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10 Films to See In October

Written by on October 1, 2014 

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If September was merely the warm-up for our fall film season, October is a full-on assault of incredible titles, ranging from the widest of releases to a few that will, unfortunately, arrive in only a handful of theaters. In keeping to our monthly 10-film limit, there are some promising choices we had to leave out — the director’s cut of NymphomaniacThe Blue Room, Citizenfour, Dear White People, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, The Great Invisible, and The Overnighters, to just name a few — but what we’re left with are some of the finest or, at least, more promising films of 2014. Check out our rundown below and let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments.

Matinees to See:  NAS: Time is Illmatic (10/1), Harmontown (10/3), The Blue Room (10/3), Nymphomaniac: Director’s Cut (10/3), Kill the Messenger (10/10), The Overnighters (10/10), St. Vincent (10/10), Book of Life (10/17), Young Ones (10/17), Camp X-Ray (10/17), Housebound (10/17), Dear White People (10/17), Fury (10/14) (10/17), John Wick (10/24), Citizenfour (10/24), The Great Invisible (10/29), Before I Go To Sleep (10/31), Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (10/31)

10. White Bird in a Blizzard (Gregg Araki; Oct. 24th)

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Synopsis: In 1988, a teenage girl’s life is thrown into chaos when her mother disappears.

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Why You Should See It: While it seemed to land with a relative thud at Sundance, I found a great deal to like in Gregg Araki‘s latest film. I said in my review that it’s a “a refreshingly frank coming-of-age story, featuring another great performance from Woodley, whose character embodies a certain maturity that feels opposite of her turn as a naive bystander in last year’s successful Sundance drama The Spectacular Now.” Although it lands in theaters towards the end of the month, it’s now available on VOD.

9. The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (Isao Takahata; Oct. 17th)

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Synopsis: A mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her – but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.

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Why You Should See It: Despite initial rumors indicating they’d be shutting their doors, Studio Ghibli will hopefully work things out so they can continue to produce the finest works of art in modern animation. Their second-to-last feature (for the time being) comes from Grave of the Fireflies director Isao Takahata and will be landing in U.S. theaters next month. We liked it (with some reservations) at Cannes, saying in our review that its formalism is “rapturous,” with “images that are striking for their simplicity, not density.”

8. Force Majeure (Ruben Östlund; Oct. 24th)

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Synopsis: A family on a ski holiday in the French Alps find themselves staring down an avalanche during lunch one day; in the aftermath, their dynamic has been shaken to its core, with a question mark hanging over their patriarch in particular.

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Why You Should See It: Repping Sweden for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Ruben Östlund’s comedy-tinged drama has been picking up much acclaim throughout the year. We agreed, saying in our review, “While Force Majeure has drawn easy comparisons to Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet — given their somewhat similar couples-torn-apart-by-life-or-death-situation concepts, as well as rigid festival-film formalism — Östlund actually seems more willing to explore his characters. Instead of coming off a mid-film stunt, the inciting incident is upfront in his first act, letting both a moral drama and a comedy of errors ensue as a marriage crumbles.”

7. Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy; Oct. 31st)

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Synopsis: A young man stumbles upon the underground world of L.A. freelance crime journalism.

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Why You Should See It: Dark, daring, and deeply humorous, Jake Gyllenhaal once again proves he’s on a streak like few other in his field with Nightcrawler. We said in our TIFF review it’s “a gem of a lean, mean film that never let’s its foot off the gas pedal with an iconic antihero in Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom who might currently be tops on hardcore cinephiles’ Halloween costume lists come October. Even though there isn’t a conventional plot since the film is more concerned with delivering high octane suspense and extremely high (and warped) entertainment value, you won’t be able to get it out of your head.”

6. Whiplash (Damian Chazelle; Oct. 10th)

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Synopsis: A promising young drummer enrolls at a cutthroat music conservatory where his dreams of greatness are mentored by an instructor who will stop at nothing to realize a student’s potential

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Why You Should See It: Few films this year have as much ferocious, unbridled energy than Damian Chazelle‘s Sundance hit, Whiplash. We said in our NYFF review that the film “feels dynamic and fresh because it capitalizes on every tonal shift and detail. There are moments that are powerful, though askew, like a surprisingly tender monologue in which Fletcher recounts a former student who has passed away.”

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