There’s no denying it: the star-packed, film-crammed, totally wild fall movie-going season is back. While the previous two pandemic years have provided plenty of new films across all seasons and tastes, 2022 marks the first time in a long time that our most-anticipated list of films coming out this fall season pushed up to 60 titles.
Even more edifying: the range of films on offer. Of course, this preview includes a number of fall festival premieres and “awards” titles, but we’ve got a range of smaller picks, genuine curiosities, and even the odd remake to get excited about. We’ve got Sundance favorites and Cannes debuts, a donkey with a heart of gold, a pair of highly anticipated superhero movies, and Steven Spielberg revisiting his childhood (again! and we’re all better for it!). The Harvey Weinstein case gets a film, Rosaline gets her due, and a bunch of rich people puke their guts out on a yacht.
And this is just scratching the surface of a rich and wild season of movie-going. In order to appreciate all of our choices, you’re going to have to start scrolling (and scrolling and scrolling, 60 movies take up a lot of room).
This list only includes films that have confirmed release dates from September through December, though a few of IndieWire’s most-anticipated 2022 films have yet to announce their release plans. As the fall festivals kick off in the coming weeks, we expect a fresh round of new films to be excited about that just might sneak in their own summer release plans after bowing across the circuit.
That means that everything remains in flux, and as plans continue to change, this list will be updated. Whether that includes changing release dates, the method of a film’s release, or adding in some of those anticipated titles that lock in an official date in 2022, this preview remains particularly fluid. For now, however, these are the films we are most excited to see in the coming months.
We’re also thrilled to provide some exclusive new looks at some of our picks, including new stills from “Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul,” “See How They Run,” “The Banshees of Inisherin,” and more, which you can check out below.
David Ehrlich, Eric Kohn, Christian Blauvelt, Jude Dry, Ryan Lattanzio, Samantha Bergeson, Christian Zilko, Susannah Gruder, Siddhant Adlakha, Adam Solomons, and Robert Daniels contributed to this article.
Steve Swisher, exclusive to IndieWire
“Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul” (September 2, in theaters and streaming on Peacock)
Initially scanning as a “Best in Show”-esque mockumentary send-up of megachurch culture in the time of #MeToo, Adamma Ebo’s feature directorial debut “Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul” steadily moves into darker territory, though all of it is in service to biting back at a target-rich environment ripe for onscreen ripping. Featuring stars Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown doing predictably divine work (do these two performers know any other way?), “Honk for Jesus” is equal parts hilarious and painful, an incisive upbraiding of the sorts of people who should have long ago realized no one — especially nattily attired pastors — is above God.
Once top of the heap in their Georgia town, thanks to their thousands-strong Southern Baptist congregation at the snazzy Wander to Greater Pastures megachurch, Trinitie (Hall) and Lee-Curtis (Brown) are months deep into a scandal that’s nearly sunk them. Through amusingly crafted newscasts and fake archival footage, Ebo introduces the duo and their current lot in life — not great, but as Trinitie tells us, stone-faced, they’re ready to gnaw through any problems with the tenacity of a rat — and their wild plan to win it all back. —KE
“Barbarian” (September 9, in theaters)
One of the indisputable laws of the universe is that enclosed spaces and poor decision-making usually lead to great horror movies. And from the looks of it, “Barbarian” has both of those in spades. When a young woman arrives at an AirBnB she rented for a trip, she learns that it was double booked and there’s already a mysterious man staying in it. While the decision to spend a night in the house with him sounds dangerous enough, it gets even worse when you learn that the man in question is played by Pennywise himself, Bill Skarsgard.
No spoilers, but the odd that this ends well are extremely low. The film marks “Whitest Kids You Know” comedian Zach Cregger’s first time behind the camera, but considering the cast of horror veterans he lined up (Skarsgard, Justin Long, and Justina Campbell), he probably doesn’t have too much to worry about when it comes to scaring his audience. —CZ
“Speak No Evil” (September 9, in theaters; September 15, streaming on Shudder)
There are some horror films that rattle you to the core, that make you scream and cover your eyes, your heart beating out of your chest until you feel faint and slightly nauseous. And there are some that sink deep into your bones and stay there, unsettling your psyche and coloring nearly every subsequent event you experience with an overpowering sense of dread. “Speak No Evil,” the latest film from Danish director Christian Tafdrup, is both of these, a masterly work of sadistic and painstakingly drawn-out social horror that sits with you long afterward, like the dull ache from a deeply lodged splinter.
It almost feels wrong to recommend this film to others — why would I inflict this inhumane experience on someone else? I’ll leave audiences with a warning, one that should lure in the kind of viewer who sees the value in the brilliant brutality of such a work. And for those willing to take the plunge, the pay-off is enormous: “Speak No Evil” is the most cunningly depraved horror film in years, offering a piercing commentary on the ways we accommodate others to the point of self-subjugation. —SG
“Hold Me Tight” (September 9, theaters)
French actor Mathieu Amalric is an equally canny director, as anyone who saw his brooding and Chabrolian 2014 adultery mystery “The Blue Room” knows. His features including “Barbara” and “On Tour” have made respectable waves at the Cannes Film Festival, as did his upcoming domestic drama “Hold Me Tight,” which pairs the director with the inimitable Vicky Krieps. (She’s got another banger out of Cannes this year with “Corsage,” a reimagining of the life of the recalcitrant Empress Elisabeth of Austria, which also appears on this list.)
Nominated for Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay César prizes, “Hold Me Tight” is adapted from Claudine Galéa’s stage play about a mother (Krieps) on the run from her husband (Arieh Worthalter) and family for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. The film cuts between Clarisse on the road and Marc at home tending to their two children, one of whom is a piano prodigy. Krieps has proven herself a master of ambivalence, often keeping her characters’ true motivations at bay behind a screen of effortless slyness and stony will. And as with Amalric’s previous films, “Hold Me Tight” takes an expressionistic approach to teasing out what’s really at stake, keeping a tight hold on the audience en route to an unexpected finish. —RL
“God’s Country” (September 16, in theaters; October 4, on VOD)
The premise of “God’s Country” paints the proverbial “two Americas” with the broadest possible brushstrokes, pitting a Black, female humanities professor against two white guys in a red pickup truck. Nobody mentions who they voted for, but the preconceived notions write themselves. Yet the film digs deeper with each passing scene, subverting our first impressions of each character before letting them prove they are exactly who we thought they were. Julian Higgins’ excellent film constantly dangles redemption in front of our faces, begging us to imagine a better world, but ultimately delivers a stark reminder of how bitterly divided the country is. —CZ
“Goodnight Mommy” (September 16, streaming on Prime Video)
Naomi Watts lends her talents to another international horror remake, as she did so successfully in 2002 with “The Ring,” this time for the 2014 Austrian psychological horror film “Goodnight Mommy.” Watts will play the titular Mommy, who returns from cosmetic surgery with her face bandaged beyond recognition. Her twin sons are disturbed by her increasingly erratic behavior, raising suspicions that she may not be their mother after all.
“Big Little Lies” twins Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti will play the sons, with original filmmakers Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz on board as executive producers. Matt Sobel, who made waves with his 2015 Sundance breakout “Take Me to the River,” another tense family psychological thriller, will helm the remake. —JD
“Moonage Daydream” (September 16, in theaters)
“Moonage Daydream” feels, first and foremost, like a montage of media criticism encompassing the entire 20th century, all of it laser-focused through a single pinhole: the dynamic David Bowie. More sensory experience than straightforward recounting, the documentary by Brett Morgen (“Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck”) is about feeling your way through a chaotic world with Ziggy Stardust as your anchor. It’s a fitting encapsulation of the many “he taught me it was OK to be weird” sentiments in the wake of Bowie’s death. But despite the quasi-religiousness of such refrains, the film by no means avoids painting the late pop icon as distinctly human, whether through his insecurities, or the way his perspective on love would eventually evolve.
The doc features a treasure trove of archival footage and zero contemporary talking heads. It is immediately positioned as an exploration of Bowie’s rise to global fame in the early ’70s, told from the perspective of that same era (its key filmmaking influence appears to be Stan Brakhage, a pioneer of the dreamlike avant-garde), with a modus operandi involving unapologetic overloads of light and sound. —SA
“Pearl” (September 16, in theaters)
In the midst of shooting his A24 horror movie “X” in New Zealand, Ti West had a revelation. His cabin-in-the-woods slasher already had a full set built in New Zealand with a crew from the upcoming “Avatar” sequel on break from their bigger gig. Why not keep it going? And so he wrote “Pearl,” an ambitious surprise prequel to his ’70s-set ruckus that found a bunch of porn filmmakers in rural Texas facing off with the murderous elderly couple who own the place. Mia Goth did double duty as both porn star Max and the wild-eyed killer Pearl, the latter of whom was buried under reams of makeup to disguise the performance.
But what a performance! Pearl steals the show as geriatric maniac hellbent on taking all these sinners down. The movie’s dizzying finale was a jolt of bloody mayhem but left many questions, including: Who the hell was Pearl? Now comes the prequel with answer, and it’s a doozy: Shot in a Technicolor style and set in 1918, the new movie promises a disorienting subjective plunge into the mind of a young woman who dreams of movie stardom and goes mad in the process. Expect a visually dazzling genre experiment from one of the most innovative horror directors this century has on offer, while bearing in mind that West already has another sequel in mind so this chilling story is just getting started. —EK
“Riotsville, USA” (September 16, in theaters)
“Riotsville, USA,” Sierra Pettengill’s transfixing and troubling archival documentary, feels like watching a Ken Burns film through a kaleidoscope. Relying exclusively on remarkable pre-existing footage, Pettengill tells the story of the development of the U.S. military’s riot management program in the late ’60s, formed in response to the civil rights uprisings in cities across the nation. The military held its riot training in these eponymous fake towns, constructed diorama-style to allow clean-cut soldiers to play-act as protesters, donning hippie clothing and long-haired wigs as they smashed the glass windows of make-believe businesses and overturned government-bought sedans.
Along with a star-studded group of collaborators, including the critic Tobi Haslett, who writes the keen and captivating running commentary, and masterful editor Nels Bangerter, who’s also worked with boundary-pushing documentarians Brett Storey and Kirsten Johnson, Pettengill periodically pokes and prods at this footage, zooming in to the point of pixelation or blurring the edges around figures to interrogate the meaning behind these moments. —SG
Searchlight Pictures, exclusive to IndieWire
“See How They Run” (September 16, in theaters)
Forget Sherlock and Holmes: Meet Stoppard (Sam Rockwell) and Constable (Saorise Ronan), the go-to detective duo of ’50s-era London. The investigative duo lead Tom George’s feature film debut “See How They Run” from a script penned by Mark Chappell. Weary detective Stoppard and eager rookie inspector Constable are hired by a desperate producer to solve a string of murders targeting the members of a popular West End play just as its being adapted into a film (Hollywood!).
“See How They Run” also boasts a major supporting cast of big stars, including Adrien Brody, David Oyelowo, Ruth Wilson, Harris Dickinson, Shirley Henderson, Sian Clifford, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Reece Shearsmith, and Charlie Cooper. The whodunnit from Searchlight Pictures catpures the glitz and glam of the theatre, coupled with its seedy and envy-driven underground. But, as they say, the show must go on, no matter if the understudies are meeting the undertaker or not. —SB
“The Woman King” (September 16, in theaters)
Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood does not get enough credit for her staggeringly diverse career. Here’s a filmmaker who can make everything from a beloved (and sexy romantic dramedy) like “Love & Basketball,” tackle a tough coming of age story like “The Secret Life of Bees,” dive deep into the perils of fame in “Beyond the Lights,” and give Netflix a bonafide superhero action movie in “The Old Guard.” What can’t she do?
In her next film, Prince-Bythewood seems to be intent on answering that very question with yet another compelling entry into a rich career. “The Woman King” stars Viola Davis in the titular (and fact-based) role as the leader of the Agojie, the all-female warrior unit who protected the African kingdom of Dahomey in the 19th century. The film might be Prince-Bythewood’s first crack at taking on complex, mostly unknown history, but everything else she’s done before seems likely to add up to one hell of an epic. The film will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before rolling out in mid-September, perfect timing to get an awards campaign rolling, and fast. —KE
“A Jazzman’s Blues” (September 23, streaming on Netflix)
Tyler Perry’s relationship with Netflix is proving to be fruitful. He first went to the streamer with 2020’s “A Fall from Grace,” which proved to be Cicely Tyson’s last movie. Earlier this year, he brought “A Madea Homecoming” to the service. And now he’s about to deliver a new film which he’s had on the back-burner for much of his career: Perry first wrote the screenplay for “A Jazzman’s Blues” in 1995, after the then twenty-something had his breakout stage hit with “I Know I’ve Been Changed” but before he’d made the leap to movies.
Intriguingly, the film, which stars Joshua Boone, Solea Pfeiffer, Brent Antonello, Brad Benedict, and Ryan Eggold, is going to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival first. It’s an auspicious sign for what’s clearly a very personal project: since first writing it, he’s tried to get “A Jazzman’s Blues” made over the years, with The Hollywood Reporter first saying that Lionsgate was going to put it into production in the summer of 2007. Maybe the wait will be worth it. —CB
“Don’t Worry Darling” (September 23, in theaters)
Harry Styles and Florence Pugh are a match made in heaven…or in a Victory lab, but really it’s the same thing, right? “Don’t Worry Darling,” the mind-bending funhouse reflection of a ’50s suburban utopia helmed by director Olivia Wilde, is set to debut at the 2022 Venice Film Festival before hitting theaters this September.
Pugh stars as Alice, a housewife who becomes suspicious of her charming husband Jack (Styles) and his corporate colleagues, including Victory leader Frank (Chris Pine). Soon, Alice starts to chip away at her seemingly perfect life, finding its hollowness within. But just to what end is Alice willing to risk it all to expose the truth? (And, uh, what is the truth?) Wilde, Gemma Chan, KiKi Layne, Nick Kroll, Sydney Chandler, Kate Berlant, Asif Ali, Douglas Smith, Timothy Simons, and Ari’el Stachel also star in the psychological drama from a screenplay written by Katie Silberman, based on a story by Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke, and Silberman. —SB
“Blonde” (September 28, in theaters)
Well, it’s finally here. More than three years since it began shooting, more than 12 years since it was first announced, and more than 203 news cycles (give or take) about its graphic content and/or controversial leading lady Ana de Armas, Andrew Dominik’s NC-17 Marilyn Monroe biopic “Blonde” is finally going to materialize on Netflix towards the end of September after premiering at the Venice Film Festival just a few weeks prior.
Like virtually all of Dominik’s previous work (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” most of all), this movie already seems both mega-hyped and semi-forgotten in the same breath — destined to be derided and memed to death before it’s eventual recognition as something indispensable. In this case, that would be a fitting tribute to its subject, whose private torment Dominik’s film is sure to capture in unsparing detail over the course of 166 minutes. —DE
“Bros” (September 30, in theaters)
After years carving out his niche as an endlessly memeable cranky loudmouth in “Billy on the Street,” Billy Eichner is finally hitting the big time. Firsts can be tricky to pin down, but it’s looking like “Bros” will be the first gay rom-com from a major studio to star out gay actors in both romantic leads.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller, who co-wrote the script with Eichner, the movie follows a cantankerous podcast host who seems allergic to love. When he meets a hunky muscle gay (Luke MacFarlane) he considers way out of his league, sparks fly despite his best efforts at staying alone. Executive produced by Judd Apatow and starring a flashy ensemble of mostly queer cast, “Bros” could be a major turning point in the mainstream appeal of LGBTQ stories. —JD
“God’s Creatures” (September 30, in theaters and on VOD)
Shared madness — or, at least, shared delusion — punctuated filmmaker Anna Rose Holmer’s striking debut “The Fits,” which followed a group of young dancers in Cincinnati who all fell prey to the same mysterious ailment and saw their bonds shift and change because of it. Holmer created her remarkable first film with editor and writer Saela Davis and they reteam on her second, “God’s Creatures,” with Davis taking a co-directing credit on another ambitious look inside a community defined by fractured, perhaps even crazy bonds.
Unlike “The Fits,” however, “God’s Creatures” is a decidedly chilly affair, both due to its location (a windswept Irish fishing village where people wear cozy sweaters even in May) and its subject matter (a prodigal son returns home and upends everyone’s lives). But powerful performances from stars Emily Watson and Paul Mescal add spark to the film, which attempts to interrogate the real meaning (and price) of belonging. —KE
Courtesy of 20th Century Studios
“Amsterdam” (October 7, in theaters)
David O. Russell directs his first film since 2015’s “Joy,” and this time gets behind the camera sans his beloved mused Jennifer Lawrence. Still, he’s rounded up quite the cast for this 1930s-set conspiracy caper. Here goes: Christian Bale (whom Russell directed to an Oscar win for 2011’s “The Fighter”), Margot Robbie, John David Washington, Chris Rock, Anya Taylor-Joy, Zoe Saldaña, Mike Myers, Michael Shannon, Timothy Olyphant, Andrea Riseborough (the MVP in any movie these days), Rami Malek, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alessandro Nivola, and Robert De Niro. Oh, and Taylor Swift, presumably to make some kind of musical appearance.
From “Silver Linings Playbook” to “I Heart Huckabees,” Russell is an obviously skilled director of such variegated ensembles — though apparently not skilled enough to secure an Oscar, because he’s never personally won one, even as his actors (often infamously clashing with the man and his, uh, exacting approach) have. Bale and Washington play wounded soldiers who befriend a nurse (Robbie) while on leave in Amsterdam and soon become embroiled in a murder plot.
“Amsterdam” notably pairs Russell with three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, and while there’s no getting in Chivo’s way, the trailer already promises Russell’s trademark cascading zooms — but this time filtered in 1930s old-timey sepia. —RL
“TÁR” (October 7, in theaters)
“In the Bedroom” (2001) and “Little Children” (2006) established Todd Field as one of the most exciting American filmmakers of his generation, only for him to immediately disappear from the scene altogether. Now, after the almost Malickian absence that followed the release of his first two features, Field is back with his third: An 158-minute original drama starring Cate Blanchett as a renowned conductor and composer whose life begins to crumble as it crescendos towards a pivotal concert.
Details about “TÁR” are few and far between at the moment — though the film’s cryptic teaser suggests that we’re in for something characteristically hyper-literate and intense — but the promise of Field picking up where he left off is enough to make this one of the fall’s most anticipated premieres. That Blanchett, in what sounds like another major role, will be supported by the likes of Nina Hoss and “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” star Noémie Merlant only adds to the sense that we should be in for something special. —DE
“Triangle of Sadness” (October 7, in theaters)
Each of its three chapters, which bob into each other like dinghies that’ve been hastily tied to the same dock during a hurricane, offer ample opportunity for director Ruben Östlund to poke fun at the empty promise of financial equality in a world where even the bodies we’re born into command different economic value. The film’s title might allude to the wrinkle of skin between your eyebrows, but that pyramidal geometry more pressingly refers to Östlund’s fascination with social hierarchies — and the glee he takes in flipping them upside down, as if that alone might be enough to see them in a new light.
It starts, as all movies should, in the world of high-end male modeling. A muted and dangerously almost-smart Derek Zoolander type who Harris Dickinson plays to perfection, the 25-year-old Carl is reaching the geriatric stage of his career, and the anxiety over his economic future is starting to make his eight-pack look two abs short. A merciful society would simply euthanize Carl rather than make him suffer the slow indignity of losing Instagram followers — and spare us the unpleasantness of having to look upon this hideous creature for another 145 minutes — but the fashion industry is not so kind. Instead, Carl finds himself without a seat at his supermodel girlfriend Yaya’s latest runway show (she’s played by Charlbi Dean), and then haggling with her, exhaustingly, over the dinner bill later that night. Things will soon get worse. —DE
“Decision to Leave” (October 14, in theaters)
Here’s a sentence I never expected to write: The most romantic movie of the year (so far) is a police procedural. Then again, I wasn’t aware that “Oldboy” director Park Chan-wook — whose operatic revenge melodramas have given way to a series of ravishingly baroque Hitchcockian love stories about the various “perversities” that might bind two wayward souls together — was making a detective thriller. In that case, the heart-stirring potential of the Korean auteur’s new detective saga would have been as obvious as the identity of its killer.
It’s a good thing, then, that “Decision to Leave” isn’t a whodunnit — as you’ll be able to discern from the pathetic effort its protagonist makes to solve his latest case. In fact, Park’s funny, playful, and increasingly poignant crime thriller is less interested in what Hae-joon (Park Hae-il) knows about his suspect than in how he feels about her. —DE
“Halloween Ends” (October 14, in theaters)
Danny McBride and David Gordon Green gave the “Halloween” franchise a much needed shot of adrenaline with their 2018 reboot, which ignored all previous sequels and acted as a direct follow-up to John Carpenter’s original film. Their clever approach and clear passion for the material created a winning formula for reviving tired slasher franchises, and their sequel “Halloween Kills” survived a pandemic delay to become a minor box office hit. But, as the upcoming threequel’s title clearly understands, all good things must come to an end.
“Halloween Ends” sees Jamie Lee Curtis returning for one last showdown with Michael Myers, with Carpenter on board as the film’s composer and executive producer. While any horror sequel promising to be the final entry in a franchise approaching its fifth decade of relevance should be taken with a massive heaping of salt, there is an undeniable sense of finality to “Halloween Ends.” The film serves as the final entry in Green’s trilogy and may well be the last time fans get to see Curtis and Carpenter working on a “Halloween” film, so it will likely be must-see viewing for slasher fans come October. —CZ
“Rosaline” (October 14, streaming on Hulu)
We’re positively giddy over this one. Not only is the talent — both above and below the line — thrilling, what with “Yes God Yes” filmmaker Karen Maine taking on her second feature, all-star screenwriters Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter handling adaptation duties, and Kaitlyn Dever taking on the top role, but “Rosaline” also boasts a heck of a compelling plotline. Picture this: you’re young, you’re in love, everything is wonderful, and then a dazzling young lady named Juliet sets her eyes on your paramour. Did we mention your boyfriend’s name is Romeo?
Based on Rebecca Serle’s novel “When You Were Mine,” which was (of course) based on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” Maine’s second feature tackles one of our most beloved love stories, and then turns her attention to Romeo’s jilted ex, Rosaline (Dever). While Serle’s novel was set in contemporary times, Maine’s film appears to be going back in time to a more traditional time setting, while still honing in on the great idea at the story’s center: Romeo and Juliet, told through the eyes of Rosaline. —KE
“Till” (October 14, in theaters; October 28, theatrical expansion)
In 2019, Chinonye Chukwu had everyone paying attention with the riveting drama “Clemency,” which featured a powerful performance from Alfre Woodard as the tireless warden of a death row prison. While “Clemency” was fictional but drawn from reality, Chukwu takes on a one of the greatest injustices in American history with “Till.”
The historical drama chronicles the life of Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and her lifelong quest for justice after the 1955 lynching of her 14-year-old son. The film stars relative newcomer Danielle Deadwyler (“The Harder They Fall”) as Mamie, in a performance that could certainly catapult her onto the awards circuit. Whoopi Goldberg, Frankie Faison, Haley Bennett, Sean Patrick Thomas, and Jalyn Hall also star. —JD
“Aftersun” (October 21, in theaters)
Let this be a valuable lesson to anyone who finds themselves on the Croisette in the future: In a year boasting new work from the likes of Claire Denis, Cristian Mungiu, and the Dardenne brothers, the single most resonant film at Cannes this year was a quiet two-hander from a first-time director that came from one of the festival smallest sidebars.
To remember her father (a distant, haunting Paul Mescal), the heroine of Charlotte Wells’ oblique but heart-stoppingly tender “Aftersun” has a few minutes of miniDV footage from a Turkish vacation she took with him in the late ’90s when she was 11. What that can’t tell her about the most precious man she’s ever lost, she’ll have to fill in for herself, even as her dad remains frustratingly out of reach. A a stunning debut that develops with all the patience and poignancy of a Polaroid, “Aftersun” is a brilliant film about the elusiveness of memory, and one of the only new movies this fall we can already guarantee you won’t soon forget. —DE
HBO Documentary Films
“All That Breathes” (October 21, in theaters)
Often more than 10 times worse than in any other city on Earth, the air in Delhi is so toxic and inhospitable to life itself that birds regularly fall from the sky like feathered rain. The creatures have done their best to compensate for other symptoms of pollution — one species began singing to each other at a higher pitch in order to pierce through the industrial noise, while another started using discarded cigarette butts as parasite repellent — but there’s no substitute or silver lining for the absence of breathable oxygen.
If the people of Delhi are naturally confronted with the same crisis, they are even less equipped to live with it. Unlike the city’s teeming wildlife, the human population is rendered helpless by its ability (or its need) to assign blame. As a disembodied voice puts it towards the end of Shaunak Sen’s “All That Breathes,” a vital and transfixing work of urban ecology about two Muslim brothers who share an uncommonly holistic perspective of the world around them: “You don’t care for things because they share the same country, religion, or politics. Life is kinship. We’re all a community of air.” In Delhi, every part of that community — from the flies in the gutter puddles to the black kites that swim through the skies above without struggles — is choking to death as one. —DE
Searchlight Pictures, exclusive to IndieWire
“The Banshees of Inisherin” (October 21, in theaters)
On both the stage and screen, nobody does nasty black comedies like Martin McDonagh. The British-Irish writer-director’s first feature since he won an Oscar for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” finds him re-teaming with “In Bruges” stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson in a bizarre two-hander about two pals, Colm (Gleeson) and Padraic (Farrell) on a small island off the coast of Ireland. Or, at least, they used to be two pals until Gleeson’s character suddenly ends their friendship for mysterious reasons.
The small-town community gets engrossed in this outrageous drama and its many turns, including a declaration by Colm that he’ll start mutilating himself each time Padraic reaches out — which feels like a throwback to McDonagh’s great “A Behanding in Spokane,” and a promising indication of the zany, disturbing twists that this playful filmmaker has in store as he once again turns empathy into a grand ironic joke. —EK
“Black Adam” (October 21, in theaters)
Bad news for fans of the current hierarchy of power in the DC Universe: it’s about to change.
“Black Adam” stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the eponymous villain who, as the actor loves to remind us, is powerful enough to kill Superman if he wanted to. (Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be one of his priorities right now). The character was originally supposed to be introduced as the villain in “Shazam!” before The Rock intervened and insisted that his first comic book role was an event worthy of a standalone film.
Jaume Collet-Serra directs the origin story, which sees Black Adam emerge from his tomb 5,000 years after he was given the powers of the Egyptian gods. The world will never be the same once he’s released on the world, as Black Adam has the powers of the strongest heroes without a strict moral code to weigh him down. The only thing standing in his way is the Justice Society of America, a group of superheroes led by Pierce Brosnan’s Dr. Fate, who may be the only people (super-powered or not) who can stop the gigantic mass of pure muscle that’s hurtling through the sky. —CZ
“Descendent” (October 21, streaming on Netflix)
How best should we remember the dead? The critical African American history retold in Margaret Brown’s imperative film, “Descendant,” an unblinking investigation combining local stories with “Erin Brockovich” flair, seeks to answer that question. Because for the many Black folks living in Africatown, Alabama, where the last slave ship made landfall, remembering is what they do best.
See, in 1860, long after the Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves was signed in 1808, two wealthy white men from Mobile, Alabama made a bet. Despite the law, they believe they could sail to Africa, capture Africans, and bring them back as slaves without anyone finding out. Within months they returned with 100 captive Black people. The two men burned and sank the ship, named the Clotilda, erasing all traces of the grave crime they committed. —RD