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Film Fridays | Movie recommendations for November

<p><em>Graphic by Carissa Gurgul</em></p>

Graphic by Carissa Gurgul

Editor’s note: These recommendations do not contain spoilers.

November is almost over, but there are some great movies that have come out this month already, and a few more will be released this week. Here is a list I made based on my personal preferences that I think are worth checking out:

1.   The Report (Out now!)

Based on true events, The Report traces Daniel J. Jones’ (Adam Driver) investigation of the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program that was created after 9/11. While guided by his boss Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), Jones comes across evidence indicating how the nation's intelligence agency tried to cover up the ugly reality of the torture program from the law and the American public. Jon Hamm also stars as Denis McDonough, former White House Chief of Staff.

Directed and written by Scott Z. Burns, The Report is the movie I am most excited to watch this month. Films that depict some pure, good quality journalism and reporting regarding uncovering government corruption and cover-ups are my favorite kind. If you’ve enjoyed movies like The Post (2017), Spotlight (2015), Truth (2015) and All the President's Men (1976) (perhaps The Ides of March (2011) too, if we’re talking about bursting the bubble of idealist staffers joining the world of politics), you’re most likely going to enjoy The Report, as well as Dark Waters, the second of my recommendations.

2.   Dark Waters (Out now!)

Co-produced by Participant, the same film production company behind The Post (2017) and Spotlight (2015), Dark Waters is based on the true story of the corporate defense attorney Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo), who took on an environmental lawsuit against DuPont for the effects of its deadly chemical use in West Virginia. The fight for truth against one of the world's largest corporations comes with many risks for Bilott’s family, future and own life.

It’s been a while since a good legal thriller involving corporate corruption came out. The last good ones I remember are Michael Clayton (2007) and The Constant Gardener (2005). So, I hope Dark Waters, which is directed by Todd Haynes and written by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Mario Correa, makes this wait worthwhile.

3.   The Irishman (Out now!)

In The Irishman, another movie based on true accounts, Frank Sheeran aka the Irishman (Robert De Niro) recalls his time as an American labor union official, his mob career and his potential involvement with the disappearance of his friend Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino), former president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. 

Jimmy Hoffa vanished on July 30, 1975, and was never found. Hoffa’s ties with the mob have led to several theories and suspects about his disappearance and potential murder, but none of them have been confirmed. This movie, directed by Martin Scorsese, will present you with one of those theories. I find the case quite interesting, or at least Ryan and Shane from Buzzfeed Unsolved made it sound interesting. If the plot does not sound convincing enough, then I only have seven words for you: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Martin Scorsese.  

4.   Honey Boy (Out now!)

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Directed by Alma Har'el and written by Shia LaBeouf, Honey Boy takes us through the childhood and early adult years of Otis, a young actor (Noah Jupe/Lucas Hedges) who peaked too soon in stardom. LaBeouf said he wrote the script while he was in rehab and a big part of the movie seems to be inspired by LaBeouf’s personal experience growing up as a young actor himself, his struggle to meet his father’s high expectations, dealing with his mental health and finally, his road to recovery. LaBeouf also stars in the movie playing Otis’ father, a version of LaBeouf’s own father.  

Just by the trailer, the movie looks so different than any other film that is currently out there. Powerful, therapeutic and with some engrossing performances from not-too-well-known actors, Honey Boy may be worth your time.  

5.   Harriet (Out now!)

Directed by Kasi Lemmons and written by Gregory Allen Howard and Lemmons, Harriet recounts the inspirational life of Harriet Tubman (Cynthia Erivo) from her escape from slavery to her missions that freed dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad, a network of connections that assisted slaves with accommodation, transportation and job recommendations. 

Some controversies around the movie and its historical accuracy have occurred, but I believe that movies are not supposed to serve you with historical accuracy; movies are a business at the end of the day. Thus, you can do your research outside of the movie theater and check the facts presented to you, while still watching this film that focuses on an important African American female historical figure.

6.   Knives Out! (Out November 27th)

In this tribute to English crime novelist Agatha Christie, writer and director Rian Johnson unfolds an entertaining cinematic game of Cluedo/Clue in front of your eyes, when Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) begins an investigation at Harlan Thrombey’s (Christopher Plummer) estate after the latter is found dead there just after his 85th birthday. From the loyal staff to Harlan’s eccentric family, where everyone is a suspect, Blanc tries to solve Harlan’s murder mystery and you will find yourself guessing until the very end, as well.

If you think “enough with the serious stuff and the based-on-a-true-story movies” that my five first movie recommendations are, Knives Out is going to be the movie match for you this November. Funny? Check! Suspense and plot twists? Check! An ensemble cast? Check! These elements may be enough to make Knives Out an enjoyable black-comedy murder-mystery movie.

Contact contributor Myrsini Manou-Georgila at myrsini.manougeorgila@richmond.edu. 

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