Let’s face it: the summer surprised us. Iron Man, The Hulk, and Batman were better than we expected them to be. As I write this, the verdict is still out on such funny flicks as Tropic Thunder and The Pineapple Express. But the fall holds more serious fare with less super genes, even if roles and actors will rise up as heroes for tomorrow. Here is HollywoodJesus.com’s preview of what to expect this fall, from September to December, hitting the high and low notes of the silver screen.
Let’s get started with the latest Coen Brothers effort Burn After Reading in which two dimwitted fitness trainers (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) battle a spy (John Malkovich) over missing memoirs. Amusing but not very deep. In Righteous Kill, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro star together thirteen years after their standoff in Heat, as two New York City cops after a killer. Intriguing partnership, but not very original. Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys shows that Perry can still get his movies financed and produced, even when the storylines don’t vary much from film to film.
In Appaloosa, Ed Harris directs and stars as Virgil Cole in a western with Viggo Mortensen as two lawmen after a villain played by Jeremy Irons. Renee Zellweger plays the woman who threatens to tear the two apart. Based on the book by Spenser for Hire author Robert B. Parker, the story has the bond between two men tested in ways that only a Parker work could depict—and I have to admit, it’s the most promising Western in the last few years.
If you want to get deep, sordid and maybe even depressed, check out Keira Knightley as Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, in the based-on-a-true-story period piece, The Duchess. While dealing with celebrity status in her late teens and early twenties, the Duchess endures a rape and must give up her child for adoption. Not very happy stuff, but it seems like something that might win someone an Oscar… or at the very least, some respect as more than a sidekick for Orlando Bloom.
Ricky Gervais plays New York dentist Bertram Pincus in Ghost Town, as Pincus discovers that he can see dead people after “dying for a few minutes.” One dead man, played by Greg Kinnear, wants his help to marry his widow, played by Tea Leoni. Weird? Yes, but certainly potentially entertaining and even heartwarming. This could really turn into a sleeper hit… or just a sleeper.
The rest of September continues to be a mixed bag. There’s the CGI kid story about Igor (as voiced by John Cusack), the hunchback assistant of a scientist. There’s Hounddog, most famous for a scene where Dakota Fanning gets raped; that’s bound to draw attention (unfortunately). Lakeview Terrace looks terrifying from the trailer, as Samuel L. Jackson plays a cop trying to scare an interracial couple out of his plush neighborhood.
Eagle Eye hopes that Shia LaBeouf hasn’t messed up the drawing power that he earned with Transformers and Indiana Jones with his latest brush with the law. Here, director DJ Caruso directs LaBeouf again, this time with Michelle Monaghan who is also on the run from a mysterious caller who seems to control every aspect of both of their lives. This one looks like a thriller that should entertain, but probably not make a lot of award-winning noise.
Miracle at St. Anna, on the other hand, stars Derek Luke, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller, and Michael Ealy as infantrymen in the U.S. Army’s 92nd division that fought Germans in Italy in WWII. Directed by Spike Lee, the movie makes a statement about African Americans in war movies, but also hints at a mystery-shrouded story that will get me to the theater.Parting shots: Blindness looks like another Julianne Moore thriller, this time as the only human left who is able to see in a world stricken by disease. Nights in Rodanthe teams Richard Gere and Diane Lane in a Nicholas Sparks’ romance on the North Carolina beach. Forever Strong stars Sean Astin in a sports movie about rugby (insert laugh track here). And finally, Battle In Seattle tries to make us care about the riots at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting by throwing Woody Harrelson and Charlize Theron out there.