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Fall Movie Preview

Originally Posted in Creative Loafing.

With the loud, dumb and often-disappointing summer movie season behind us, I go into fall with some optimism. There’s a good amount of work by reliable writers and filmmakers, which gives the season a lot of potential. And it’s our first bombardment of Oscar Bait, with many of the titles here angling for awards come the end of the year.


mpayouthelivingposterYou the Living: Roy Andersson’s follow up to his 2000 cult hit Songs From the Second Floor, You The Living has been making the rounds on the festival circuit since 2007, though the film has only recently reached America. The deadpan masterpiece revolves around the lives and dreams of the sad residents of a desolate town.

gamer_posterGamer: A thriller set in a future where humans can take control over other humans in “mass scale multiplayer environments.” Everything’s great until a popular player (Gerard Butler) tries to gain his independence from the game’s evil mastermind (Dexter‘s Michael C. Hall).


Extract: Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, Office Space) may finally grab the box office success he so woefully deserves. Despite the fact that the film’s Comic-Con panel was overlooked this year, Judge fans will not be disappointed. The film follows the trails and tribulations of the owner of a small-town flower-extract plant (Jason Bateman). Even more interesting is the stunt casting of Ben Affleck as Bateman’s stoner best friend.

9-poster9: A surprising amount of hype developed after 9’s trailer first premiered showcasing the film’s beautiful imagery. Director Shane Adker’s post-apocalyptic tale follows a creature simply called 9 who sets out to fight against evil machines that are trying to destroy all possible life. You may recognize this title, as 9 is based on Adker’s own Oscar-nominated short of the same name.

i-can-do-bad-poster-3I Can Do Bad All By Myself: What movie season would be complete without an appearance by Tyler Perry? Myself is a star vehicle for Taraji P. Henson, who plays a struggling nightclub singer suddenly faced with the not-so-welcome task of parenting three troubled teens. Will the experience teach her some profound life lessons? You wanna bet?

septemberissueThe September Issue:
A glimpse into the life of Vogue editor Anna Wintour that could have been the horror film of the year. Unfortunately, early word on the doc is that it’s rather tame and focuses more on the process of producing the magazine (in this case, the frantic preparations for the 2008 Fall Fashion Issue) than the incredible personality behind it.

theburningplainThe Burning Plain: 21 Grams and Babel scribe Guillermo Arriaga makes his directorial debut, with Kim Basinger and Charlize Theron starring as a mother and daughter that try to bond years after their relationship became horribly strained.

jennifers_bodyJennifer’s Body: Juno mastermind Diablo Cody takes a stab at campy horror and it should suit her well. The trailer for the film promises plenty of gore, a nude Megan Fox and the trademark snappy Diablo Cody dialogue. (“Snappy” if Juno didn’t annoy the hell out of you, that is). This should do big business on the back (and front) of Megan Fox alone.


Splice: A Canadian horror film by Vincenzo Natali about two rebel scientists (Adrian Brody and Sarah Polly) who decide to splice human and animal DNA. What happens next is not pretty (to say the least).

pandorumPandorum: Some more sci-fi/horror for you. The film features two crew members of a spaceship who awake in their hypersleep chamber with no memory of who they are or how they got there. What they do know is that they are not alone and are probably in deep trouble.

cloudy-meatballs-posterCloudy With a Chance of Meatballs: From the writers of ABC’s How I Met Your Mother comes an animated adaptation of the childrens book of the same name, about a town where food literally falls like rain from the sky. The voice talents involved (Bruce Cambell, Anna Ferris, Bill Hader) also have me interested.

informant_2The Informant!:
Steven Soderbergh wades back into the mainstream after experimental efforts Che and The Girlfriend Experience. The Informant! has all the irreverence and clever quips of the Ocean’s series, with the dark comedy following the government investigation of an agri-business giant accused of price fixing. The government’s star witness is the company’s vice president turned whistleblower Mark Whitacre, played by Matt Damon. It will be refreshing to see Matt Damon doing comedy again after a long string of more self-important roles.


Coco Before Chanel: This is actually going to be the second of three films about Coco Chanel to be released within the course of a year (including a Lifetime biopic and France’s Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky). This one seems prime for Oscar consideration with exquisite production values and a big showy role for French superstar Audrey Tautou (Amelie).

theinventionoflying_poster_633826489988005715_lrgThe Invention of Lying:
Ricky Gervais could have a real hit on his hands here. Not only does the comedian have the best ensemble cast one could ask for (Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Rob Lowe, Jason Bateman, Christopher Guest, Martin Starr), but he’s also crafted quite the concept: A world where no one has ever lied. Well, no one until Gervais’ character discovers the sin and uses it to make his life a success.

astroboy_posterAstro Boy: This beloved toon gets the CGI revamp that every other beloved toon seems to be getting these days. Prepare to be disappointed.


michaelmooreCapitalism: A Love Story: Say what you will about Michael Moore, he certainly doesn’t bore. His latest is a probe of the recent trillion dollar bank bailouts. Don’t expect the corporate fat cats or their government enablers to emerge looking like anything but the thieves they are.

asm_onesheet_finalA Serious Man: This has to be the most curious Coen brothers feature in years. The production and official storyline have been shrouded in mystery, and the cast consists entirely of unknowns. (Quite a departure following the star-studded Burn After Reading.) Then there is the mind-blowing trailer, which some have likened to a Radiohead video. I may be more excited about this one than I was for No Country for Old Men.

education_posterAn Education: A bright 16 year old in 1960s England must choose between living an adventure-filled life with her 30-something beau or focusing on her very promising but unexciting academic future. Who can’t relate to that?


Bronson: Turning heads at this year’s Sundance film festival was Nicolas Winding Refin’s Bronson, an ultraviolent expose of the life of a young British prisoner who calls himself Charles Bronson. As a teen, Bronson was sentenced to seven years for robbing a post office, but he ended up staying 35 years in solitary confinement for unruly behavior and various escape attempts.

where-the-wild-things-are-poster2Where the Wild Things Are: Spike Jonze’s five-years-in-the-making adaptation of Mauice Sendak’s classic children’s book is almost here, and the anticipation is growing for kids and aging hipsters alike. The fans have good reason to be excited: A preview of the film elicited tears from most of the audience at this year’s Comic-Con.

roadposterThe Road: Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men) may be the coolest writer around, and his Pulitzer Prize winning post-apocalyptic novel The Road is finally making it to the screen after post-production issues pushed its release date back nearly a year. Director John Hillcot seems sure to deliver the goods, as The Road is his follow-up to his critically lauded The Proposition.


Antichrist: Director Lars Von Trier’s latest is my pick for the biggest curiosity of the year. This film caused a scandal at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and has received love-it-or-hate-it buzz ever since. The story centers on a grieving couple whose infant dies while in their care. The husband, a psychiatrist, decides he can cure his wife of her grief and takes her to a secluded cabin in the middle of the woods (never a good sign) for treatment. And what happens in that cabin is supposedly some of the most shocking cinema ever produced (or so I’m told). I’ve also heard there is a talking fox. Sweet!

ameliaposterAmelia: I would dismiss Amelia as the usual Oscar-bait biopic, but the director here is the enormously talented Mira Niar — the filmmaker behind masterpieces Solamm Bombay, Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake. I’m curious to see what she does with what should be more-commercial material.