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    Off the Wahl: Fall Films

    By Jan Wahl–

    I vote for fall as a great time of the year. Maybe it’s because I love the color orange—I really enjoy pumpkin and squash (especially spaghetti squash with brown sugar or pumpkin curry, but I digress)—the sound of crackling leaves under foot, or the best of all, some magical trees showing us their colors. I will drive, cruise, or even fly to see the fall colors. Of course, movies have taken advantage of this season. Let’s begin with some glamour: Anna Wintour and Vogue.

    2009’s The September Issue is a terrific and fun documentary, showing the struggle between Editor in Chief Wintour and rebellious Creative Director Grace Coddington. Apparently, the September issue of Vogue is the most important, biggest issue of the year (who knew?) and this is the behind-the-scenes story of putting together the 2007 issue.  From André Leon Talley to Iman to Vera Wang and Lagerfeld, we experience the personalities and backstage drama. 

    Follow up this one with my favorite recent Netflix production, the brilliant Halston. The primetime Emmys were really stupid television (take it from an old TV producer), but the one good moment was Ewan McGregor winning for the lead role. Of course, where was Krystal Rodriguez as Liza in support? Not giving the Emmy to Bridgerton’s Regé-Jean Page was beyond crazy.  Two other great documentaries along the lines of The September Issue are Bill Cunningham New York and Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, salutes to the eccentric and talented who only got better as they aged.

    Back to fall in films: between sticky summer and gray slush there are a few weeks when New York City is drop dead gorgeous.  That is when, in You’ve Got Mail, a superstore magnate and an independent bookstore owner play out the game of attraction and love. But the film directed by Nora Ephron is more, reminding us that we are missing our independent bookstores and need to support the ones still fighting on. The fall colors are vivid, and Meg Ryan is underrated as usual, playing it feisty and smart. Move her over to When Harry Met Sally, and in the ads she and Billy Crystal are standing in the golden leaves of Central Park.

    Let’s visit the small screen with the gorgeous sweaters Dan Levy wears as David Rose in Schitt’s Creek. Canada’s fall is stunning, and the show’s town of Goodwood, a tiny hamlet in Ontario, calls to visitors and fans every October for a glance into Rose’s Apothecary, Bob’s Garage, and the Café Tropical. A wonderful crime show is set in New Zealand called The Brokenwood Mysteries. Every week a surly, but sweet, detective solves a treacherous murder, and every time the camera takes a wide shot, it is always fall. Check out this fine series on Acorn Television.

    The fall colors are gorgeous in Massachusetts, and movies love to exploit this gift from Mother Nature. My favorite is the recent comedy Knives Out (2019). This laugh-out-loud crime satire draws inspiration from Sleuth, Murder by Death, and all that is Agatha Christie. The famous and very rich mystery novelist Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) may be murdered. His nurse is suspected but makes a bad subject since she has a condition that has her vomiting whenever she tells a lie. Imagine if that were a common affliction … what a mess! So, local detective Benoit Blanc is called in (Daniel Craig with a Tennessee Williams meets Andy of Mayberry accent) and starts interviewing Thrombey’s eccentric family. Chris Evans, Toni Collette, and Jamie Lee Curtis are among this dysfunctional group. See this one for the first time or see it again.

    I’m thinking about how much I loved Daniel Craig in this comedy, so far from Bond … James Bond. And how hunky and brave he was in Defiance, a powerful Holocaust drama. I just saw his new and last Bond movie, No Time to Die. It is a half hour too long, so bring some snacks and an empty bladder. At almost three hours, the extra time took away from the story and turned the shooting scenes into Marvel comic book garbage. Otherwise, this Bond is some sexy and fun Craig. There is action galore, along with smart women, hot gadgets and cars, fabulous locations, and sizzling Craig, who is almost nude in one scene. Since it’s the end of Craig’s Bond, I was glad to hear he is shooting Knives Out Two. See you in line!         

    Jan Wahl is a Hollywood historian, film critic on various broadcast outlets, and has her own YouTube channel series, “Jan Wahl Showbiz.” She has two Emmys and many awards for her longtime work on behalf of film buffs and the LGBTQ community. Contact her at www.janwahl.com

    Published on October 7, 2021