Fall Movie Preview: Blockbusters And Awards Contenders

Sep 2, 2019
Originally published on September 2, 2019 6:36 pm
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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

How does Hollywood keep the momentum going after a summer that gave the world "Avengers: Endgame" and four other billion-dollar hits? Apparently, not with superheroes. Here's Bob Mondello with his fall movie preview.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Three months until Thanksgiving and not a soul wearing spandex. How will the industry survive? There will, let's note, be a super villain, the Joker, but his movie catches him before he's terribly super.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JOKER")

JOAQUIN PHOENIX: (As Joker) My mother always tells me to smile and put on a happy face.

MONDELLO: Just a disaffected guy in a clown get-up - but if folks flying in capes will be in short supply, movie stars will still be flying in special effects movies, sometimes into outer space.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AD ASTRA")

BRAD PITT: (As Roy McBride) Control, we're getting that, over.

MONDELLO: Brad Pitt in "Ad Astra," which means to the stars, to look for his dad.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "AD ASTRA")

JOHN FINN: (As Stroud) Your father was experimenting with a highly classified material that could threaten our entire solar system.

MONDELLO: While Pitt's going to the stars to fix that problem, astronaut Natalie Portman will be coming back from orbit in "Lucy In The Sky" and learning that her biggest problem...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LUCY IN THE SKY")

DAN STEVENS: (As Drew Cola) Lucy.

MONDELLO: ...Is psychological reentry.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "LUCY IN THE SKY")

NATALIE PORTMAN: (As Lucy Cola) I'm fine.

MONDELLO: She's kind of not, and she's not alone in being troubled. The folks in quite a few sequels are dealing with issues, including Sylvester Stallone in a new "Rambo" called "Last Blood"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "RAMBO: LAST BLOOD")

SYLVESTER STALLONE: (As John Rambo) The time has come to face my past.

MONDELLO: ...Also Angelina Jolie in a new "Maleficent" called "Mistress Of Evil."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL")

ANGELINA JOLIE: (As Maleficent) Don't ruin my morning.

MONDELLO: A pair of long-lost stoners is still confused in the "Jay And Silent Bob Reboot."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT")

JASON LEE: (As Brodie Bruce) Don't tell me you guys have no idea there's a new comic book movie being made of the old comic book movie you two are the basis for.

MONDELLO: Less-troubled sequels include a revival of an apparently unkillable franchise.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "CHARLIE'S ANGELS")

PATRICK STEWART: (As Charlie) Good morning, angels.

KRISTEN STEWART, NAOMI SCOTT AND ELLA BALINSKA: (As Sabina Wilson, Elena Houghlin and Jane Kano) Good morning, Charlie.

MONDELLO: Speaking of unkillable, a "Terminator" sequel called "Dark Fate" brings back Linda Hamilton...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TERMINATOR: DARK FATE")

LINDA HAMILTON: (As Sarah Connor) My name is Sarah Connor.

MONDELLO: ...With someone new to protect.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "TERMINATOR: DARK FATE")

MACKENZIE DAVIS: (As Grace) Why do you care what happens to her?

HAMILTON: (As Sarah Connor) Because I was her.

MONDELLO: The new cloning flick called "Gemini Man" gives Will Smith that same problem...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GEMINI MAN")

MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD: (As Danny Zakarweski) I think know why he's as good as you. He is you.

MONDELLO: ...Hollywood cloning its own clones. Don't want to kill the blockbuster buzz, but there will also be films that are more down-to-earth, from "Marriage Story," Noah Baumbach's tale of a stage director and his actress wife, to Pedro Almodovar's "Pain And Glory" about a film director in mid-crisis and a slew of biopics.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JUDY")

RENEE ZELLWEGER: (As Judy Garland, singing) Somewhere...

MONDELLO: Renee Zellweger...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JUDY")

ZELLWEGER: (As Judy Garland, singing) ...Over the rainbow...

MONDELLO: ...Will be playing and singing Judy Garland in "Judy."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JUDY")

ZELLWEGER: (As Judy Garland, singing) ...Way up high.

MONDELLO: Tom Hanks will be playing and singing Mr. Rogers in a film named after the kids show entertainer's theme song.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD")

TOM HANKS: (As Mr. Rogers, singing) It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood.

MONDELLO: And Cynthia Erivo will be playing - but happily not singing - renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman in "Harriet."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HARRIET")

CYNTHIA ERIVO: (As Harriet Tubman) I made it this far on my own, so don't you tell me what I can't do.

MONDELLO: Tubman was born a slave, escaped and then went back to lead others to freedom - a real-life 19th century action hero.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HARRIET")

LESLIE ODOM JR: (As William Still) Harriet, welcome to the Underground Railroad.

MONDELLO: More recent stories based on real life include "Ford v Ferrari" in which Matt Damon recruits Christian Bale for a little automotive project.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FORD V FERRARI")

CHRISTIAN BALE: (As Ken Miles) You're going to build a car to beat Ferrari with a Ford?

MATT DAMON: (As Carroll Shelby) Correct.

DAMON: (As Ken Miles) And how long did you tell them that you needed - two, three hundred years?

DAMON: (As Carroll Shelby) Ninety days.

BALE: (As Ken Miles, laughing).

MONDELLO: Also quixotic, a seemingly stonewalled investigation that ended up bringing the term waterboarding into public use, Adam Driver heads up the tense procedural "The Report."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE REPORT")

ADAM DRIVER: (As Daniel J. Jones) They waterboarded 183 times. Everything they got from him was either a lie or something they already had.

ANNETTE BENING: (As Dianne Feinstein) If it works, why do you need to do it 183 times?

MONDELLO: "The Report" was written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, who took a very different approach in his script for Steven Soderbergh's "The Laundromat" about money laundering.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LAUNDROMAT")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As lawyer) They're getting away with murder.

MERYL STREEP: (Ellen Martin) Which is bad.

GARY OLDMAN: (As Jurgen Mossack) Bad? Bad - it's such big word for being such a small word.

MONDELLO: It's the Panama Papers scandal as caper comedy. If you're up for a deeper-dive realism, there's the documentary "The Cave" about Syrian women doctors who treat battlefield injuries while battling sexism themselves. And there are other films that flirt with reality in intriguing ways. Shia LaBeouf, for instance, based his script for "Honey Boy" on elements of his own life, a child actor who develops anger issues living with an alcoholic father.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HONEY BOY")

SHIA LABEOUF: (As James Lort) What's your mother got a job for?

NOAH JUPE: (As Otis Lort) Just in case.

LABEOUF: (As James Lort) In case what? She's filling your head full of fear. I pump you full of strength. I'm your cheerleader, honey boy.

MONDELLO: LaBeouf plays the father in what is clearly a passion project. Edward Norton's passion project, which he adapted, directed and stars in is "Motherless Brooklyn," which takes a novel with an intriguing central character, a detective with Tourette's...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN")

EDWARD NORTON: (As Lionel Essrog) I got Tourette's - I twitch and shout a lot - (shouting) - makes me look like a damn freak show.

MONDELLO: ...And overlays it with a story about a ruthless public figure much like New York's master builder, Robert Moses.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN")

BRUCE WILLIS: (As Frank Minna) Power is knowing that you can do whatever you want, and not one person can stop you.

MONDELLO: Other book adaptations include "The Goldfinch," about a terrorist bombing that changes a boy's life...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE GOLDFINCH")

DENIS O'HARE: (As Lucius Reeve) I know you were there, and I know what else was in that room.

MONDELLO: ...And the film "The King" adapts three of Shakespeare's history plays to put a reluctant Timothee Chalamet on the English throne.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE KING")

TIMOTHEE CHALAMET: (As King Henry V.) Already, I can feel the weight of this crown I wear.

MONDELLO: Uneasy lies the head that wears that crown without dialogue by Shakespeare. Another actor who's played a king, "Black Panther's" Chadwick Boseman, will head a police manhunt in "21 Bridges." "Queen & Slim" is about a couple who become a...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "QUEEN & SLIM")

DANIEL KALUUYA: (As Slim) Black Bonnie and Clyde.

MONDELLO: And heading the cast of Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" is what you'd have to call mob royalty - Robert De Niro, Al Pacino.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE IRISHMAN")

AL PACINO: (As Jimmy Hoffa) Hiya, Frank. This is Jimmy Hoffa.

ROBERT DE NIRO: (As Frank Sheeran) Glad to meet you.

PACINO: (As Jimmy Hoffa) Glad to meet you, too, even if it's over the phone. Well, you know, there's a situation going on now, Frank. Big business and the government - they're trying to pull us down.

MONDELLO: Does all this sound awfully dark? Well, there are comedies, too, including a star-studded whodunit called "Knives Out."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "KNIVES OUT")

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER: (As Harlan Thrombey) We understand, to none of his demise, the family have gathered to celebrate your father's 85th birthday. How was it?

JAMIE LEE CURTIS: (As Linda Robinson) The party? Pre-my dad's death? Oh, it was great.

MONDELLO: Also a World War II satire, "Jojo Rabbit," in which Marvel director Taika Waititi plays a little boy's imaginary pal, Adolf Hitler.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JOJO RABBIT")

TAIKA WAITITI: (As Adolf Hitler) Hey, Jojo, my old friend.

ROMAN GRIFFIN DAVIS: (As Jojo "Rabbit" Betzler) Hi, Adolf.

WAITITI: (As Adolf Hitler) What's wrong, little man?

DAVIS: (As Jojo "Rabbit" Betzler) They call me a scared rabbit.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, chanting) Jojo Rabbit.

WAITITI: (As Adolf Hitler) Let them say whatever they want. People used to say a lot of nasty things about me.

MONDELLO: Walking a fine line here, obviously - as is "Parasite," a satire from Korea about class warfare, and "Greener Grass," a Sundance hit that shreds suburban cliches. These are chilly comedies. You might almost say cold, a term that applies in a different context to the season's animated kid flicks. There's a lot of snow in them, from Disney's "Frozen 2"...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "FROZEN 2")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As troll) Elsa, go north into the unknown.

MONDELLO: ...To "Abominable," the tale of a Himalayan critter...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ABOMINABLE")

CHLOE BENNET: (As Yi) There's a yeti on my roof.

MONDELLO: ...To "Arctic Dogs," about a fox who dreams of being a sled dog...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "ARCTIC DOGS")

ANJELICA HUSTON: (As Magda) What could possibly go wrong?

HEIDI KLUM: (As Jade) He could become a fox popsicle.

MONDELLO: ...And to what's maybe the chilliest animated household anywhere; "The Addams Family."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE ADDAMS FAMILY")

CHARLIZE THERON: (As Morticia Addams) Come now, Gomez. Don't forget to kick your father goodnight.

MONDELLO: Warmer, by far, is another family-mance (ph), brought to the big screen for the first time in the fall's most luxurious costume drama.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DOWNTON ABBEY")

HUGH BONNEVILLE: (As Robert Crawley) The king and queen are coming to Downton.

MICHELLE DOCKERY: (As Lady Mary Crawley) What?

MONDELLO: It had to be bigger for the big screen. That's how this works.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "DOWNTON ABBEY")

MAGGIE SMITH: (As Violet Crawley) Will you have enough cliches to get you through the visit?

PENELOPE WILTON: (As Isobel Grey) If not, I'll come to you.

SMITH: (As Violet Crawley) Oh, here we go.

MONDELLO: Here we go, indeed. Can you wait?

I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.