is, because I saw a version of it live, in the fall of 2018, when Byrne brought his “American Utopia” tour to the Fillmore, a concert we later named the No. 1 tour of the year. And yet that extraordinary concert probably evolved even more after it migrated to Broadway; it’s that version, filmed by none other than Spike Lee, that arrives next weekend onto millions of screens. For Lee, whose “Da 5 Bloods” is one of 2020’s best, this is a quite a year.