Sunday, August 27, 2006

Fall 2006 Movie Preview (Part 2)

Last week featured the kickoff of the fall movie season, with September containing quite the variety of films. But October’s list is probably just as eclectic, with multiple Oscar winners involved in several of the upcoming productions. There’s doesn’t appear to be any shortage of quality films coming up, but it remains to be seen if past success for some of these talented filmmakers (Clint Eastwood, Sofia Coppola, Martin Scorsese) will translate to their latest offerings.

The following are some of the notables that October has to offer:

“The Departed”
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga and Alec Baldwin
Directed by Martin Scorsese

(Good Cast Alert!) It certainly doesn’t take much time to see the appeal of this film, as it boasts one of the best male casts of the year – and in a Scorsese flick to boot. Not that the storyline that brought such a solid cast together can be credited with originality, as the movie is a remake of “Infernal Affairs,” a quite entertaining action thriller from Hong Kong that was made a few years back. But Scorsese has done a remake before (“Cape Fear”) to good results, so there’s no reason to think he can’t do it again. (Oct. 6)
Official Web site

“Employee of the Month”
Starring Dane Cook, Jessica Simpson, Dax Shepard, Andy Dick, Tim Bagley, Efren Ramirez and Harland Williams
Directed by Greg Coolidge

After having become a bit of a sensation on the stand-up comedy circuit, Dane Cook takes his first crack at a starring movie role. In this film co-starring Simpson, the blonde beauty and noted thespian, Cook is a store worker determined to win the title award from co-worker Shepard, hoping to attract the attention of you know who. This could either be a clever, funny movie or painfully terrible – it’s difficult to determine which way it will go. (Oct. 6)
Official Web site

“Running with Scissors”
Starring Annette Bening, Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes, Evan Rachel Wood, Alec Baldwin, Jill Clayburgh, Joseph Cross and Gwyneth Paltrow
Directed by Ryan Murphy

Unusual eccentrics are in high supply in this adaptation of Augusten Burroughs semi-autobiographical novel of a teenager (Cross) being sent to live with a psychiatrist (Cox) after the collapse of his parents’ marriage. The trailer is a hoot, but one has to wonder if the oddness of the movie will be a bit too much for audiences to handle. How the tone of the film is handled by first-time director Murphy will be a key to its success. (Oct. 11)
Official Web site

“The Grudge 2”
Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Edison Chen, Amber Tamblyn, Arielle Kebbel, Jennifer Beals
Directed by Takashi Shimizu

Yet another sequel, yet another one based on a Japanese horror film, “The Grudge 2” is the follow-up to the fairly successful, yet dull 2003 movie about a angry spirit that spread misery to all who came to its former house. This time, the spirit decides to take a road trip and make life rough for a not so random assortment of characters, including Tamblyn, portraying the sister of Gellar’s character, the star of the first film. Hopefully, something scary will actually happen this time out. (Oct. 13)
Official Web site

“Man of the Year”
Starring Robin Williams, Christopher Walken, Laura Linney, Lewis Black, David Alpay, Jeff Goldblum
Directed by Barry Levinson

In what may be a case of wishful thinking, a popular talk show host (Williams) decides as a lark to run for President. Much to his amazement, he wins and has to figure out what’s next. Williams and director Levinson could really use a hit movie around now, and this one shows some promise. But you almost have to feel sorry for the always dependable Linney, who has to deal with Williams, Walken and Goldblum all in one movie. Was the set entirely consumed by these scenery chewers? (Oct. 13)
Official Web site

“Marie Antoinette”
Starring Kirsten Dunst, Jason Schwartzman, Judy Davis, Rip Torn, Asia Argento, Rose Evans, Molly Shannon, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston and Steve Coogan
Directed by Sofia Coppola

Having received a mixed reception at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, America will finally get its crack at checking out Coppola’s follow-up to “Lost In Translation.” The unconventional period piece features an intriguing cast, led by Dunst as the doomed young queen. Period flicks can tend to be a bit dry at times, but Coppola has the ability to overcome that potential liability. (Oct. 20)
Official Web site

Starring Diane Lane, Mickey Rourke, Thomas Jane, Rosario Dawson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Johnny Knoxville
Directed by John Madden

Assembling an eclectic cast, Madden (“Shakespeare In Love”) directs an adaptation of an old Elmore Leonard novel about a couple (Lane and Jane – hey, it rhymes) in a witness relocation program who run into trouble with an assassin (Rourke) and a con man (Gordon-Levitt). When handled well, Leonard’s books can make for some entertaining movies (“Get Shorty,” “Out of Sight”). The talent involved would lead you to believe this one will be of the caliber of those films. (Oct. 20)
No official Web site

“The Prestige”
Starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Andy Serkis
Directed by Christopher Nolan

(Good Cast Alert!) As his follow-up to “Batman Begins,” director Nolan enlists two of that film’s stars to head up a tale of magicians (Bale and Jackman) locked in a bitter rivalry in turn-of-the-century London. Nolan is yet to make a bad movie and based on the trailer, this one looks to be appropriately atmospheric and gripping. If only we could have today’s magicians locked in rivalries. Copperfield vs. Blaine? How cool would that be? On second thought ... (Oct. 20)
Official Web site

“Flags of Our Fathers”
Starring Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beach, Paul Walker, Jamie Bell, Barry Pepper, John Benjamin Hickey
Directed by Clint Eastwood

Delayed from its original summer release comes a true World War II story based on the book by James Bradley that focuses on the Battle of Iwo Jima. Before you dismiss this as yet another war movie, keep this in mind: It’s directed by Eastwood with a screenplay by Paul Haggis, the same combo that struck Oscar gold in 2004 with “Million Dollar Baby.” You might want to start placing some Oscar bets on this one for 2007. But to get the complete picture, look for another Eastwood movie in December (“Red Sun”) to portray the same event from the Japanese perspective. (Oct. 20)
Official Web site

“Lucky You”
Starring Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, Robert Duvall, Debra Messing
Directed by Curtis Hanson

The somewhat surprising surge of popularity in poker over the past few years gets some big-screen exposure with this flick starring Bana (“Munich”) as a rising star who has to deal with pressures from his girlfriend (Barrymore) and his estranged father (Duvall) on his path to success. Good cast with a very good director could equal a good hand. But can poker successfully translate to movie screens from its current home on a million stations on TV? (Oct. 27)
Official Web site

“Saw III”
Starring Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Angus MacFadyen, Bahar Soomekh, Dina Meyer
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman

If it’s around Halloween, it must be time for another “Saw” movie. For the third straight year, the nasty villain Jigsaw is back in October to make life just a little bit less pleasant for an assorted collection of unlucky souls. One of the film’s posters has the Roman numeral III spelled out with teeth (yuck!), if that gives you any indication of the “fun” you’re in for if you go see this. (Oct. 27)
Official Web site

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