by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN Contributing Writer
Ah, fall. It's the time of year when Hollywood begins to back off from all of the pointless sequels, remakes, and comic book and/or video game adaptations and actually gets a wee bit serious in hopes of earning an all-important Oscar. They assume audiences actually have a brain and program serious-minded films for the serious-minded filmgoer, and the last months of the year are a triumph of cinematic quality.
Yeah, right. While those aforementioned statements aren't exactly false, it isn't like there aren't a ton of low-aiming pictures dotting the release schedule. Milla Jovovich is back for another round of zombie killing - this time in 3D - in Resident Evil: Afterlife, while MTV's famously flatulent fall guys return in three dimensions as well, unleashing Jackass 3D upon an unsuspecting populace. The makers of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem return with the Independence Day ripoff Skyline, while horror-thriller Case 39 starring Renée Zellweger somehow manages to get a wide release even though it apparently stinks so bad it's been sitting on Universal's shelf for almost three years.
Also in 3D is Disney's 28-years-later sequel Tron: Legacy, 300 director Zack Snyder's foray into digital animation The Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, the Hayden Panettiere- and Christina Ricci-voiced Alpha & Omega, Jigsaw's reportedly final killing spree Saw 3D, Dreamworks' Will Ferrel/Brad Pitt-led animated Megamind, the latest trip into author C.S. Lewis' religiously inspired fantasyland The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the pic-a-nic basket-loving Yogi Bear and the golden-haired animated adventure Tangled.
As if that weren't enough (and trust me, as tired as I am of 3D, this is more than enough), the final adventure of everyone's favorite boy wizard Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I will also be presented in the format on both regular and IMAX screens everywhere. In all honesty, this kind of blows my mind as the reactions to Warner Bros. 2D to 3D conversions of both Clash of the Titans and that awful Cats & Dogs sequel met with almost total disdain. It's flabbergasting that they're willing to risk the same kind of backlash on their biggest cash cow (and, I almost hesitate to say this, a potential Academy Award nominee).
There are plenty of bright spots, of course. Dotting the release schedule are major releases from Clint Eastwood (Hereafter), David Fincher (The Social Network), Danny Boyle (127 Hours), James L. Brooks (How Do You Know), Zhang Yimou (A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop), Sofia Coppola (Somewhere), Woody Allen (You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (The Tourist), Julian Schnabel (Miral), Edward Zwick (Love and Other Drugs), Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), David O. Russell (The Fighter), Julie Taymor (The Tempest), Stephen Frears (Tamara Drew), Davis Guggenheim (Waiting for "Superman"), Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go), Mike Leigh (Another Year), and the Coen brothers (True Grit). As to whether or not any or all of these will prove to be worthy of their ticket prices, your guess is sadly as good as mine.
The following is a list of what is scheduled to be hitting Seattle screens from now until the end of October. Next week, we'll list the movies opening through the end of the year. As always, release dates are tentative and subject to change.
Alpha and Omega - Another 3D animated effort, this one coming from Lionsgate and featuring the voice talents of Hayden Panettiere, Christina Ricci, Justin Long, Danny Glover, and the late, great Dennis Hopper about a pair of wolves making a dangerous cross-country trek.
Catfish - Creepy yet highly entertaining documentary about a New York artist making friends with a talented 8-year-old artist on Facebook while potentially falling for her sexy older sister at the same time.
Devil -M. Night Shyamalan (in producer/writer mode) and Quarantine director John Erick Dowdle (sharing credit with his brother Drew) team up for a fable about a group of strangers trapped in an elevator, with one of them secretly being Satan - yes, Satan (and no, the Church Lady is not involved in any way whatsoever).
Easy A - Emma Stone's star continues to rise as she plays a wise-beyond-her-years teen who decides to help her school's most unfortunate by pretending to be the woman who took their collective virginity. The all-star cast includes Amanda Bynes, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci, Malcolm McDowell, Patricia Clarkson, and Thomas Haden Church.
Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel - Fine documentary chronicling the life and times of the notorious Playboy founder and living legend. Far more interesting (and with much less nudity) than I anticipated, both of which are plusses as far as I'm concerned.
Mademoiselle Chambon - French dramedy about a mild-mannered family man who becomes increasingly more and more obsessed with his son's sexy teacher Mademoiselle Chambon (Sandrine Kiberlain of Alias Betty).
The Town - Ben Affleck's follow up to his grand directorial debut Gone Baby Gone is the gritty story of a team of Boston thieves who slowly fall apart at the seams when their leader professes a desire to go straight after falling in love with the one woman who could send them all to prison for the rest of their lives.
The Virginity Hit - the description in the production notes for this film is as follows: "It's four guys, one camera, and their hilarious experience chronicling the exhilarating and terrifying rite of passage - losing your virginity." Consider yourselves warned.
Bran Nue Dae - Australian musical-comedy hybrid starring the great Geoffrey Rush involving the 1969 love affair between two aboriginal teenagers partaking in their fair share of youthful rebellion.
Heartbreaker - Saga of professional break-up artist Alex Lippi (Romain Duris) who accidentally falls in love with his latest target Juliette (Vanessa Paradis), a beautiful, young, and free-spirited heiress.
Jack Goes Boating - Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman makes his directorial debut with this brilliantly acted (if dramatically uneven) tale of a shy New York limo driver (Hoffman) who is pushed by his best friend (John Ortiz) into dating an equally quiet woman (Oscar-nominee Amy Ryan) who is just as afraid of romance as he is.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole - Look! In the sky! It's another 3D CG animated movie! This one about owls! Fighting for survival! Directed by 300 and Watchmen mastermind Zack Snyder! With extremely loud trailers that continually shout at us! Aren't we excited?!
The Romantics - Drama about seven friends who reunite for a wedding, an old rivalry between the bride (Anna Paquin) and her maid of honor (Katie Holmes) jeopardizing the nuptials.
The Sicilian Girl - Acclaimed Italian effort about that country's continuing problem with organized crime as viewed through the prism of this fictional tale of Rita Atria, the 17-year-old daughter of a slain mob boss.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - Strong, stirring, and unbelievably timely sequel to Oliver Stone's 1987 original marking the return of Gordon Gekko (still played with glorious smarmy bravado by Michael Douglas) to the New York City street he lusts to be master and commander of. Greed - for him, at least - remains very, very good.
Buried - Ryan Reynolds is a U.S. contract worker stationed in Iraq who is kidnapped and then buried alive inside a coffin with only a low-on-power cell phone to help him escape. Obviously, his cell provider is not AT&T.
Case 39 - The first time I saw a trailer for this Renée Zellweger horror effort was all the way back in 2008. Universal is now giving it a release. I don't think anything more needs to be said.
Cell 211 - Sensational Spanish import about a prison riot gone horribly wrong and the guard who poses as a prisoner in order to hopefully survive.
Freakonomics - Acclaimed documentary filmmakers Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Seth Gordon, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki, and Morgan Spurlock attempt to look at the "hidden side of everything." What that exactly means I'm not entirely sure. Maybe they'll do an exposé on why people are so fascinated with Jersey Shore or continue to think voting Republican is a good idea.
Hatchet II - The sequel nobody asked for but that we're all going to get is being released unrated by its distributor because, you know, that's what all the fans of the first blood-soaked slashfest were screaming for. Wait. The first Hatchet actually has fans? Who knew?
Let Me In - Cloverfield director risks the wrath of fanboys everywhere with his remake of the freaky and sinister vampire in child's clothing Let the Right One In. Kick-Ass darling Chloe Moretz and The Road wanderer Kodi Smit-McPhee star.
The Social Network - Acclaimed director David Fincher takes on the world of Facebook with this look at its birth as seen through the eyes of its controversial co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Waiting for "Superman" - An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim turns his attentions to the state of the Public School System in the United States and does not like what he finds. Leave no child behind, indeed.
You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger - Woody Allen returns for another darkly comedic merry-go-round and he's brought along Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Antonio Banderas, and Slumdog Millionaire beauty Freida Pinto for the ride.
Breathless - Jean-Luc Godard's timeless classic is back in theatres looking better than ever. Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg rule. One of fall's can't-miss cinematic events.
It's Kind of a Funny Story - Half Nelson writer and director tandem Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck return for this quirky comedy about a clinically depressed teenager who checks himself into an adult psychiatric ward.
Life as We Know It - Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel hate one another but find themselves forced to live in the same house after a tragedy leaves them the caregivers for a recently parentless baby. There are poop jokes. Lots and lots of poop jokes.
My Soul to Take - Horror master Wes Craven's latest is another 2D to 3D conversion about a serial killer stalking seven teens whose birthdays are the same day as he was supposedly executed.
Never Let Me Go - In the movie I am looking forward to seeing this fall more than any other, director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) tackles author Kazuo Ishiguro's amazing novel about three friends reuniting to face an uncertain destiny, hopefully doing it justice in the process.
Nowhere Boy - Biopic about a young pre-Beatles John Lennon starring Aaron Johnson, a.k.a. Kick-Ass. Missed this at this year's SIFF, but the buzz regarding it wasn't exactly euphoric.
Secretariat - Disney goes to the inspirational sports story well one more time, this time offering up the tale of the famous titular horse and the woman (a supposedly quite good Diane Lane) who defied the odds, guiding him to the 1973 Triple Crown.
The Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival - Everyone's favorite independent LGBT flavored film festival returns for its 15th go-around. As always, the SGN will be your go-to source for reviews and information just as soon as the folks at Three Dollar Bill Cinema disclose the schedule.
Conviction - Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell Oscar fodder based on the true story of Betty Ann Waters, a working mother who tirelessly puts herself through law school in order to defend her brother, wrongfully accused of murder.
The Freebie - Independent effort about a young married couple who decide to give one another the night off from their normal lives, apparently unaware of the normal rom-com consequences of doing just that very thing.
Jackass 3D - Do I really need to say anything about this one? I didn't think so, as it sort of speaks for itself.
Red - Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Helen Mirren - yes, that Helen Mirren - team up as retired CIA assassins brought out of retirement against their wishes when someone deep inside the agency marks them for death. To no one's surprise, this thriller is based on a comic book.
Stone - Edward Norton is a killer on the verge of parole. Robert De Niro is the parole officer brought out of retirement to hear his case. Milla Jovovich is the woman who will make things very, very interesting for the both of them.
Hereafter - Clint Eastwood's latest is described as an emotional drama of loss and regret with supernatural undertones written by Peter Morgan (The Queen), starring Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard. As it's directed by Eastwood, I couldn't care less what it's actually about, as I'd be first in line to see it even if he were making an exposé on underwater basket-weaving.
Inside Job - If one weren't already furious about the current economic situation facing the U.S. at the moment, it goes without saying that Charles Ferguson's documentary looking at the meltdown will make a person even more so.
Last Train Home - Supposedly heart-wrenching documentary chronicling the yearly journey of 200 million Chinese peasant workers as they return home to their families for a brief period of rest.
Paranormal Activity 2 - What, you thought Paramount would be satisfied to have an underground horror hit last year that they never expected would make over a $100 million and then leave well enough alone? Think again. The requisite (and probably pointless) sequel opens just in time for Halloween.
The Company Man - Drama about recent economic events and effects it has on the lives of various corporate workers and their families as played by Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Affleck, Maria Bello, and Kevin Costner.
Douchebag - Two brothers on a quest to find the whereabouts of the younger one's fifth-grade girlfriend, even though he's about to be married to the supposed love of his life. I can feel the yawns coming on already.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest - The final chapter in the late Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy finds Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) recuperating from her injuries and plotting her revenge while journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) struggles to get her off the hook for three different murders.
Monsters - After an alien invasion has left parts of the globe off-limits, a journalist escorts a tourist through the infected portions of Mexico to the safety of the U.S. border. The trailer is pretty good, other than that I've got nothing much to say.
Saw 3D - Jigsaw's supposed last trek around the mousetrap will apparently wrap up all of the loose ends left by the previous six installments in the bizarrely popular torture-filled series.
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