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Payne’s Picks October 2018

By Sarah Payne

Movies Release

Venom – October 5th – The whole month of October is shaping up to be quite a treat at the movies. First up is the Tom Hardy anti-hero flick, Venom. Those who have been following my column for a while know that I’m pretty picky about superhero movies. In fact, I typically only spend my time with Batman. But Venom has me intrigued for several reasons. First, I trust Tom Hardy’s choice in projects. He’s never starred in anything too cheesy or commercial. Second, it’s directed by Ruben Fleischer, who also directed Zombieland. And third, the supporting cast couldn’t be better. Michelle Williams and Woody Harrelson are seasoned actors who have chosen independent films, so they clearly care about the art of filmmaking.

First Man – October 12th – Did you know Damien Chazelle, director of First Man, has a Rhode Island connection? He was born in Providence. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your movie taste), he was also the director of La La Land – the cringe-worthy musical and self-obsessed love letter to Hollywood. Chazelle worked with Ryan Gosling in both flicks. In First Man, Gosling plays astronaut Neil Armstrong and the film focuses on the road to Apollo 11. Bryan Bishop from The Verge reviewed First Man at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival and wrote: “… the film disposes with the heroic mythologizing that’s so regularly utilized in film portrayals of NASA and America’s space program. Instead, it tells an incredibly small story — Armstrong’s struggle to cope with the death of his young daughter.” Bishop goes on to praise Chazelle’s style of filmmaking, but warns that – despite intentions – Armstrong’s character is never fully fleshed out in the film.

Serenity – October 19th – Though I don’t know much about the plot of Serenity or about writer and director Steven Knight (he also wrote Eastern Promises), the cast is stellar. Anne Hathaway plays a wife who hires Matthew McConaughey’s character to kill her husband on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery? I also love the fact that McConaughey and Hathaway are reuniting again after Interstellar.

Movie Review

To All the Boys I Loved Before – Finally, Netflix has created an original movie worth watching. Before To All the Boys I Loved Before, I would browse Netflix’s hub of original content in amazement at how many movies are produced that never see the light of day. As a user, it’s certainly interesting to watch how the company adjusts its content mix and which projects are invested in. This latest film is an adaptation of a book by the same name and it’s currently one of the most prominently featured movies on Netflix. It’s about a high school sophomore who writes letters to each of her crushes – letters she never intends for them to see. When her sister mails the letters, her social life gets a lot more interesting. It’s a sweet romantic comedy – one that appeals to more than just high school girls. Word on the street is Netflix will be producing a sequel to follow the book trilogy.

Crazy Rich Asians – A colleague of mine recommended I read the book this movie is based on. It’s the epitome of froth – light, summer reading for someone who doesn’t want to think too much. Based on the book, I would never imagine the movie would be worth seeing. But this is a rare case where the movie is actually more nuanced and engaging than the book. This is in part because screenwriters Peter Chiarelli and Adel Lim took some creative liberties with the plot to button up the story. The writers also made Rachel Chu’s best friend, Peik Lin, a much-needed source of comic relief. I recommend the film for anyone who can’t resist a good romantic comedy.