Wednesday, November 24, 2021

A Reel 20: HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE

“You’re a wizard, Harry…”




 

This month marks the 20th anniversary of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. 

 

Directed by Chris Columbus and based on the 1997 novel by J.K. Rowling, SORCERER’S STONE (re-titled PHILOSPHER’S STONE in certain regions), was the first film in the now beloved HARRY POTTER franchise, and follows 11-year-old Harry Potter as he begins his wizarding education and discovers that he is actually famous in the wizarding world. 

 

The road to Hogwarts, Harry’s place of formal magical education, began in 1997 when producer David Heyman, in his search for adapting a children’s book to the screen, bought the rights to the first four novels written by J.K. Rowling for a reported $1 million. Steven Spielberg was considered to direct, along with Terry Gilliam (12 MONKEYS), Jonathan Demme (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), Rob Reiner (A FEW GOOD MEN), and Ivan Reitman (GHOSTBUSTERS). The job would eventually go to Chris Columbus, whose directing credits at the time included the hits HOME ALONE (1990), and MRS. DOUBTFIRE (1993). 

 

At the insistence of Rowling, the cast was to be kept British. Daniel Radcliffe was the chosen for Harry, and he was joined by Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as his best friends and classmates. The adult cast was an assembly of veteran actors Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Fiona Shaw, John Cleese, and the late John Hurt and Alan Rickman. Filming began in September 2000 at Leavesden Studios and in historic locations around the UK, and would wrap in March of 2001. John Williams would provide the score. 

 

On release, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE would be a critical and commercial success. It would finish as the highest grossing film of 2001, and at the time, the second-highest earner of all time. It would be nominated for four Oscars, and would be followed-up by seven sequels, and two spin-offs. 

 

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As the first film in a franchise that would need to cover seven thick books, SORCERER’S STONE had its work cut out for it in building a world that feels real and yet is full of magic. Columbus, along with screenwriter Steve Kloves, captured the essence of the book and the child-like wonder of discovery. We explore and discover this magical world through Harry’s eyes, and even after 20 years…it can still make us feel like a kid; from meeting new friends, the jitters of a new school, right down to dealing with bullies. The film is rich and colorful, fun, funny, and yet still carries hints of the danger that magic can carry…and the danger that is peeking out down the road. And John Williams’ score is pure enchantment. As an early successful franchise-starter it would pave the way for future blockbusters with long-term goals. This Blogger was late getting on board the HARRY POTTER train (didn’t catch up until 2005), but fully encourages all budding wizards and witches to re-visit and re-discover that world…and maybe learn a little something about magic. 

 

“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”




Monday, November 22, 2021

A Reel Retro Review: PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE (1952)



Thanksgiving is nearly here; the turkey-heavy holiday which, among many other things, commemorates the first dinner celebrated by Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. The beloved holiday has not seen as much attention on the big screen as its brethren event of Christmas, but one film in 1952 told the story of the long journey to that coveted New World in PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE. 

 

Captain Jones (Spencer Tracy), and his First Mate Coppin (Lloyd Bridges), lead a group of Pilgrims on a perilous journey across the Atlantic Ocean abord the Mayflower. While Jones deals with harsh weather and illness on board, he begins to fall for Dorothy (Gene Tierney), the wife of one of the Pilgrim leaders. 

 

Directed by Clarence Brown and based on the novel The Voyage of the Mayflower by Ernest Gebler, PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE works mostly as a character drama than it does an adventure film…despite its fun title. Nearly all of the film takes place during the long journey, turning into a closed-quarters drama with characters fighting or caring for each other. In center of it all is John Alden (Van Johnson), a carpenter who falls for a young maiden on board. Jones meantime finds himself stuck in a love triangle, even though he deeply believes that the Pilgrims are a bunch of fools for seeking religious freedom in an untamed country. 

 

There is a lot going on in the story; in addition to the character drama there’s also a stowaway Pilgrim wanted by the British government, issues of religious freedom, and battles over who is really in charge of the ship. With so much going on its difficult to latch onto a single thing as the narrative shifts gears often. 

 

But there is still a lot to enjoy when things actually do get moving. The cinematography is gorgeous, and the large scale of the ocean is always conveyed well. The film would win an Oscar for Best Visual Effects and it shows; a wicked storm that has the ship nearly going down is impressive even by today’s standards. The score by Miklos Rozsa is excellent. 

 

Acting is decent. Spencer Tracy embraces the fable of the drunken skipper a little too much and often comes off as cartoonish. Gene Tierney is an absolute delight. Lloyd Bridges is in a minor role but makes his presence known each time. 

 

PLYMOUTH ADVENTURE feels like it could have worked better it if stuck closer to its own title and shed most of the near-soap opera drama. The film doesn’t make it all the way to that first Thanksgiving dinner, but for all the hardship that it does show during the trip, we can tell that the Pilgrims have certainly earned their way. It’s a journey-over-destination type of film, and worth putting on in the background while we wait for the turkey to finish. 

 

BOTTOM LINE: Rent it 

 

Reel Facts: This would be the final film for director Clarence Brown, whose career stretched back into the silent era and would include six Oscar nominations for Best Director. The large-scale model of the Mayflower used in filming is on display at the Original Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood restaurant in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 




Friday, November 19, 2021

A Reel Review - GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE



Every ten years or so, Hollywood finds a shiny new toy that they just can’t put down. For a while it was 3D, then the remakes, and then the reboots. These days it’s the Legacy Sequel; a film that follows the continuity of the original movie taking place further along the timeline. Franchises such as HALLOWEEN, TRON, and even STAR WARS have taken a crack at it. But not all of them have had the tools and talent to pull it off with success. Enter Jason Reitman and GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE. 

 

Callie (Carrie Coon), the estranged daughter of the late original Ghostbuster Egon, along with her daughter Phoebe (McKenna Grace), and son Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), inherit and move into Egon’s decaying farm in Oklahoma…where they discover that Egon had spent decades preparing for something strange…

 

Directed by Jason Reitman, the son of Ivan Reitman, the original director of GHOSTBUSTERS in 1984 and its 1989 sequel, AFTERLIFE unfolds as a mystery; what was Egon up to all these years in the middle of nowhere…and why was it important enough for him to leave his family and old friends? The film is carried by Pheobe, who like her grandfather, is a socially awkward, scientific-minded curious kid…who finds Grandpa Egon’s secrets one piece at a time. She is aided by her slacker teacher Gary (Paul Rudd), who has been investigating mysterious earthquakes in the region. 

 

The mystery behind the earthquakes is, of course, what Egon had also been looking into…which were being caused by an old supernatural foe ready to rise again. But the spook, specter, or ghost that we’re dealing with is nearly secondary, as director Jason Reitman, with his father acting as a producer, are operating on a deeper level. For the first time in the franchise, there is emotional baggage happening, with every character needing some sort of closure; from Callie dealing with a father she never knew, Phoebe finding her place in the world, and even the original guys have unfinished business to wrap up…all of which are centered around the final days of Egon. It works, and it hits hard. 

 

As a Legacy Sequel, AFTERLIFE has the pre-requisite of inserting a lot of nostalgia into itself. Cues and props and characters from the original GHOSTBUSTERS are littered throughout, but they are also given a purpose…and in places improve upon lightly-developed concepts from the first film; it’s emotion with a goal and it clicks very well. Pacing is light and fun with great laughs, the CGI is very well done (including a whopper at the very end), and the score by Rob Simonson, which takes a lot of inspiration from the 1984 soundtrack…is excellent. 

 

Acting is wonderful. The film is carried by a delightful McKenna Grace who is a powerhouse at her age (she was 13 during filming). Paul Rudd is a laugh-a-minute and his chemistry with Carrie Coon leaps off the screen. Logan Kim comes in as Phoebe’s podcasting classmate and nearly steals the show. The return of the original (and one and only) Ghostbusters is handled with grace and all the guys are great; all of them. Keep your eyes peeled for some sneaky cameos…and be sure to sit through the credits. 

 

Jason Reitman spent a lot of time on the set of the original GHOSTBUSTERS films with his dad, so the franchise means a lot to him and it really shows. This was a labor of love that saturates the film and oozes its way into the audience. Reitman has said he was making this for fans, and he delivers; anyone who has ever dreamed of strapping on a proton pack and busting heads in a spiritual sense will find a lot to love here. For his characters, the fans, and the franchise, there is a satisfying sense of closure. The tools and the talent have risen to the occasion, and there is nothing to be afraid of in AFTERLIFE. 

 

BOTTOM LINE: See it 




Wednesday, November 17, 2021

A Reel Preview - Everything You Need to Know About GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE




This week, one of the most anticipated entries into a beloved franchise finally hits the big screen, when GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE arrives. Here now is a preview and everything you need to know. 

 

What is this about – GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE is a “legacy sequel”; meaning a sequel to a film decades later, in real-time. AFTERLIFE is a sequel to the ever popular GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), and GHOSTBUSTERS II (1989). It has nothing to do with the piece-of-stinking-shit remake from 2016. AFTERLIFE tells the story of a family who inherits a farmhouse once owned by a member of the original Ghostbusters…and the grandchildren discover their old legacy just as a new supernatural threat rises. 


 

Who is behind the camera – AFTERLIFE is directed by Jason Reitman, who is the son of Ivan Reitman…who helmed the first two GHOSTBUSTERS films. Ivan returns as a producer. Jason’s directing credits include the critically acclaimed THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (2005), JUNO (2007), and UP IN THE AIR (2009). Jason has four Oscar nominations to his credit, two of which for Best Director. 


 

Who is in front of the camera – Newcomers to the franchise include Carrie Coon (TV’s FARGO), Finn Wolfhard (TV’s STRANGER THINGS), McKenna Grace (young Carol Danvers in CAPTAIN MARVEL), and Paul Rudd (ANT-MAN). Original GHOSTBUSTERS alum returning include Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, and Annie Potts. 


 

Random Facts – AFTERLIFE was originally scheduled for release in July of 2020, but was delayed due to the COVID pandemic * Development of a third GHOSTBUSTERS film goes as far back as the early 1990’s. Dan Aykroyd wrote a script called GHOSTBUSTERS III: HELLBENT, which had the original team transported to an alternate dimension where people and places are a hell-version * One of the themes Jason Reitman looked to explore was the idea that anyone can be a Ghostbuster * The film takes place in the American Mid-west to give it a different flavor than the previous movies * Jason Reitman appeared in GHOSTBUSTERS II as the kid who told Ray (Aykroyd), that they were “full of crap * 


 

What to expect – Starting behind the camera, Jason Reitman has more than proved his ability as a director, and having his father work with him makes this a labor of love, and anytime love is involved…great things can happen. Fans have been waiting a long time for a third film with returning cast-members, and after the disastrous remake, are finally getting what they deserve. The new cast assembled is excellent, and all the right pieces seem to be in place. There are a lot of good feelings this time around, and there shouldn’t be anything to be afraid of. 


 

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GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE arrives only in theatres November 19th, with limited showings on the 18th.





Monday, November 15, 2021

A Reel Retro Review: MURDER, INC (1960)

Reel Speak’s Retro Reviews will randomly review a classic film every week, with the intention of introducing some overlooked and perhaps forgotten screen gems from the past to those of us who may be unfamiliar or unawares of their existence. 



 

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Disney and Pixar’s MONSTERS, INC (read Reel Speak’s writeup HERE). When that film was in its early stages, long-time Disney animator Joe Grant, whose work stretched back to SNOW WHITE from 1937, suggested the title MONSTERS, INC…which was a play from the 1960 gangster film, MURDER, INC. 

 

Brooklyn, 1930. Hitman Abe Reles (Peter Falk), is hired by mob kingpin Lepke (David J. Stewart) to carry out hits. Abe forces Joey (Stuart Whitman), and his wife Eadie (May Britt), to help him carry out a job to help pay off their loan debt. 

 

Directed by Burt Balaban and Stuart Rosenberg, and based on the true-story book of the same name by Burton Turkus and Sid Feder, MURDER INC. unfolds over the course of a decade, as Abe, under the command of Lepke, carries out hits all across their territories in NYC while evading the long arm of the baffled law. These are early days for organized crime, with prohibition just ending and a second world war still some years away. The cops (at least at the very beginning of the film), have no idea what organized crime is or how far it is spread out across the country…which allows Abe to carry out his hits with ease. 

 

Eventually the law, led by Turkus (Henry Morgan), is able to turn the heat up on the mob, which immediately causes switching allegiances. Eadie is more than willing to give them all up, while Joey is eager to keep his mouth shut. It’s a story of early mob activities with some of the first batch of rats deserting the ship. 

 

As a mob movie, MURDER, INC. works very well. The film has more than its share of violence as guys are stabbed, shot, and thrown out of windows…and a rape scene that is a shock. The film also seems to inspire THE GODFATHER films, with hitmen unscrewing light bulbs and bosses sitting behind large mahogany desks. 

 

Acting is terrific with Peter Falk leading the way in his first role in a major feature. May Britt spends most of the film in a bad mood but is still great to watch. 

 

MURDER, INC. has several instances where the story jumps ahead in time with documentary-style narration to catch everyone up, which is jarring at first but we get used to it. The film serves as good drama while also a slice of history about the American mob in its youth. At a tight 103 minutes the film is no monster, but does a fine job in blending facts with Hollywood drama. 

 

BOTTOM LINE: See it 

 

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Reel Facts:  MURDER, INC. was filmed in and around New York City, with a cast of actors from the off-Broadway theatre. Peter Falk would be nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and would later earn TV fame as Columbo in the long-running series of the same name. 

 




Friday, November 12, 2021

A Reel Review: BELFAST



In addition to his fine work in front of the camera, writer and director Kenneth Branagh has dabbled in many different genres. He brought The Bard to the big screen with HENRY V (1989), and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (1993), took a crack at horror with MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN (1994), and even journeyed into the Marvel universe with THOR (2011). Here in 2021, he brings his most personal tale to the screen with BELFAST. 

 

Belfast, Ireland, 1969. Buddy (Jude Hill), a young schoolboy, copes with the violence in his hometown, which effects his parents (Jamie Dorman, Caitriona Balfe), and his grandparents (Ciaran Hinds, Judi Dench). 

 

BELFAST is a film that is, quite specifically, dedicated to those who left, stayed, and were lost during what is known as The Troubles in Belfast; a conflict between its Catholic and Protestant people. It’s a conflict so deep-rooted that fire-bombs are tossed at houses, streets are blockaded, and the military is called in to quell the destruction. In the middle of all this is little Buddy, who just wants to read his comics (he actually reads a Thor comic. Ha, ha), watch movies, and find a way to get closer to a certain girl at school. 

 

It’s a personal film for Branagh as he grew up in Ireland, and he seemingly throws everything he remembered from his youth on the screen; from his favorite old films and TV shows, playing with toy cars, and using a garbage-can lid as a shield while slaying imaginary dragons. It works, and it works really well…as Branagh brilliantly captures the spirit of youth. 

 

Shot in glorious black-and-white with occasional splashes of color (timed perfectly), BELFAST looks gorgeous. Cheeky humor is nicely timed, and every shot gives us a lot to look at. The dramatic parts range from heartbreaking to shocking…but overall the film is a delight to take in. 

 

Acting is wonderful. Young Jude Hill carries the film and clearly has a bright future. Jamie Dorman and Caitriona Balfe are matched well together, and Ciaran Hinds and Judi Dench are a delight. 

 

BELFAST is not heavy on plot which makes it easy to digest. The real hook of the film; if the family would wait out the raging civil war or flee to England, doesn’t come until late in the film. That’s not a flaw, as that’s how Branagh remembered it, and it’s a treat that he decided to share that with us. 

 

BOTTOM LINE: See it 

 

 




Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A Reel 20: MONSTERS, INC.

“We scare because we care.”



 

This month marks the 20th anniversary of Pete Docter and Pixar Animation Studio’s monster comedy, MONSTERS, INC. 

 

The fourth feature film from Pixar, MONSTERS, INC. centers on two monsters, Mike and Sulley, employed by an energy company which generates power for the city by scaring human children. But when a young child makes her way into the monster-world, things rapidly change for all involved. The story for the film was conceived as far back as 1994 in the now-famous lunch attended by eventual Pixar legends, Peter Docter, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, and Joe Ranft. That meeting would spawn the films A BUG’S LIFE (1998), FINDING NEMO (2003), WALL-E (2008)…and MONSTERS INC.  

 

The story for the film went through several versions. Docter’s original idea was to center on a man in his thirties dealing with monsters that he had drawn as a child coming back to haunt him years later. Working with screenwriters Jill Culton, Jeff Pidgeon, and Ralph Eggleston, the story evolved into a buddy comedy. Legendary Disney animator Joe Grant, who had worked on SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937), suggested the title MONSTERS, INC. 

 

The voice cast would be led by big comedy names Billy Crystal (Mike), and John Goodman (Sulley). They would be joined by Steve Buscemi, James Coburn, Jennifer Tilly, John Ratzenberger, Bonnie Hunt, and Frank Oz. Pixar Animation Studios made strides in animating individual strands of fur. 

 

The film would open at no. 1 at the box office in 2001, and to this day sits as Pixar’s ninth-highest grossing film worldwide. It would be nominated for four Oscars, including Best Animated Feature, and would win for Best Original Song (by Randy Newman). The film would inspire a prequel, MONSTERS UNIVERSITY (2013), and a streaming series. 

 

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This Blogger didn’t think much of MONSTERS, INC. 20 years ago; didn’t love it, didn’t hate it…but over the years have come to appreciate it more. The homegrown plot device of kids being scared of the monster in the closet (maybe there was something in there, after all) is used to great effect, and the film capitalizes on the theme of fear; the monsters use fear to survive, and in turn it is they who fear children. Like most Pixar films, MONSTERS operates on several levels, and is as easily watchable for adults and children. Wherever Mike and Sulley did, they had us watching. 

 

“I’m watching you, Wazowski. Always watching…”




Saturday, November 6, 2021

A Reel Review: ETERNALS



One of the most common, and perhaps unfair criticisms of the now 13-year, 26-film long Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series is that the bulk of the films follow a very specific formula or structure. Formulas always work, but the reliance on them can lead to predictability. This year, the MCU steps into a brave new universe with ETERNALS. 

 

Thousands of years ago, ten superpowered Eternals (Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie), are sent to Earth by the space-god Celestial Arishem to Earth for the strict purpose of protecting mankind against animal-like creatures called Deviants. Once the last Deviant was destroyed, the Eternals went into quiet hiding, waiting for their call to return to their home planet for another thousand years…

 

Directed by Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao (NOMADLAND), ETERNALS sets itself up as a story we’ve seen before, with a group of disbanded superpowered beings getting back together when Deviants suddenly appear on Earth again. It initially feels like familiar territory, but a mid-film surprise turns the entire story upside-down; changing what the Eternals thought their purpose on Earth was and what their own existence was for. It’s a stunning twist that is huge for the story and for the overall MCU. 

 

The structure of ETERNALS takes place over thousands of years, and the film moves back and forth from different points in time and locations all over the planet in near dizzying fashion. The Eternals have been here a long time; protecting ancient civilizations and guiding them to survival; teaching them how to do simple things like plow fields and provide irrigation. The overall scale is massive and it takes a lot of thought to wrap our heads around. The film has several information-dumps to fill in the gaps and let us know what’s happening, and between the many talkie-scenes and the large canvas, it feels unlike any MCU film we’ve seen so far. 

 

Director Chloe Zhao brings us what feels like an arthouse film in many places, which is a welcome change of pace for a Marvel film. Natural, and quite beautiful outdoor locations are used; gone are the artificial environments (although there are some), and enter lush forests, endless beaches, and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. There are large set-pieces here with characters scaled down to ant-size which demand to be seen on a big screen. Action sequences are handled well, and the quiet moments between characters provide depth. The hokey jokes and one-liners we’re used to in these movies are gone, although the bits of humor we do get are very well timed. Ramin Djawadi’s score is excellent. 

 

Also excellent is the large ensemble cast. Richard Madden takes a huge step up from a TV guy to movie star, and he is matched very well with Gemma Chan. Angelina Jolie makes for the most interesting character in the group, with her mind slowly going fragile due to the overload of thousands of years of memories. 

 

The third act contains yet another surprise leading to the final showdown which is a mind-bender, and the very end, along with two whopper mid-credits scenes, may send long-time Marvel fans over the edge of the planet. ETERNALS is epic, different, and a breath of fresh air in the MCU’s 26-film series. Formulas always work, but some deviation is always good. 

 

BOTTOM LINE: See it 





Friday, November 5, 2021

A Reel Review: SPENCER




In 2016, Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain brought us the Oscar-nominated drama JACKIE; an intimate look at the life of Jackie Kennedy in the days following the assassination of her husband, President Kennedy. Seemingly fascinated by the unraveling of a human being, Larrain returns with SPENCER…another drama that dives deep into the mind of the late Princess Diana. 

 

It is 1991, and Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart), arrives for Christmas festivities at the Queen’s sprawling Sandringham Estate…where she finds herself at her breaking point. 

 

The opening minute of SPENCER tell us, “A fable based on a true tragedy”. With that said, the film is right away letting it be known that this is a story not quite based on fact, but instead what might have happened on that fateful weekend where Diana finally decides that she no longer wants to be part of the Royal Family. The film itself does not have much by way of plot, and is instead an intimate mood piece; capturing Diana’s fragile state-of-mind towards the end of her marriage. 

 

SPENCER follows Diana as she finds herself trapped at every turn. Director Pablo Larrain is heavy on the metaphor; using towering ceilings to make her look small, tight pearl necklaces to give the idea of being choked, and curtains sewn shut (to protect against photographers), to make her feel imprisoned. And despite the large estate she finds herself trapped in, SPENCER comes across as very claustrophobic and it works well. 

 

Where SPENCER stumbles is the portrayal of Diana. While the character is obviously going through a major change in her life, she comes across as too frazzled, too needy, and nearly nuts. It’s almost to the point where it’s hard to feel sorry for her…which seems to be the point of the film in the first place. Quiet scenes with Diana and her children are excellent, but only seem to be a break in the nuttiness that this Princess Di will eventually get back to. There is also the occasional scene of Diana seeing ghosts and incidents that are only happening in her mind; well-intentioned but come off as weird. 

 

Kristen Stewart handles the role very well, carries a decent accent, and seems to get a lot of Diana’s mannerisms down-pat. Sally Hawkins comes in as Diana’s trusted maid and does very well, as always. Timothy Spall appears as the head of household and is solid. The rest of the cast for the Royal Family fades into the background…adding to Diana’s feeling of isolation. 

 

SPENCER is a technical marvel with gorgeous cinematography, sharp execution, period-costumes that are spot-in, a marvelous score by Jonny Greenwood, and overall excellent performances. It only needed to dial back the unraveling of the Princess, which as is makes this fable hard to swallow. 

 

BOTTOM LINE: Rent it 





Wednesday, November 3, 2021

A Reel Preview: The Year in Film 2021 - Episode V




The temperature outside may be dropping, but the big screen will be heating up this month with a wide-range of releases. Here’s what’s coming in the month of November: 

 

 

ETERNALS – The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) continues with this cosmic, generation-spanning superhero film, dealing with a race of beings living in secret on Earth for over 7,000 years. The ensemble cast includes Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry, Salma Hayek and TV’S GAME OF THRONES alums Kit Harrington and Richard Madden. It is directed by Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao (NOMADLAND). 

 

SPENCER – Kristen Stewart plays the late Diana, Princess of Wales in this drama. It is directed by Pablo Larrain, who brought us the Oscar-nominated, First Lady drama JACKIE in 2016. 

 

CLLIFFORD THE BIG RED DOG – The big screen adventure based on the beloved children’s book which has also spanned a long-running TV series. 

 

ROCKY IV: ROCKY VS. DRAGO – Sylvester Stallone delivers a director’s cut of ROCKY IV from 1985 which will run in a one-night-only live event on November 11th. The new cut promises never-before-seen footage. 

 

BELFAST – Kenneth Branagh directs this black-and-white coming-of-age drama centering around a young boy during the tumult of Belfast in the 1960’s. It stars Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dorman, and Ciaran Hinds. 

 

TICK, TICK…BOOM! – Lin Manuel Miranda of Broadway’s Hamilton directs this adaptation of the musical of the same name, telling the story of an aspiring theatre composer. Andrew Garfield and Alexandra Shipp carry the tunes. 

 

GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE – The beloved GHOSTBUSTERS franchise gets a legacy sequel, directed by Jason Reitman, son of Ivan…director of the original film. This time around, the grandkids of the late great Egon discover his  legacy just as a new spectral threat rises. Mckenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, and Paul Rudd star. 

 

KING RICHARD – Will Smith plays the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams in this biopic. 

 

C’MON C’MON – Joaquin Phoenix plays a radio journalist stuck with his young nephew on a cross-country trip. 

 

ENCANTO – Walt Disney Animation Studios brings us this fantasy about a family living in an enchanted realm, who discovers that their powers and existence may be under threat. 

 

HOUSE OF GUCCI – Sir Ridley Scott (GLADIATOR, ALIEN), releases his second film of the year, with this one spanning the decades before and after the murder of Maurizio Gucci; head of the fashion empire Gucci. The all-star cast includes Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Jared Leto, Jeremy Irons, Salma Hayek, and Al Pacino. 

 

RESIDENT EVIL: WELCOME TO RACCOON CITY – This reboot of the RESIDENT EVIL film series serves as the seventh film of the franchise…based on the popular survival-horror video games. 

 

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Next month, Reel Speak previews the final month of 2021.