The New Season: Fall movies

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Amy Adams as a linguist trying to decipher visiting aliens’ language in “Arrival.”

Paramount Pictures

Today, and in weeks to come, we’re previewing the New Season: Our critic David Edelstein takes us to the movies: 

Ah, what a fall it’s going to be: clown comedy, apocalyptic horror … and that’s just the election!

I have more confidence in the movies, though I gotta say I haven’t seen them yet. So I reserve to right to get you excited now and down the road say, “Never mind.”

The movie everyone’s talking about is “Birth of a Nation” -- not D.W. Griffith’s pro-Klan epic, but the one directed by Nate Parker, who stars as the slave Nat Turner. He doesn’t suffer passively, like the hero of “12 Years a Slave.” He becomes a bloody revolutionary, a terrorist, his cause righteous but his killing barbaric.

As if that weren’t controversial enough, Parker has been forced to search his soul publicly over a sexual assault charge dating from college days. A court cleared him, but the studio is worried about the court of Oscar voters.

THE BIRTH OF A NATION: Official HD Trailer by FoxSearchlight on YouTube

Speaking of controversy, there’s a new movie from Mel Gibson. Say what you will about Mad Mel (and if you’re me, you could say plenty): he is a sensational filmmaker, and the response to “Hacksaw Ridge” at the Venice Film Festival was ecstatic.

It’s a great subject for Gibson, who always looks like he’s ready to pick up a gun and start blasting: the true story of a conscientious objector who refused to kill, or even carry a weapon, but served in World War II and saved lives.

Hacksaw Ridge (2016 - Movie) Official Trailer – “Believe” by Lionsgate Movies on YouTube

There’s fantastic buzz on the sci-fi invasion thriller “Arrival,” from a short story by Ted Chiang and directed by Denis Villeneuve, who made “Sicario.” The hero isn’t a he-man but a female linguist played by Amy Adams, who strives to learn the aliens’ language to avert war.

What -- they can’t speak English? They’re not welcome in this country!

Arrival Trailer #1 (2016) - Paramount Pictures by Paramount Pictures on YouTube

The word is also amazing on “Manchester By the Sea,” directed by Kenneth Lonergan, one of America’s best living playwrights, in which Casey Affleck plays a Boston janitor who becomes the guardian of his dead brother’s 15-year-old son.

Manchester by the Sea | Official Trailer | In Select Theaters November 18 by RoadsideFlix on YouTube

Well, that takes us through the holidays, which are also jammed with great-looking movies that I hope to love ... but reserve the right to say are terrible.