November is shaping up to be a fun month for movie lovers, with intriguing films cropping up in a number of genres. A sampler includes notable indie titles like the family drama “Manchester by the Sea” and the Sundance darling “Loving,” examining the destruction of laws against interracial marriage through one couple’s courage and love.
There’s also racy psychological thriller “Nocturnal Animals;” a sci-fi/action flick “Arrival,” the rom-com “Rules Don’t Apply,” set in “nifty fifties” Hollywood and two WWII stories: “Allied” and “Hacksaw Ridge,” the true story of the first conscientious objector to win the Medal of Honor.
The biggest box office draws, though, will likely hail from the realm of fantasy: “Doctor Strange” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” with their built-in fan bases, visual effects and action, and A-list casting.
Nov. 4 release
In “Doctor Strange”— the latest film entry into the Marvel universe — Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game,” BBC’s “Sherlock”) plays Dr. Stephen Strange. Once the world’s pre-eminent neurosurgeon, Dr. Strange loses his life as he knew it when a car accident severely damages his hands, making it impossible for him to operate again. This setback sends him on a desperate quest in search of healing, ultimately leading him to Nepal. There he encounters the Ancient One, a master of the mystic and martial arts who teaches him how to reshape reality with his mind and enter alternate dimensions, as he prepares to take on a new responsibility for saving lives. The “Strange” cast also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton.
Nov. 18 release
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the first installment of a planned trilogy, is from an original script by J.K. Rowling in her screenwriting debut as well as a spinoff from the Harry Potter series. Fans will recognize the film’s title as one of the required textbooks from Harry’s early years at Hogwarts. In what is being marketed as “a new era of the wizarding world,” “Fantastic Beasts” brings the magic and adventure of Rowling’s world across the pond to 1920s America. Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything” and “The Danish Girl”), an introverted wizard who works for Britain’s Ministry of Magic, arrives in New York City for the Magical Congress of the United States of America, where he is supposed to meet an important official. On this ill-fated trip, Newt has brought along a magic briefcase that contains a variety of dangerous creatures. When his creatures escape and run amok in the city, Newt must find and trap them, while simultaneously evading the American wizarding authorities who are zeroing in to arrest him.
To make matters worse, the rampaging creatures fuel the extremist New Salem Philanthropic Society’s argument that all wizard-kind is dangerous and evil and should be eradicated, bringing relations between the city’s magical and non-magical beings to a perilous pitch.
Newt enlists help wherever he can to put his monsters back in the briefcase while doing his best to assuage the rising fear and violence between those on either side of the magical/non-magical divide. “Fantastic Beasts” also counts Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman and Zoë Kravitz among its cast. David Yates, who helmed the final four of the seven “Harry Potter” films, directs.