Time To Do Your Fall Movie Season Homework

Catch up on original source material of fall blockbusters.

Fall movie season is here. Have you done your homework?

Because you won’t have time to do it once the Milwaukee Film Festival starts Thursday.

Until then, your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to catch up on the less well known works upon which several soon-to-be-released star-studded blockbusters are based.

–Our Brand is Crisis (Oct. 30) Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton play American political campaign strategists  working with competing presidential candidates in Brazil. It is a fictionalized version of actual events  “suggested by” the 2005 documentary by Rachel Boyton, streaming on iTunes and Amazon Prime. In the remake Thornton plays real life strategist James Carville.




–The Martian (Oct. 2) Matt Damon plays a scientist-astronaut stranded on Mars who must find ways to survive until he is rescued.

It co-stars Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristen Wiig and Jeff Daniels.

The Ridley Scott film is based on the 2011 best seller by scientist turned sci-fi writer Andy Weir.



–The Walk (Oct. 9)  Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a French aerialist who walked a tightrope strung between the World Trade Center towers in the fact based, effects-filled film by Robert Zemeckis. It is based on the 2008 Oscar winning documentary Man On Wire chronicling the 1974 event and in which the twin towers loom like a phantom limb.





–Steve Jobs (Oct. 23) The flawed genius behind Apple is played by Michael Fassbender in a film by Danny Boyle, hopefully in the image of his cutting edge storytelling in “28 Days Later” “Trainspotting” and “Slumdog Millionaire.”

The screenplay by “Moneyball” and “The Social Network” writer Aaron Sorkin is based on the book by Walter Jacobson. Alex Gibney’s clear eyed warts and all documentary portrait of Jobs, is now on iTunes and Amazon Prime.











–Everest Since the events it chronicles are so dramatic, it’s surprising that this is the first film inspired by Jon Krakauer’s book “Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster.”

Both tell the story of a 1996 mountain climbing expedition that ran into foul weather and ended in tragedy. Krakauer is portrayed but not otherwise credited in a perfunctory film by Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur notable for its 3D effects.

A more realistic portrayal of similar events is Touching the Void, a documentary about the calamitous  experiences of two men who climbed an unclimbable mountain. One came down it safely but the other was injured, left for dead and dragged himself to safety.

Dramatic recreations were filmed in perilous conditions, by “Last King of Scotland” director Kevin McDonald using stunt doubles and the actual participants in long shots.



Duane Dudek is a Milwaukee native. For more than 30 years, he was film critic and television columnist at the Milwaukee Sentinel and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He continues to apply his expertise at DuaneDudek.com.