In Anticipation for Fall Movies: My Checklist

exiledThe only way to tell in Los Angeles when the seasons are changing is when the Movie Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly hits your mailbox. It’s a promise by the studios that this is when you can expect to be entertained or provoked or let down.

In the world of film viewing it’s difficult to live without expectation. There’s always that moment when I first hear about a film or see a trailer that I become either for or against it. When for; I get a little jittery and excitable (to show my appreciation I used to throw my hands up in the air and hiss a “Yesssss”, well, I guess I still do sometimes.) When against; my companion and I either mock by faking migraines or making raspberry sounds with our thumbs dramatically pointing downward. A lot of times my expectations will change or I’ll be surprised. I can’t tell you how many raspberries I threw at the trailer for “Serenity” and I ultimately really liked it and sought out the series “Firefly” and really liked that. But there are also many disappointments. It’s really hard not to be sometimes. It’s really hard not to walk into a movie expecting something. Especially when dealing with a series of films, it’s incredibly difficult not to expect something. Thankfully there’s a large part of me that’s open to seeing almost anything, but something like “Live Free or Die Hard” better be good.

Looking over the list of fall films from last weeks Entertainment Weekly, and from the trailers that are already starting to crowd the screen before summer has finished there’s not a whole lot I’m really looking forward to, which is disappointing, so I’ll include ones I’m curious about and others that I’m staying as far away from as possible (as a quick note this is only a portion of the films being released, the rest all lie in the middle ground of film viewing for me):

August 31st:

“Exiled”: A follow up to Johnnie To’s “The Mission”. To is one of my favorite Hong Kong action directors, with his sleek visual flair and ability to genre jump. His “Infernal Affairs” inspired the Award winning “The Departed” and is still a superior film to it. An exciting way to end the summer and start the fall, HOWEVER if it is only released in NYC and San Francisco as To’s follow up to Triad Elections was, I’ll be really upset.

September 7th:

“3:10 to Yuma”: While not a great fan of the director, it will be fun to watch Bale and Crowe go toe-to-toe.

“Shoot’em Up”: It was only when I read that there’s a gun battle as people are falling from an airplane that I became curious, but the trailer does nothing for me.

across the universeSeptember 14th:

“Across the Universe”: Check out my other write up The Best Trailer of the Fall to Come (Chill Factor). This is the first film this fall that I’m really looking forward to.

“The Brave One”: This is one unfortunately that I’m not looking forward to. I hate films that they try to sell as gritty and for women only. It comes off very much like a Lifetime movie. Though in the end my curiosity will probably get the best of me. This trailer gets an assortment of raspberries.

“Dragon Wars”: With such incredible movies coming out of Korea these days like the Chan Wook-Park revenge films (“Lady Vengeance” has become one of my favorites) and earlier this year “The Host” (which if you haven’t seen, and you’re reading this go rent it immediately) I’m up for seeing anything they throw my way.

eastern promises“Eastern Promises”: David Cronenberg with Viggo Mortensen in another gangster film. Sign me up. I just hope Naomi Watts hasn’t been cast in another weepy role. This is one of the big ones for me.

“Mr. Woodcock”: You couldn’t pay me to see this.

“In the Valley of Elah”: I want to judge once and for all if Paul Haggis is good or not. That’s all. And with Theron’s string of “eh” movies, she’s not really much of a draw for me.

“Silk”: Keira Knightley has proven herself to be a really good actress, and I always look forward to her movie choices.

September 21st:

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”: I like Brad Pitt. I like Westerns. I like long titles.

“Good Luck Chuck”: Raspberry!

“Into the Wild”: I haven’t been blown away by any of Sean Penn’s movies, but I’ve certainly liked them. We’ll see where this one goes. And based on a fascinating book, we’ll see.

re extinction“Resident Evil: Extinction”: With each movie the series has become better, though not great. I hated the first one, enjoyed the second, and the trailer for the third looks awesome. In fact the trailer for the second was pretty amazing too. The good thing is it looks a lot more like the original games than the other two did.

September 28:

“The Kingdom”: For the love of God, if I have to see the trailer for this film one more time I’m going to barf! Aside from that, I love Peter Berg and it doesn’t hurt that Michael Mann is listed as a Producer. I’m looking forward to it, if for no other reason than that the trailer will disappear.

“Lust, Caution”: Dopey title aside, this is Ang Lee and Tony Leung, two of the most talented Asian filmmakers alive today. With bells on.

“Run, Fatboy, Run”: After “Sean of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz” I would have to say I’m a fan of Simon Pegg.

October 5th:

“Michael Clayton”: Hmmm… George Clooney in a film that promises to be like some of the great 70’s films. The trailer doesn’t excite me in any way…whatsoever. Though there’s a part of me that wants to go only because Clooney originally wanted to direct it and he has good taste.

elizabethOctober 12th:

“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”: “Elizabeth” was one of my favorite movies the year it came out and like most people I became an immediate fan of Cate Blanchett, so of course I’m looking forward to this follow-up. Another big one for me.

“Hitman”: Who knows if it’s going to be good or not, but the trailer rocks.

“Sleuth”: I saw the original a few years ago with Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier, it was a clever bit of fun. I want to see this update.

October 19th:

“Gone Baby Gone”: Tantalizing curiosity draws me to Ben Affleck’s directorial debut. I think it might be pretty good.

“Rendition”: I’m not ashamed to admit that I am also on a Reese Witherspoon high, especially since she got her bangs redone; she went from cute to a sexy mature. I don’t even remember what the movie is about as I write this.

October TBD:

“The Darjeeling Brothers”: Ya know, the characters look like riffs of other Wes Anderson characters, but it’s also Wes Anderson, and Adrien Brody might help stir the pot as Gene Hackman did in “The Royal Tennenbaums” and Cate Blanchett did in “Steve Zissou”.

November 2nd:

“American Gangster”: My friend couldn’t help but lean over to me the other day and whisper as this trailer got started, “I heard this is the one that Denzel Washington plays an angry black man.” I laughed, and there is a moment in the trailer when he beats his chest with in a Denzel fury that others stay away from, only because too much sometimes is too much. I’m also getting a little annoyed by his slack-jawed blank stares as other people talk to him. This thoughtful expression has become too calculated, it’s Washington wanting all of his characters to be intelligent and collected. I hope he breaks free from that. But seeing him under the direction of Scott and alongside Crowe I hope he will be reinvigorated and step back from the Denzelisms he’s started to grab hold of. Very excited about this one. I’ll always see a Ridley Scott film, well almost always.

“Bee Movie”: I had no intention of seeing this until the extended trailer had me laughing so hard I was crying.

“The Kite Runner”: I didn’t care much for “Monster’s Ball” but I think Marc Forester is a competent director and I look forward to this adaptation.

November 9th:

“All That Really Matters”: Paul Rudd and Michelle Pfeiffer. With Rudd playing all of these brilliantly conceived second bananas, it will be nice to see what he can do in the saddle again. And Pfeiffer goes down nicely all the time.

“Fred Claus”: A family comedy from the director of “Wedding Crashers” the trailer screams at you. With such an uninspired premise that it needs this sales pitch, well, I don’t care who’s in it. Not looking forward to it.

“Lions for Lambs”: If I feel like being preached at I may go see it. The trailer preaches enough, but hey, maybe Redford has some answers. Meryl Streep might be the bargaining chip to get me to see it.

coen brothers film“No Country for Old Men”: The Coen Brothers adapting a novel by Cormac McCarthy, whose “The Road” I’m loving right now, and it has Javier Bardam. This is another highlight of the fall season for me.

November 16th:

“Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”: I really liked “Stranger than Fiction” but there’s something about the all too blatant craziness about this film that turns me off. Right now it’s a toss-up.

“Margot at the Wedding”: This is the first Nicole Kidman movie I’ve looked forward to in a long time. Partly because Noah Baumbach is writing and directing, and largely because Kidman with her thin voice and acting style always seems to work better when she’s in something quirkier. Go see the uncomfortable “The Squid and the Whale”. Really great performances. And there are certain filmmakers who excite me only because you don’t know what the movie is really going to be like. This could be a true adventure.

November 21st:

“Enchanted”: You know, I may just see this, mostly because I’m in love with Amy Adams.

“I’m Not There”: The experimental (? we’ll see) Bob Dylon biopic with Cate Blanchett, Heath Ledger, Christina Bale and an assortment of others playing the man in question. Always up for something like this.

November TBD

“Crossing Over”: Harrison Ford in a drama again? Is he making up for not being in Soderbergh’s “Traffic” (which I’m okay with since I didn’t like it.) I have always loved dramatic Ford, and with Sean Penn at his side, anticipation sets in.

Oh, and there

Now in Entertainment Weekly they drag the article out to include December, which I still think is Winter, so I’m not going to go into that. Usually by that time anyway, perception has changed and some of the movies have been pushed back.

Anything anyone else looking forward to…and, maybe a “why” thrown in for good measure.

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5 Responses to “In Anticipation for Fall Movies: My Checklist”

  1. Phillip Says:

    I will make an additional note, that while the first trailer for the “Beowulf” film hasn’t excited me, I love the story, and am always curious as to what Zemeckis is up to. I just hope the technology helps accentuate certain parts of the story and doesn’t distract, as I felt it did at times in “The Polar Express”. Thinking about the Imax experience, it might be worth the potentially distracting technology.

  2. Josh Says:

    Very useful. Thanks.

    I know it’s coming out at Christmas, but what did you make of The Golden Compass trailer? The books are now in my top 10, and I’m curious to see what they do with the film. I’ve read that the church’s role as the evil empire would be toned down for film, which is unfortunate, since it’s so integral to the story later on. Did you ever read them?

  3. Phillip Says:

    Josh,

    First of all I think the director of American Pie and About a Boy is an interesting choice to direct a fantasy film, but I did love About a Boy, and as far as I’m concerned, if you’re a good teller of stories, well, that’s what you are. He’s also exceptional at creating empathy in the most unsympathetic and despicable characters. I just hope his dedication to a very visual genre will overpower his comedic shot/reverse shot roots. That’s where the power of fantasy lies, in how the film is presented visually.

    When I was working at B&N it was a series that everyone was reading. I have yet to read it though. Looking for new material to read, I may pick it up next.

    Unfortunately, the trailer does little to entice me at this point. Several months til opening though.

    I hope they get around to make an “Ender’s Game” adaptation. Quite an amazing book – in my top so-and-so.

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