Like a Thanksgiving repast filled with gastronomical options spicy, sweet and sour, there’s seemingly something for everybody to consume at the movies as the year-end holidays approach.
There are the usual multiplex-popcorn blockbusters, which this month means Thor: Ragnarok (co-starring The Hulk!) and DC’s competing Justice League. (The Last Jedi isn’t due until mid-December, FYI.)
For the family trade, the animated Coco and Christmas-themed The Star figure to fill the bill. The new all-star filming of Murder on the Orient Express aims to satisfy a hunger for the thinking-person’s mass-audience entertainment.
But we’re also entering that interesting time of year called “awards season,” when buzz begins to build for films intended for Oscar recognition. Some of those might not open in Flint as early as this month, as their buildups may be more slowly intended. But when LBJ (with Woody Harrelson as the beleaguered U.S. president) or Darkest Hour (Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill) or Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Denzel Washington as an idealistic lawyer) emerge, you can figure to hear their names when nominees for certain gold-plated statuettes are announced early next year.
One of those Oscar-bait “small” films is The Hero, which has been drawing attention to its veteran star, Sam Elliott. His role is tailor-made: The taciturn, mustached, resonantly-voiced actor plays an aging sagebrush star who faces mortality as he searches for one final great role. “Elliott has a way of finding poetry in silent gaze, speaking his lines as if written on velvet,” writes The Seattle Times of his work. Nick Offerman, Laura Prepon and Katharine Ross – famous as Elaine in The Graduate and lesser known as Mrs. Sam Elliott – fill out the cast of The Hero, which is playing at the Flint Institute of Arts November 10-12.
Other upcoming titles in the FIA’s Friends of Modern Art film series range from plotted stories set in foreign locales to documentaries spotlighting Americans and their culture.
Playing November 3-5 is Frantz, a World War I-set drama about the ties between a German woman who grieves the death of her fiancé and a mysterious Frenchman who visits the fiance’s grave to lay flowers. This thoughtful film is the latest from French writer-director, Francois Ozon.
On November 17-19 comes Graduation, a Romanian drama about a small-town physician who is driven to extremes to help his college-bound daughter after she is victimized in an attack. The Minneapolis Star Tribune calls it “an exquisitely plotted, jarringly presented moral puzzle.”
Three documentaries are of note, as well. Alive and Kicking (playing November 24-26) is an intimate view of American swing dance. And The Trip to Spain (December 1-3) continues the European travels of British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, whose previous teamings, The Trip and The Trip to Italy, have played at the FIA.
Floyd Norman: An Animated Life will be shown November 2 to begin a film series organized with the FIA by the Flint non-profit, Communities First, Inc. Norman, the first African-American animator for Walt Disney, shows that his best work didn’t necessarily end when he left the Disney studio to make a different impact.
Information on all FIA screenings is available at flintarts.org or by calling 810.234.1695.