(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, September 6, 2010

Reel Thoughts: 2010 Fall Movie Preview

From Facebook to gay poets, the new season of films is getting some buzz. The end of summer brings prestige pictures and big budget blockbusters to movie screens, with the beginning of the end of Harry Potter sure to draw the most attention.

Also coming this fall: Wall Street’s Gordon Gecko sprung from jail, a preteen vampire and Ryan Reynolds in a box, plus the return of Cher in Burlesque. Will it be the Showgirls of the new millennium?

It’s going to be an interesting season. Here are the films we’re excited to see.

Going the Distance (now playing): As onscreen/off-screen couples go, for every Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, there’s also a Sean Penn and Madonna. We’ll see how Justin Long and Drew Barrymore fare in this story about a long-distance love affair.

The Tillman Story (now playing): Pat Tillman’s life was inspiring enough – the Arizona Cardinal football star gave up his athletic career after September 11 to join the military and fight overseas. That’s before the Bush Administration got its hands on his death-by-friendly-fire. This searing documentary exposes how Tillman’s death was abused, and the struggles his family endured finding and publicizing the truth.

Machete (now playing): Grindhouse, by Roberto Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, was an inspired homage to trashy B-movies of the ’70s, complete with fake movie trailers between the double feature. Machete, starring Danny Trejo, fleshes (and bloods) out one of the trailers, a Mexploitation flick about a man with a big grudge ... and a bigger blade.

I'm Still Here (September 10): No, it’s not Barbara Cook saluting Stephen Sondheim with a medley from Follies. This is Casey Affleck’s film following Joaquin Phoenix’s bizarre quest to become a rap star while wearing a Grizzly Adams beard.

Devil (September 17): Maybe that guy with burrito breath isn’t the worst person you could get stuck with in an elevator. That would be the devil himself, who torments a group of lift takers. The scariest part? The script comes “from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan.”

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (September 24): Gordon Gecko (Michael Douglas) is out of jail and pushing a new book, while Shia LeBeouf is the young moneymaker who has lessons to learn in the new economy.

You Again (September 24): Kristin Bell plays a former nerd appalled to find that her brother is marrying her high school nemesis (Odette Justman). Add to that the rivalry between Bell’s mom Jamie Lee Curtis and Justman’s aunt Sigourney Weaver, toss in Betty White and Kristin Chenoweth (as a perky wedding planner), and you’ve got a lot more potential than When in Rome.

Buried (September 24): Ryan Reynolds re-enacts the end of The Vanishing as an American contractor captured and buried alive by Iraqi insurgents. Claustrophobics, beware!

A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop (September 24): Turnabout is fair play as Chinese director Yimou Zhang remakes an American film, the Coen Brothers’ Blood Simple, about a man whose plan to murder his cheating wife goes horribly awry.

Howl (September 24) is the most eagerly awaited GLBT film of the fall. James Franco (Milk) stars as gay Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, who was put on trial for obscenity due to the frankness of his poem, "Howl". Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Celluloid Closet) explore the influential poet’s significance with scenes from the trial and Ginsburg’s life and relationships. The film also includes black and white scenes of the real Ginsberg performing "Howl" in a coffeehouse.

Never Let Me Go (October 1): Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield (the next Spider-Man) play British boarding school kids raised for one very dark purpose.

Let Me In (October 1): It girl “Hit Girl” Chloe Grace Moretz plays the little vampire next door, a 12-year-old bloodsucker who befriends and protects a bullied little boy. This remake of Let the Right One In moves the action to 1983 New Mexico.

A Film Unfinished (October 1): An unflinching documentary about the infamous Nazi propaganda film that romanticized the Warsaw Ghetto, complete with lost footage.

The Social Network (October 1): Seven director David Fincher cast Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland) as Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire creator of Facebook. Forget your Farmville and find out how it all began.

Hereafter (October 22): Clint Eastwood treads in to Shyamalan territory with tales of people affected by disasters (the Indian Ocean tsunami, the London Underground bombing) and a psychic (Matt Damon) who can communicate with dead people.

Morning Glory (November 12): Broadcast News 2010? Rachel McAdams plays the put-upon producer of a terrible morning show (hosted by Diane Keaton) who spices things up by adding Harrison Ford’s seasoned newsman to the mix.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (November 19): Harry’s Hogwarts saga draws to a close as he, Hermoine, Ron and the forces of good battle the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, last seen releasing his Kraken in Clash of the Titans).

Burlesque (November 24): Christina Aguilera is a small town girl who heads to LA to become a burlesque star, tutored by a former showgirl played by Cher. Will she be “all pelvic thrust” like Nomi in Showgirls? Somewhere, Elizabeth Berkley is nodding knowingly.

Black Swan (December 1): Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis play rival ballet dancers in Darren Aronofsky’s All About Eve-esque thriller. Expect some sexy fireworks between the women as they fight to be the last Swan standing … on pointe.

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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