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2010 Fall Preview: Part 1

Fall is now upon us. With Labor Day upon us, that means it’s time to get the rake out and pass on those trick or treats. Football has replaced Baseball, although with the pennant race in full gear, important baseball is still to be played. I am glad I mentioned the word important because that ties right in with the time of year for film geeks. Gone are the dumb, loud, obnoxious retreads and sequels.  In are the hoyty toyty films, films vying for oscar gold.  While all might not be good, most of them are at least interesting.

In part 1, I will be taking a look at some of the smaller releases that strike me as quite intriguing.  This idea sprang from Filmspotting when they used to do their seasonal previews.  They would do one top 5 devoted to the big can’t miss blockbusters.  Not all of them were blockbusters but they were films that were guaranteed to be awesome.  They would do a seperate list of films that they were excited for but that could go either way.  It could be a great film but there was just as much of a chance that it could be a complete disaster.   Not all of these films are independent films, there are some studio films on this list, and vice verca, but these are films that strike me as really intriguing.  I am going to go in order from most excited to least, although nobody should take these ratings personally.  I am excited for every film that is on this list.

1. It’s Kind of a Funny Story (Focus Features)

Cast: Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts, Zach Galifianakis, Lauren Graham

Directed by: Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden

Release Date: October 8th

LOGLINE: A clinically depressed 16-year-old checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward where he gains a new lease on life.

Personal reasons aside, this film is intriguing for several reasons.  The first is the first studio film from Fleck and Boden (Half Nelson, Sugar).  Now granted this isn’t going to be released in 3,000 theaters but it is a big departure from their bare budget work of the past.  It is also a comedy, something that they have never really attempted before, although Half Nelson does have a lot of funny moments.  The second reason is because of the cast.  Galifianakis’ star is rising and he has done incredible work in things like The Hangover and TV’s Bored to Death.  From the trailer, it looks like we will get an opportunity to see him stretch and show off his dramatic chops as an actor.  Roberts star is on the rise and she is turning into a very respected actress.  The supporting cast is peppered with wonderful character actors and actresses like Graham, Viola Davis, and Jeremy Davies.  Gilcrhist is an unknown but I trust Fleck and Boden on this one.  The personal reason is because this is a film that deals quite frankly with teenage depression, something that I am very familiar with.  I haven’t read the book that it is based on but the trailer looks like it deals with this experience in a very authentic way.

2. Blue Valentine (The Weinstein Company)

Cast: Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams

Directed by: Derek Cianfrance

Release Date: December 31st (LIMITED)

LOGLINE: A couple examines their marriage on their tenth wedding anniversary.

I think Gosling and Williams are two of the best actor’s/actresses’ of their respective generations.  They both make incredibly interesting choices when it comes to selecting projects to work on and they are extremely compelling to watch.  This will be Gosling’s first film since the terrific Lars and the Real Girl while Williams hasn’t stopped working.  She has taken of the mantle of indie golden girl from Zooey Deschanel.  This is Cianfrance’s first film, one that he has trying to get done for the past fifteen years, and the buzz has been tremendous.  A lot of people are calling this the more depressing version of (500) Days of Summer (the movie of our generation).  I am a sucker for these realistic examinations of relationships (I wonder why) and this definitely looks like another one of those.  I would expect The Weinstein Company to move this forward to mid-December soon.

3. Buried (Lionsgate)

Cast: Ryan Reynolds

Directed by: Rodrigo Cortes

Release Date: September 24th (LIMITED)

LOGLINE: A US contractor in Iraq wakes up to find himself buried alive in a coffin

This one is easy.  Not only is the premise interesting but it is also the most challenging kind of cinema out there.  One location with one person on screen.  If it approaches the greatness of Lebanon, than this will be a terrific film.  However it is also exciting to see Ryan Reynolds get a juicy role like this.  Reynolds is one of our best actors, just watch The Nines and Adventureland for proof, and his willingness to take supporting roles in small films or leading roles in indie films is what makes him so special.  The film got great buzz out of Sundance and  the review by John McEntee on our web site is a flat out rave.

4. The Next Three Days (Lionsgate)

CAST: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson

Directed by: Paul Haggis

Release Date: November 19th

LOGLINE: A man attempts to break his wife out of prison after she is wrongly accused of murder.

I like to have fun at the movies and this movie looks like a lot of fun.  I am a fan of the work by Paul Haggis and I think he is having fun with a no-non sense thriller that doesn’t insult your intelligence.  Call it the thinking man’s Taken.  I love Crowe, will watch anything with him, and Banks can do anything.  Neeson looks to be in full Taken mode again, albeit a much shorter role. I will say that the trailer probably gives far too much away.

5. Another Year (Sony Pictures Classics)

Cast: Jim Broadbent, Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton, Ruth Sheen

Directed by: Mike Leigh

Release Date: December 31st

LOGLINE: It’s a Mike Leigh film

I don’t know much about this film, like all Leigh films, his plots are kept under wrap.  However as a big Mike Leigh fan, I am giddy as a school girl.

6. Let Me In (Overture Films)

Cast: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Release Date: October 1st

LOGLINE: A boy falls in love with a vampire who moves next door.

This film raised a lot ire on the internet when it was first announced.  Let the Right One In is a masterpiece and it does not need to be remade by the guy who directed Cloverfield.  However Reeves has been saying all the right things.  It turns out this is not a remake of the Swedish film but in fact an adaptation of the original novel, apparently Let the Right One In differed a lot from the source material.  John Ajvide Lindqvist, the author of the novel, has come out in support of Reeves’ film.  The footage from Comic-Con got rave reviews and the cast is terrific.

7. I’m Still Here (Magnolia Pictures)

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix

Directed by: Cassey Affleck

Release Date: September 10th

LOGLINE: A look at Joaquin Phoenix’s year as a rapper.

This has to be one of the most fascinating films on the fall slate.  This could either be a disaster or the best film ever.  When Joaquin Phoenix announced his retirement from acting to pursue a music career, people raised an eyebrow.  He looked terrible in the video however it was understandable.  He did do a good Johnny Cash impression so he clearly has a good voice.  However when he announced he was becoming a rapper, the world went into chaos.  This is it though.  We will now get to see whether this was all a performance art project or actually real.  The trailer can be viewed two ways: there is a certain amount of power with the voice over and the images of Phoenix in the trailer; or the voice over and the ridiculousness of it is hilarious and you will burst into laughter just watching.

8. Somewhere (Focus Features)

Cast: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Michelle Monaghan, Benicio Del Toro

Directed by: Sofia Coppola

Release Date: December 22nd

LOGLINE: An aging and hard living actor get’s a surprise welcome from his 11-year old daughter.

For the first time, I am going into a Sofia Coppola movie with some anticipation.  Full disclosure: I am not a fan of Sofia Coppola’s.  I liked The Virgin Suicides, didn’t like Lost in Translation, and actively loathed Marie Antoinette.  This has all the trappings of a Sofia film but I do think, judging from the story, that it is somewhat of a departure for her.  I am also a huge Stephen Dorff fan and any chance to see him in a leading role is worth the price of admission for me.

9. Devil (Universal Pictures)

Cast: Chris Messina, Geoffrey Arend, Bojana Novakovic, Jacob Vargas

Directed by: Drew and John Erick Dowdle

Release Date: September 17th

LOGLINE: A Group of people trapped in an elevator start to suspect that the devil is among them.

Cue the hate mail that I am going to get.  We have all heard various reports, hell I have witnessed it myself, about the howls of laughter coming from the audience when a certain name is revealed in the trailer.  However I have three reasons why I am curious about this film.  The first is, I think the trailer actually looks good.  Does it look implausible?  Yes, without a doubt.  However I am a sucker for these sleazy horror films that take place in one location.  The second is that it will give Chris Messina a leading role in a major motion picture.  Messina is one of our best character actors, look at his work in Away We Go and Vicky Christina Barcelona.  He is probably one of the most dependable actors working today and I will go see him in a film where he is the lead.  Third is, I like M. Night Shyamalan.  When he is on his game, there is hardly anyone better.  I will always root for him, even if his last four films have sucked.  Hopefully this is a project that will get him back on track.  He only has a story-by credit but this might be the key to getting the old Shyamalan back.

10. Never Let Me Go (Fox Searchlight)

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley

Directed by: Mark Romanek

Release Date: September 15th

LOGLINE: I am not going to even touch this.

I just inadvertently got the movie spoiled for me by going to Yahoo movies.  I have gotten a lot of these loglines from Yahoo but on their Never Let Me Go page, I think they spoil the big twist.  I say I think because I have not yet read the book.  The film looks really intriguing and it’s got a good cast.  I may or may not actually pick up the book and read it before September 15th.


The Tourist – Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Lives of Others) is a brilliant director.  The setup looks intriguing and I am excited to see Johnny Depp in something other than a period piece. (December 10th)

Catfish – I have heard really good things about this film. (September 17th)

My Soul to Take – It’s Wes Craven’s first work since Red Eye.  It’s the first time he has written a film since A Nightmare on Elm Street. (October 8th)