Sunday, August 31, 2008

Fall 2008 Movie Preview (Part 1)

Summer at the movies was largely dominated by heroes, super and otherwise, as Batman, Iron Man and Indiana Jones all spent time owning the top of the box-office charts. What will the fall movie season bring? Well, likely not any big moneymakers like those three. But a fair amount of solid hits and possible Oscar contenders could emerge, come early next year.

The following is a rundown of some of the releases coming this month, with October’s roster to follow next week. As always, release dates are subject to change.

“The Women”
Starring Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith
Directed by Diane English

A remake of the 1939 film of the same name, this movie would love nothing more than capture the recent box-office success of “Sex and the City.” But there’s no doubt that, based on the heavily female cast, most men will probably be sitting this one out – if given a choice by their significant other, that is. (Sept. 12)
Official Web site

“Burn After Reading”
Starring George Clooney, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, Tilda Swinton and Brad Pitt
Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen

The Coen brothers’ follow-up to their Oscar-winning “No Country for Old Men” ventures back into much more comedic territory, with a great cast on hand, as usual. A pair of fitness center employees (McDormand and Pitt) get their hands on the unpublished memoirs of a CIA agent (Malkovich), which gets them into hot water. This might not be Oscar caliber work this time out for the Coens, but still should be worth a look. (Sept. 12)
Official Web site

“Righteous Kill”
Starring Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Curtis Jackson, Carla Gugino, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Dennehy and John Leguizamo
Directed by Jon Avnet

Having shared the screen briefly in 1995’s great crime drama, “Heat,” DeNiro and Pacino spend a lot more time together in this film about a pair of cops investigating a serial vigilante. While it’s great to have the two acting legends paired up, did it have to be as cops? There’s certainly a “been there, done that” feel here. Hopefully, they can lift the seemingly overdone material. (Sept. 12)
Official Web site

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Ed Harris, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons
Directed by Ed Harris

This film marks the second directing effort from Harris (“Pollack” being the other), who also co-stars with Mortensen as lawmen who come to clean up a crime-riddled town. Westerns have a spotty track record making money over the past couple of decades, but this one could be a sleeper, if marketed right. (Sept. 17, limited)
Official Web site

“Ghost Town”
Starring Ricky Gervais, Téa Leoni, Greg Kinnear, Billy Campbell, Kristen Wiig, Dana Ivey
Directed by David Koepp

In his first starring role on the big screen, Gervais plays a dentist with a sour disposition. But after briefly dying during a medical procedure and being revived, he realizes he now has the ability to communicate with the dead – something he finds really annoying. OK, the premise is borderline bad sitcom by description, but hopefully Gervais, who has shown a comic gift on TV (the original “The Office” and “Extras”) can work some movie magic. (Sept. 19)
Official Web site

Starring Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Gael Garcia Bernal, Alice Braga
Directed by Fernando Meirelles

Adapted from the acclaimed 1998 novel, “Blindness” tells the tale of an epidemic that strikes a city, leaving everyone blind, save for one woman (Moore). She then helps a small group of people survive, while humanity breaks down around them. This film, from the director of “The Constant Gardener,” is certainly intriguing material, but may prove to be a bit too bleak for most audiences. (Sept. 26)
Official Web site

“Miracle at St. Anna”
Starring Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Laz Alonso, Omar Benson Miller
Directed by Spike Lee

Writer-director Lee makes the first war movie of his career, focusing on a real-life segregated World War II infantry unit of the U.S. Army. Part of the unit becomes separated during a battle and is forced to await their orders in an Italian village, while behind enemy lines. This looks like Lee’s best shot at an Oscar to come along in years. But WWII-era movies are certainly not an easy sell to audiences. (Sept. 26)
Official Web site

“Eagle Eye”
Starring Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie and Billy Bob Thornton
Directed by D.J. Caruso

Two strangers (LaBeouf and Monaghan) are thrown together by extreme circumstances in the form of a caller on their cell phones who seems to know their every move. The caller puts them into a cat-and-mouse situation, with their lives on the line and FBI authorities (led by Thornton) in hot pursuit This high-concept, yet seemingly improbable thriller could prove to be a hit, if the promise of its clever trailer is realized. (Sept. 26)
Official Web site

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