by Eric Paolini
Fall is quickly approaching. Pretty soon the 100 degree days will give way to cool breezes and earlier evenings. There are many reasons to love fall, but it's tough to beat the fall movie season. The action-packed blockbusters of the summer step aside for the Oscar hopefuls. The films I get excited to see and enjoy the most are usually released near the end of the year. To get ready for the final four months of the 2012 movie season, here is my fall preview. This will cover fifteen or so films from three categories: very excited, somewhat excited, and not excited.
Before we get to the list, let me provide a little information about the movies I like. Just to give everything a little context. I focus on characters and storyline instead of visuals. I will always pick Reservoir Dogs over Avatar.
I love the directing styles of Darren Aronofsky, Quentin Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and many more. Requiem for a Dream, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Blue Velvet, and A Clockwork Orange are among my favorite films. Hopefully I have painted an adequate picture so you won't be shocked when I am not looking forward to the new Twilight movie. Also, no documentaries will be on the list. I'm interested in almost every documentary. To narrow the choices down this will focus on the scripted films being released. Now on to the list...
5 films I'm very excited to see
I will see all five of these films as close to their opening dates as possible. Most of these movies I've been following their progress for months already and can hardly wait until their release.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - September 14
This film has the highest chance to leave me disappointed. The main reason I'm excited for this film is Emma Watson. But specifically, her character. I've seen the trailer a few times now, and just from that short clip I already love and am attached to her character. I'm a sucker for quirky female characters like the trailer sets her up to be. Independent, off-beat, smarter than most and caring. I can't resist. The story follows a teen as he finally finds a
group he belongs to. My biggest concern is the trailer appears to outline the entire film. One can only hope they weren't that stupid. The director, Stephen Chbosky, also wrote the novel and screenplay. Even though he doesn't have much experience, Chbosky is the best candidate to make sure the vision continues from the novel all the way to the big screen.
The Master - September 14 (limited), September 21 (wider release)
My excitement for this film is only surpassed by the final film. This is Paul Thomas Anderson's return from a six year hiatus since There Will Be Blood. I am a relatively new fan of PTA's. He is a brilliant filmmaker and I will see everything he does from now on. Don't watch the trailer and expect to know a lot about this film. Judge based on feel. If after the trailer you don't feel affected, this probably isn't your movie. PT Anderson has a unique directing style. The trailer gives you a small taste of that style. Anderson has created some great characters. I expect Freddy Sutton, played by Joaquin Phoenix, to join Daniel Plainview and Dirk Diggler in the pantheon of movie characters.
End of Watch - September 28
A gritty, LA-based, cop story written and directed by the man who gave us Training Day. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. I have a limited experience with Gyllenhaal, but I loved him in Zodiac. If the connection with Training Day doesn't put this over the top, Anna Kendrick's involvement certainly does. My love of Anna Kendrick will come up later, but I will follow her everywhere. This will be violent, suspenseful, and full of bad people doing less than desirable things.
Argo - October 12
Based on a true story, a CIA member creates a fake movie in order to rescue hostages from Iran. It has a great cast led by Ben Affleck and includes the consistently great Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin. As I am consistently subjected to the trailer I am getting more and more excited. Normally that would drive me away, but that is not the case here. My feeling is that it will be similar to Affleck's last directorial effort, The Town. If that's the case then Argo will be a solid film with some great scenes. However, it will probably contain a few moments where Affleck shoots himself a little too lovingly for my taste. I just can't get past the completely ridiculous and unnecessary, shirtless workout scene from The Town. I hope the fact that it's been adapted from an article isn't cause for concern.
Django Unchained - December 25
The return of Tarantino! It doesn't matter what this film is about. It's Tarantino. If that isn't enough persuasion, the story sounds interesting as well. Jamie Foxx, as a former slave, tries to rescue his wife from Leonardo DiCaprio, a planation owner. Samuel L. Jackson has some involvement, a requirement of Tarantino films. The trailer has that signature Tarantino feel. Nothing more needs to be said. You will either be into this or not. Violence, weird characters, and humor from unusual places will all be involved.
Honorable Mention: The Man With the Iron Fists
It doesn't matter what this is about. I have to see the writing/directing debut of founding Wu-Tang Clan member, RZA.
Originally this was in the very excited category but the release has been pushed back for reshoots following the Aurora, Colorado shootings. I am still super excited for this LA gangster movie starring Ryan Gosling. However, the January release is outside of the parameters I gave myself. The cast is fantastic. Unfortunately, a scene may be too close to reality for the victims of the shootings, and that scene being cut would have messed with the storyline. They have had to re-write and reshoot a new scene(s) to fill that void.
5 films I'm somewhat excited to see
Arbitrage - September 14 (limited release)
The excitement comes from the cast. Richard Gere, Tim Roth, and Susan Sarandon headline this thriller/drama. Despite the inexperience of writer/director Nicholas Jarecki A-list actors still signed on. I haven't seen anything with Richard Gere unless you count seeing only the first twenty minutes of Brooklyn's Finest two or three times. But Tim Roth has rarely led me astray. The trailer sets Gere up as a money-obsessed man trying to run from a mistake/problem. He will do anything if it makes him money. His problems increase when people start to ask questions. This should work if the characters are interesting and you get attached to their story. But it will fall short and be a difficult watch if there is not investment into the characters. Without seeing the few things done by the director, I have very little to go on about what his style is.
Looper and Pitch Perfect - September 28 and October 5
These two are grouped together because of the prominent involvement of an actor, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anna Kendrick. I loved their performances so much in 50/50, and generally like them as actors, their involvement in these films might be enough to get me to watch. Looper has an interesting concept. It would be my bet to be the better film of the two, even though they are nothing alike and it's weird to compare them. Looper includes the mob, time travel, assassins, and a battle of the current versus the future. However, the trailer is a little underwhelming. Written and directed by Rian Johnson. He is responsible for Brick, also with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I have a feeling that Looper will be like Brick. Which means a solid movie with some good scenes, but won't blow you away.
My interest in Pitch Perfect perplexes me. I would normally avoid anything that is compared to Glee, but I'm being drawn into Pitch Perfect. A college competition of musical groups lacking original songs sounds unappealing to me. But it has a great cast. Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Adam Devine, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, and the British girl who played Kristen Wiig's roommate in Bridesmaids, headline the cast. It's played as a comedy and there are a few moments in the trailer that made me laugh. I will consider Pitch Perfect a success if they are creative with their song choices and can provide laughs throughout the film.
Skyfall - November 9
This will be the 23rd movie in the James Bond franchise. And from those 23 I have seen 2, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. In case you are unaware, those are the last two Bond movies, and both star Daniel Craig. I have no idea what the Bond diehards think of Daniel Craig, but I have enjoyed his performances. The three Bond films he's starred in have all been directed by a different director. This time it's Sam Mendes. The involvement of the Oscar-winner director definitely has me excited. He has the ability to bring to the latest incarnation of the franchise some memorability. Since seeing the first two Daniel Craig films I have not thought about them once. The trailer does a great job of creating interest without setting up that much.
Liberal Arts Liberal Arts - September 14 (limited release)
Josh Radnor's second writing and directing effort. You would recognize him from How I Met Your Mother. He stars as well, along side Elizabeth Olsen, who was great in Martha Marcy May Marlene. If you haven't seen that one, check it out. Pretty good unless you don't like funky movies. One last note about Olsen, she is the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley. I had no idea until just now! My head is spinning.
5 films I'm not excited to see
Finding Nemo 3D - Re-released September 14
I love Finding Nemo. It's one of my favorite Pixar films. But I HATE 3D. It's an unnecessary gimmick that adds nothing to the story. It's bad enough that most movies have 3D attached to them, but the new trend of re-releasing films now with 3D is downright troubling. Hollywood has a tendency to be scared off of original ideas. It is much safer for a remake, sequel, adaptation, or reboot. Look at the most successful movies of this year.
The Hunger Games-
comic book adaptation
The Amazing Spiderman-
comic book adaptation and reboot
The Dark Knight Rises-
comic book adaptation and sequel
But now if all Hollywood has to do is re-release movies they already made and still make money, will anything original be made? Finding Nemo should absolutely be seen. It's cute, adorable, touching and everything else that Pixar films are. 3D will do nothing for this. I am actually disappointed with Pixar. This didn't seem like something they would do. This is almost as egregious as Cars 2.
Hotel Transylvania - September 21
The Pixar films have been so good, and have set the bar so high, all other animated films are inferior just because they're not Pixar. Adam Sandler, and his horrible track record of late, do not help Hotel Transylvania one bit. Adam Sandler has been involved in so many bad films, the fact that he likes an idea sends me the opposite way. Some sort of monster is dissatisfied with not being able to connect with people her own age. And wouldn't you know it, a teenager stumbles in which sets up unimaginative dad and the daughter's boyfriend jokes. One of the "jokes" in the trailer is how one character thatlooks 13 is actually 118. I have such a bad taste in my mouth. Lets just move on.
Horror films House at the End of the Street, Sinister, and Paranormal Activity 4.
I'm not a horror movie fan so these are certainly not targeted towards me. These all seem formulaic and unimaginative. If you like horror, you'll probably see them. Only Sinister sparks the slightest interest in me. And that's only because of Ethan Hawke's involvement. Love that Ethan Hawke. Specifically from the aforementioned Training Day. Without seeing any of the Paranormal Activity movies I can only assume they still make them because they are so cheap it's super easy to turn a profit. Is there really that much interest or love of the franchise?
Alex Cross - October 19
Oh boy. There's a lot in here I dislike. Based on a book from James Patterson about an FBI agent in D.C. Alex Cross has an unbelievably long list of serial killers he's caught. I've read many of the books, but not this one in particular. Despite their predictability, they're pretty good. But the thing with the novels is they are very violent. Alex Cross faces the most sadistic, vile, and vicious killers ever imagined. This film should be dark, creepy, disturbing and graphically violent. It should aim to be Se7en and not CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. The PG-13 rating will weaken the punch of the serial killer. Patterson is a very successful author. His fans are obviously fine with the graphic nature of his writing. If you're gonna adapt the book, then actually adapt it and not
just use the pedigree of James Patterson. The character of Alex Cross is charming and likable. I find nothing charming or likable about Tyler Perry. Specifically his wooden acting. At least he's not dressed up as a woman. In another stroke of good luck, other people wrote and directed AlexCross. Unfortunately, the director is also responsible for one of the Fast and Furious movies. If the trailer is any indication, there will be flashy images and quick cuts throughout the film in an attempt to pacify those in the audience with ADD. I would love to see a Patterson adaptation done correctly. I would be first in line for a David Fincher directed and Will Smith acted version.
Cloud Atlas - October 26
I am so thoroughly confused by this film. Before the trailer I thought it was similar to Crash, the incredibly overrated Best Picture Oscar winner starring Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle and a bunch of people you've heard of. Not to be confused with the other film called Crash that was released eight years earlier. The premise of Cloud Atlas makes it seem like an intertwining storyline covering the past, present and future. I have a very strong hatred of these kinds of movies stemming from Crash. They are incredibly unbelievable and I don't think there is a way to make it work. However, the trailer for Cloud Atlas has since been released. While the tone is thankfully nothing like Crash, it has gone from a movie with a weird premise to an absolutely crazy film/idea with a weird premise. I can't get behind the team of three directors. It seems like it would be too many decision makers for a cohesive vision. It can work with writing. Not so sure about directing. To make it even crazier, the trailer is almost six minutes, a couple of actors play multiple parts, it seems like it goes into a Jetson's-like future, Tom Hanks has weird 70's hair at times and weird facial hair at other times, Halle Berry's character wants to know why people "make the same mistakes", it's 164 minutes long, and IT SPANS THE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE. I can't get behind this.
Dishonorable mention: Whatever Twilight movie is being released. I understand it's not for me but I couldn't care less about this franchise. Quick side note: it's only a matter of time before the Harry Potter and Twilight franchises get a reboot, right? Too much money to let it go.
Overall, I'd set my anticipation level at "fairly high". There are a handful movies that I expect greatness from. The premises seem to cover a lot of ground. A few fantastic filmmakers are involved. I'm sure there are a few films that slipped through the cracks that will be solid watches. Now it's time to hit up the local movie theater. Maybe I'll see you there.
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