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Fall Arts 2015: Film 

Wednesday, Sep 2 2015
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Directed by Baltasar Kormákur
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Elizabeth Debicki, Keira Knightley, and Robin Wright
There's been a host of great mountain-climbing documentaries (MeruandThe Ascentin the last few years alone), but narrative films on the same subject tend to stumble (i.e.,K2orVertical Limit). Iceland native Kormákur's telling of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which several climbers made it up but not back down, looks like it may get it right.


Black Mass
Directed by Scott Cooper
Starring Johnny Depp, Benedict Cumberbatch, Joel Edgerton, Peter Sarsgaard
Depp gets all blanched and paunchy for tough guy duty in this saga of South Boston mob boss "Whitey" Bulger. That Black Mass comes to us from the male-anguish-attuned director ofCrazy Heartis promising; that he also made the rugged rust heapOut of the Furnaceis less promising.


The Martian 
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara
Oh, no! They made a manly Boston movie, but poor Matt Damon was stuck on Mars! Then again, Mars is the god of war, so that's pretty manly too. Taking on Andy Weir's hit novel, the detail-oriented Scott may yet reclaim his high sci-fi standing after the general meh-ness ofPrometheus.


Steve Jobs
Directed by Danny Boyle
Starring Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen
Yes, another goddamn Steve Jobs movie — my MacBook just tried to autocorrect that to "God-given." Adapted from Walter Isaacson's book, this one's written by someone who might almost be Jobs' equal in the self-regarded department: Aaron Sorkin.Fassbender's excellence here may offer sustained distraction from his general inability to disappear into a role, and we may get at least some enjoyment from the close-but-not-quite casting of Rogen as Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.


Crimson Peak
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Starring Charlie Hunnam, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, and Mia Wasikowska
Guillermo del Toro's most recent works as a director (2013'sPacific Rim) and producer (2014'sThe Book of Life) were among the best films of their respective years, but they were also genre experiments that never quite got the respect they deserved. In Crimson Peak,del Toro dives right back into his horror-fantasy safety zone with this 18th-century ghost story, which he says very much deserves its "R" rating.


Jem and the Holograms
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Starring Molly Ringwald, Juliette Lewis, Stefanie Scott, and Hayley Kiyoko
In the annals of pointless internet outrages, few have been as spectacularly dumb as the immediate backlash against this live-action version of the 1980s cartoon (usually from the same people who got angry about Ben Affleck playing Batman). This story of an all-female band looks like it may turn to out to be a parable about the travails of the entertainment industry along the lines of 2001's Josie and the Pussycats— andJosiewas a good movie, for the record.


The Peanuts Movie
Directed by Steve Martino
Starring Noah Schnapp, Venus Schultheis, Alexander Garfin, Bill Melendez
Charles Schulz's guileless, existential comic was a cultural institution spanning half a century. Thus it remains vulnerable to all manner of commercial indignities and discordant animations. Clearly lacking the disheveled aesthetic that only assured the timelessness of, say,A Charlie Brown Christmas, this new CGI rendering seems too easy to oppose on principle — Vulture likened it to "emojiGuernica" — but can it really be any worse thanIt's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown?


Directed by Sam Mendes
Starring Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw
Historically a bit more of an achiever than Charlie Brown, Her Majesty's Secret Service agent James Bond should have better luck chasing pesky international superterrorists than ol' Chuck does trying to kick that ever-elusive football. On the other hand, a little Schulzian diffidence might do 007 some good; maybe a franchise crossover between them is the real way toward world peace.


The 33
Directed by Patricia Riggen
Starring Antonio Banderas, Cote de Pablo, Juliette Binoche, James Brolin
Notably described by Wikipedia as "a 2015 Chilean biographical disaster-survival drama film," as if that's its own genre, this is the story of the 2010 accident that trapped 33 Chilean miners underground for more than two months. Happy spoiler: They got out.


The Good Dinosaur
Directed by Peter Sohn
Starring Raymond Ochoa, Jeffrey Wright, Anna Paquin, and Frances McDormand
Getting two Pixar films in one year would be cause for celebration, were it not for the fact that this prehistoric tale got pushed back from 2014 due to a famously troubled production process. It's a safe bet that it won't have the emotional resonance of their new masterpieceInside Out, but it's still a Pixar joint — and as long as it's better than the 2013 (non-Pixar) abomination Walking With Dinosaurs, we'll call it even.


Directed by Kent Jones
Starring Wes Anderson, Olivier Assayas, Peter Bogdanovich
French New Wave director François Truffaut was the original movie fanboy, creating the still controversialauteurtheory and publishing a book-length interview with his idol Alfred Hitchcock,Hitchcock/Truffaut. Kent Jones' documentary investigates the influence the book had on directors as varied as Martin Scorsese, Richard Linklater, and David Fincher — and not just the fact it canonized the term "MacGuffin."


Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens
Directed by J.J. Abrams
Starring Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Mark Hamill, and Harrison Ford
On the opposite end of the spectrum from theJembacklash is the breathless anticipation for this, the firstStar Warsfilm by a truly skilled director since 1980'sThe Empire Strikes Back. There's plenty of teeth-gnashing to be done about the mercenary nature of this new cycle of films, but none of that changes the fact that if the "Chewie, we're home" moment in the trailer doesn't give you goose bumps, you lack a soul.

Fall Arts 2015

Fall Arts 2015: Art

Fall Arts 2015: Comedy

Fall Arts 2015: Film Festivals

Fall Arts 2015: Lea DeLaria

Fall Arts 2015: Dance

Fall Arts 2015: Theater

Fall Arts 2015: Television

Fall Arts 2015: Sex

Fall Arts 2015: Weird


About The Authors

Sherilyn Connelly

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


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