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Alt-Fall Movie Preview 2016: Docs, Horror Flicks and the Truly Demented

From stranger-than-fiction masterpieces and indie dramas to shock-cinema showstoppers, here’s what’s playing outside the multiplex this season

Alt-Fall Movie Preview 2016 Indies Documentaries

Welcome to the autumn months — the season where, per the pundits, "movies" turn into "films" and the studios start pumping out their somber dramas, oh-so-tony biopics and other please-sir-we'd-like-an-Oscar contenders. Sure, we're getting a new chapter in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe saga and a new Star Wars flick in the next few months, but for the most part, conventional wisdom dictates that when you go to the multiplex, you're going to get serious.

There is, of course, more to see over the remainder of 2016 than just the awards-circuit stuff — this is also the season when the remainder of the year's festival-circuit biggies start hitting the arthouses, as well as the documentaries, indies, foreign-language films of all stripes and other left-of-center treasures. We've out together a nice little "alt-fall" viewing guide for you; there are one or two oddball studio movies that didn't make it into our other fall preview list, but for the most part, the 30 entries here should be considered counter-programming must-sees. Need a break from the "and the winner is" wannabes? Start marking your calendars.

‘I, Daniel Blake’ (December 23)

Once again, Ken Loach is mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore. The British filmmaker vents all of his frustrations with the System in this socially-motivated drama about a fiery old coot (Dave Johns) who falls victim to the evils of government bureaucracy and online form submission. An endless chain of absurd catch-22s leads him into poverty and acquaints him with a struggling single mom (Hayley Squires). Together, they form their own sort of family unit and try to carve out a little corner of the world for themselves. CB

‘A Monster Calls’ (December 23)

From the all creatures big and metaphorical department: A young boy (Lewis MacDougall) keeps having the same recurring nightmare about a giant, tree-like monster, a huge gaping hole opening up in the earth and his mother (Rogue One's Felicity Jones) disappearing into the abyss. Soon enough, the behemoth starts talking to the boy during his waking hours — and gosh, doesn't he sound a lot like Liam Neeson! — and offers him a series of stories designed to help the kid deal with a bad blow life has dealt him. Spanish director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) brings the far-out fantasy elements and the pathos; you bring the handkerchiefs. DF

‘Paterson’ (December 28)

A humble bus driver named Paterson (Adam Driver) lives in Paterson, New Jersey. He does the same thing every day: kiss the wife (Golshifteh Farahani), straighten the mailbox, write a little poetry, head to work, grab a beer, call it a day. As he repeats this humdrum routine, director Jim Jarmusch adds little variations to each daily routine, eventually culminating in an unexpectedly touching climax. Unlike the filmmaker's other release this year — the Stooges doc Gimme Danger — the movie's beauty doesn't hit you straight on so much as quietly sneak up on you. CB

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