The Boys Are Back In Movie Town
4:42 PM EDT on August 31, 2023
2023 has been a good year for movies. There have been a lot of cool and interesting films released at various points—Past Lives, Creed 3, Barbie, Talk to Me, Passages, Theater Camp, and Bottoms—which have showcased new and/or unique voices, with diverse new stars telling diverse and hip new stories. But now, as autumn approaches, the old white men of film are back and ready to unleash upon us the the dad movies of their lifetimes. I couldn't be more excited.
This week we got our first peek at trailers for David Fincher's The Killer, about an assassin who starts to develop a conscience and has a mental breakdown, and Michael Mann's Ferrari, a movie about the life and times of Enzo Ferrari. The Killer is set to release in September, while Ferrari is slated for a Christmas Day release. Sandwiched between those films will be Martin Scorsese's epic Killers of the Flower Moon, which is due in October and has earned nothing but praise as a surefire masterpiece from advanced screening audiences. Also! In November we'll get to see Ridley Scott's Napoleon, which reportedly had to be cut down from the director's original four-and-a-half-hour version. Oppenheimer was clearly just an appetizer, because this fall and winter will be dedicated to historical fiction, clinical violence, and a whole lot of men looking forlorn within the most beautifully framed shot you've ever seen.
The Killer will be David Fincher's first movie since Mank, which was a detour from his typical style and a love letter of sorts to his own father, Jack Fincher, who wrote the movie before he died. It's not that Mank is bad necessarily, it's just a slower, quieter, movie than what what we're used to seeing from Fincher. It also pissed off a lot of Orson Welles superfans and fed into the idea that Hollywood is still kicking him even in death. Even with just a trailer to look at, it's clear that The Killer is a return to form. Is there a lot of blue and green and gray, fast-paced editing, and a meticulous depiction of the processes behind the protagonist's job? You bet. Is there a score by Trent Reznor and a few shots that look like they were ripped right out of Fight Club or Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? I'm surprised you even needed to ask.
Ferrari, meanwhile, might be the biggest movie of the decade for a certain type of guy (me), who loves crime/action movies featuring complicated men who rarely talk and dress impeccably, made incredibly well and usually way too long. It's Mann's first movie in seven years, and one he's been trying to get made since 2000. Ferrari stars Adam Driver as Mann's latest serious man with a serious job that he is 100-percent dedicated to at the expense of everything else in his life. Even in the brief teaser, you get all the attributes of what you hope for in a Mann movie: everything looks gorgeous, everyone is beautiful and sad or determined, and the landscapes are scenic and expansive.
Ridley Scott's a more commercial filmmaker, but his movies have gotten bonkers as he's gotten older and they're worthwhile for that alone. I don't know how good Napoleon will be, and for a certain kind of person (me) that knows too much meaningless film history minutiae, they will be left wondering what Stanley Kubrick's version might've been. But with Scott and Joaquin Phoenix involved, it's certain to be more than a little bit insane.
As for Scorsese, he has become the official elder statesman of film. He has talked about feeling like Akira Kurosawa did as he neared the end of his life, worried that he's running out of time right as he is finally figuring out his artistic vision. He is a walking landmark, and if he wants us to watch a nearly four-hour movie about the invention of the FBI and the systematic murders of members of the Osage tribe, who are we to say no? Since The Irishman, every Scorsese movie feels like his last, because we don't now how many more he'll get. He doesn't know, either, but he seems set on working for as long as possible, and we're all better for it. The trailer for Killers of the Flower Moon is on its own one of the best releases of the year.
What this all adds up to is an unprecedented scenario in which four stalwarts, representing multiple generations of filmmaking, are dropping new movies on us within a few months of each other. These guys certainly don't need any more myth-making done on their behalf, but it's hard to think of a better time for these movies to arrive. The WGA and SAG strikes are not only pushing other releases further down the calendar, but finally forcing the studios to reckon with all the ways in which streaming platforms and other technologies have slowly chipped away at the health of the film industry. One can only guess how movies will be made and distributed in the future. If we're lucky, the unions will gain more control and create opportunities for a new filmmakers who will come to define their own generations. If we're unlucky, we might end up with an industry that just doesn't have the space or incentive to allow another Scorsese, Mann, or Fincher to develop. Either way, the cycle of life is coming for these guys, and it's worth getting excited over what they still have to give us. The boys are forever, and it will be a joy to see their old-man movies one more time.