Better You Than Me: The Martian, Everest, The Walk

The Walk

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars in The Walk.

If I had to bestow a general theme on fall’s most-anticipated film releases, it would probably be Things I Don’t Want to Happen to Me, But That I Still Want To Watch. And I’m not even talking about the final installment of The Hunger Games, which, compared to the Republican debates, looks positively civil. Here are five such stories I look forward to not actually experiencing.


September 30

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Philippe Petit, the real-life, somehow still-breathing Frenchman who walked across a high wire stretched between the Twin Towers in 1974. There’s already a popular documentary, Man on Wire, about Petit’s incredible feat, but The Walk director Robert Zemeckis has mind-bending CGI on his side.

Why I Don’t Want It to Happen to Me: The vertigo, the likelihood of falling to my death.

Why I Still Want to Watch: The entire plot revolves around the World Trade Center buildings, so it’s a chance to see the fallen towers rise again. In 3-D, no less.


September 18

As the title implies, this is a movie about Mount Everest. Specifically, it’s a movie about the 1996 blizzard that killed eight people. Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke play two seasoned climbers who take separate groups up on doomed expeditions, and Keira Knightley plays the pregnant wife of one of them, because God forbid there’s a disaster movie that doesn’t involve a long-distance phone call that makes pretty people ugly-cry.

Why I Don’t Want It to Happen to Me: The vertigo, the wind chill factor, the likelihood of falling to my death.

Why I Still Want to Watch: A gripping true story with an A-list cast rarely fails.


October 9

As the title implies, this is a movie about Steve Jobs. Specifically, it’s a movie about the time the late Apple co-founder killed eight people. Wait … sorry, I cut and pasted that too soon. This is just a nonviolent biopic about Steve Jobs, who is not a murderer. But it’s written by Aaron Sorkin, directed by Danny Boyle, and stars Michael Fassbender, so it’s got both buzz and brawn.

Why I Don’t Want It to Happen to Me: In this case, “it” refers to Steve Jobs, who the film depicts as a total nightmare of a perfectionistic boss.

Why I Still Want to Watch: Crackerjack dialogue, a window into the mind of a genius. Also, turtlenecks.


October 2

Sadly, this is not a Steve Jobs-ian study of the popular Looney Tunes character, Marvin, but it’s almost as good: A Ridley Scott-directed sci-fi action drama about an astronaut (Matt Damon) on a mission to Mars who’s left for dead when his team has to evacu- ate the red planet in a hurry.

Why I Don’t Want It to Happen to Me: The claustrophobia, the loneliness and the complete lack of oxygen.

Why I Still Want to Watch: Matt Damon. On Mars.


October 16

Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks. The Cold War. Any one of these three nouns individually would be enough to set Oscar voters’ hearts afire, but in combination, there is a real danger that the Dolby Theater may actually burn to the ground. Nevertheless, 20th Century Fox is proceeding with the release of this historical thriller co-written by Joel and Ethan Coen (and there’s another potentially flammable set of nouns), which stars Hanks as a Brooklyn lawyer who’s asked by the government to negotiate the release of an American spy captured by the Soviets.

Why I Don’t Want It to Happen to Me: Espionage is one of those professions that comes with a high risk of being shot with a poisoned dart.

Why I Still Want to Watch: When Spielberg directs Hanks in a period piece based on a true story, we get movies like Catch Me if You Can and Saving Private Ryan. (The Terminal doesn’t count.)