Six Must-See Movies In October

by Dennis Dermody
Force Majeure
Supernaturally good film about a Swedish family on a ski vacation in the French Alps who experience an avalanche while sitting having lunch. What happens during those frightening few moments erodes the parents' marriage and even begins to infect the friends around them. Director Ruben Ostlund's chilly "scenes of a marriage" perversely plays out amidst the almost gasp-inducing beauty of the mountains. And the periodic controlled blasts set off to prevent future natural disasters in the distance adds a weird tension and foreboding that is quite unsettling. Both Johannes Kuhnke and Lisa Loven Kongsli are incredible as the husband and wife and the distressing emotionally devastating toll on their children is expertly illustrated.

White Bird In A Blizzard

Gregg Araki's latest is a moody, melancholic, spellbinding movie based on the novel by Laura Kasischke. Set in 1988, teenage Kat (Shailene Woodley) is dealing with her mother's (Eva Green) mysterious disappearance one day. Time passes with no word from her and she gets by living with her sadsack dad (Chris Meloni), hanging with her friends (Gabourey Sidibe & Mark Indelicato), seeing a shrink (Angela Bassett), sometimes screwing her dim but criminally cute neighbor (Shiloh Fernandez) and hooking up with the hot investigating detective (Thomas Jane). But she is haunted by dreams of her mother. Eva Green (seen in flashbacks straining furiously to break the bonds of her oppressive married live) is frighteningly good. Araki's spot-on use of period music and dreamy cinematography give the film a haunting Mysterious Skin-like vibe, which serves it wonderfully.

Kill The Messenger

Taut, paranoid political thriller, expertly directed by Michael Cuesta, based on the true story of reporter Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner). Webb was a dogged writer for the San Jose Mercury News who stumbled on a leaked government document that led him to post a series of shocking articles in 1996 called "Dark Alliance" about the CIA allowing mass quantities of cocaine to be smuggled into the States and using the drug money to fund the rebel Contras in Nicaragua. Webb realized that this was "the" scoop but during his research people warn him that "some stories are too true to tell." Afterwards, to obscure the bombshell revelations, he is systematically discredited, professionally and personally. Renner is just terrific in this deeply troubling tale, and Rosemarie DeWitt and Lucas Hedges shine as his wife and son.

Horns
Hellishly good horror fable directed with style and sly humor by Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension) based on the book by Joe Hill. Daniel Radcliffe is the tormented Ig Perrish, whom everyone in town thinks murdered his beloved girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple). Vans of reporters and protesters lie hatefully in wait outside his home every waking minute. One morning a pair of horns grow out of his head, and they have the power to make people confess their inner rotten secrets. So he uses it (not to mention the hordes of snakes following him) to get at the truth of who killed Merrin. This is the part where the movie kicks wildly into gear. The great cinematographer Frederick Elmes creates this lush, verdant, haunted woodland feel in which to house this supernatural thriller, and Radcliffe's feverish intensity and soulful decency ground the fractured biblical craziness.

The Two Faces Of January

Director Hossein Amini adapts a Patricia Highsmith (The Talented Mr. Ripley) novel starring Oscar Isaac as Rydal, an expatiate living as a tourist guide in Greece in 1962 who becomes fascinated and friendly with two wealthy, good-looking, tourists -- Chester & Colette (Viggo Mortensen & Kirsten Dunst). But as usual in a Highsmith novel no one is as they seem, and before he knows it Rydal is an accomplice to a murder and on the run through Crete with the shady couple. The underlying tensions between the trio finally build to a murderous pitch in this crafty psychological thriller.

Goodbye To Language
A 3D movie by Jean-Luc Godard! I am so there. Godard has been moving even further from narrative for some time. His latest is a visual and aural collage blending politics, philosophy and film revolving around a couple as they love, argue, take shits and quote from Jean Cocteau, George Sand, Victor Hugo, Mary Shelley and others. Then there's the dog wandering through the woods. There's a playful use of the 3D format with dazzling images of water, leaves, sky, boats, people and the snout of a pooch. There are images that strike emotional chords and others that are hilariously baffling and it ultimately proves that in his 80s Godard is still as radical and visionary as ever.

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