The 6 Things You Need to Watch This Fall
New movies and documentaries dig into mental health, dogsled racing, and why you should reconsider that lighthouse-keeping gig
Yeah, whatever, we’re called Outside, but that doesn’t mean we can’t promote staying inside some of the time. And as darkness creeps up on the Northern Hemisphere and (despite early storms) ski season remains a ways off, fall is great for logging some evening screen time. Here are the new movie options that make us most excited to stay in.
Orlando von Einsiedel, Oscar-winning director of The White Helmets, a 2016 film about aid workers in Syria, turns his lens to a more personal trauma in Evelyn: his younger brother’s death by suicide in 2014. The film follows a hiking trip across the UK, where Von Einsiedel, his siblings, and his parents find the space to finally address the circumstances around Evelyn’s death. As they walk, they talk through his schizophrenia, their guilt around not being able to save him, and the rifts it caused in their relationships. Unlike the usual platitudes about the redemptive power of wilderness, Evelyn offers a visceral look at what being outside can do. Now streaming on Netflix.
In a feat of spot-on casting, Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe play two lighthouse keepers who are stuck together on a remote New England island sometime in the late 1800s. Date and location are almost irrelevant, because The Lighthouse is really a story about isolation and the grind of personalities in a confined space. Dafoe’s bathroom practices might feel a little too familiar to anyone who’s been tent-bound with another person before. It’s a trippy dreamscape with a side of gallows humor, as Pattinson’s character starts to wonder whether it’s the place or the company or himself that’s making him crazy. In theaters October 18.
‘Any One of Us’
Rampage, Red Bull’s yearly freeride mountain-bike event in the Utah desert, is a heart-in-your-throat kind of thing to watch. Riders launch themselves down nearly unrideable lines, and in 2015, pro rider Paul Basagoitia took a fall on the back side of a blind cliff drop, broke his T12 vertebra, and was paralyzed from the waist down. Any One of Us, from Red Bull Films, is the story of his accident and recovery. It’s unsparing in cataloging the brutal aspects of Basagoitia’s injury and illuminating in the mental and physical grit it takes to try and come back. The film, which follows his physical recovery (he’s now walking with a cane and riding an e-bike), along with a host of other spinal-cord-injury survivors, is about the reality of realigning your life after an injury and the all-encompassing frustration of recovery not going the way you think it will or want it to—especially if you’ve been physically successful by dint of working hard your whole life. It premieres October 29 on HBO, right after this year’s edition of Rampage.
Filmmaker Catharine Axley came across the story of Alaska Native dogsled racer George Attla in an Anchorage newspaper, and she was fascinated by the 80-year-old man who dominated sprint dogsled racing for five decades despite a bum leg. Axley reached out and found that Attla was in the process of training his young grandnephew, Joe Bifelt, to compete in the same race where his own career had begun 50 years earlier—and that Attla would race his team one more time. She followed them through training, but the resulting film is about more than the race and the process of teaching dogs. Her documentary explores the economics, politics, and cultural identity of both dogsledding and life in Alaska, and how Attla was able to carve out a career from it and carry on a tradition. Attla premiered October 11 at the BendFilm Festival in Oregon, and it will be on PBS’s Independent Lens starting December 16.
Dog Film Festival
No, really. The fifth annual festival premiers November 3 in New York City, then travels to a city near you with a bill full of rescue dogs in the Bahamas, bad dogs on beaches, highly aspirational sled-dog stories, and more general canine feel-goodness. Keep an eye on their calendar page as they add more dates.
It’s pretty glorious to watch Neil Young be fully himself, screeching and yowling and mouthing off at his bandmates. Earlier this year, he posted up in Telluride, Colorado, with his band, Crazy Horse, to make an album called Colorado. He kept cameras rolling while they recorded, and Mountaintop, the resulting documentary, is a behind-the-scenes look at the battles and flashes of brilliance that emerge when a group of dudes who have made music together for 50 years really let it fly. It’s in theaters starting Oct 22.