Ad Astra

Around Town

Last month, we highlighted some outdoor film screenings to attend. The weather is a little cooler this month, but it’s still not time to give up seeing films under the stars, especially in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, which feature favorites for the whole family.

OKC’s Deep Deuce Grill hosts its Director’s Cut event at 8 p.m. Sept. 6 with The Princess Bride, which is one of those films that, if overvalued by some fervent fans, never gets old as a group re-watch. Many chant along to every utterance of “inconceivable!”

Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art presents Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at 8:45 p.m. Sept. 27. It’s the (superior) original, not the Tim Burton remake, so Gene Wilder is on display as the perfect Wonka. You can enjoy the classic songs and general oddity of Roald Dahl’s source material on the big screen. Come early for pre-film picnicking.

At Home

We will never stop stumping the work of Leo McCarey, one of the most underrated directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Despite making an all-time great comedy (The Awful Truth) and perhaps cinema’s best melodrama (Make Way for Tomorrow), McCarey has had a lasting cultural imprint with two films starring Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley, a young priest shepherding poor, urban Catholics.

The first of these films, Going My Way (also a sneakily great Christmas film), receives a 75th anniversary Blu-ray release this month from Shout! Factory. Odder than you might remember, Going My Way is a picaresque depiction of the agonies and ecstasies of religious belief in a tight-knit but struggling community. Crosby sings, of course, but the best parts of the film come in its quiet moments. McCarey, a lifelong Catholic, directs the film with a steady, personal touch.

In Theaters

Most ambitious directors have been drawn to outer space as a subject, from Stanley Kubrick to Andrei Tarkovsky; 2019 has brought efforts from two modern masters: Claire Denis’ High Life and, this month, Ad Astra by James Gray, who’s almost certainly the best director you’ve never heard of.

Gray’s previous two efforts, The Immigrant and The Lost City of Z, are two of the decade’s best films, and now he aims even higher with a space tale featuring Brad Pitt and Tommy Lee Jones. The trailer looks breathtaking, and Gray has never disappointed, so this should be a major upgrade from the last would-be profound space film, Christopher Nolan’s disappointing Interstellar.

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