Next on the Big Screen: October 2014

October 4, 2014 10:29 am Last Updated: December 3, 2014 7:31 pm

Opening October 3

‘Gone Girl’

Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry

What: A wife’s disappearance garners media attention. Husband and community look for answers, with some pointing the finger at him. Novel and screenplay by Gillian Flynn.

Anticipated: A thriller told alternately from the husband and wife’s perspectives; hers through her journal entries. Nobody’s a reliable storyteller, least of all the news media.

 

‘Left Behind’

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Lea Thompson, Cassi Thomson

What: A commercial pilot (Cage) flies just hours after the biblical Rapture, in which people disappear from earth in a split second.

Anticipated: Sci-fi sensibilities versus biblical prophecy? This will certainly be a point of debate between moviegoers of various faiths. Also, this will be something like Cage’s 70th movie.

 

‘The Good Lie’

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Arnold Oceng, Corey Stoll

What: Three Sudanese refugees, orphaned as children, land in Kansas. Witherspoon plays the employment agency counselor who witnesses their transformation.

Anticipated: Produced by Broderick Johnson, who was also behind “The Blind Side.” Judging by the trailer, “The Good Lie” is very much in the same vein, that is, white people helping black people. But the compassion is the focus.

 

‘The Liberator’

Starring: Édgar Ramírez, Erich Wildpret, María Valverde

What: Simón Bolívar, military and political leader who spearheaded Latin America’s separation from the Spanish empire.

Anticipated: A period drama, sweeping vistas, and a look at a formative historical moment in the Western Hemisphere’s democratic history.

 

Opening Oct. 10

‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’

Starring: Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Ed Oxenbould, Bella Thorne

What: Young Alexander just can’t catch a break. Soon his whole family experiences the worst day of their lives. An adaptation of the 1970s children’s book by Judith Viorst.

Anticipated: A feel-good story about family togetherness. Carellian antics. Kids will love it.

 

‘One Chance’

Starring: James Corden, Julie Walters

What: Corden plays an aspiring opera singer who, despite being bullied for his unconventional art, ultimately competes in “Britain’s Got Talent.” Based on the true story of Paul Potts, who won the contest in 2007.

Anticipated: Corden’s great at physical comedy, which will make for great getting-beaten-up and getting-hit-by-a-car scenes. Though he doesn’t actually sing opera, he still comes across as exceedingly genuine.

 

‘Automata’

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Birgitte Hjort Sorensen, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Griffith

What: It’s the year 2044. Banderas plays a robotics insurance agent who discovers that robots have gained consciousness. What does it mean to be human in such a world?

Anticipated: They have faces like automobile crash-test dummies, but chances are we’ll end up feeling some Wall-E-ish empathy for them.

 

‘Whiplash’

Starring: Miles Teller, Melissa Benoist, J.K. Simmons

What: A young drummer finds himself under the tutelage of a jazz teacher who is drill-sergeant tough. This top music program is not for the faint-hearted.

Anticipated: A story of dedication to one’s craft. Sweat and tears. Beats to tap your feet to.

 

‘You’re Not You’

Starring: Hilary Swank, Emmy Rossum, Josh Duhamel

What: A classical pianist (Swank) is diagnosed with a degenerative illness. Rossum plays her unlikely caretaker, an inexperienced but daring college student. Together they find ways to triumph over what cannot be changed.

Anticipated: A tearjerker for sure, “You’re Not You” may turn out to be one of those rare films about genuine female friendship.

 

Opening October 17

‘Men, Women & Children’

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kaitlyn Dever, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ansel Elgort, Jennifer Garner

What: Technology and social media intrude in the lives of teens and their parents in the most intimate and potentially dangerous ways.

Anticipated: The drama is heightened by the veil of uncertainty that online interaction casts over those we think we know.

 

‘The Book of Life’

Starring: Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ron Perlman, Diego Luna, Ice Cube

What: A young man is thrust into a different world where temptations lure him to stay. But if he does, he’ll never again see his family, or his love, again.

Anticipated: An animated adventure to worlds inspired by Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), suitable for Halloween.

 

‘Fury’

Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman

What: Americans in Nazi Germany fight on despite impossible of circumstances. Pitt plays the tank commander who must encourage his small team.

Anticipated: A solid film about human nature and tests of will.

 

‘Algorithms’

Documentary

What: A group of blind Indian boys embark on the road to becoming chess champions.

Anticipated: Directors Ian McDonald and Geetha J spent three years with these unlikely heroes. The film is shot with simple and stunning black-and-white cinematography.

 

‘Birdman’

Starring: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone

What: A washed-up actor once famous for his superhero role of Birdman directs and stars in a Broadway play as a last-ditch effort to prove that he still matters.

Anticipated: An honest but surreal look at the nature of stardom and self-worth. A cast with backgrounds in superhero films.

 

‘The Culture High’

Documentary

What: An exploration of the origins and implications of today’s American pot laws. Featuring Sir Richard Branson, Snoop, B-Real, Wiz Khalifa, Ed Burns, and other notables.

Anticipated: An in-depth and revealing portrait of marijuana in American society.

 

‘Dear White People’

Starring: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P. Bell

What: The host of an Ivy League college radio station makes remarks that get the whole campus talking about race relations.

Anticipated: This youthful and smart-looking film retreads age-old debates about identity, but the idea of open discussion about race is an appealing idea.

 

‘Rudderless’

Starring: Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin, Selena Gomez

What: A father discovers his dead son’s songwriting. Starting a band to revive this music, he finds himself on a path of healing. The directorial debut from William H. Macy.

Anticipated: An uplifting journey filled with catchy songs.

 

‘Kill the Messenger’

Starring: Jeremy Renner, Michael Sheen, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

What: A reporter faces intense pressure after he exposes the CIA’s involvement in bringing South American cocaine into poor American communities.

Anticipated: Based on the true story of journalist Gary Webb’s work in the 1990s. It’s not every day that good journalism gets time on the big screen.

 

Opening October 24

’23 Blast’

Starring: Mark Hapka, Bram Hoover, Stephen Lang

What: A high school football star is struck with blindness. But he won’t give up his sport.

Anticipated: A homespun Kentucky tale based on a true story.

 

‘Laggies’

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell

What: Megan (Knightley) is engaged, but not ready to grow up in the least. So she ditches her fiancé to crash with her young friends instead.

Anticipated: A sweet little affair that’s likely to ring true for many young people. Knightley does a convincing American accent.

 

‘St. Vincent’

Starring: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd

What: A young boy whose parents are newly divorced finds an unlikely mentor in his neighbor, a cantankerous old veteran.

Anticipated: Does Murray ever disappoint in a role that’s got comedic underpinnings? They say “never act with children or animals,” but Murray can pull it off.

 

Opening October 28

‘Camp X-Ray’

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Peyman Moaadi, Lane Garrison

What: Against military policy, a soldier (Stewart) befriends a Guantanamo Bay prisoner.

Anticipated: Humanity in an inhumane place. Stewart in a non-“Twilight” role.

 

Opening October 31

‘Nightcrawler’

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton

What: A desperate job seeker gets taken up by freelance crime and incident reporters. How far should a reporter go to get the story? He soon finds himself in hot water.

Anticipated: An impassioned performance by Gyllenhaal. The latest from Dan Gilroy, director of “The Bourne Legacy.”