It is officially September and you know what that means… fall movie season!! (Cinefille does a happy dance). Here is a preview of the fall movies destined to make headlines, cause a stir, or simply blow you away.
RELEASE DATE Oct. 20
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT After the dreamy enchantments of Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation, we’ll come along to whatever strange landscape she wants to visit — especially if she’s bringing along Virgin star Kirsten Dunst.
THE PREMISE Teenage Austrian princess Marie (Dunst) marries Louis XVI (Coppola cousin Jason Schwartzman), becomes queen of France, then gets chased out of Versailles by those revolting peasants.
SOURCE An original screenplay by Coppola
THE BACKSTORY Filmmakers don’t usually get to shoot at Versailles, but the fellow who runs the palace/museum granted Coppola unprecedented access because he’s a big Translation fan.
BURNING QUESTION Will audiences buy the blend of period detail and deliberate anachronism (for example, Coppola’s Marie is a sneaker-wearing punk who listens to Siouxsie and the Banshees)?
COME FOR Fun-loving kids Dunst and Schwartzman
STAY FOR Wily old pros Rip Torn and Judy Davis
RELEASE DATE Sept. 22
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT We’ve already waited since spring 2005 and three postponed release dates for this tongue-in-cheek frightfest from the final season of Project Greenlight.
THE PREMISE A group of strangers find themselves trapped in a remote tavern and terrorized by a family of flesh-chomping monsters.
SOURCE The Project Greenlight-winning original screenplay by Marcus Dunstan and Patrick Melton
THE BACKSTORY After all the delays, fans of Project Greenlight and rookie director John Gulager feared the movie would go straight to video, if it was even released at all. Now, however, Dimension Films’ plan is to have Feast play midnight showings for a month — and then hit DVD on Oct. 17.
BURNING QUESTION Will this be better than the first two forgettable Project Greenlight features?
COME FOR ”Monsters, chicks, explosions, blood, a studio film, a real budget,” Gulager promises.
STAY FOR The cast of savvy C-listers, including Henry Rollins, Jason Mewes, American Splendor‘s Judah Friedlander, Balthazar Getty, Navi Rawat (Numb3ers, pictured) and Krista Allen (Unscripted)
8. Fast Food Nation
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT Richard Linklater is always a fascinating director (A Scanner Darkly, School of Rock), so we’re intrigued by how he’ll adapt a nonfiction polemic into a dramatic story.
THE PREMISE We’ll meet several characters (played by such actors as Greg Kinnear, Kris Kristofferson, Patricia Arquette, Wilmer Valderrama, and Linklater regular Ethan Hawke) who work at various links of the fast-food chain, from the slaughterhouse to the drive-thru window.
SOURCE Eric Schlosser’s 2001 bestseller
THE BACKSTORY The director and his crew snuck into a real slaughterhouse for some guerilla filmmaking. ”We were all like workers, with the little hairnets and mouth protectors and boots,” Linklater says. ”It was pretty wild.”
BURNING QUESTION Will we be enthralled, grossed out, or both?
COME FOR Linklater, who excels at sprawling, Altman-esque ensemble pieces (see Dazed and Confused)
STAY FOR Catalina Sandino Moreno (shown), the Oscar-nominated star of Maria Full of Grace, here playing an illegal immigrant working in an abbatoir
RELEASE DATE Nov. 3
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT Equal-opportunity offender Sacha Baron Cohen makes us laugh helplessly, often in open-mouthed shock.
THE PREMISE In this mockumentary, Kazakh TV star Borat (Baron Cohen) tours the U.S., hoping to learn about our society (from Americans who aren’t in on the joke) and to meet Pamela Anderson
SOURCE The character popularized on Baron Cohen’s Da Ali G Show
THE BACKSTORY During his travels, Borat riled a lot of people, including the government of Kazakhstan and Virginians at a rodeo where Borat butchered ”The Star-Spangled Banner” (an incident shown in the film). ”If he had been out there a minute longer, I think somebody would have shot him,” an observer said.
BURNING QUESTION Will the film be controversial or just a cultish in-joke?
COME FOR Baron Cohen’s strangely sweet bigot
STAY FOR A cameo by La Anderson herself
RELEASE DATE Oct. 6
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT Martin Scorsese and gangsters? Say no more.
THE PREMISE Dueling moles — a Mobster in the Boston police department (Matt Damon), and a cop in a Boston crime syndicate (Leonardo DiCaprio) — try to ferret each other out.
SOURCE The Hong Kong hit Infernal Affairs (2002)
THE BACKSTORY After Gangs of New York and The Aviator, Scorsese and DiCaprio have become such a team that Warner Bros. pitched them both the project at the same time. ”We both loved it and said, ‘Let’s do this,”’ DiCaprio says.
BURNING QUESTION Is the material too pulpy to earn Scorsese his long-awaited Oscar?
COME FOR Jack Nicholson, as an unpredictable Mob boss
STAY FOR Vera Farmiga, as a police shrink who romances both Damon and DiCaprio
RELEASE DATE Nov. 22
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT Anthony Hopkins, Demi Moore, Lindsay Lohan, Laurence Fishburne, Elijah Wood, Sharon Stone, Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, and Harry Belafonte — can we handle that much starpower?
THE PREMISE The folks above play a variety of late-’60s types who cross paths at Los Angeles’ Ambassador Hotel the night Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated there in 1968.
SOURCE An original screenplay by Emilio Estevez, who also directed
THE BACKSTORY The Sheen family is rich in Kennedy connections: Emilio met RFK as a child, while Papa Martin played him in a TV movie. The elder Sheen also lobbied to have the Ambassador razed to make way for a school, forcing his son to race the wrecking ball in order to shoot the film on location before the demolition last fall.
BURNING QUESTION Will this prestige pic put erstwhile Brat Packer Estevez back on the map, this time as a director?
COME FOR That all-star ensemble
STAY FOR Ashton Kutcher, who reportedly shows up toward the end with an incisive turn
RELEASE DATE Oct. 20
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT The reteaming of Million Dollar Baby director Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Paul Haggis is enough to make us take notice — and start calculating Oscar odds.
THE PREMISE Learn what became of the six Marines who appeared in the famous flag-raising photograph on Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima, as played by such actors as Ryan Phillippe and Swimfan‘s Jesse Bradford
SOURCE The 2000 nonfiction bestseller by James Bradley and Ron Powers
THE BACKSTORY It seemed that every young actor in Hollywood wanted to be in this World War II drama. Even Hilary Swank joked that she longed to reteam with her Baby director and play a role in the all-male ensemble. ”I told Clint, ‘You know, I’ve played a boy before. I could do it again.”’
BURNING QUESTION Will this film feel incomplete until balanced by Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima, which recounts the battle from the Japanese point of view?
COME FOR The unsentimental tale of war and its aftermath
STAY FOR Adam Beach (Windtalkers), poised for a breakout role as Ira Hayes, the vet made famous in a Johnny Cash song
3. For Your Consideration
RELEASE DATE Nov. 17
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT No one makes more reliably hilarious ensemble comedies than Christopher Guest (A Mighty Wind, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman).
THE PREMISE A little indie film called Home for Purim (whose director is played by Guest) unexpectedly becomes a serious awards-season contender and sets the vast Hollywood publicity machine in motion.
SOURCE An original screenplay by Guest and Eugene Levy
THE BACKSTORY This isn’t Guest’s first Hollywood satire (see the underrated 1989 farce The Big Picture), but it’s his first using his now-trademark semi-improvised mockumentary technique.
BURNING QUESTION Might life imitate art and earn this movie some real Oscar heat?
COME FOR The Guest company repertory players, including Levy, Parker Posey, Harry Shearer, Catherine O’Hara, Jennifer Coolidge, Michael McKean, and Jane Lynch
STAY FOR Guest company guest-star Ricky Gervais (pictured, with Coolidge and Larry Miller), as a Hollywood studio chief
2. The Fountain
RELEASE DATE Nov. 22
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT It’s been six years since director Darren Aronofsky last fried our brains with Requiem for a Dream, and we’re eager to see what he can do with an eight-figure budget.
THE PREMISE It’s a sci-fi/fantasy saga that has something to do with the Fountain of Youth. Hugh Jackman and The Constant Gardener Oscar winner Rachel Weisz play characters in three different time periods spanning 1,000 years, from the days of the conquistadors to the present to 500 years from now.
SOURCE An original screenplay by Aronofsky
THE BACKSTORY We almost saw a different, more expensive version of the film that would have starred Cate Blanchett and Brad Pitt, but Pitt’s pull-out seven weeks before shooting was to start in 2002 all but killed the $72 million project. Aronofsky recast the film with Weisz (now his fiancée) and Jackman, who goes completely hairless in some of the future scenes. ”Feels amazing,” says the formerly hirsute Wolverine.
BURNING QUESTION Will the big-studio production values and A-list cast help the cult-fave director break through to the mainstream?
COME FOR The lush, trippy visuals
STAY FOR The time-transcending love story
RELEASE DATE Nov. 17
WHY WE CAN’T WAIT The idea of a rougher, rawer, rebooted James Bond leaves us both shaken and stirred.
THE PREMISE Newbie James Bond (Daniel Craig) becomes the spy we know and love during this adventure, in which he is sent to bankrupt terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Danish star Mads Mikkelsen) at the poker table. In the process, he falls for the mysterious Vesper Lynd (The Dreamers‘ Eva Green).
SOURCE Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel
THE BACKSTORY Why take Hollywood’s most durable franchise back to square one? ”The movies have become so big and fantastical — with invisible cars and stuff like that — there was just no way to continue in that same vein,” says veteran Bond producer Michael Wilson. ”There was nothing new left to do. So we decided to start all over.”
BURNING QUESTION Will the blond Craig (Munich, Layer Cake) win over doubters who’ve complained that he doesn’t look the part?
COME FOR The usual trappings: girls, guns, gambling, gadgetry
STAY FOR The gritty, violent thriller beneath the usual trappings
And the movies I’m looking foward to this fall? Off the top of my head I can think of two: Pedro Almodovar’s Volver and Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley.