‘Tamara Drewe’
October 8

Finally, director Stephen Frears (The Queen, High Fidelity) has made a mainstream romantic comedy that’s witty, sexy, vibrant, and socially aware, and that won’t feel like punishment to manly men on first dates. Formerly an ugly duckling in the rural Dorset village of her childhood, the titular London journalist (Gemma Arterton) returns home post-rhinoplasty as a flirty knockout, inspiring lust in men (enter the philandering novelist, the strapping local hunk, the rock drummer in eyeliner) and madcap jealousy in wives and teenage girls. Sony Pictures Classics, in limited release, sonyclassics.com

Olivier Assayas
October 9–28

Well deserving of this mid-career retrospective, the French critic turned auteur’s work is as consistently stylish and intellectual as it is varied, hopping from unsentimental familial dramas (Summer Hours) to postmodern thrillers about globalization (Boarding Gate, demonlover), period epics (Les Destinées), and angsty youth sagas (Disorder, Cold Water). The series coincides with IFC’s October 15 release of Carlos, an electrifying, five-hour biopic starring Édgar Ramirez as the Marxist revolutionary, playboy assassin, and master of disguise known as “Carlos the Jackal.” Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, bam.org

Joe Sarno October 29–31

More than a mere sexploitation pioneer, the Carroll Gardens–born filmmaker (who passed away at 89 this year) likely introduced both unsimulated female orgasms and real-life adult guilelessness—sexual anxiety, suburban malaise—into the erotica genre. Among the undervalued, now tamely softcore ditties in this series are 1966’s Moonlighting Wives (Sarno’s first color film), his 1968 coming-of-age landmark Inga, and 1974’s Confessions of a Young American Housewife—a vaguely Bergman-esque melodrama of swinging and incest. Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, anthologyfilmarchives.org

‘Monsters’
October 29

Six years after a space probe crash-lands in Central America with squidlike beasties in tow, a career-hungry photojournalist (Scoot McNairy) must escort his boss’s daughter (Whitney Able) through Mexico, which has fallen under military quarantine as a dangerous “infected zone.” Writer-director Gareth Edwards used a laptop to create all the modest DIY effects in his gripping feature debut, an indie sci-fi nightmare similar in plot but more sophisticated, character-driven, and chillingly underplayed than both Cloverfield and the overrated District 9. Magnolia Pictures, in limited release, magpictures.com

'Waste Land’
October 29

If one man’s trash is another’s treasure, then this innovatively shot documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Lucy Walker (Countdown to Zero) is an even richer transformation still. Beginning as a portrait of Brooklyn-based artist Vik Muniz’s latest recycled-material project—a return to his native Brazil to photograph and collaborate with local foragers of the world’s largest landfill—the film shifts focus toward the curious lives of the “pickers” themselves. In essence, Walker becomes a fellow scavenger as she warmly and insightfully explores artist and class responsibilities. Arthouse Films, in limited release, arthousefilmsonline.com

‘Ne Change Rien’
November 3–16

The latest from Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa (Colossal Youth)—whose artfully rigorous work was rescued from obscurity by hardcore cinephiles, the Criterion Collection, and a recent traveling retrospective—is an extraordinary behind-the-scenes doc. In smoky black-and-white chiaroscuros, French actress turned singer Jeanne Balibar (The Duchess of Langeais) breathily rehearses for an upcoming rock performance and an operetta, while Costa looks at her ritualistic discipline as a deconstructive investigation of the creative process itself. Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue, anthologyfilmarchives.org

Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
November 5

Imagine if Jean-Luc Godard and Miles Davis were commissioned to make an old-fashioned MGM musical on a shoestring budget, and maybe now you’re humming the riff that drives Damien Chazelle’s absolutely delightful 16mm debut. A soft-spoken Boston jazz trumpeter (real-life musician Jason Palmer) attracts the attentions of a tap-dancing young waitress (Desiree Garcia), but the meet-cute quickly misfires in a losing battle of love over art. The soundtrack is unforgettably soulful; one eclectic house-party jam session alone is worth the price of admission. Variance Films, in limited release, variancefilms.com

‘White Material’
November 19

Civil war has scorched an unnamed African country, yet one divorced Frenchwoman (Isabelle Huppert) is too headstrong to abandon her coffee plantation even as colonial whites are blamed for the brutal anarchy in the streets. Substituting taut thrills for her usual opaque mysteries, director Claire Denis still toys with the prism of time in this stunning, rhythmic slow-burner about sociopolitical unrest, dehumanizing savagery, and how both can ultimately lead to hubristic madness. IFC Films, in limited release, ifcfilms.com

‘Takemitsu’
December 3–16

Tied to a Carnegie Hall tribute to the legendary Japanese composer and music theorist Tōru Takemitsu, who scored over a hundred films, Film Forum’s series celebrates his unusual trademarks: meticulous use of silence, experimental mixes of regional and Western instruments, and a dedication to the craft that saw him visiting sets to find his muse. Listen for his sparse minimalism in 1964’s Woman in the Dunes and the Mahler-inspired score that halts on a gunshot in Kurosawa’s Ran, plus expect some rare surprises. Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, filmforum.org

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