In October, “Dune” finally makes contact on this planet, Gyllenhaal stars in a claustrophobic thriller, and three women-directed films run a gamut from smart horror to earnest documentary.
Having reviewed, and adored, the 2018 Danish thriller “The Guilty,” I’m not surprised it has found its way to an American studio. A novel, twisty and claustrophobic narrative set entirely in the handset—and mindset—of a 911 operator during a hostage crises one fateful morning, the original version of “The Guilty” allowed its harrowing story to play out in our mind’s eye, keeping its dogged visuals completely on its detached protagonist. Based on the trailer, I’m hopeful the American remake, directed by Antoine Fuqua, maintains the Danish film’s pressure-cooker atmosphere, with Jake Gyllenhaal sitting down and sweating bullets in the lead role. Spoilers abound, but you won’t get any from me. Ethan Hawke and Riley Keough co-star.
Starts Oct. 20
The latest of, presumably, many COVID-themed films to emerge from the pandemic, “Stuck Together” is the most recent comedy from popular French actor-director Dany Boone, who plays one of many residents in a Parisian condominium during lockdown. Forced to quarantine and, perhaps, get to know each other for the first time, “Stuck Together” jettisons the darkest corners of COVID for lighthearted slapstick and relatable humor about exaggerated PPE, ludicrously invasive coronavirus tests and other symbols of the surreal zeitgeist with which we still find ourselves. Humor isn’t the best medicine for COVID, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
ON AMAZON PRIME
On the list of unlikeliest settings for a horror film, a bingo hall, with its evocations of sedentary seniors concentrating on letter/number combinations, must be somewhere near the top. But I have a feeling there’s more to “Bingo Hell,” the debut feature from Gigi Saul Guerrero, a young director from Mexico City, than its sensational and schlocky trailer reveals. The movie is the fifth entry in the respected “Welcome to the Blumhouse” horror anthology, and its story is about more than bloodletting and jump scares: It’s set in a barrio about to be gentrified, where a stubborn group of seniors fight against the sinister force taking over their neighborhood, with the central battling ground taking place—where else?—at their once-beloved bingo hall.
Starts Oct. 8
I’m sensing a pattern: Another week, another Blumhouse horror pic set in the world of the elderly, also helmed by a female filmmaker. In writer-director Axelle Carolyn’s “The Manor,” Barbara Hershey plays a stroke victim who is relocated to an opulent and historic nursing home. When she begins to detect supernatural forces invading her space—and erasing some of the facility’s other residents—she must distinguish these sensations of metaphysical dread from the plausible reality of paranoid dementia, a fine line Carolyn is happy to tread.
ON HBO MAX
Starts Oct. 22
Well, it’s about time. Originally slated for release nearly a year ago, Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited adaptation of the Frank Herbert cult novel is finally seeing its North American release next month. The story involves a duke (Timothee Chalamet) who accepts the stewardship of Arrakis, a desert planet housing dangerous giant sandworms, in order to mine its essential life-expanding substance, known as “spice.” The result is 2021’s most epic science-fiction spectacular, with a budget of $165 million and a running time of 155 minutes—which covers only about half of Herbert’s influential source material. Considering even David Lynch couldn’t make a competent film version of “Dune,” Villeneuve has his work cut out for him, but so far, reviews have been glowing.
Starts Oct. 8
The compulsive specter of drug addiction haunts this remarkable, award-winning—and 100-percent Rotten Tomatoes-fresh—documentary debut from director Jessica Earnshaw. The title character, 26, spends much of its running time in the same prison as her 45-year-old mother, often shouting forbidden “I love you”s at her window, and Earnshaw captures, with boundless compassion, the unhealthy bond that keeps these generations connected through the worst of their habits. Insightful, loaded with hard truths that few fiction films can approach, and three years in the making, “Jacinta” is sure to be one of the front-runners in the Best Documentary category at the next Academy Awards.