With their previous feature, Good Time, Josh and Benny Safdie proved themselves the real deal, New York filmmakers whose sense of grit, squalor, and desperation put them on a level comparable to the greats whose work had clearly inspired them. Their latest couples the thrill of watching them work on a bigger budget and canvas with one of our favorite occasional movie miracles: Adam Sandler shaking off the laziness of his self-generated comic vehicles, pairing up with a real filmmaker (like Paul Thomas Anderson or Noah Baumbach), and making a movie that finally, fully utilizes his gifts.
Actor-turned-director Sophia Takal’s Always Shine was one of the best indies of 2016, a DePalma-inspired psychological thriller with a heavy dose of female agency and genuine psychosis. So we’re more than willing to overcome our customary remake aversion to see what she might do with a new take on Bob Clark’s groundbreaking 1974 slasher, which established many of the tropes of that horror subset, for good and ill. Takal also co-wrote the script, with film critic/screenwriter April Wolfe of the late, lamented L.A. Weekly.
Greta Gerwig follows up on the triumph of Lady Bird (and quickly too, thanks for that) with her new take on Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel, which immerses her Lady Bird co-stars Saoirse Ronan, Timothée Chalamet, and Tracy Letts into a jaw-dropping ensemble that also includes Florence Pugh, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, and Bob Odenkirk. Some skepticism is understandable here; we just had a perfectly good and inarguably timeless Little Women back in 1994, and there’s no shortage of other cinematic interpretations as well. But it’s mighty hard to resist this combination of talents.
Two falls back, Gerwig was working the fall festival circuit alongside her frequent collaborator and off-screen partner Noah Baumbach (they wrote Frances Ha and Mistress America together), whose Netflix-funded The Meyerowitz Stories was also one of the year’s best. Their coupling – which came around the same time as the end of his marriage to earlier collaborator Jennifer Jason Leigh – is reportedly the not-too-hard-to-track inspiration behind his latest, also for the ‘flix, which stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as young parents weathering a tough divorce.
And finally, also from Netflix, we have perhaps the most keenly anticipated movie of the fall, thanks in no small part to its many, many returns and reunions: It's Martin Scorsese’s first gangster movie since 2006’s The Departed, his first collaboration with Robert De Niro since 1995’s Casino, his first collaboration with Harvey Keitel since 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ, Joe Pesci’s reunion with this Raging Bull / Goodfellas / Casino crew after years of self-imposed exile, De Niro’s big reunion with Heat co-star Al Pacino (I know not of this Righteous Kill and I’ll hear no more of it), and, somehow, Scorsese’s first collaboration with Pacino, ever. That’s a lot of reasons to be excited for this one. Now if they’d just give it an actual release date we might know how much longer we have to wait…