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The 25 Best Fall 2017 Films We’ve Already Seen

Written by on August 23, 2017 

Abundant Acreage Available (Oct. 6)

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Faith-based cinema is as diverse a genre as there is, from the extreme, often violent portraits of devotion from established directors like Martin Scorsese and Mel Gibson, to the attacks on logic in the God’s Not Dead and Left Behind pictures. Angus MacLachlan, a great storyteller of the not-too-deep south, offers a nuanced example of what this genre can bring, returning with the moving Abundant Acreage Available. – John F. (full review)

Faces Places (Agnès Varda and JR; Oct. 6)

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In a year of moral downfall in government and an overwhelming sense of despondency when looking at the dregs of humanity, leave it to Agnès Varda (and JR) to bring an abundance sense of free-wheeling freedom and joy to the world. Delightful in its quaint simplicity, Faces Places captures their journey through French villages and their community building experiments with photography. Come for this jubilation and stay for a tender reflection of a life’s journey. – Jordan R.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach; Oct. 13)

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Adam Sandler has acted in nearly 50 feature films, the majority of which he’s played the lead. It won’t come as any great surprise to learn that The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is amongst the best works of his career, comfortably scaling the lower denominators to reach those sparse upper peaks. Director Noah Baumbach draws from the 51-year-old’s main talents as both comedic songwriter (as in his early standup and his time at SNL) and ticking time bomb (his signature switch from toddler-voiced timidity to raging lunatic that Paul Thomas Anderson harnessed so effectively in Punch Drunk Love). – Rory O. (full review)

Una (Benedict Andrews; Oct. 13)

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“It’s a long story.” So says Una, a young woman with a going-nowhere office job and an emotionally devastated past, when asked about her relationship with Peter — the man she knew as Ray. Indeed it is a long story — a morally complex and cruelly realistic one, too. The debut feature from theater veteran Benedict Andrews, Una is an astonishing success. Anchored by two exhilarating performances from Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn, the film is also harsh, moving, and extraordinarily riveting, one of the more unsettling works to play the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival and undoubtedly among the most provocative. – Christopher S. (full review)

78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene (Alexandre Philippe; Oct. 13)

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There’s been documentaries that analyze entire cinematic movements, directors, actors, writers, specific films, and more aspects of filmmaking, but it’s rare to see a feature film devoted to a single scene. With 78/52, if the clunky title addition didn’t tell you already, it explores the infamous shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho with exacting precision and depth. Featuring interviews with Jamie Lee Curtis, Guillermo del Toro, Elijah Wood, Peter Bogdanovich, Karyn Kusama, and more, it’s bound to be better than most horror films this fall. – Jordan R.

Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes; Oct. 20)

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Todd Haynes’ film is a stranger beast and perhaps a more experimental work in many ways than Hugo, one that skips somewhat cumbersomely between different time periods, sound and silence, imagination and reality, and color and black-and-white. In this way it’s probably a closer relative to Haynes’ I’m Not There, though lacking that oddity’s confidence and narrative élan. – Rory O. (full review)

(BPM) Beats Per Minute (Robin Campillo; Oct. 20)

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Sometimes a movie doesn’t need much character development to make an impact. The ensemble cast that comprise Robin Campillo’s AIDS activists in (BPM) Beats Per Minute all work together to be the same voice. Through this group, the director captures a force that resonates more in message than in any of the conventional, dramatic sparks you might find in a Hollywood version of this story. This is one of the most politically-minded movies to come around in quite some time as Campillo stages heated strategy sessions between the activists of ACT UP like a Godard cinematic political essay post-La Chinoise. Through effective direction, the activism on display here is inspiring enough to rile one up to set aside preoccupations and try to make a difference in the world. – Jordan R. (full review)

Novitiate (Maggie Betts; Oct. 20)

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Written and directed by Maggie Betts, Novitiate is a rare behind-the-scenes look in a pre-Vatican II (1962) convent in the 1950s and 60s at a time of extreme social change. The equally harrowing and frank Novitiate, like Martin Scorsese’s Silence, is about the dangerous consequences and ends in which those that have heard the calling are willing to go. The drama traces the journey of Sister Cathleen, played in a star-making turn by Margaret Qualley (The Nice Guys), an America teen from a troubled family who attends Catholic school and becomes enchanted by the notion of an otherworldly love. – John F. (full review)

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