Stef's Top 5 Fall Films
Far From Heaven (2002)
Easily one of the best films ever made. In the history of filmmaking.
Todd Haynes (of Carol fame) at his absolute best.
Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, and received Oscar nominations for Best Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score the year it came out.
The film stars Julianne Moore (one of the hottest people on Earth, and really is if Fall was a person) as Cathy, Dennis Quaid as her husband Frank, and Dennis Haysbert (Haybert is a legend but most people know him as the Allstate guy) as her friend and gardener Raymond.
Story centers around the disintegrating marriage of Cathy and Frank. Frank’s gay and Cathy finds out in two ways: first, when he arrested for going to a secret underground gay bar, and second, when she walks into his office just as he is making out with another dude. As that’s happening, Cathy is getting closer to her neighbor Raymond but it’s the 1950s and we live in hell, so white women and black men are not supposed to hang out like that. They essentially fall in love but can’t act on it. A bunch of other shit happens, I don’t want to spoil it.
Probably one of the best takes on both gay life at that time AND racism in the Northeast that I’ve ever seen.
Something really special about this film: Todd Haynes literally colorboarded every single shot of this movie.
Really feel like this one needs no explanation but that’s what this ep is all about.
Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, nominated for all the Academy Awards applicable and of course, both Cher and Olympia Dukakis famously won for their roles in this.
It stars Cher as Loretta, Nic Cage as Ronny, Olympia Dukakis and Vincent Gardenia as Loretta’s parents Rose and Cosmo, and Danny Aiello as Johnny.
Story revolves around Loretta who is kind of unlucky in terms of love. She’s 37-year-old widow who lives with her parents in Brooklyn Heights and she’s been going out with this guy Johnny for a while who doesn’t even seem to like her that much. Johnny gets called to go be with his dying mother in Sicily and before he goes, he proposes for some reason. Johnny asks Loretta to invite his estranged younger brother Ronny to the wedding. And the minute Loretta and Ronny meet, it’s fuckin fireworks. Y’all know where this goes!! Meanwhile, Loretta’s dad Cosmo is cheating on his mother Rose, so that’s like a side plot that happens as the story f Loretta and Ronny goes on.
Anyways, this shit is just a banger and everyone who’s seen it knows it!! I can’t imagine someone not liking this movie.
Fun fact: John Patrick Shanley, the man who wrote Moonstruck and Doubt, also wrote the Laura Linney action/adventure thriller vehicle Congo.
The Village (2004)
I have already explained my love for this film on a previous episode, specifically the one about M. Night Shyamalan. The Village has it’s problems but it’s also really dope!!!
Rotten Tomatoes: 43%...it hurts me to have to report that number. Because it should be in the 70s AT LEAST. It was nominated for some MTV Movie and Teen Choice Awards, and I think that matters!
It stars Bryce Dallas Howard as Elizabeth, Joaquin Pheonix as Lucius, William Hurt as Edward (Elizabeth’s dad), Sigourney Weaver as Alice (Lucius’s mom), and Adrien Brody as Noah, which is the role that truly sucks. The rest of the cast is pretty stacked, too…we got Brendan Gleeson in there, Cherry Jones, Judy Greer, Michael Pitt, Jesse Eisenberg…
Story revolves around what we think is a 19th century village in Pennsylvania. The village is surrounded by woods and supposedly, these really dangerous and vicious creatures live in the woods, so no one’s allowed in there. Elizabeth and Lucius are slowly falling in love, and the amount of time they’re spending together ends up making Noah jealous. In a fit of anger, Noah stabs Lucius so many times that they don’t have what they need to tend to his injuries. So, Elizabeth — who is blind btw — has to go on a journey to the “towns” to get medicine and supplies. She has to go through the scary forest to get there, of course….
I’ve said this on this podcast before that The Village is one of my favorite commentaries on post-9/11 U.S. It is hitting on themes of surveillance and lying to “protect” the ones you say you love. It’s also hitting on the idea that you cannot outrun violence, you must do what you can to actually get to the root of that violence. Anyways, I love it!
Big ups to one of my dads, M. Night Shyamalan.
I don’t think this movie gets enough attention, tbh.
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, it was nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar that year. But really should’ve been nominated for more awards!
It stars Matthew Broderick as Jim McAllister and Reese Witherspoon as Tracy Flick. It also stars Chris Klein as Paul Metzler and then a whole host of like character actors from the 90s.
Based off a novel by the same name that I haven’t read by Tom Perrota (of Little Children fame…I did read and love that book, though).
Story revolves around a burned out teacher, Jim, in Omaha, Nebraska who’s best friend Dave, another teacher at the high school where Jim teaches, was fired after getting caught grooming and then having sex with Tracy Flick. Tracy is, of course, in Jim’s class, and he hates her guts. Not necessarily because of the situation with Dave — he actually believes Dave deserved to get fired and shit — but because she’s an overachiever and a brown-noser. Tracy tries to run for president of the student government and at first, she is unopposed but then Jim pretty much makes it his mission to bring her ass down. Along the way, Jim gets wrapped up in an affair with one of his neighbors, loses his wife, and then resorts to election rigging to make sure Tracy doesn’t win. But of course, she does. Jim loses his job for the election rigging and ends up working at a museum in Washington, D.C. Tracy goes off to college and then we later see her riding in a car with a congressman.
Great movie. Beautiful satire of the American Dream. BIG Fall vibes!
Practical Magic (1998)/School of Rock (2003)
I’m cheating and this is a tie because I can’t decide between the two! I love them both so much.
Rotten Tomatoes: PM has a 23% (yikes!) and SOR has a 92%. School of Rock went on to become a Broadway play, so that’s pretty cool.
PM stars Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman, but also has Aidan Quinn, Goran Visnjic, (LEGENDS!!) Stockard Channing, Dianne Wiest, and a very young Evan Rachel Wood. School of Rock stars (American treasure) Jack Black and Joan Cusack, Mike White, and Sarah Silverman, along with a bunch of amazing kids, including a young Miranda Cosgrove.
PM characters: Sally (Bullock), Gillian (Kidman), Jimmy Angelov (Goran), Officer Hallet (Quinn), Aunt Frances (Channing) and Aunt Jet (Wiest)
SOR characters: Dewey Finn (Black), Principal Mullins (Cusak), Ned Schneebly (White), Patty (Silverman), Summer (Cosgrove)
THESE ARE GREAT MOVIES! HUGE FALL VIBES!
Brendan's Top 5 Fall Films
Mystic Pizza (78%)
Donofrio? Roberts? Yep! I love how this film doesn’t feature fancy Connecticuties—it’s regular ass, working class people like the kind of people from Eastern CT that I know. You have a mom who works as a lobsterman, a kid who works four jobs to afford some of her tuition at Yale, and general regular people with regular lives (except for Julia Robert’s’ super rich Law School guy). Guess what, they’re all Portuguese American too, so obviously I GET IT. It’s the most New England Autumn shit of all time.
Matt Damon is in this movie for a few minutes as a WASPY younger brother, and his name is “Steamer”
“Boffing” is a word they use for fucking in this film, which is pretty great.
“He’s not Catholic.”
“He’s not a Portigee, he’s not poor, he’s not a lotta things.”
MacBeth: 2010 Patrick Stewart version!
I used to show this to my classes in October and November as we read Macbeth, which we don’t do anymore because people hate Shakespeare now. HEY, I get it, but I also love Shakespeare so reading MacBeth each fall was a little treat for me!
This version of Macbeth is set in a proto-fascist modern era, where Macbeth ascends to power like a Mussolini or Hitler (although I think it was intended to be Stalin, whatevs), and the wardrobe is 1940s-ish and sexy as hell. This film is the adaptation of the award-winning stage play, but it works nicely as an adaptation–it doesn’t feel TOO MUCH like a play. Patrick Stewart is over-the-top hilarious and brilliant, and the scene with Banquo’s ghost
Macbeth just screams AUTUMN to me–it has all the fall stuff we like, like communing with spirits, witchcraft, cold and barren landscapes, and poetic justice! Even though I no longer teach this text, I’ll always consider Patrick Stewart MY Macbeth, and Macbeth Shakespeare’s quintessential Fall play.
“Thou canst not say I did it! Never shake
Thy gory locks at me!”
This movie instantly pulls you into its little Wes Anderson-y world, and Jason Schwartzman as Max Fischer is probably…probably, the best Wes Anderson character. No offense to anyone who feels differently. He’s the son of a barber who goes to the fanciest private school, Rushmore Academy, on scholarship, and he is the president of like, 15 clubs. He’s also the worst student in the school despite his extracurricular obsession. He becomes infatuated with a British elementary school teacher, Ms. Cross.. Bill Murray’s character, Mr. Bloom, is the miserable and wealthy father of some asshole kids at the school, and he takes a liking to Max’s rambunctious confidence and takes him as a protege. After Max is kicked out of Rushmore, Mr. Bloom begins to develop a relationship with Ms. Cross (because they’re both adults), and that’s the source of much conflict.
This movie is a VIBE. Quiet, comfortable, hilarious in a relaxed way. When they’re doing Max’s stage version of Serpico in front of parents and kindergarteners, and you just see these little kids staring at this wild high school play…it’s perfect. The fact that these adults are catering to the whims of this charismatic 15 year old is absurdism, but somehow understated? This is ultimately a movie about kids who want to grow up and adults who are miserable because they are grown up. The only people who would want to grow up are kids, because they don’t know how shitty it is.
Mr. Bloom rushing over to a children’s basketball game to reject a kid at the hoop. I mean come on.
“Tell that stupid Mick he just made my list of things to do today.” (in reference to a Scottish kid)
“I’ll just be out back getting handjobs from the woman you love.”
“It was the handjob. And you know what, it was worth it.”
“I like your nurse’s uniform, Guy. These are OR scrubs. Oh, are they?” (
“Get dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs, and take them down.”
When Harry Met Sally (91%)
I mean come on, folks. If you’ve never seen this film, what are you waiting for. My girlfriend, who is notoriously AGAINST any film created before 2010, absolutely loved When Harry Met Sally. It’s good vibetown, even if the two lead characters are terminally depressed. But that’s Autumn, isn’t it? To be depressed but somehow joyful? To acknowledge death’s omnipresence yet find solace in your relationships and your jokes and quips? The chemistry between Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal is legendary.
Outside Providence (51%)
Though it technically follows an entire school year, I associate this film with Fall. It’s got that New England Fall Aesthetic that we all need, folks.
This movie was formative for me as a high schooler. It connected me to my roots. It is a little Farrelly Brothers movie, and since my dad went to high school in Cumberland, Rhode Island with them, my parents spoke about Outside Providence as the most accurate portrayal of their childhoods. It’s set in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, which is pretty much where my mom grew up, and may be one of the few films ever set in Pawtucket, aka The Bucket. It’s about some Irish-American teenagers growing up working class in 1970s Rhode Island.
Here’s the brief synopsis: “Tim Dunphy (Shawn Hatosy) is leading a go-nowhere existence, spending his days smoking pot and hanging out with his best friend, Drugs Delaney (Jon Abrahams). But Tim's lazy days of getting high are jettisoned after a brush with the law convinces his blue-collar dad (Alec Baldwin) to send him to a Connecticut prep school. The one saving grace of the new school is Jane (Amy Smart), a fellow student Tim falls for immediately.”
This film has some wonderful working class Rhode Island-isms that my mother immediately adopted after catching us watching this film.
My friends and I may have been the only cohort in America who regularly quoted Outside Providence. Here are some of my faves:
“You wouldn't know a classy broad if she took a dump on your head.”
Dean Mort: Mr. Dunphy, do you have a friend called "Drugs"?
- Tim Dunphy: Drugs Delaney?
- Mr. Funderberk: How many individuals named “Drugs” could you possibly associate with?
“Today you should've seen me and Mousy today at school today. I got cocked on a pint of Blackberry brandy, ate some THC on the bus. We were fucked. This teacher Mr. Rivera goes, "What's wrong with you Delaney?" I go, "I'm totally fucked, maaaaan!" Everybody laughed like a bastard.”
Alex Steed's Top 5 Fall Films
Slumber Party Massacre