Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fall 2006 Movie Preview (Part 1)

OK, is anybody else about sick of the summer heat? Luckily, the sanctuary of a cold movie theater that can ease the strain of those dwindling hot summer days and should give audiences plenty of options for the next few months, as we head into the fall. In fact, there are so many films of note that the following list is a mere sampling of some of the notables that will be hitting a theater near you over the next couple of months.

In fact, to give you as much of the big releases as possible, this list will be broke into two parts. So, first up is September, with October soon to follow. Lest you think this list is a bit incomplete, keep in mind November and December will be tackled at a later date as part of a holiday movie preview. At any rate, Hollywood looks to be churning out an intriguing blend of films this season, with the potential for some box office blockbusters and Oscar-appealing offerings in the mix. There have been some last minute schedule scrambling going on, so as usual, these release dates are subject to change at the whim of the studios – and often do.

“The Wicker Man”
Starring Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Molly Parker, Leelee Sobieski, Frances Conroy, Kate Beahan
Directed by Neil LaBute

It’s been more than 30 years since the British cult pic “The Wicker Man” was released, so clearly it’s time for a remake. But having LaBute as the writer-director and Cage as the star certainly should help ease the minds of potential detractors. Cage plays a cop investigating the disappearance of an ex-girlfriend’s daughter on a private island that’s just filled with secrets the residents would rather not reveal – particularly to a cop. Sounds sensible. (Sept. 1)
Official Web site

Starring Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins, Robin Tunney, Joe Spano
Directed by Allen Coulter

(Good Cast Alert!) An investigation by a private eye (Brody) into the death of George Reeves (Affleck), better known as TV’s “Superman” in the 1950s, is met with a fair amount of dislike and physical opposition as he takes the case into the Hollywood hierarchy. Lane plays the wife of a studio chief who might have more than a little insight into Reeves’ personal life. (Sept. 8)
Official Web site

“Gridiron Gang”
Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Xzibit, Kevin Dunn, Leon Rippy
Directed by Phil Joanou

Based on a true story of Sean Porter (Johnson), a juvenile detention officer who decides to turn a group of felons into a football team. Life lessons are learned all around and everyone lives happily ever after. Well, OK, maybe not. But with football season just getting under way as this hits theaters, it has the potential to make some dough from football hungry fans.(Sept. 15)
Official Web site

Everyone’s Hero”
Starring the voices of William H. Macy, Rob Reiner, Brian Dennehy, Raven-Symoné, Robert Wagner and Whoopi Goldberg
Directed by Christopher Reeve, Daniel St. Pierre and Colin Brady

A boy looks to find the stolen bat of Babe Ruth on the eve of the 1932 World Series in this CG animated feature film that also was originally directed by Reeve, prior to his death. (Sept. 15)
Official Web site

“The Guardian”
Starring Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Neal McDonough, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown and Sela Ward
Directed by Andrew Davis

Kutcher looks to take another step away from Kelso, his doofus character he played for several seasons on TV’s “That ‘70’s Show,” with this action pic about Coast Guard rescue swimmers. Playing a young hotshot (imagine that!) training under Costner, the film will draw the inevitable “Top Gun”-type comparisons. Only Kutcher’s pretty far from Cruise at this point in his career. (Sept. 29)
Official Web site

“The Black Dahlia”
Starring Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Aaron Eckhart, Mia Kirshner, Mike Starr, Fiona Shaw and Hilary Swank
Directed by Brian DePalma

A sordid 1947 true-life murder case forms the basis for this fictionalized account of the investigation by a pair of detectives (Hartnett and Eckhart). Johannson and Swank co-star for director Brian DePalma (“Carlito’s Way,” “Blow Out”), in this adaptation of James Ellroy’s novel. The last adaptation of Ellroy, “L.A. Confidential” turned out well for all parties involved. Could it happen again? (Sept. 15)
Official Web site

“The Last Kiss”
Starring Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Casey Affleck, Rachel Bilson, Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson
Directed by Tony Goldwyn

As a follow-up to his very well received “Garden State” Braff is on board as just the lead this time out, playing a man struggling with commitment in the relationship with his girlfriend (Barrett). While Braff didn’t write the screenplay on this one, Paul Haggis (“Million Dollar Baby,” “Crash”) did, and word is he seems to be pretty good. (Sept. 15)
Official Web site

“All The King’s Men”
Starring Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson and Anthony Hopkins
Directed by Steven Zaillian

(Good Cast Alert!) After being delayed from a release and Oscar run at the end of last year, Sony Pictures will undoubtedly go full speed ahead in awards promotion with this remake of the 1949 film that took several Academy Awards of its own upon its release. Zaillian (an Oscar-winner himself for adapting “Schindler’s List”) is the writer-director that focuses on Louisiana politics in the Depression-era. (Sept. 22)
Official Web site

“Jackass: Number 2”
Starring Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Ryan Dunn
Directed by Jeff Tremaine

Oscar-bait, this ain’t. But more so than any other movie this fall, the audience is firmly built in. Either you’re on board with the stupid, reckless and sometimes gross antics of Knoxville and Co. or you’re not. There’s simply no in between. (Sept. 22)
Official Web site

Starring Navi Rawat, Krista Allen, Balthazar Getty, Judah Friedlander, Jenny Wade and Clu Gulager
Directed by John Gulager

There’s a certain amount of curiosity surrounding this horror movie, which was the subject of the last season of TV’s “Project Greenlight.” The movie has had its release date pushed back time after time, but looks to be finally getting its shot in theaters. The show that followed the production of the film was certainly fascinating and entertaining, having aired in early 2005. But can the actual movie follow suit? (Sept. 22)
Official Web site

“School for Scoundrels”
Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Jon Heder, Jacinda Barrett, Luis Guzman, David Cross, Horatio Sanz, Sarah Silverman and Michael Clarke Duncan
Directed by Todd Phillips

Not diverting too much from their recent career paths, Heder plays a bit of a loser, while Thornton plays a bit of a jerk in this comedy from Phllips (“Old School”). Heder takes a confidence-building class with Thornton as the teacher, only for both to fall for the same girl (Barrett). Thornton can probably do this kind of role in his sleep, but he’s so good at it. The rest of the cast’s not too shabby, either. (Sept. 29)
Official Web site

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