Labor Day weekend is coming up, and it's a holiday that marks the end of the summer movie season along with summer itself. All the kids are heading back to the classroom for another dreaded year of school and (for those in L.A. like myself) the weather starts to cool... hopefully. While fall usually isn't seen as a cinematic hotbed, with the blockbuster summer season over, there are still plenty of quality films to check out at the box office. This year we have Megan Fox's possessed body, a sensational animated film and a new zombie adventure. There's a lot more that I'm looking forward to this fall, so here is a comphrehensive look at what you can expect from this fall movie season.


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Gamer - September 4th

Starring: Gerard Butler, Kyra Sedgwick, Michael C. Hall, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, John Leguizamo, Amber Valletta, Terry Crews, Logan Lerman, Johnny Whitworth, Zoe Bell

Directed by: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor

Gamer is a high-concept action thriller set in a near future when gaming and entertainment have evolved into a terrifying new hybrid. Humans control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online games: people play people...for keeps. Mind-control technology is widespread, and at the heart of the controversial games is its creator, reclusive billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall). His latest brainchild, the first-person shooter game "Slayers," allows millions to act out their most savage fantasies online in front of a global audience, using real prisoners as avatars with whom they fight to the death.

Kable (300's Gerard Butler) is the superstar and cult hero of the ultraviolent "Slayers." Kable is controlled by Simon, a young gamer with rock star status who continues to defy all odds by guiding Kable to victory each week. Taken from his family, imprisoned and forced to fight against his will, the modern day gladiator must survive long enough to escape the game to free his family, regain his identity and to save mankind from Castle's ruthless technology.

Why You Should See It:

High-octane filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are bringing their unique flair for action to a story that has some actual societal context. We have a smashing rock-star cast here with Gerard Butler, Kyra Sedgwick, Michael C. Hall and even Ludacris! These games portrayed in the film could eerily become a reality, with the kind of technology prevalent today, and I'm curious to see how the balls-to-the-wall style of Neveldine/Taylor is infused with such a high-concept premise.

/movie/all-about-steve/All About Steve

All About Steve - September 4th

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper, Ken Jeong, DJ Qualls, Katy Mixon, Howard Hesseman

Directed by: Phil Traill

The story centers on a brilliant crossword constructor (Bullock) who, after one short date, decides that a CNN cameraman (Church) is her true love. Because the cameraman's job takes him hither and yon, she crisscrosses the country, turning up at media events as she tries to convince him they are perfect for each other.

Why You Should See It:

For the ladies, I should only need two words: Bradley Cooper. He sure is dreamy, ain't he? Anyway, for the dudes we get the awesomeness of Thomas Haden Church as a weathered TV reporter, Ken Jeong (isn't he in everything these days??) and Sandra Bullock looking good as ever as a quirky crossword puzzle creator. This should be a great fall date movie with something for the guys and gals alike... even though the gals will likely be drooling over Cooper the whole time.


Extract - September 4th

Starring: Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Clifton Collins Jr., Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Dustin Milligan, Beth Grant, J.K. Simmons, David Koechner

Directed by: Mike Judge

Ben Affleck will play an ambulance-chasing lawyer in the film, which centers on a flower extract factory owner (Jason Bateman) who's dealing with workplace problems and a streak of bad luck, including his wife's affair with a gigolo. Clifton Collins Jr. is also joining the cast as a factory worker who loses a body part in a freak accident and is now due for a huge settlement. have already boarded the project.

Why You Should See It:

This film marks Judge's return to the workplace comedy that Mike Judge practically invented with Office Space, but this film is the Office Space for blue-collar America. Having spent many years in a factory setting myself, Judge is absolutely spot-on with these characters and I know I've worked with versions of these characters throughout my factory days. It's a hilarious film (watch for my review soon) with an astounding cast (David Koechner gives Stephen Root's Milton a run for his money here as Bateman's super-annoying neighbor) and more than enough laughs throughout. This film is a wonderful way to spend a long holiday weekend.


9 - September 9th

Starring: the voices of Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, Fred Tatasciore

Directed by: Shane Acker

9 is a feature-length expansion of Shane Acker's short film of the same name. The action-packed tale takes place in a world parallel to our own, in which the very legacy of humanity is threatened. A community of fully mobile rag dolls living a post-apocalyptic existence find one of their own, 9 (Elijah Wood), displaying leadership qualities that may help them to survive. The conflicted but resilient community includes 1 (Christopher Plummer), a domineering war veteran; 2 (Martin Landau), an aged inventor; 5 (John C. Reilly), a stalwart mechanic; 6 (Crispin Glover), a visionary and artist; and 7 (Jennifer Connelly), a brave warrior.

Why You Should See It:

I've already seen this film (watch for my review later this week), and I have to tell you, it's simply phenomenal. The film marks Shane Acker's feature directorial debut in an expanded version of his Oscar-nominated short film (CLICK HERE to watch this fascinating short for yourself) and it's truly remarkable - both the short and the feature. While the talented voice cast brings these unique "stitchpunk" characters to life, the real star of this show is director Acker who, along with visionary producers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, give us this lush visual world with stunning animation. In an animation world dominated by Pixar, this film manages to do something no other animated film has even come close to in the past decade: it out-Pixar's Pixar. Mark your calendars for 9/9/09, folks, and be ready to be blown away.


Whiteout - September 11th

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O'Loughlin

Directed by: Dominic Sena

Carrie Stetko, the lone U.S. Marshal assigned to Antarctica, is investigating the continent's first murder, which draws her into a shocking mystery. Now, with only three days until winter, Carrie must solve the crime before Antarctica is plunged into darkness and she is stranded with the killer.

Why You Should See It:

While it is fairly sad that the lovely Kate Beckinsale will be all bundled up in winter attire throughout the film, this sounds like a slick white-knuckle thriller set in Antarctica. I wonder if they filmed this in my home state of Minnesota... Anyway, we get a very diverse cast here and the return of director Dominic Sena, who hasn't made a film since 2001's Swordfish. It looks like it will be worth the wait, though, with this film.

/movie/beyond-a-reasonable-doubt-2009/Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt - September 11th

Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Douglas, Orlando Jones, Joel David Moore

Directed by: Peter Hyams

Fritz Lang's last American film is brought back to life thanks to writer/director Peter Hyams and stars Michael Douglas, Amber Tamblyn, and Jesse Metcalfe. Foresight Unlimited's remake follows a similar story of a novelist's investigation of a dirty district attorney that leads to a setup within the courtroom.

Why You Should See It:

Of all the remakes being made now, perhaps none are more intriguing than this film, a remake of Fritz Lang's 1956 film because, well, we're so used to really new films being remade. We also get a nice blend of the old school and new school with this cast of Michael Douglas, Jesse Metcalfe and Amber Tamblyn. This fall seems rather light on legal drama's, so, with this cast in place, this could make a decent dent at the box office.

/movie/sorority-row/Sorority Row

Sorority Row - September 11th

Starring: Briana Evigan, Rumer Willis, Audrina Patridge, Carrie Fisher, Julian Morris, Jamie Chung, Leah Pipes, Margo Harshman, Caroline D'Amore

Directed by: Stewart Hendler

Sorority Row sees a group of sorority sisters try to cover up the death of their house-sister after a prank gone wrong, only to be stalked by a serial killer.

Why You Should See It:

For me, the kicker is the poster. Damn. This remake of 1983's The House on Sorority Row looks to deliver the horror while delivering plenty of eye candy from this hottie-filled cast. Greek organizations should be lining up around the country to check out this latest sorority slaughter.

/movie/tyler-perrys-i-can-do-bad-all-by-myself/Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself

Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself - September 11th

Starring: Tyler Perry, Taraji P. Henson, Brian White, Hope Olaide Wilson, Adam Rodriguez, Kwesi Nii-Lante Boakye, Frederick Siglar

Directed by: Tyler Perry

When Madea, America's favorite pistol-packing grandma, catches sixteen-year-old Jennifer and her two younger brothers looting her home, she decides to take matters into her own hands and delivers the young delinquents to the only relative they have: their aunt April. A heavy-drinking nightclub singer who lives off of Raymond, her married boyfriend, April wants nothing to do with the kids. But her attitude begins to change when Sandino, a handsome Mexican immigrant looking for work, moves into April's basement room. Making amends for his own troubled past, Sandino challenges April to open her heart. And April soon realizes she must make the biggest choice of her life: between her old ways with Raymond and the new possibilities of family, faith...and even true love.

Why You Should See It:

I'm convinced that Tyler Perry is not of this world. Not only does he write, direct, produce, act and usually compose songs for all his films... he's been putting out two films per year, which is astonishing to me. This time around he has landed Taraji P. Henson, fresh off her wonderful Oscar-nominated performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It will be interesting to see how Henson fits in to the Perry fold here.

/movie/jennifers-body/Jennifer's Body

Jennifer's Body - September 18

Starring: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Brody, J.K. Simmons, Johnny Simmons, Kyle Gallner, Josh Emerson, Lance Henriksen, Diablo Cody

Directed by: Karyn Kusama

When a gorgeous cheerleader is possessed by a demon and starts feeding off the boys in a small Minnesota farming town, her "plain Jane" best friend must kill her, then escape from a correctional facility to go after the Satan-worshipping rock band responsible for the horrible transformation.

Why You Should See It:

Even Megan Fox will tell you (and she already has) that her star-making turns in Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen aren't exactly "acting" pieces. Now she has her chance to show off her chops in Jennifer's Body, where she stars as a high school girl that becomes possessed by a demon and starts killing off the younger crowd. The big question here is simple: Can Megan Fox carry a movie by herself without Michael Bay and Shia LaBeouf at her side? I happen to think she can and it looks like she delivers a performance unlike what we've seen of her in the past. The real X-factor for me is the involvement of director Karyn Kusama, the female version of James Grey who puts out a film every five years... and has been hit or miss (See: Girlfight, Aeon Flux). If that pattern is to be followed, this could and should be a pretty good flick and I'm looking forward to seeing what Megan Fox can do here.

/movie/cloudy-with-a-chance-of-meatballs/Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - September 18th

Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Tracy Morgan

Directed by: Chris Miller

The timeless tale has been adapted from Ron and Judi Barrett's book, which illustrates a world where giant pancakes and pasta fall from the sky as a scientist tries to solve world hunger. However, things go terribly wrong when excess amounts of food overload cities and towns.

Why You Should See It:

Apparently I had a deprived childhood because I'm seemingly one of the only people who had never heard of Ron and Judi Barrett's children's book. Still, there is a significant amount of buzz circling this animated flick and we have a stellar voice cast (James Caan and Bruce Campbell!) and a unique story about food falling from the sky. This film should bring out the kid in you this fall.

/movie/the-informant/The Informant!

The Informant! - September 18

Starring: Matt Damon, Joel McHale, Scott Bakula, Mike O'Malley, Andrew Daly, Adam Paul, Melanie Lynskey, Tom Wilson, Rick Overton, Tom Papa, Candy Clark

Directed by: Steven Soderbergh

What was Mark Whitacre thinking? A rising star at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Whitacre suddenly turns whistleblower. Even as he exposes his company's multi-national price-fixing conspiracy to the FBI, Whitacre envisions himself being hailed as a hero of the common man and handed a promotion. But before all that can happen, the FBI needs evidence, so Whitacre eagerly agrees to wear a wire and carry a hidden tape recorder in his briefcase, imagining himself as a kind of de facto secret agent. Unfortunately for the FBI, their lead witness hasn't been quite so forthcoming about helping himself to the corporate coffers. Whitacre's ever-changing account frustrates the agents and threatens the case against ADM as it becomes almost impossible to decipher what is real and what is the product of Whitacre's rambling imagination. The film is based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history.

Why You Should See It:

Soderbergh hasn't had the best luck lately, with his last two films (The Girlfriend Experience and Che (Part 1)/ Che (Part 2)) both tanking at the box office, but this quirky little tale of a tattle-tale should get him back on the right track. This film, based off the true story of one of the biggest whistleblower cases ever, stars Matt Damon as the bizarre Mark Whitacre, who blows the whistle on his own company, Archer Daniels-Midland due to the delusions of grandeur he has about being the next James Bond. The Bourne Ultimatum scribe Scott Burns reunites with Damon here, adapting from Kurt Eichenwald's book, and this looks like a delightful tale of corporate high jinks.

/movie/the-burning-plain/The Burning Plain

The Burning Plain - September 18

Starring: Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, Tessa Ia, Jennifer Lawrence, JD Pardo

Directed by: Guillermo Arriaga

The Burning Plain weaves together two storylines taking place in the past and present. Basinger will play Gina, the mother of Charlize Theron's character as seen in childhood. Theron will play Sylvia, who tries to find common ground with her parents after a turbulent childhood. The two narratives eventually converge.

Why You Should See It:

I've already seen this film as well, and it's quite an effective drama told through the visionary narrative style of Guillermo Arriaga. While you might not know that name, he's the man who has written the scripts for Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu's films Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. Arriaga wrote this film and makes his directorial debut here with a stellar cast of those we know (Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger) and those we don't know (Jennifer Lawrence) and it's one of the more intriguing drama's I've seen this year.

/movie/love-happens/Love Happens

Love Happens - September 18th

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart, Dan Fogler, Judy Greer, Martin Sheen, Joe Anderson, John Carroll Lynch

Directed by: Brandon Camp

A romantic drama about a widower (Eckhart) whose book about coping with loss turns him into a best-selling self-help guru. On a business trip to Seattle, he falls for a woman (Aniston) who attends one of his seminars, only to learn that he hasn't yet truly confronted his wife's passing.

Why You Should See It:

A romantic comedy set in Seattle? Well, I guess it's been awhile, hasn't it... We get a wonderfully diverse cast here with Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart, the hilarious Dan Fogler, Judy Greer (who needs to work more) and Martin Sheen. Brandon Camp co-writes and makes his directorial debut here, who wrote the underrated Dragonfly. Looks like I might have to get myself a date...

/movie/capitalism-a-love-story/Capitalism: A Love Story

Capitalism: A Love Story - September 23rd

Starring: Michael Moore

Directed by: Michael Moore

Capitalism: A Love Story" will explore the root causes of the global economic meltdown and take a comical look at the corporate and political shenanigans that culminated in what Moore described as "the biggest robbery in the history of this country" - the massive transfer of U.S. taxpayer money to private financial institutions. But as the political winds shifted in the months before the election -- and gusted after it - Moore subtly began reorienting his movie. Instead of foreign policy, the film's focus now is more on the global financial crisis and the U.S. economy. Capitalism: A Love Story will contain an end-of-the-empire tone, say those familiar with the project, and Moore no doubt hopes that this will give it a more general feel that will untether it from a specific political moment.

Why You Should See It:

Controversial documentarian Michael Moore is back with probably his timliest film to date. This time around Moore is focusing on the economy, which I'm not sure how it translates into "a love story," but I'm guessing the masses will turn out in droves to find out. Moore's films and his tactics certainly do encourage debate - whether it be for or against his films - and that's all any good documentary should hope to accomplish anyway. We'll see what kinds of conversations arise from his latest in a few weeks.


Fame - September 25th

Starring: Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Thomas Dekker, Kristy Flores, Paul Iacono, Paul McGill, Naturi Naughton, Kay Panabaker, Kherington Payne, Collins Pennie, Walter Perez, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Asher Book

Directed by: Kevin Tancharoen

Much like in the Oscar-winning original, directed by Alan Parker, the story will track the failures and fortunes of super-ambitious young performers and their teachers as they navigate a school year at the prestigious High School for the Performing Arts in New York.

Why You Should See It:

I'm guessing the same crowd that turned out en masse for High School Musical 3: Senior Year last year will turn out for this new Fame reboot. We get a new crop of young actor/dancers plus veterans like Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Thomas Dekker, most of whom are no stranger to the stage themselves, which should lend itself nicely to this kind of musical. I'm not sure if it will "live forever," but this remake should give the original a run for its money.


Pandorum - September 25th

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Norman Reedus, Cam Gigandet

Directed by: Christian Alvart

From the creators of the "Resident Evil" film franchise comes "Pandorum," a terrifying thriller in which two crew members wake up on an abandoned spacecraft with no idea who they are, how long they've been asleep, or what their mission is. The two soon discover they're actually not alone -- and the reality of their situation is more horrifying than they could have imagined.

Why You Should See It:

I want to go simply to find out why that dude's arm has so many tubes in it... Seriously though, this could certainly be on of the fall's sleeper hits, as it's fairly under the radar at this time. However, the cast is wonderful, especially seeing Dennis Quaid appearing in a number of films you might not have expected to see him in, and, well Ben Foster is the MAN! We don't get a ton of details on the story here, so people might not be sure what to expect, but I have a funny little feeling about this scary little film.


Surrogates - September 25th

Starring: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Francis Ginty, Michael Cudlitz, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames

Directed by: Jonathan Mostow

People are living their lives remotely from the safety of their own homes via robotic surrogates-sexy, physically perfect mechanical representations of themselves. It's an ideal world where crime, pain, fear and consequences don't exist. When the first murder in years jolts this utopia, FBI agent Greer (Bruce Willis) discovers a vast conspiracy behind the surrogate phenomenon and must abandon his own surrogate, risking his life to unravel the mystery.

Why You Should See It:

I'm rather curious about this film, and my edit bay visit recently only piqued my curiosity even more. This isn't a film about robots gone bad, rather a society that lives through these robots, controlling these robotic versions of themselves in the real world from the "stim chairs" in the comfort of their own home. Director Jonathan Mostow reteams with his Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris, who have gone on to be two of the most highly sought-after writers in the biz. With all these elements in play, and a superb cast, this should round up some serious dough at the end of the month.

/movie/i-hope-they-serve-beer-in-hell/I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell - September 25th

Starring: Matt Czuchry, Jesse Bradford, Geoff Stults, Keri Lynn Pratt, Denise Quinones

Directed by: Bob Gosse

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, now No. 12 on the New York Times best-seller list after a three-year run, chronicles Max's alcohol-fueled true adventures. The film will follow his trip to a friend's bachelor party, where he ensnares the groom in a lie that threatens the wedding, then abandons him to pursue further carnal knowledge. After being banned from the nuptials, Max attempts to get back into his friend's good graces.

Why You Should See It:

I'm curious to see how the response will be to this Tucker Max adaptation. While the book was enormously successful, a mainstay on college dude's bookshelves everywhere, it will be interesting to see how the book translates to a filmed form. The book's renegade author, Tucker Max, wrote the screenplay for the film, along with Nils Parker, and there really aren't a lot of "college" films around this year, so we'll have to see how high the demand is for this adaptation. After the book's phenomenal success though, I wouldn't be surprised if this takes in some decent coin.



Zombieland - October 2nd

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Amber Heard

Directed by: Ruben Fleischer

Zombieland revolves around a mismatched pair of survivors who find friendship and redemption in a world overrun by zombies. Woody Harrelson plays one of the men, a zombie fighter named Albuquerque.

Why You Should See It:

This movie already has a certain level of infamy after Woody Harrelson's unfortunate brush with a paparazzi photographer after just wrapping this film, but this looks to deliver in a big way. We have some inspired casting by the first-time director Fleischer with Harrelson along with the underappreciated Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and workaholic Amber Heard. Eisenberg should get a really big bump from this film and it looks like quite an entertaining romp through the zombie genre, in the same vein as Shaun of the Dead, which was said to inspire Fleischer to make this movie. This is one of the films I'm most excited for this fall and it just looks like a ton of fun.

/movie/the-invention-of-lying/The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying - October 2nd

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., John Hodgman, Tina Fey, Christopher Guest, Jeffrey Tambor, Nate Corddry, Patrick Stewart, Jason Bateman

Directed by: Ricky Gervais, Matt Robinson

The Invention of Lying is set in a contemporary world where no one has ever lied. Gervais will play a performer who tells the first lie and harnesses its power for personal gain.

Why You Should See It:

Leave it to comedic genius Ricky Gervais to make anyone who's ever had an idea for a movie look like a complete buffoon. Not only is this film incredibly unique and original - set in a modern, alternate time where no one has ever told a lie, and Gervais' character tells the first fib - but, dammit, this is an idea that is so brilliant and so incredibly simple that it's almost shocking this film didn't come out decades ago. Gervais is a triple-threat here, writing and directing (sharing both duties with Matt Robinson) and starring as well with an amazing cast of comedy heavyweights. Gervais' films haven't made a huge splash on this side of the pond yet, so hopefully this will give him the push he deserves.

/movie/a-serious-man/A Serious Man

A Serious Man - October 2nd

Starring: Michael Stuhlbarg, Fred Melamed, Richard Kind, Aaron Wolf, Sari Wagner, Jessica McManus, Adam Arkin

Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen

A Serious Man is the story of an ordinary man's search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is on the radio and F-Troop is on TV. It is 1967, and Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor at a quiet Midwestern university, has just been informed by his wife Judith (Sari Lennick) that she is leaving him. She has fallen in love with one of his more pompous colleagues, Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed), who seems to her a more substantial person than the feckless Larry. Larry's unemployable brother Arthur (Richard Kind) is sleeping on the couch, his son Danny (Aaron Wolf) is a discipline problem and a shirker at Hebrew school, and his daughter Sarah (Jessica McManus) is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job. While his wife and Sy Ableman blithely make new domestic arrangements, and his brother becomes more and more of a burden, an anonymous hostile letter-writer is trying to sabotage Larry's chances for tenure at the university. Also, a graduate student seems to be trying to bribe him for a passing grade while at the same time threatening to sue him for defamation. Plus, the beautiful woman next door torments him by sunbathing nude. Struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person - a mensch - a serious man?

Why You Should See It:

You have to hand it to the Coen Brothers for continuing to cut across the filmmaking grain. This film seems to be a return to their roots, with the production taking place in their home state (and mine) of Minnesota, but employing some unconventional casting. The film stars the little-known Michael Stuhlbarg, best known for his Tony-nominated performances on Broadway, and comedic character actor Richard Kind as the two leads. It seems that the Coens, who made a star out of Frances McDormand in Fargo, could do the same for Stuhlbarg here and, with the lack of award-worthy buzz this year, this film could very well be Oscar fodder as well. I absolutely love the Coen Brothers' work, and it doesn't look like they will disappoint here either.

/movie/whip-it/Whip It

Whip It! - October 2nd

Starring: Drew Barrymore, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Zoe Bell, Ellen Page, Daniel Stern

Directed by: Drew Barrymore

Harden plays an overbearing ex-beauty queen who would rather see her daughter, Bliss (Page), in pageants than skates. Wiig ("Saturday Night Live") plays Bliss' rowdy mentor, Malice in Wonderland. Lewis is Dinah Might, the star of Austin's top team. Bell plays a medical technician moonlighting as derby star Bloody Holly.

Why You Should See It:

Drew Barrymore has joined the ranks of acting directors with her feature debut Whip It!, which looks like quite a promising debut. The film revolves around the crazy world of roller derby (the film is based off a book by Shanna Cross, a roller derby chick who also wrote the screenplay) and Ellen Page who discovers this phenomena and puts on some skates herself to "be her own hero." Drew also stars as one of the roller derby chicks and we get a rather stellar cast here with Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Zoe Bell and Daniel Stern. I have a bit of experience in this world, as I know a number of roller derby girls back home and these bouts are pretty damn fun to watch. Who wouldn't like to see chicks skating around in tiny skirts, beating the crap out of each other? Exactly. While this surely will tread into "chick flick" territory, it does seem like it could be a fun little flick.

/movie/couples-retreat/Couples Retreat

Couples Retreat - October 9th

Starring: Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Jean Reno, Peter Serafinowicz, Kali Hawk, Tasha Smith

Directed by: Peter Billingsley

The film is a comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. While one of the couples is there to work on the marriage, the others fail to realize that participation in the resort's therapy sessions is not optional.

Why You Should See It:

There are a few interesting aspects about this film. One is the wonderfully diverse cast, two is Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn both wrote the film (along with Dana Fox) as well as starring in it, and three is the involvement of director Peter Billingsley, making his feature film directorial debut. If you think that name sounds familiar, you'd be right. Billingsley is best known for his classic portrayal of Ralphie Parker in the holiday classic A Christmas Story. Billingsley has been longtime friends of Favs and Vaughn (he produces some of their films as well) and it should be interesting to see how Billingsley handles his first feature with a bunch of his friends and the rest of this talented cast. The story sounds pretty slick to me - a four couples with failing marriages head to a resort for some unorthodox couples counseling - and this should do quite well at the box office, despite it being in a rather crowded weekend.

/movie/the-damned-united/The Damned United

The Damned United - October 9th

Starring: Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Jim Broadbent, Stephen Graham, Peter McDonald

Directed by: Tom Hooper

Set in 1960's and 1970's England, The Damned Unitedtells the confrontational and darkly humorous story of Brian Clough's doomed 44 day tenure as manager of the reigning champions of English football Leeds United.

Why You Should See It:

Five words: Michael Sheen and Peter Morgan. This unique combo of actor and screenwriter has proven to be quite a combo to reckon with. Their last two films - The Queen and Frost/Nixon - were both nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and they even have another film in the works with The Special Relationship. This time Sheen and Morgan stray from the political world and venture into the sporting world with the bizarre tale of Leeds United coach Brian Clough (Sheen), who only lasted 44 days as the head coach of this popular British football (soccer to us Yanks) team. Morgan may just be the best screenwriter working in the biz and Sheen has almost been underrated in his turns as of late, despite his powerful performances. I can't wait to see their take on this unique soccer... er, football story.

/movie/where-the-wild-things-are/Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are - October 16th

Starring: Max Records, Catherine Keener, Benicio Del Toro, Forest Whitaker, Lauren Ambrose, Catherine O'Hara, Tom Noonan, Michael Berry, James Gandolfini

Directed by: Spike Jonze

Maurice Sendak's classic book comes to the big screen in an adventure tale for every generation. Where the Wild Things Are follows the adventure of Max (Max Records), a mischievous young boy who is sent to his room after rebelling against his mother (Catherine Keener). Max's imagination is free to roam, and it soon transports him to a thriving forest bordering a vast sea. Delighted, he sets sail for the land of the Wild Things, where mischief reigns and Max rules. In bringing this imaginative fantasy to life, Jonze leads a team of filmmakers incorporating the most dynamic elements of voice performance, live-action puppetry and computer animation.

Why You Should See It:

The interwebs have been flooded with excitement over this film ever since the first trailer debuted... well, probably a lot longer than that, actually. This certainly wasn't an easy road to the screen for this film, which started filming in 2005, with studio switches and release date shifts aplenty, but it will finally be here soon and it sure does look amazing. Director Spike Jonze is an absolutely perfect choice to helm this adaptation (he was actually hand-picked by the book's author, Maurice Sendak, himself to direct), and this certainly seems like his most accomplished work to date. There is such an overwhelming buzz circling this film that I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes one of the highest-grossing movies of the year... if the film lives up to all the hype.

/movie/new-york-i-love-you/New York, I Love You

New York, I Love You - October 16th

Starring: Kevin Bacon, Justin Bartha, Maggie Q, Orlando Bloom, James Caan, Hayden Christensen, Blake Lively, Julie Christie, Bradley Cooper, Chris Cooper, Drea de Matteo, Carla Gugino, Ethan Hawke, John Hurt, Irfan Khan, Shia LaBeouf, Cloris Leachman, Natalie Portman, Rachel Bilson, Christina Ricci, Olivia Thirlby, Goran Visnjic, Eli Wallach, Robin Wright Penn, Anton Yelchin, Burt Young

Directed by: Jian Wen, Mira Nair, Shunji Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Shekhar Kapur, Natalie Portman, Faith Akin, Joshua Marston, Randy Balsmeyer

Following the successful feature film Paris, je t'aime that opened the 2006 'Un Certain Regard' section of the Cannes Film Festival and was distributed worldwide, we are thrilled to present 'New York, I Love You'. 12 filmmakers will direct a short film (5 minutes) illustrating the universal theme of encountering love within the five boroughs of New York City. Paris, je t'aime has proven to be a wonderfully creative experience for all the talents involved. Internationally acclaimed directors such as the Coen brothers, Alexander Payne, Gus Van Sant, Alfonso Cuaron, Wes Craven, Walter Salles, Tom Tykwer, and artists among which Elijah Wood, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Natalie Portman, Nick Nolte, Gena Rowlands, Gérard Depardieu truly enjoyed this enjoyable and inspiring project. We now think Newyorkers need a little love before heading to China.

Why You Should See It:

Emmanuel Benbihy and Tristan Carne, on the heels of their success with their previous anthology film, Paris, je t'aime, are taking this unique and creative film concept to the City That Never Sleeps with New York, I Love You. While the amazing cast will surely be a selling point, I'm most interested in a few of the actors working behind the camera, with Natalie Portman writing, directing and starring in her own segment and Scarlett Johansson writing her segment as well. She isn't listed in the cast, but since her segment is called "Scarlett Johansson" (most of the segments are named for the writers, directors or actors), I wouldn't be surprised to see her appear on screen either. They've created quite a little franchise here, and they even have another in the works with Shanghai, I Love You. It seems this might get a bigger push on this side of the pond, since it revolves around an American city, so it will be interesting to see how audiences respond to this unique anthology format.

/movie/the-stepfather/The Stepfather

The Stepfather - October 16th

Starring: Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward, Penn Badgley, Adrianne Palicki, Amber Heard, Paige Turco, Braeden LeMasters, Skyler Samuels, Jon Tenney

Directed by: Nelson McCormick

Michael Harding (Penn Badgley) returns home from military school to find his mother (Sela Ward) happily in love and living with her new boyfriend, David (Dylan Walsh). As the two men get to know each other, Michael becomes more and more suspicious of the man who is always there with a helpful hand. Is he really the man of her dreams or could David be hiding a dark side?

Why You Should See It:

Back in the day, when the remake was an occasional occurrence instead of an everyday reality, the rule of thumb seemed to be that the more obscure the original film was, the better the remake would be. If that pattern still holds true, I think it's safe to say that The Stepfather could be a rather successful remake. The cast is great here, particularly Dylan Walsh as the title character, who should have no trouble finding film work after Nip/Tuck ends its run, because he looks to give a stellar performance here. This film will be a great horror alternative to a long-running franchise that continues the week after this comes out, and doesn't seem to ever be ending anytime soon. Oh, and P.S., you Lost fans, don't expect a cameo from Terry O'Quinn (who was the title character in the 1987 original film), since we were told on my set visit that it didn't work out.

/movie/the-road/The Road

The Road - October 16

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Kodi Smit-McPhee

Directed by: John Hillcoat

A father transports his son to safety following a nuclear explosion and battles starving stragglers and marauding packs of cannibals in his way. Based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy.

Why You Should See It:

There's been an odd trend developing lately with potential Oscar-fodder films being shuttered out of their Oscar-friendly release dates and into the next year. Last year it happened to The Soloist (a fine film but not really Oscar-worthy), when it was moved from last November to April 2009 and it just recently happened with Martin Scorcese's Shutter Island moving from an October release to February 2010. It also happened to The Road, but the move shows how confident the studio is in the film, as they delayed it 11 months, from last November to this current release date, which is still rather Oscar-friendly. We have a wonderful cast here with Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce, who starred in director John Hillcoat's last film, The Proposition. The film is based off the Cormac McCarthy novel, and McCarthy is no stranger to the Oscar either, as 2007 Best Picture No Country for Old Men was adapted from McCarthy's book of the same name. Look for this film to be mentioned quite a bit during awards season.

/movie/law-abiding-citizen/Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding Citizen - October 16th

Starring: Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, Viola Davis, Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb, Colm Meaney, Regina Hall, Michael Irby

Directed by: F. Gary Gray

Law Abiding Citizen follows a successful assistant D.A. (Butler) who finds himself at the center of a vigilante plot hatched by a traumatized victim of the legal system (Foxx). Foxx's character is devastated to learn that, because of a plea bargain, one of his wife and daughter's murderers will be set free. So he unleashes revenge on the killers and those who made the deal.

Why You Should See It:

For a film with this big of a cast, I'm surprised there hasn't been much talk about this film quite yet. It's nice to see director F.Gary Gray back in the director's chair for the first time since 2005's Be Cool, which I quite enjoyed. It seems Gray switches off from comedy to action, and this one looks like quite the thriller. I'm curious, though, that since we just got the trailer for this film a few weeks ago, if this might be delayed, but this could be a great dose of escapist action in this drama-heavy month.

/movie/astro-boy/Astro Boy

Astro Boy - October 23rd

Starring: the voices of Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Matt Lucas

Directed by: David Bowers

Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist. Powered by positive "blue" energy, Astro Boy is endowed with super strength, x-ray vision, unbelievable speed and the ability to fly. Embarking on a journey in search of acceptance, Astro Boy learns the joys and emotions of being human, and gains the strength to embrace his destiny. Ultimately learning his friends and family are in danger, Astro Boy marshals his awesome super powers and returns to Metro City in a valiant effort to save everything he cares about and to understand what it takes to be a hero.

Why You Should See It:

The fall season isn't short on animated films, but Astro Boy has been a highly-anticipated title for awhile now. I also find it ironic that the film is going head to head with the latest film in the gatekeeper franchise of this late-October weekend, Saw VI... and I bet this film will likely take the weekend. We get a great voice cast here and this animated adventure should likely bring families to theaters in a big way.

/movie/saw-vi/Saw VI

Saw VI - October 23rd

Starring: Costas Mandylor, Mark Rolston, Betsy Russell, Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Peter Outerbridge

Directed by: Kevin Greutert

Special Agent Strahm is dead, and Detective Hoffman has emerged as the unchallenged successor to Jigsaw's legacy. However, when the FBI draws closer to Hoffman, he is forced to set a game into motion, and Jigsaw's grand scheme is finally understood.

Why You Should See It:

That horror juggernaut Jigsaw just won't stop. Longtime editor Kevin Greutert, who edited every film in the series up until now, takes over as director, and in this film we are apparently clued in on the entirety of Jigsaw's (Tobin Bell) "master plan." To be honest, I haven't seen Saw IV and Saw V, because I thought they capped off the series just fine with Saw III, but I have to admit I'm rather intrigued to what this "master plan" might entail, so I might have to catch up with the last two films on DVD before this one hits theaters.

/movie/cirque-du-freak-the-vampires-assistant/Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant - October 23rd

Starring: John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe, Chris Massoglia, Josh Hutcherson, Patrick Fugit, Ray Stevenson, Michael Cerveris, Frankie Faison, Jane Krakowski, Orlando Jones, Kristen Schaal, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe

Directed by: Paul Weitz

Pulled into a fantastic life of misunderstood sideshow freaks and grotesque creatures of the night, one teen will vanish from the safety of a boring existence and fulfill his destiny in a place drawn from nightmares.

Why You Should See It:

This one has been generating quite a big of buzz in the horror community, and I can totally see why. For a horror film, it's rather odd to see a cast full of Oscar nominees (John C. Reilly, Ken Wantanabe, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe) and the drama-centric Paul Weitz taking a stab at genre filmmaking here. It's also worth nothing that Brian Helgeland, a true master of adaptations, is adapting from Darren Shan's book series. When it comes to adaptations, there are few (if any) that are better than Helgeland and I think this should make a lot of noise this weekend, even with Jigsaw as his theatrical companion. This could really relate to many outside the genre as well, and give horror fans an alternative to Jigsaw and Co.


Amelia - October 23

Starring: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Mia Wasikowska

Directed by: Mira Nair

Hilary Swank plays Earhart, a noted American aviation pioneer, author and women's rights advocate who disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937.

Why You Should See It:

Hillary Swank has one hell of a system down. Every 5 years she emerges with a Best Actress Oscar, first in 1999 for Boys Don't Cry, then again in 2004 with Million Dollar Baby and in 2009 it seems she's set to do it again with the biopic Amelia, where she stars as legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart. It's interesting to see the return of screenwriter Ron Bass, who was a juggernaut in the 80s and 90s and one of the masters of novel adaptations, but hasn't had anything too significant since the turn of the century. Swank's supporting cast looks wonderful as well, not to mention getting a sneak peek at the acting chops of Mia Wasikowska, who will star in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland next year as Alice. If this film is as good as I think it is, Swank might enter some very elite company with a third Best Actress Oscar in just 15 years.

/movie/michael-jacksons-this-is-it/Michael Jackson: This Is It

Michael Jackson: This Is It - October 28th

Starring: Michael Jackson

Directed by: Kenny Ortega

Beginning October 28th, the world will have a front-row seat for Michael Jackson's final concert, as Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment release Michael Jackson: This Is It.

Why You Should See It:

I live in Hollywood and I saw first-hand how many people were affected by the tragic death of Michael Jackson. The throngs of fans was an incredible sight to behold, even though I'd have to walk on the other side of Hollywood Boulevard for a few weeks. This film is a fairly new endeavor as it was just announced a few weeks ago, and I'm not sure how much of a dent this will make at the box office, since it wasn't really clear how wide this would be released, but tickets will be going on sale a full month before this limited two-week theatrical engagement. Kenny Ortega is best known as the director of the lucrative High School Musical franchise, but he was a trusted confidant of Jackson's for the past 20 years, so it will be interesting to see his insight into directing this film. It will also be interesting to see how high the demand for this is after tickets go on sale, and I wouldn't be surprised if they extended this limited engagement. Regardless of how it does, this will be the definitive last look at the final performances of one of the biggest musical influences in music history.


/movie/disneys-a-christmas-carol/Disney's a Christmas Carol

Disney's a Christmas Carol - November 6th

Starring: Jim Carrey, Cary Elwes, Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright Penn, Tom Hanks, Michael J. Fox

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Disney's a Christmas Carol a multi-sensory thrill ride re-envisioned by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, captures the fantastical essence of the classic Dickens tale in a groundbreaking 3-D motion picture event. Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk (Gary Oldman) and his cheery nephew (Colin Firth). But when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey revealing truths Old Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will before it's too late.

Why You Should See It:

Well, Jim Carrey has already pulled successfully pulled off one Christmas villain, why not one more? Carrey stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in Robert Zemeckis' new 3-D/motion-capture film that is said to be rather innovative. It should be rather interesting to see this classic holiday story told through such cutting-edge technology and this holiday event should pack in the theaters, especially with nothing else that weekend likely to get a wide release, or at least as wide as this film will get. Zemeckis has outdone himself on the casting, with Carrey alongside top-notch actors like Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins (that guy rocks) and even his old buddy Tom Hanks and Michael J. Fox. Look for this to take in some serious bank over the holiday season.

/movie/the-box/The Box

The Box - November 6th

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella, James Marsden

Directed by: Richard Kelly

What if someone gave you a box containing a button that, if pushed, would bring you a million dollars...but simultaneously take the life of someone you don't know? Would you do it? And what would be the consequences? The year is 1976. Norma Lewis is a teacher at a private high school and her husband, Arthur, is an engineer working at NASA. They are, by all accounts, an average couple living a normal life in the suburbs with their young son...until a mysterious man with a horribly disfigured face appears on their doorstep and presents Norma with a life-altering proposition: the box. With only 24 hours to make their choice, Norma and Arthur face an impossible moral dilemma. What they don't realize is that no matter what they decide, terrifying consequences will have already been set in motion. They soon discover that the ramifications of this decision are beyond their control and extend far beyond their own fortune and fate.

Why You Should See It:

Is anybody else a little puzzled by Cameron Diaz starring here? It's not that I don't like Cameron Diaz, but the lead role in a Richard Kelly film just seems a bit out of her wheelhouse. I'm psyched that we get Frank Langella and James Marsden here, and Kelly's film should continue his rich legacy of dark cinematic confusion, and, for that, I'm rather pumped to see what Kelly has up those proverbial sleeves. And, about Diaz again, maybe she took this role to prove this sort of thing IS in her wheelhouse. For whatever reason, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing another dark and twisted Richard Kelly tale on the silver screen.

/movie/the-men-who-stare-at-goats/The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats - November 6th

Starring: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Rebecca Mader, Terry Serpico

Directed by: Grant Heslov

The film, based on true events described in Jon Ronson's 2004 book of the same title, "The Men Who Stare at Goats," involves a down-on-his-luck reporter (McGregor) who gets more than he bargains for when he meets a special forces agent (Clooney) who reveals the existence of a secret, psychic military unit whose goal is to use paranormal powers to end war as we know it.

Why You Should See It:

This could be one of the year's biggest sleeper hits, despite its bizarre title. For one, we have a fantastic cast here and the film marks the directorial debut of Grant Heslov, Clooney's partner in Smokehouse Films and co-writer on Good Night, And Good Luck. This looks like one crazy tale, revolving around a shadowy government organization that is trying to use paranormal powers to put an end to all war. I'm really interesting to see what Heslov's directing style is like, and I just have a very good feeling about this film. I doubt it will do massive business, but it could be a dark-horse Oscar contender.


2012 - November 13th

Starring: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Thomas McCarthy, Woody Harrelson, Chin Han

Directed by: Roland Emmerich

2012 revolves a family who goes on vacation in December 2012, just as the Mayan calendar is coming to a close. Over the decades, many have prophesized that the world will end when the ancient calendar ceases on Dec. 21, 2012.

Why You Should See It:

I don't know if director Roland Emmerich is telling us not to make any sudden plans in December of 2012, but if it turns out like this when the Mayan calendar ends... that certainly wouldn't be good. Emmerich, who seems right at home with this film that, judging from the posters, will give us quite the visual spectacle of the apocalypse, with Mother Nature closing up this shop we call Earth by laying waste to the place. We have a stellar cast here with John Cusack and Amanda Peet starring as a husband and wife who go on vacation with their children, when all these cataclysmic events go down. I have to wonder if this might be Emmerich's stab at a Vacation film... Either way, get ready for some big CGI action on an epic scale with Emmerich's latest film.

/movie/the-fantastic-mr-fox/The Fantastic Mr. Fox

The Fantastic Mr. Fox - November 25th

Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Jarvis Cocker

Directed by: Wes Anderson

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is visionary director Wes Anderson's first animated film, utilizing classic handmade stop motion techniques to tell the story of the best selling children's book by Roald Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach). Mr. and Mrs. Fox (Clooney and Streep) live an idyllic home life with their son Ash (Schwartzman) and visiting young nephew Kristopherson (Eric Anderson). But after 12 years, the bucolic existence proves too much for Mr Fox's wild animal instincts. Soon he slips back into his old ways as a sneaky chicken thief and in doing so, endangers not only his beloved family, but the whole animal community. Trapped underground and with not enough food to go around, the animals band together to fight against the evil Farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean - who are determined to capture the audacious, fantastic Mr Fox at any cost.

Why You Should See It:

Every now and then, you have to mix it up a little bit. After a decade of memorably quirky character-driven films like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson is directing not only his first adaptation, but his first animated film with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, an animated take on Roald Dahl's classic children's novel. We get a smashing voice cast here and it looks like Anderson took quite nicely to the world of animation, and with the push this is getting, it will no doubt be Anderson's highest grossing film to date, which should ensure he can make those delightful character-driven films for many more years to come.

Well, that's about all for my Fall Movie Preview, folks. I hope you enjoyed our big fat comprehensive look at all the notable fall films this year. Take care folks and happy fall movie-going! Peace in. Gallagher out!