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Eight films to watch in November 2013

  • Big Sur

    Jean-Marc Barr stars as Jack Kerouac in director Michael Polish's adaptation of the Beat Generation author's autobiographical novel, Big Sur, written as he was struggling with his newfound fame following the success of On the Road. Big Sur chronicles his three trips to a remote cabin, his affair with the mistress (Kate Bosworth) of poet Neal Cassady (Josh Lucas), and his subsequent nervous breakdown. Even after the recent Kill Your Darlings and the film adaptation of On the Road, the Beats go on. Released 1 November in the US. (Ketchup Entertainment)

  • How I Live Now

    Nobody plays a strong-willed teenager like Saoirse Ronan. In the new film by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), Ronan is a feisty New Yorker sent to live for the summer with her cousins in the English countryside. Shortly after her arrival, growing worldwide political instability causes society to break down and the UK to become a fearsome police state. Released 7 November in Russia, 8 November in the US, and 14 November in Greece. (Magnolia Pictures)

  • The Book Thief

    Based on Australian author Markus Zusak's 2006 novel, The Book Thief stars 13-year-old Sophie Nelisse as a German orphan sent to live with foster parents in Bavaria right on the eve of World War II. The story is a Mrs Miniver in reverse, showing what the experience of civilian life in Nazi Germany was like during the war - except that unlike Mrs Miniver, this is a story narrated by death. Downton Abbey director Brian Percival helms the film, which was shot largely on location in Germany and also stars Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. Released 8 November in the US, 9 January 2014 in Australia, and 31 January 2014 in the UK. (Twentieth Century Fox)

  • The Armstrong Lie

    Documentarian Alex Gibney releases his second film of the year, following We Sell Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks. This time he exposes Lance Armstrong and the unprecedented doping scheme that propelled the cyclist to seven Tour de France victories. Released 8 November in the US and 14 November in Portugal. (Sony Picture Classics)

  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

    Jennifer Lawrence is back as the girl on fire, Katniss Everdeen, in this sequel to 2012's The Hunger Games − packed with both action and perceptive commentary on reality TV culture. After surviving the titular contest, Katniss and her fellow victor Peeta, (Josh Hutcherson) are taken on a cruel tour of their dystopian state Panem before being forced back into the arena for yet another battle to the death. The entire original cast is returning, including Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks, plus Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jeffrey Wright join the ensemble. Released 15 November in Brazil, 21 November in the UK, and 22 November in the US. (Lionsgate)

  • Nebraska

    Director Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants) has never before directed a screenplay written by someone else until Nebraska. Yet the film, about a young man (Will Forte) humouring his father (Bruce Dern), who believes he's won a million-dollar contest, by taking him on a road trip to collect his prize, is vintage Payne. Dern could be a major Oscar contender for his heartbreaking performance as a starry-eyed, but very cranky, dreamer on the edge of senility. Released 22 November in the US, 6 December in the UK, and 19 December in The Netherlands. (Paramount Vantage)

  • Get a Horse!

    For the first short starring Mickey Mouse in 18 years, Disney went back to the character's roots. Get a Horse! mixes contemporary computer animation with simple black-and-white 1920s-style drawings to tell a story reminiscent of Mickey's earliest films, Steamboat Willie and Plane Crazy. Released as a short before the Disney animated feature film Frozen on 27 November in the US, 4 December in France, and 19 December in Italy. (Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

  • Oldboy

    Josh Brolin, a friend of original Oldboy director Park Chan-wook, sought and received the Korean auteur's blessing for a US remake. Spike Lee took on directing duties with Brolin playing a man inexplicably imprisoned for years only to be just as mysteriously released. Whether the original's unforgettable octopus-eating sequence will be retained remains to be seen. Released 27 November in the US, 28 November in Singapore, and 6 December in the UK. (FilmDistrict)

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