In theaters: 'Dune'
Frank Herbert's classic sci-fi novel gets another treatment—following David Lynch's cult 1984 version—this time by Oscar-nominated French filmmaker Denis Villeneuve (Arrival). Part of a planned two-part adaptation, Dune covers the first part of the saga, with Academy member Timothée Chalamet starring as Paul Atreides, the young heir of House Atreides, on the hunt for "spice," the most valuable and sought-after resource in the universe. Joining him on this uber-stylish, effects-laden spice hunt (shot by Oscar-nominated DP Greig Fraser): Oscar Isaac as Paul's father, Rebecca Ferguson as Paul's mother, Lady Jessica, Josh Brolin, who pitches in as Paul's mentor and weapon master, and Zendaya as the enchanting Chani. All that and a slew of giant sandworms. Should be a lot of fun.
'The Harder They Fall'
Idris Elba and Jonathan Majors shine as dueling outlaw cowboys in this compelling debut from first-time feature director—and multitalented British musical artist—Jeymes Samuel. In some ways a classic Western revenge picture, bearing many of the hallmarks of the genre, the film offers something new in its representation of Black characters in the Old West—not as secondary players or obvious villains, but as complex and central to the action. Zazie Beetz, Regina King and LaKeith Stanfield, as the real-life marauder Cherokee Bill, also turn in excellent, well-rounded performances. Samuel wrote the script with Boaz Yakin. The Harder They Fall, in theaters now, will also be available streaming on Netflix starting Nov. 3.
'The French Dispatch'
Wes Anderson's latest is, in the Oscar nominee's own words, a "love letter to journalists," bringing to life four stories from a fictional French-American magazine. The founder of The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, played by Bill Murray and inspired by the real-life co-founder of The New Yorker, has died, and his employees—the lot of which make up one of the most impressive casts in years—gather to pay tribute. Anderson's idiosyncratic style is here in spades, and he amps it up even more by including both elegant black-and-white sections and bursts of animation. Oh, and here's that cast we mentioned: Academy members Benicio Del Toro, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston and Timothée Chalamet (once again) join Elisabeth Moss, Griffin Dunne, Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton and Liev Schreiber, to name a few! Anderson wrote the script with some story help from frequent co-conspirators—and fellow Academy members—Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, along with Hugo Guinness.
Another week, another high-profile doc from National Geographic Documentary Films. Fresh on the heels of their excellent The Rescue—a harrowing doc on the 2018 Thai cave expedition—comes Becoming Cousteau, directed by Academy member Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?). The film's subject is the incomparable Jacques Cousteau, the scientist, filmmaker, inventor, explorer/adventurer and early champion in the fight for climate change awareness. Garbus used the ample footage at her disposal—Cousteau was almost always filming something—to re-create his visual world and anchor the film in his original voice. Written by Mark Monroe and Academy member Pax Wassermann, who also edited.
On Criterion Blu-ray: 'Ratcatcher'
Winner of numerous awards upon its release in 1999, Lynne Ramsay's remarkable debut feature arrives on Criterion this week—a much-deserved addition. Set in Glasgow during a 1970s garbage strike, the film focuses on a boy (William Eadie) whose youthful hopes and dreams are swallowed up in the malaise of the city. Ramsay's moving imagery and directorial restraint—she uses dialogue sparingly but powerfully—make for a unique and compelling urban portrait, worth every penny for this typically excellent Criterion edition.