Fall movie season is upon us! What goodies await? What kind of an impact will they make? How many leading questions will I ask before I just get on with it? Three. The answer is three.
Previously: Part 1, Part 2
Movie: Jackass 3-D (Jeff Tremaine)
High-Concept Synopsis: Arrested adolescents who are creeping up on being officially too old for this (literal) shit stick some stuff up their butts and light the rest of it on fire. It's in 3-D, so expect to get puked on.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anybody who's ever iced a bro. Perfectly serious-minded people who like to unwind with a few bottle rockets being shot out of doofuses' assholes. People hoping that this is finally the movie where Johnny Knoxville gives Bam Margera a blowjob (you know, on a dare).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: The puke-, poop-, and pee-averse. Knoxville's agent, manager, and publicists who appreciate the paychecks and all but are probably getting antsy for him to transition full-time into scripted comedies where he pretends to be retarded. Fans saving their money for Jackass 4-D, when the gang travels through time and Wee Man runs naked through the signing of the Magna Carta.
Why I'd See It: There's no telling what kind of mood I'll be in on a given Saturday afternoon, and I'm sure there will be few options more fun for large group viewing that weekend, but I'm pretty sure that thing about getting puked on in 3-D is going to come true. I at least don't want to pay for that to happen. October 15th
Movie: Conviction (Tony Goldwyn)
High-Concept Synopsis: Hilary Swank fights a years- (decades-?) long battle to exonerate her brother (Sam Rockwell) who's been wrongfully (rightfully?) accused. Minnie Driver, Juliette Lewis, Ari Graynor, Melissa Leo, and Peter Gallagher co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of thick, juicy, medium-rare Oscar bait. Fans of comeback actresses Driver and Lewis, neither of whom have had film roles this high-profile in quite some time. Fans of movie titles that manage to mean several things and still be incredibly bland.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Annette Bening fans trying to nip a third Swank-over-Bening Oscar moment in the bud. Chris O'Donnell fans who think the crusading-for-an-incarcerated-relative genre was perfected with The Chamber, thank you very much. Ari Graynor fans who have been burned by their girl getting cast in movies only to be relegated to a glorified cameo before.
Why I'd See It: Sometimes big, fat, Oscar bait is exactly what you're looking for, and I hear Sam Rockwell is pretty fantastic, and Minnie Driver and Juliette Lewis's accents sound INSANE in the trailer. October 15
Movie: Red (Robert Schwentke)
High-Concept Synopsis: Retired black-ops agents Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, and Morgan Freeman get together for One Last Job.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences who look past the well-worn premise to see the fun and humor in the film's trailer. Fans of the accomplished (Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich, Brian Cox) and attractive (Karl Urban, Julian McMahon) supporting cast. Helen Mirren's throngs of gentlemen (and lady) admirers.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences wary of old-people humor. Clint Eastwood, who is pouting in a corner somewhere because he thought he owned exclusive rights to Morgan Freeman these days. Anyone who saw director Schwentke's previous stinkers Flightplan and The Time-Traveler's Wife.
Why I'd See It: Willis and Freeman have been known to phone the odd movie in, but whether it's the script or Mirren or what, but everybody seems to be on their toes on this one. Maybe this is fall's action-comedy sleeper? October 15
Movie: Paranormal Activity 2 (Tony Goldwyn)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ghosts haunt (probable) bougie white folk again. This time, they have a baby. And a DOG!
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anybody who was freaked out to the point of physical mobility by the original. Anybody who appreciates the low-fi approach to ghost stories. Anybody who wants to put another nail in the Saw franchise's coffin.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who weren't scared by the original. People who say they weren't scared by the original because it makes them sound cool. Those weird people who won't see a movie if it seems like a dog might be harmed in it.
Why I'd See It: I was one of those people jumping to the back of my seat for the first movie. I'm slightly interested in how they tie the movies together -- I hope it's not too tenuous but also that it's not too heavy-handed about it. It's a ghost story; we'll figure it out. I'm mighty intrigued about Tod Williams taking over as director. He's talented, but this isn't his genre. October 22
Movie: Hereafter (Clint Eastwood)
High-Concept Synopsis: Details are still fuzzy, but basically: Matt Damon is a former psychic who is tortured about ... death and stuff. He encounters other people who have been touched by tragedy (the Sri Lankan tsunami; the London tube bombing), and there are ghosts and Bryce Dallas Howard and stuff.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Eastwood fans eager to see him branching out with supernatural material like this. Matt Damon fans, because honestly, he hasn't done much to make us doubtful lately. Tragedy junkies of the Iñaritu/Haggis variety.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who have been conditioned to tuck in for a nice long nap whenever Eastwood's name is mentioned. Audiences skeptical of the seriously shaky supporting cast (Jay Mohr and Richard Kind? Though Jennifer Lewis is interesting...). That one guy who doesn't like Matt Damon for some reason.
Why I'd See It: Eastwood bores me lately, but this stylistic shift is intriguing, and you know I love Matt Damon. Maybe this breaks a boring streak. October 22
Movie: The Company Men (John Wells)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ben Affleck, Chris Cooper, and Tommy Lee Jones each cope with job loss and Kevin Costner's New England accent.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who liked Up In the Air until it became a movie about how George Clooney should get married already. People who are enjoying the recent Ben Affleck renaissance. People who thought Wells was wasting his talents crashing helicopters onto people on ER.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who feel that the Affleck renaissance should remain behind the camera. People worried that the women behind the men -- Maria Bello, Rosemarie DeWitt, Cady Huffman -- will get short shrift. Folks who somehow think people other than white men have been losing their jobs lately.
Why I'd See It: I talked before about why the trailer spoke to me, and while neither Actor Affleck nor Wells excite me, I'm willing to let the generally positive festival buzz guide the way. October 22
Movie: Monsters (Gareth Edwards)
High-Concept Synopsis: Low-budge docudrama in the District 9 mold that has a journalist veering into a blockaded area of Latin America, which is now alien/monster/Lovecraft territory.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Monster movie fans drawn to the (relative) freshness of the concept. Folks following the early-summer festival buzz out of Edinburgh and L.A., which was pretty exciting, all told. People freaked out about a climate-based apocalypse who are bizarrely comforted by the thought that the end will come from scary alien monsters instead.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who like their movie monsters to come armed with clown puppets and rigid moral philosophies. People who initially took this for a Charlize Theron vehicle where Aileen Wournos's identical triplets wreak havoc on Florida's truck stops and hooker motels. Shaky-cam avoiders.
Why I'd See It: Loved Cloverfield. Loved District 9. Love the idea of placing these unthinkable things in the most real environment possible. Super, super looking forward to this one. October 29
Movie: Welcome to the Rileys (Jake Scott)
High-Concept Synopsis: Tony Soprano and Detective Kay Howard are grieving the loss of a daughter when Big Ton' comes across Bella Swan, who has been living on her own and stripping in New Orleans. He tries to save her, Kay shows up and is all WTF, and some heartfelt drama ensues.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the three leads, as James Gandolfini, Melissa Leo, and Kristen Stewart all got raves coming out of Sundance. Treme fans looking to get their fix of seeing Melissa Leo traipse around N'Awlins. People who have been impressed by director Scott's music video work (R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts"; Tori Amos's "Past the Mission").
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who take an actor's ability to credibly adopt a Louisiana accent at all seriously. People whose idea for Halloween weekend fun times don't include the exquisite horror of personal aimlessness and numbing tragedy. People who were slightly less impressed by Jake Scott's feature directing debut, Tooth Fairy.
Why I'd See It: I'm actually not super in the tank for James Gandolfini -- I almost always enjoy him, but he's never going to sell me on a movie by himself. It's Melissa Leo and, yes, Kristen Stewart who are the draws for me. Sometimes I just like actors to be really actorly and wallow in tragedy for a while. October 29
Movie: Due Date (Todd Phillips)
High-Concept Synopsis: Robert Downey Jr. wears suits and stuff and has to get back home in time for his wife (Michelle Monaghan) to give birth. Zach Galifanakis is probably two ticks at best above being retarded. Together, they must road trip it and not kill each other because they're oh-so-opposite! Perhaps they'll travel by airplanes, locomotives, and car-type things?
Who Will Be Seeing It: The bro types who high-fived their way through The Hangover. The Robert Downey Jr. fans intent on helping him keep his status as America's Comedy A-Lister. Moviegoers who have been patiently waiting for Jamie Foxx, Danny McBride, Alan Arkin, and RZA to unite onscreen.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Everybody else who watched The Hangover and warily eyed the exits throughout. Fans of Steve Martin and the late John Candy, who are all "Well, I never." Fans of Michelle Monaghan and Juliette Lewis who are pretty well aware of what becomes of the female characters in Todd Phillips movies.
Why I'd See It: You know...I like Robert Downey Jr. even after an uninspired showing in Iron Man 2. But much as I liked him in Tropic Thunder, I always find him slightly obnoxious when mixing it up with the frat-pack types. And a little Galifanakis goes a long way, for me. November 5
Movie: 127 Hours (Danny Boyle)
High-Concept Synopsis: Remember that mountain-climber guy (or whatever) who got stuck on a mountain (or whatever) until he eventually had to sever his own arm so he could escape from the mountain (or whatever)? James Franco plays him here.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who fail to be thrown by the fact that it appears he fell down a desert crevasse and wasn't trapped up on a mountain. 28 Days Later fans who were really taken with the opening scenes of Cillian Murphy in isolation. James Franco fans who know that, behind all the art-school weirdness lies an honestly talented actor.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who may not want to watch two hours worth of a guy gnawing his own arm off (unless it's some kind of True Blood two-parter). People who have begun to tire of this 24/7 James Franco culture in which we live. People for whom the fact that Slumdog Millionaire won the Oscar despite its shortcomings means that Danny Boyle is dead to them.
Why I'd See It: Slumdog may not be my favorite Danny Boyle movie, but it certainly doesn't disqualify everything that's good about him. He's still a guy who makes movies I don't dare miss. November 5
Movie: Fair Game (Doug Liman)
High-Concept Synopsis: Well, there was that whole Valerie Plame thing a few years ago. And then that Kate Beckinsale movie about the Valerie Plame thing about a year and a half ago? Well, they're doing it again, this time with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the scorched-Earth chemistry Watts and Penn displayed in 21 Grams. Fans of high-stakes spy intrigue paired with scorching indictments of the Bush administration. Fans of Liman's kinetic directorial style.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Watts/Penn fans who Netflixed The Assassination of Richard Nixon and are still dozing. Fans of that Kate Beckinsale movie -- Nothing But the Truth -- who know that Vera Farmiga's rending of the Plame character does not need to be topped. Audiences who have tracked Doug Liman's directorial trajectory as steadily downward since Go.
Why I'd See It: I keep hoping for Naomi Watts to knock my socks off again. Tepid Cannes response tells me this may not be the movie to do it, but my hopefulness -- and the strength of this true-life story -- will keep me tuned in. November 5
Movie: For Colored Girls (Tyler Perry)
High-Concept Synopsis: They're making Ntozake Shange acclaimed, lyrical, existential, deep-thinking play about the various burdens placed on black women and the uphill struggle for respect. So obviously they picked Madea to direct.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the rather superb cast, including Kerry Washington, Phylicia Rashad, Loretta Devine, Whoopi Goldberg, and Kimberly Elise. Tyler Perry true believers who honestly think he's got it in him to do right by the play. Oprah.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who somehow doubt that the man behind Why Did I Get Married Too can pull this off. Non-fans of cast members like Janet Jackson and Thandie Newton. People angry that the spoof-worthy title -- For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf -- was shortened by The Man.
Why I'd See It: At the very least, I expect this to be one of the most talked about movies of the year. I don't have a ton of faith in Perry, but there's a chance he steps back and let the actresses do their thing. Phylicia Rashad finally has the chance to shine at the movies! November 5