10 films to watch in October

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(Credit: Netflix)

Including Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, Dicks: The Musical and The Exorcist: Believer – Nicholas Barber lists this month’s unmissable movies to watch and stream.

(Credit: Sundance)

1. Radical

Eugenio Derbez, who played the inspirational music teacher in Coda, is another inspirational teacher in Radical, a fact-based drama directed by Christopher Zalla. Derbez plays Sergio, who is hired to teach sixth grade in a poor Mexican border town, mainly because no one else wants the job. His pupils are resigned to lives of poverty and gang violence, but Sergio encourages them to follow their dreams. A Spanish-language answer to Dead Poets Society and To Sir, With Love? “Yes, the professor-shaking-up-students shtick has been done on-screen many times before,” says Johnny Oleksinski in the New York Post. “But two factors make Radical feel, well, radical: the story being driven by the unique culture of Mexico, and the kids, all exceptional actors, being so devastatingly young… Zalla teaches a lesson on how to deliver an affirming, emotional gut punch.”

Released on 20 October in the US and Mexico

(Credit: Amazon)

2. Foe

Two of Ireland’s finest young screen actors, Saoirse Ronan and Paul Mescal, co-star in Foe, a brooding science-fiction drama directed by Garth Davis (Lion) and adapted from the novel by Iain Reid (I’m Thinking of Ending Things). Ronan and Mescal play Hen and Junior, a couple living in a remote American farmhouse, a few decades into the future. The Earth is dying, but a mysterious stranger (Aaron Pierre) tells them that the Government is developing a plan to colonise space. Junior has been selected to help, but that means leaving Hen behind for several years. David Canfield at Vanity Fair calls the film “a twisty, heated chamber drama overflowing with explosive emotions… an unpredictable, tragic journey, sprinkled with glimmers of hope and punctuated by a reveal that ought to compel a rewatch.”

Released on 6 October in the US, 13 October in Canada, 19 October in Australia and 20 October in the UK and Ireland

(Credit: Signature Entertainment The Family)

(Credit: Signature Entertainment The Family)

3. The Canterville Ghost

Stephen Fry had the title role in Wilde, a 1997 biopic of Oscar Wilde, and he has the title role in The Canterville Ghost, an animation adapted from Wilde’s short story. The film, which also features the voice of Fry’s comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, is set in Canterville Chase, an English stately home that has just been bought by a wealthy US family. The resident spectre, Sir Simon de Canterville, tries to frighten off these brash newcomers, but he is more scared of them than they are of him. The Canterville Ghost is “a sprightly and good-natured pre-Halloween animation,” says Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian. “The visuals are not exactly cutting edge but the storytelling has bounce and there’s gusto in the vocal talents.”

Released on 20 October in the US

(Credit: Magnolia Pictures)

(Credit: Magnolia Pictures)

4. Joan Baez: I Am a Noise

Joan Baez seems invincibly confident. A folk singer with a stunning voice and unwavering convictions, she became a star while still a teenager, and whether she was marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr or singing on stage with her then-boyfriend, Bob Dylan, she always appeared to be in the right place at the right time. But this intimate documentary, filmed while Baez was on her farewell tour in 2018, reveals the anxiety and depression that bubbled beneath the steely surface. She is better at dealing with 2,000 people in a theatre, she says, than with one person in a room. “An up-close, intimate and mostly frank account of a career that arched across more than 60 years of musical and political expression,” says Todd McCarthy at Deadline, “this elaborate documentary navigates adroitly through the professional and the personal aspects of a very full life… undeniably impressive and ceaselessly engaging.”

Released on 6 October in the US

(Credit: Universal)

5. The Exorcist: Believer

David Gordon Green’s recent Halloween sequels brought back the heroine and the atmosphere of the original 1970s film. Now he is doing the same with The Exorcist. The ground-breaking, stomach-turning horror classic had a girl, Regan, being possessed by a foul-mouthed demon. Fifty years on, The Exorcist: Believer has two girls being possessed simultaneously. Their desperate parents seek help from Regan’s mother, played by Ellen Burstyn. Regan herself, played by Linda Blair, may or may not be appearing (the filmmakers are keeping quiet on that question), but Blair was around to help out on set. “We were really lucky to have Linda Blair as a consultant,” Green told Chris Hewitt of Empire magazine, “to take us into not just how to get a great performance out of a young actress, but how to create an environment that can safely do that.”

On general release from 6 October

(Credit: TIFF)

6. Dicks: The Musical

The title of Dicks: The Musical might make it sound quite rude, but don’t be deceived: it’s actually very rude indeed. Tasteless even by the standards of its director, Larry Charles – and he made Borat and Bruno with Sacha Baron Cohen – this wildly camp, madcap comedy started life as an off-Broadway musical written by its stars, Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp. They play two salesmen who discover that they are identical twins who were separated at birth; never mind that Jackson and Sharp don’t look identical at all. They decide to become “a real family” by reuniting their long-divorced parents, played by Nathan Lane and Megan Mullaly, and things get weirder, sillier and more disgusting from there. “I love, love, love this movie that dares to be this wilfully stupid, gross, and gleefully outrageous,” says Kristy Puchko at Mashable. “I laughed so hard my face still hurts. I left the theatre drop-jawed that this movie got made at all.”

Released on 6 October in the US

(Credit: Netflix)

7. Fair Play

In Chloe Domont’s highly-acclaimed debut film, Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich star as Emily and Luke, a young couple who seem to have it all. They’re good-looking, passionately in love, and they both have well-paid jobs at the same Wall Street financial firm: the only snag is that office romances are against company policy, so they must keep their engagement a secret. But then Emily gets a promotion that Luke felt entitled to, and their relationship goes horribly wrong. Marya E Gates at RogerEbert.com says that Domont’s “thrilling mastery of slow-burn tension, insightful examination of power dynamics in business and personal relationships, and creation of exceptional performances prove [her] to be a director with a singular voice.”

Released on Netflix on 6 October

(Credit: StudioCanal)

8. Cat Person

In December 2017, The New Yorker magazine published Kristen Roupenian’s Cat Person, a sharp short story about a twentysomething student who realises that the thirtysomething man she is dating is nowhere near as charming in the flesh as he is online. The story became a viral sensation, prompting countless debates about consent, honesty, and the etiquette of 21st-Century romance. Now it has been expanded into a feature film directed by Susanna Fogel (co-writer of Booksmart) and starring Emilia Jones (Coda) and Nicholas Braun (Succession) as its central duo. This “wickedly ambiguous conversation-starter is… funny in places, horrifying in others and all but destined to be a reference point in future discussions about courtship,” says Peter Debruge in Variety. “It’s a squirmy, uncomfortable movie … required viewing for freshman year.”

Released on 6 October in the US and Canada, and 27 October in the UK and Ireland

(Credit: Apple TV)

9. Killers of The Flower Moon

Martin Scorsese brings together his two favourite leading men, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, to tell the tragic true story of the Osage murders of the 1920s in Killers of the Flower Moon. After the Osage Native Americans strike oil on their reservation in Oklahoma, a malevolent cattle baron (De Niro) schemes to funnel their wealth towards his own family by having dozens of them murdered, persuading his feckless nephew (DiCaprio) to marry an Osage woman (Lily Gladstone). Jesse Plemons co-stars as the FBI agent who investigates. “At its most elemental, Killers… is a procedural, based on David Grann’s book of the same name,” says Namrata Joshi at Cinema Express. “An engaging ‘howdunnit’ made with precision and perfection, even as it is sprawling in span and scope, there’s not a moment out of place in the taut, economic narration… a staggering piece of cinema.”

On general release from 20 October

(Credit: TIFF)

10. The Royal Hotel

Despite its grand name, the Royal Hotel is actually nothing but a grimy pub, deep in the Australian outback. While backpacking, two American women (Julia Garner and Jessica Henwick) take a summer job serving drinks to the lecherous customers, but the men’s leery, beery attention gets ever more threatening until the pub becomes the setting for an explosively violent feminist thriller. Its director, Kitty Green (The Assistant), “dials up the gut-churning tension with the kind of meticulously calibrated, unnerving discomfort she is a master of,” says Tomris Laffly at The Wrap. “It’s a wild ride start to finish, elevated by a healthy dose of Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibes, a pinch of ’90s-style indie pulp, as well as a nod to the Australian cult flick, Wake in Fright.”

Released in the US on 6 October

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