This Month in Film: October 2018

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September was a tough month for film. Indie gems like The Miseducation of Cameron Post and American Animals shone, but we reached 1-star territory with the likes of The Nun, and overall, the month was one that will quickly be forgotten. October, however, is set to be a whole different ball game – put it this way, it was practically impossible to narrow this month’s releases down to four, but I’ve managed it, and you can pretty much guarantee that at least one these is going to be a big-hitter come awards season.

Venom, dir. by Ruben Fleischer

Starring: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Riz Ahmed
Release Date: 3rd October

The gritty, gory, R-rated superhero spin-off is seriously in right now, and with the popular success of Deadpool, and the unexpected critical phenomenon that was Logan, it was only a matter of time before every superhero franchise attempted to cash in on the trend. Next up, then, is Venom, an action horror set in the Spider-Man universe – just a little bit of a change of tune for the usual Spidey-affair given that (although incredibly popular) it’s probably the most child-friendly of what Marvel has on offer at the moment. The cast alone should be enough to set the excitement levels high for Venom. Known so well for really becoming his characters, Tom Hardy is arguably the perfect choice for the rugged lead role of anti-hero Eddie Brock, your everyday, run-of-the-mill journalist who goes digging where he shouldn’t and somehow manages to acquire the powers of alien, Venom. But if Hardy’s on-screen presence isn’t enough to convince you that Venom is worth a watch (and believe me, it should be), you’ve only got to look a little further down the cast list to realise that practically everyone involved in this film is a big name (Michelle Williams, Woody Harrelson, Riz Ahmed). And then there’s the trailer – it looks fascinating, Eddie Brock looks suitably endearing, and most important of all, it looks utterly edge-of-your seat scary. Get ready to fall in love with the world of Spider-Man like you’ve never known it before.

A Star is Born, dir. by Bradley Cooper

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliott, Dave Chappelle, Anthony Ramos, Bonnie Somerville
Release Date: 3rd October

Frank Pierson’s 1976 drama, A Star is Born, was one of the definitive Barbara Streisand films. Fast-forward over 40 years later, and the touching love story of a declining rock star and up-and-coming actress is about to be reborn, and in keeping with the trend of having a major singer in the lead female role, Lady Gaga takes the place of Streisand this time around. For a musical packed with emotional numbers, Gaga’s powerhouse voice is an instant fit, and in her first leading Hollywood role, she looks destined to deliver a raw, stripped-back performance away from the lights, shows and costumes we know her so well for. And it’s not just the lead actress pulling off a career ‘first’ here. Sharing the screen with Gaga is 4-time Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper, who not only takes on the role of Jackson Maine, a musician battling addiction, but has also directed the whole thing. It’s a well-known fact that men can’t multitask, but given that Cooper has already been tipped for Best Director at next year’s Academy Awards, he seems to have done a rather good job of it here. A lucky few have already managed to see A Star is Born on the festival circuit and to say the reception has been good would be a gross understatement. Following its premiere in Venice, the 5-star reviews have simply kept coming and coming – keep an eye on this one, it won’t be going away any time soon.

Bohemian Rhapsody, dir. by Bryan Singer

Starring: Rami Malek, Joseph Mazzello, Mike Myers, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander
Release Date: 24th October

If the title hasn’t already given it away, Bohemian Rhapsody is all about the legendary rock-band, Queen. More of a celebration of life than an out-and-out biopic, the film chronicles the years leading up to the band’s appearance at Live Aid in 1985, focusing particularly on frontman Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) as he battled personal demons. The production of Bohemian Rhapsody followed a similarly turbulent trajectory. Even before things had got under way, Queen lost its Freddie as Sacha Baron Cohen (who was initially signed on to play Mercury) dropped out after arguments with the real band members, and creative differences saw director Bryan Singer get fired halfway through filming, with Dexter Fletcher taking the helm to complete the project. It seems, however, that Fletcher steadied the ship, and now we’ve seen the promotional material it feels as if nobody other than Malek could ever have taken the lead. Despite its problems, there’s no denying that every man and his dog is excited for this film – if you’ve been on social media in the past month or two, you’ll almost definitely have seen the trailer for Bohemian Rhapsody, and I bet that’s got you excited too.

Read Tash Williamson‘s anticipatory thoughts about the film here.

EDITOR’S PICK: First Man, dir. by Damien Chazelle

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler
Release Date: 12th October

It’s slightly remarkable that it has taken until now for Neil Armstrong’s journey to the moon to get a cinematic conversion. After all, it’s one of the greatest and most pivotal human triumphs of all time, a moment that encapsulated an extraordinary effort and advanced our understanding of the world more than anything before it. Who better, then, to take the helm than director Damien Chazelle. He’s probably the hottest directorial talent around right now, having just become the youngest ever winner of the Academy Award for Best Director, and he’s got this fascinating obsession with individual success (just see his previous masterworks Whiplash and La La Land for a glimpse). With First Man, Chazelle steps away from his comfort zone in some respects. Gone is the world of jazz, but what remains (certainly from the fantastic trailer) is everything that Chazelle has done so well in the past – tension, excitement, oh, and Ryan Gosling in the lead role as Armstrong. It’s already done the rounds on the festival circuit, and besides some controversy with some very patriotic Americans, it couldn’t have been praised higher. October might be an exciting month all round, but things will really take-off with First Man – everything Chazelle touches truly turns to gold.

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Film Editor 2018/19. Self-professed Ryan Gosling expert and karaoke master.

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