This October we’ve got a handful of gems from Sundance in indie dramatic items such as Stacie Passon’s Concussion, Matthew Porterfield’s I Used to Be Darker (both open this Friday) and John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings (October 18th) and docs such as Joe Brewster & Michele Stephenson’s American Promise and Steve Hoover’s Blood Brother (both Oct.18th). We’ve got a formidable piece that played in Berlin with Bruno Dumont’s Camille Claudel, 1915 (October 16th) but what makes October an exceptional month, is that we have four bonafide, almost unheard of gold star items. We trimmed a future Oscar nominee just waiting to collect its loot in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (October 18th) – which is being touted as the best of his early career and was graded with a rare, perfect score on our site. Here are this month’s Top 3 Critic’s Picks!:
Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón
Wide Release – October 4th
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Awards: The film was shown at Venice, Telluride, Toronto, NYFF, San Sebastián.
What the critic’s are saying?: Cuaron’s ambitious seventh feature film which our Jordan M. Smith calls “a masterpiece of deep space suspense that pushes the process of blockbuster filmmaking into the future with the magic of cutting edge lighting, motion capture and CGI work, but let’s not forget that the film is more than a technical marvel,” was hailed by Variety’s Justin Chang as a “white-knuckle space odyssey, a work of great narrative simplicity and visual complexity, it’s this image that speaks most eloquently to Cuaron’s gifts as a filmmaker: He’s the rare virtuoso capable of steering us through vividly imagined worlds and into deep recesses of human feeling.” Eric Kohn brings out the measuring stick of studio flicks, stating it, “measures Cuarón succeeds to a stunning degree at conveying the physicality of an otherworldly scenario rather than departing from it as so many over-processed blockbusters do. While unquestionably escapism, as minimalist spectacle, it delivers unprecedented delights.” I like best how Stephanie Zacharek encapsulates the experience by saying “some movies are so tense and deeply affecting that they shave years off your life as you’re watching, only to give back that lost time, and more, at the end. Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity is one of those movies.”
A Touch of Sin – Jia Zhangke
New York Release – October 4th
Distributor: Kino Lorber
Awards: Main Competition entry in Cannes it won Best Screenplay award. Has since shown at TIFF and NYFF.
What the critic’s are saying?: With some calling it Zhangke’s most accessible and mainstream offering, the film didn’t exactly win over all critics, but fared extremely well in our Cannes Critics’ Panel placing fourth in the entire Main Comp. Cinemascope Mag’s Robert Koehler observes how the filmmaker “suggests an adventurous new strategy of melding the Mainland China of the news—such as the wave of ultra-luxe hotels and resorts catering to (especially) wealthy men seen in the fourth episode—to a heightened theatricality veering toward satire,” while Variety’s Justin Chang thinks the four episode format is problematic saying that in “exploring the many varieties of social, political and economic oppression at home, Jia crams together four very uneven stories of four troubled individuals, all climaxing in horrific acts of violence that send the film swerving into Grand Guignol territory.”
Blue Is the Warmest Color – Abdellatif Kechiche
Limited Release – October 25th
Distributor: Sundance Selects
Awards: Cannes Film Festival Palme D’Or winner.
What the critic’s are saying?: The hands down favorite Palme d’Or winner in recent time, the film’s only detractor would appear to be the filmmaker who has grown bitter by the post-Cannes publicity experience. Our Nicholas Bell highlighted how the filmmaker “hardly tries your patience, once again creating a beautiful, engrossing film that manages to capture human emotion like few others films ever have. Inordinately simple on paper, as, in essence this is a coming out drama, Kechiche understands how to pace, guiding us expertly as he generously allows his actors and their characters to breathe actual life and believability into the film, and thus creates bold portrayal of love, sex, and relationships and what time does to warp our thoughts on them all.”