Photo | Lionsgate
When you look out the window, the sky appears autumnal, but when you step out the door, the air is still hot and humid. Nothing to do but crank down the A/C and watch actors wear the sweaters, scarves and berets that we cannot yet put on. Before we hit full-fledged Halloween movies, there are still some flicks that generate fall vibes, and the time to watch them is now.
People are still obsessing about America’s Captain, Chris Evans, and his array of cozy sweaters in “Knives Out.” An all-around fun and almost guiltily pleasurable movie, there is an elevated theatricality to this murder mystery that feels very retro, very delightful and very autumnal. Everyone is over the top, from Evans’ smarmy villain turn to Daniel Craig’s Foghorn Leghorn-voiced detective and all the dizzy hangers-on in between, and I want to spend fall in the film’s incredible mansion, in front of a fire, stirring only for fall foliage outings.
“Knives Out” has sweaters, but the eternally stylish Wes Anderson’s “Rushmore” boasts blazers and berets. As earnest, obsessive Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) doggedly pursues increasingly suspicious goals, both academic and personal, he does so amongst the falling leaves of the titular campus, Rushmore. But it’s not just the wardrobe and the setting; it’s the winsome feelings and impeccably cool, mellow soundtrack that align this comic masterpiece with Earth’s best season — fall.
“Don’t you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies,” says Joe (Tom Hanks) to his email pen pal Kathleen (Meg Ryan) in “You’ve Got Mail,” cementing its status as a fall movie. It’s also a real classic of the rom-com genre, a throwback to a recently bygone age. It seemed like we would always have Meg Ryan movies and we took them for granted. Try to think of the last time someone made a movie like that.
It’s not just the communication technology that is from another time; they really don’t make movies like this anymore. Another essential Meg Ryan film, “When Harry Met Sally,” is a leafy romp through the friend zone, and although its climax takes place on New Year’s Eve, it must be considered a quintessential fall movie. I think it’s just that Meg Ryan has a deeply cozy persona. Meg Ryan has a pumpkin spice aura.
The days get shorter. Your dad is going to sell your neighborhood to an evil real estate developer if you don’t find One-Eyed Willy’s treasure. You’re riding your bike through the Pacific Northwest. It’s fall and you’re one of “The Goonies.”
Misty, windswept beaches, subterranean pirate ships — this film is, as they say on the internet, a whole mood, and that mood is fall. I’m actually talking myself into slipping this into a Halloween rotation, but it is definitely ideal for a transitional September viewing. In other words, right now. This was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid, which is why it’s perfect for fall feelings. Wistfulness is a key component present in all the movies on this list. This brings us to our next entry.
Many great campus movies are, naturally, fall-oriented, but even the color palette of “Dead Poets Society” is autumnal. This is a pretty significant cultural coming-of-age touchstone for a lot of us, which checks that “wistful” box right off, and forming a secret poetry club with your best school chums is just a key fall activity, right up there with apple picking and hayrides.
Woody Allen’s dramatic comedy masterpiece “Annie Hall” gives us all the most important ways to spend time in the fall — drinking coffee, wearing blazers, watching movies and talking about movies. Plus, fall is the most neurotic season, and therefore it is Woody Allen season. Winter is festive, summer is too sweaty for overthinking, spring is too pleasant and uplifting for deep neurosis, but fall is the optimal season for on-again, off-again love affairs, picturesque, pontificating strolls and hyperverbal discussions about death, Nazis and Marshall McLuhan. Pumpkin spice lattes hadn’t been invented when this film came out, but if they had, I think Alvy Singer would have lambasted Annie Hall for drinking them and they both would have discussed it extensively with their shrinks.
New This Week
“Dear Evan Hansen”: The breathtaking, generation-defining Broadway musical phenomenon becomes a soaring cinematic event as Tony-, Grammy- and Emmy Award-winner Ben Platt reprises his role as an anxious, isolated high schooler aching for understanding and belonging amid the chaos and cruelty of the social media age. All multiplex theaters. Crescent Theater.
“Courageous Legacy”: Celebrating 10 years of impact on families and fathers, this updated version of the Christian film includes new scenes and an enhanced look and sound. Four men, one calling: to serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, they are confident and focused. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. AMC Mobile 16.
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