Feature: Film Guide
’Tis the Season (for Cinema)
Fall Film Guide 2008Summer may be a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean you’re done watching blockbuster films, Oscar-worthy indies and pure, overhyped crapola. Oh, no. The fall movie season is just beginning. With Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner, Hollywood studios are lining up, once again, to pick your pockets. We’ve got superspies, vampires, talking mice, Will Smith, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and a superhero or two. And that’s just the beginning.
So, peruse the schedule, pick a film that sounds appealing, purchase some tickets on Fandango and find yourself a couple hours respite from the endless shopping season to come.
Keep in mind, of course, that all dates are subject to change.
Quantum of Solace
Stars: Daniel Craig, Gemma Arterton
The new, improved Bond is back and still looking for revenge in the death of his beloved Vesper Lynd at the hands of a secret, world-conquering organization. The title, by the way, means “a lot of comfort.”
Stars: The voices of John Travolta, Miley Cyrus
This CG-animated toon finds a Hollywood dog, star of a TV action show, lost in New York City, where he realizes his superpowers are just the product of special effects.
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson
The first of Stephanie Meyer’s teen angst vampire novels goes Hollywood with high school heroine Bella Swan falling in love with dreamy young bloodsucker Edward Cullen.
The Boy in Striped Pajamas
Stars: Asa Butterfield, David Thewlis
The 8-year-old son of a concentration camp commandant innocently befriends a young Jewish boy in this World War II drama.
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman
Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) directs this epic adventure saga. Set in World War II-era Australia, a delicate English aristocrat and a rough Australian stockman try to protect a sprawling cattle ranch from invading Japanese forces.
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Reese Witherspoon
An antisocial couple struggle to spend the Christmas holidays with all four of their divorced parents in this wacky seasonal sitcom.
Stars: Jason Statham, Natalya Rudakova
Jason Statham is back as the badass driver-for-hire. This time around, he blows up if he gets too far away from his car. No, really. Also, the movie’s directed by a Frenchman named Olivier Megaton. No, really.
Stars: Adrien Brody, Beyoncé Knowles
This musical drama chronicles the founding of legendary Chess Records in ’50s Chicago.
Stars: Frankie Muniz, Jamie Kennedy
The makers of Not Another Teen Movie try to horn back in on the Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie, Disaster Movie trend with this sketchy spoof of teen sex.
Stars: Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch
Gus Van Sant (Drugstore Cowboy, Good Will Hunting) directs this biopic about Harvey Milk, California’s first openly gay elected official, who was eventually assassinated by a former city supervisor.
Punisher: War Zone
Stars: Ray Stevenson, Dominic West
The gun-toting vigilante, looking a bit different than his last outing, does battle with his disfigured archenemy Jigsaw (not to be confused with the guy from the Saw films).
Youth in Revolt
Stars: Michael Cera, Steve Buscemi
While his trailer trash parents teeter on the edge of divorce, teenage Nick Twisp dreams of losing his virginity to dreamgirl-next-door Sheeni Saunders. Based on the comic novel by C.D. Payne.
The Day the Earth Stood Still
Stars: Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly
The contemplative sci-fi classic gets remade with Keanu Reeves--which is as good an excuse as any for aliens to destroy our stupid planet.
Stars: The voices of Freddie Prinze Jr., Jennifer Love Hewitt
This CGI-based fantasy toon is about an adventurous but naive teenager who must protect the terrestrial Lockni people from the winged Nohrin people. It features mediocre animation but a big voice cast (including Kelly Ripa, Anne Bancroft, Val Kilmer and Burt Reynolds).
Nothing Like the Holidays
Stars: John Leguizamo, Alfred Molina
More wacky comedy about a family forced to spend time together over the holidays. For added color, this one’s Puerto Rican.
Stars: Clint Eastwood, Geraldine Hughes
Clint Eastwood stars in his own directing effort as a disgruntled Korean War vet who sets out to reform his neighbor, a young Hmong (ethnic Chinese) kid who tried to steal his prized possession--a 1972 Gran Torino.
Stars: Mickey Rourke, Marisa Tomei
Rourke has wowed film fest audiences with his gritty portrait of a retired professional wrestler looking for one last shot at fame in the ring. Brainy Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream) directs.
Stars: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson
A guilt-ridden IRS agent tries to make amends for his mistakes by helping seven strangers. For fans of Smith’s more sentimental efforts like The Pursuit of Happyness.
Stars: Dev Patel, Mia Drake
Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, 28 Days Later ...) directs this comedy/drama about an impoverished Indian teen who becomes a contestant on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”--not to win the prize money, but to prove his love for his friend, who is an ardent fan of the show.
The Tale of Despereaux
Stars: The voices of Matthew Broderick, Emma Watson
Our third CGI toon of the holiday season is a lovely adaptation of Kate DiCamillo’s picture book about a bookish mouse, an unhappy rat and a bumbling servant girl whose fates are intertwined with that of a beautiful princess.
Stars: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel
Jim Carrey is a Negative Nelly who, as an experiment, says yes to everything for a period of one year, leading to lots of funny and life-affirming encounters.
Stars: Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler reads bedtime stories to his kids and they come to life, kinda like in Night at the Museum. In fact, a hell of a lot like in Night at the Museum. You liked Night at the Museum, didn’t you? You forked over a lot of dough to go see it with your kids? Come see this one, too. Please! Signed, your friends at Walt Disney Studios.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Stars: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett
This odd fantasy (adapted from a short by F. Scott Fitzgerald) tells the life story of a man who is born old and steadily grows younger.
Stars: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Playwright/filmmaker Jon Patrick Shanley adapts his own stageplay about a tough nun who confronts a priest she’s convinced has abused a young black student.
Stars: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen
Ron Howard (Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code) helms this biopic about embattled prez Richard Nixon and his famous encounter with British talk show host David Frost.
Stars: Forest Whitaker, Bow Wow
It’s another inspirational, true-life football story, this one about a coach who assembles an all-star team from post-Katrina Louisiana’s devastated high schools and leads it to the state championships.
Marley & Me
Stars: Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston
A commitment-phobic couple adopts a dog. A really bad dog. The book, by John Gorgan, was a massive feel-good hit full of Important Life Lessons; the movie looks like Beethoven, Part 7.
Stars: Gabriel Macht, Scarlett Johansson
Will Eisner‘s famous newspaper strip crimefighter comes to life in this Sin City-style superhero flick from director/comic book artist Frank Miller.
Last Chance Harvey
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Emma Thompson
In London for his daughter’s wedding, a rumpled man finds his romantic spirits lifted by a new woman.
Stars: Tom Cruise
Cruise stars as a controversial German officer who plotted (unsuccessfully, needless to say) to assassinate Hitler during World War II.