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Ready for the fall movie season? Do I hear a chorus of “maybe”?
Movie theaters around Seattle are, for the most part, open for business. (The Seattle International Film Festival, whose year-round venues the Egyptian, Uptown and SIFF Film Center have been closed since the pandemic began, has announced their theaters will reopen in October.) But those of us who eagerly hurried back to theaters earlier this summer — and hey, that was me — may be feeling a twinge of worry, thanks to the delta variant.
So I offer my list of Fall Movies To Look Forward To with a caveat: Everyone’s got their own comfort level these days, and for some people, going to a theater just doesn’t make sense right now. Others may be eager to go; maybe especially to a theater that requires proof of vaccination, like the Ark Lodge Cinemas and The Beacon in Columbia City, the Grand Illusion in the University District, or the Rose Theatre in Port Townsend. (Dates listed are the opening dates as of this writing and are subject to change.)
For those staying home, some of the movies listed below will be available for streaming simultaneously with their theatrical release; I’ve included that information where I know it. And for those heading out, I’m hoping that these 10 films will whet the appetite — and that we can all enjoy a night out at the movies, before too long.
“Dear Evan Hansen” (Sept. 24): 2021 has worn many labels, but one of the nicer ones is Year of the Movie Musical. Coming between “In the Heights” and “West Side Story” (due in December) is this screen adaptation of the 2017 Tony Award-winning musical about a socially anxious high schooler who inserts himself into a drama not his own. Ben Platt, who may or may not look too old to play a teenager, reprises his Broadway title role; also in the movie are Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Kaitlyn Dever and Amandla Stenberg.
“The Many Saints of Newark” (Oct. 1 in theaters; streaming on HBO Max): I might as well admit it: I haven’t yet gotten around to watching “The Sopranos.” But for those of you who have — and you are legion — I thought I’d include this movie on the list: It’s the much-awaited prequel to the HBO series, set in 1960s Newark and starring Alessandro Nivola, Leslie Odom Jr., Ray Liotta and Vera Farmiga. Series creator David Chase co-wrote and produced the film, which is directed by Alan Taylor (whose credits include “Thor: The Dark World” and many episodes of “The Sopranos”).
“The French Dispatch” (Oct. 22): Finally coming to theaters after a very long wait (it was originally due out in summer 2020, but we all know what happened), Wes Anderson’s latest takes place in the offices of an American magazine published in a fictional French mid-20th-century town. Knowing Anderson’s work, it’s likely to be quirky, full of carefully composed symmetrical shots, and oddly charming; its very Anderson-ish ensemble cast includes Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Elisabeth Moss, Frances McDormand and Timothée Chalamet.
“Dune” (Oct. 22 in theaters; streaming on HBO Max): Another movie long-in-waiting, this is Denis Villeneuve’s screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s bestselling 1965 novel, set in a futuristic galaxy (and previously adapted, to questionable effect, by David Lynch in 1984). The busy Chalamet plays the main character, a young man who must travel to a dangerous planet to ensure his people’s future; also in the cast are Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya, Oscar Isaac and Jason Momoa.
“Last Night in Soho” (Oct. 29): Fresh off “The Queen’s Gambit,” Anya Taylor-Joy stars in Edgar Wright’s psychological horror film about a young woman mysteriously time-transported to 1960s London. The nicely creepy trailer makes this look like potentially excellent Halloween fare — and Wright’s movies (which include my personal Halloween favorite, “Shaun of the Dead”) always hum with infectious energy. This film marks the final screen performance of the great Diana Rigg, who died last September.
“Eternals” (Nov. 5): Want to see what Chloe Zhao, the Oscar-winning director of “Nomadland,” can do with a Marvel superhero movie? Look no further. This film, the 26th in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame,” as an immortal alien race called the Eternals reunites to save humanity, as immortal alien races in comic book movies tend to do. Gemma Chan, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie star.
“Belfast” (Nov. 12): Kenneth Branagh has described his latest film as “my most personal,” inspired by his childhood in Northern Ireland in the 1960s. Caitríona Balfe and Jamie Dornan play a working-class couple with a young son; Judi Dench and Ciaran Hinds play grandparents. Filmed in black and white, “Belfast” is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival — and looks potentially like a quiet charmer.
“King Richard” (Nov. 19 in theaters; streaming on HBO Max): Don’t let the title fool you; the royalty here is of the tennis variety. Will Smith plays Richard Williams, a determined father raising two potential tennis champions — namely, Venus and Serena. The Williams sisters served as executive producers for the film, which is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green.
“House of Gucci” (Nov. 24): OK, this one just looks like it might be the most purely enjoyable wallow of the season — if you like tales of intrigue, decadence, over-the-top fashion and murder. Based on true events involving the family behind the famed fashion house Gucci, the film stars Lady Gaga (who proved in “A Star Is Born” that the camera loves her), Adam Driver, Jared Leto and Jeremy Irons. Bring it on.
“Encanto” (Nov. 24): Disney traditionally releases a family-friendly animated film for Thanksgiving weekend; this one looks like a colorful treat. Taking place in Colombia, it’s about a young girl who wonders why she’s the only one in her family without magical powers, and features songs by Lin-Manuel Miranda.