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The 25 Best Fall 2017 Films We’ve Already Seen

Written by on August 23, 2017 

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As summer cools down, we’re entering perhaps the best time of year for cinephiles, with a variety of festivals — some of which will hold premieres of our most-anticipated 2017 features — gearing up. As we do each year, after highlighting the best films offered thus far, we’ve set out to provide a comprehensive preview of the fall titles that should be on your radar, and we’ll first take a look at selections whose quality we can attest to. These acclaimed 25 films from Sundance, Cannes, Berlinale and more will arrive between September and December (in the U.S.) and are all well worth seeking out.

Kill Me Please (Anita Rocha da Silveira; Sept. 1)

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Following in a wave of cerebral psychological horror films such as The Witch, It Follows, and The Babadook, Anita Rocha da Silveira’s debut Kill Me Please is the latest art-horror film that’s concerned with the internal repercussions of trauma. But unlike that series of films, Kill Me Please may be more effectively identified as a film about the end of the world. – Michael S. (full review)

Trophy (Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau; Sept. 8)

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Somewhere in America, a man named Philip teaches his young son how to take down a trophy buck. Rifle in hand, eye peaking through the scope, the kid takes the shot. Direct hit. The father makes sure to get a couple of photos of his son, holding up the hunted, proud smile on his face. Moments later, we are in South Africa, where Rhino breeder John Hume and his team find a rhino, sedate it, and trim it’s horns as a means of protection, so poachers will ignore the lesser stumps and move along. It’s an interesting opening to Trophy, a complicated look at big-game hunting from director Shaul Schwarz. – Dan M. (full review)

The Challenge (Yuri Ancarani; Sept. 8)

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Falconry is a proud tradition, millennia old, that is part of the common heritage of many cultures spanning multiple continents. The practice was originally developed for the hunt, but also lives as a sport. But that transition from the practical to the ceremonial often piles on arbitrary, sometimes random elements whose absurdity belies the utter seriousness with which the practitioners treat them. While The Challenge is about high-class falconry in Qatar, this holds true for any sport indulged primarily by the rich, like the British fox hunt. This is a sports documentary concerned not at all with the competition at hand, but instead with the series of idiosyncrasies and side moments that come along with the sport. – Dan S. (full review)

Rat Film (Theo Anthony; Sept. 15)

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A horror movie. A nature documentary. An anthropological study. A history lesson. A social justice statement. All plus more. Rat Film is one of the most original films of the year, fiction or nonfiction, and it made me feel both as if I had learned a semester’s worth of knowledge and bereft of any idea as to how society’s problems can be mended. – Dan S. (full review)

The Force (Peter Nicks; Sept. 22)

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In 2003, the Oakland Police Department found themselves placed under federal oversight for charges of misconduct and civil rights abuses. Oakland PD’s deplorable reputation spans the last thirty years, that of a department totally unwilling to treat its citizens with respect. The Force, an engrossing new documentary from director Peter Nicks, peeks behind the scenes of this controversial police department. Cameras followed on-duty officers for two years, 2014 to 2016, documenting not only their interactions with Oakland citizens, but also their private administrative meetings behind closed doors. – Tony H. (full review)

Super Dark Times (Kevin Phillips; Sept. 29)

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Set in an familiar and ambiguous time and place (mid-90s in anytown USA), Super Dark Times functions as a kind of trojan house until its twist. Delivering horror thrills, the Kevin Phillips-directed feature first and foremost invests in character development as an effective and sympathetic coming-of-age story until it lives up to its title. We follow four friends Zach (Owen Campbell), Josh (Charlie Tahan), Daryl (Max Talisman), and Charlie (Sawyer Barth) as they have mild, seemingly innocent adventures: watching scrambled pay-per-view softcore porn, playing 8-bit video games, biking over an abandoned bridge, and ultimately stealing from Josh’s brother. The last part doesn’t end well and it is impossible to discuss the film without spoiling the twist. – John F. (full review)

Lucky (John Carroll Lynch; Sept. 29)

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While they recently reunited for Twin Peaks: The Return, Harry Dean Stanton and David Lynch will be seen on screen together again this fall. The actor comes through with the culminating performance of a career in Lucky, directed by unforgettable character actor John Carroll Lynch (Zodiac, The Invitation), and it’s film that you won’t soon forget. The story follows a 90 year-old atheist on his journey to track down a 100 year-old tortoise, cutting through with humor, spirituality, and breathtaking imagery along the way. – Chelsey G.

The Florida Project (Sean Baker; Oct. 6)

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There are surely few sweeter delights in this troubling world of ours than seeing Willem Dafoe politely escort a group of storks off a motel driveway. It is, perhaps, the best of a number of striking visual flourishes in Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, an aesthetically rich but narratively slight film that sees the writer-director (along with cinematographer Alexis Zabe) switch from the saturated and much-celebrated iPhone camerawork utilized for his last film Tangerine to the crackle and unmistakable warmth of celluloid. – Rory O. (full review)

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