As the calendar turns to October, generally it represents a packed fall season filled with awards players and top-tier filmmakers (September's suggestions). Therefore, new DVD releases often take a backseat to these in-theater options until the December rush just prior to the lucrative holiday season. However, this October boasts one of the year's finest films and a must-watch that impressed me on all levels. So here's a look at the month's finest offerings:
Captain Fantastic - 3 stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)
The Sundance Film Festival has become a fruitful platform for the year's best independent films. One such under-the-radar selection, Silicon Valley's Matt Ross' directorial effort Captain Fantastic, captures every emotion and proves to be one of the year's finest movies. Viggo Mortensen stars as Ben, an independent father who's become disgusted with the concept of modern society. Along with his wife, the couple ventures deep into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest and build their own self sufficient community where they raise their six children in isolation from the rest of the world. And when an unfortunate circumstance forces the family to leave their paradise and encounter everyday American society, they all begin to question the effectiveness of their lifestyle. Captain Fantastic blends together laugh out loud humor with genuine dramatics, all of which build up this thought-provoking and engaging story. This is one indie you won't want to miss. (October 25th)
Cafe Society - 2 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)
Putting aside personal opinions of acclaimed writer and director, Woody Allen, his latest film Cafe Society is actually a notch above his standard entry. The film follows a New Yorker named Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) who travels to Hollywood and is taken under the wing of his big-shot uncle (Steve Carell). As he begins to adjust to the glamour of Tinseltown, Bobby falls for the lovely Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) and finds himself in the midst of a complicated love triangle. Cafe Society incorporates Allen's trademark qualities, such as fast-paced and witty dialogue and a conflict-filled story. Yet, it's the depth of his characters and the performances of his cast that make Cafe Society one of Allen's most memorable works. (October 18th)
Lights Out - 2 and a half stars out of 4 - (Read my rapid review here)
While many critics have been touting this year's horror entries, I haven't necessarily been blown away by many of the lauded releases. However, I will admit that I've been pleased with the wide-ranging originality that has spearheaded the genre. One such premise resides in David Sandberg's Lights Out. Rebecca (Teresa Palmer) has vivid memories of a psychologically difficult childhood. And when she discovers that her little brother is experiencing the same dark entity that once haunted her youth. Rebecca's forced to confront her mother and put an end to this horror. There are pros and cons splashed all throughout this wildly original thrill ride. The scares are solid and the story is decent, but poor acting and flawed characters keep Lights Out from being a viable horror classic. But if you're looking for a new horror entry to satisfy your Halloween-season cravings, Lights Out is certainly worth a try. (October 25th)
Honorable Mention: A bunch of summer blockbusters find their DVD release this month. The long-awaited sequel Independence Day: Resurgence (10/18), The Legend of Tarzan (10/11) and X-Men: Apocalypse (10/4) are a trio that I haven't had a chance to see. Yet, the re-boot of Ghostbusters (10/11) proved to be a somewhat pleasant surprise, while The Purge: Election Year (10/4) marked a step backwards for the horror franchise. Finally, another pair of films on my radar are the wildly imaginative indie Swiss Army Man (10/4) and the crime-drama The Infiltrator (10/11).