Let’s forget the recently ended, thoroughly dismal summer movie season. From the horror in Colorado (which had a genuine effect on film attendance), to the generally dismal parade of actual product, the cinema summer of ’12 is best forgotten.
What’s the first thing that stands out about fall’s movies? Fewer nonanimated films in 3D. With exhibitors often showing 3D films flat, thanks to the flexibility of digital projection systems, the studios seem to have taken note. There’s no shortage of sequels and “franchises” on the fall film horizon—and some of them look very interesting—but there are also enough original projects to (hopefully) lure audiences back into the multiplexes.
Release dates are, of course, subject to change owing to unforseen catastrophe, studio paranoia or the whims of the gods.
The most anticipated film of the fall. Paul Thomas Anderson’s drama of a Scientology-style cult led by Philip Seymour Hoffman has been raking in awards on the festival circuit, and earning accolades for Anderson, Hoffman and co-stars Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams. An early Oscar frontrunner.
Here’s something for the futurist-fascist-cop-drama fan. (You know who you are.) Karl Urban is a suspiciously RoboCop-esque Judge Dredd in this actioner. In 3D.
End of Watch
Police thriller about a couple of hot-shot rookies (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peňa) who bust the wrong dudes and must scramble to survive on the mean streets of L.A. From the writer of Training Day.
For a Good Time Call
A pair of female frenemies end up as roommates, only to discover that they’re both phone-sex workers. Think Two Broke Girls with explicit dialogue.
This is the improbable, horrifying, true story of a missing Texas child who turns up in Europe. Or does he? Reviewers have praised this documentary as “gripping.”
Trouble With the Curve
Clint Eastwood is back in his irascible grandpa mode as an aging baseball scout with declining career prospects and a pissed-off adult daughter (Amy Adams). With Justin Timberlake.
Director Rian Johnson follows his terrific neo-noir Brick and beguiling, mournful caper flick The Brothers Bloom with this intriguing time-travel actioner starring Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt.
Forget the annoying presence of Adam Sandler and Kevin James as voice actors in this kid-friendly animated horror comedy. Hotel Transylvania is directed by the great Genndy Tarkovsky of Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls fame, so give this one a chance.
Won’t Back Down
Here’s the first feel-good, social-problem drama of the fall. Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis try their darndest to save an inner-city school.
Searching for Sugar Man
If you were listening to WAMC on Labor Day morning, you heard a documentary about a long-lost, critically acclaimed, and total flop of a singer-songwriter named Rodriguez whose music later became popular in apartheid-era South Africa. This is the feature documentary about the search for him.
Tim Burton gets the “old band” (Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau) together again as voice actors in this animated comedy about a mad-scientist kid who raises his beloved dog from the dead.
Tyler Perry takes off Madea’s dress to play a tough police investigator on the trail of a vicious serial killer in this thriller.
Taken piled absurdity on absurdity, but was a monster hit because the action was deft and Liam Neeson was authoritative as a retired spook with lethal skills. This is the inevitable sequel.
Paranormal Activity 4
The security-cam horror film refuses to die.
Ben Affleck directs and stars in this true-life thriller set during the Iranian Revolution.
Killing Them Softly
Rough-edged crime thriller with Brad Pitt as a hit man trying to clean up after a botched crime deal. Co-stars include the equally badass James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta.
Disney’s animated comedy about a 2D video game villain from the 1980s who wants to make himself over as a contemporary, 3D, video game hero.
The Man With the Iron Fists
The RZA directs (and Quentin Tarantino presents) this comically violent martial arts actioner starring Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe.
This special-effects laden drama opened the recent New York Film Festival. Here, Robert Zemeckis directs Denzel Washington as a hero airline pilot with a terrible secret. The A-list cast also includes Don Cheadle and John Goodman.
Sam Mendes (American Beauty) directs Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond adventure. The trailer looks great.
The closer we get to Christmas, the bigger the movies are. Daniel Day-Lewis is Honest Abe in Steven Spielberg’s lavish biopic. Too bad Gore Vidal won’t be around to piss on it.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn
One of the least edifying spectacles in recent celebrity journalism has been the disgusting, sexist shaming of Kristin Stewart for cheating on her ex-boyfriend/Twilight co-star. That should make the promotion of this final Twilight flick an epic celebutarded clusterfuck.
Director Joe Wright (Atonement) reunites with star Keira Knightly to make this latest version of Tolstoy’s Russian epic of adultery and wheat.
Rise of the Guardians
DreamWorks Animation’s 3D holiday Big One is a comedy-drama about a happy-go-lucky kid who is joined by Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and the Easter Bunny to save the world from Evil. This totally sounds like the kind of Shrek-esque crap DreamsWorks does best.
Life of Pi
This is Ang Lee’s entry in the 3D quasi-animated adventure genre. Hope it turns out better than Hulk.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
This is the least-appropriately-titled film of the year. After the international, multibillion-dollar success of The Lord of the Rings, there is nothing “unexpected” about a Peter Jackson Hobbit flick arriving in theaters in time for Christmas.
The struggle to bring a Broadway musical to the big screen is so often torturous that it’s a wonder anyone tries to do it. But here is “Les Miz,” starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. Lord knows, the world has been waiting for a Russell Crowe musical.
This Is 40
Everything you need to know about a Judd Apatow joint is in the title. So, here we will have Paul Rudd undergoing a midlife crisis. Rudd will be abetted in trying to make you laugh by Jason Segal and Melissa McCarthy.
Tom Cruise is trying to build another action-movie franchise with this one. Will you help him? As John Turturro begged Gabriel Byrne in Miller’s Crossing, I beg you: “Look into your heart.” Don’t do it.
Monsters, Inc. 3D
Pixar has up-converted this beloved children’s favorite as an ad for the summer 2013 sequel, Monsters University. Isn’t that special?
Quentin Tarantino does slavery. I’m a Tarantino fan, and even I’m not sure this is a good idea. Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz are billed above DiCaprio, however, and the rest of the cast (Kerry Washington, Don Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson) is perfect.
Film Series & Festivals
Clark Art Institute
225 South St., Williamstown, Mass., (413) 458-2303. Screenings at 7 PM unless noted
Sept. 20: Andrei Rublev. Oct. 4: The Mill & The Cross. Oct. 18: Caravaggio. Nov. 1: Edvard Munch. Nov. 15: Lust for Life.
Ballet broadcast from London’s National Theatre in HD.. Times as noted.
Sept. 23: George Balanchine’s Jewels (1 PM). Oct. 11: The Last of the Haussmans (2 PM) Oct. 14: Moretti and Monteverdi’s Caravaggio (1 PM). Nov. 1: Timon of Athens (2 PM). Nov. 4: Giselle (1 PM)
Opera from The Met.
Oct. 13: Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore. Oct. 27: Verdi’s Otello. Nov. 10: Ades’s The Tempest. Dec. 1: Mozart’s La Clemenza Di Tito. Dec. 8: Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera. Dec. 15: Verdi’s Aida.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, 276-3921.
Oct. 11: Solaris. Oct. 25: Rebecca. Nov. 8: The Fall. Nov. 15: onedotzero’s code warriors: a decade of processing and future cities.
Crandell Theatre, Main Street, Chatham (and other locations in Chatham), 392-1162, filmcolumbia.com. Call for registration and showtimes.
Oct. 17-21: 13th Annual FilmColumbia Festival. Schedule to be announced soon. Check website for details.
New York State Writers Institute Future of Film Series
Page Hall, 135 Western Ave., University at Albany’s downtown campus, Albany, except as noted. Call for showtimes. 442-5620.
Sept. 21: Lonesome. Oct. 5: Avalon. Nov. 2: Goodbye, Dragon Inn. Nov. 9: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Nov. 30: Day Night Day Night.
Palace Theatre Movie Series
Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton Ave., Albany, 465-4663. All screenings at 7 PM.
Sept. 14: Casablanca. Oct. 15: Rocky Horror Picture Show. Oct. 29: Singin’ In the Rain. Nov. 26: 3 Stooges Film Festival. Dec. 17: A Christmas Story. Dec. 21: It’s a Wonderful Life. Dec. 26: Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
432 State St., Schenectady, 346-6204. Call for showtimes.
Sept. 11-14 and 16: The Amazing Spider-Man. Sept. 19-22: Ruby Sparks. Sept. 22: Side By Side. Sept. 23-26: Sparke. Sept. 29: Turning Pages. Oct. 28: Faust.
Opera, ballet and theater.
Sept. 16, 18: La Bayadere (The Temple Dancer). From the Paris Opera Ballet. Sept 23, 25: Move to Move: Four Contemporary Ballets. From the Nederlands Dans Theater. Oct. 2: La Traviata. From the Opera on Sydney Harbour. Oct. 7, 9: La Sylphide. From the Bolshoi Ballet. Oct. 14-16: L’Italiana in Algeri. From the Teatro Comunale di Bologna.
Film 100: The American Film Institute Essentials. Films will be shown in either the Mainstage or the GE Theatre.
Sept. 17: Yankee Doodle Dandy and Ben Hur. Sept. 24: Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Oct. 8: Unforgiven. Oct. 15: The Apartment. Oct. 29: Bringing Up Baby and The Searchers. Nov. 5: The Last Picture Show. Nov. 19: Goodfellas. Dec. 3: A Place in the Sun. Dec. 17: My Fair Lady. Dec.21: Swing Time.
Saratoga Film Forum Fall Series
The Arts Center, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 584-FILM. Call for showtimes and ticket prices.
Sept. 20-21, 23: To Rome with Love. Sept. 24: A Face in the Crowd. Sept. 27-28, 30: Moonrise Kingdom. Oct. 4-5, 7: Beasts of the Southern Wild. Oct. 11-12, 14: Bully. Oct. 18-19, 21: The Intouchables. Oct. 22: The Exorcist. Oct. 25-26, 28: Safety Not Guaranteed.
Time & Space Limited
434 Columbia St., Hudson, 822-8448. Call for showtimes.
Sept 13-16, 20-23: Girl Model. Sept. 13-14, 16, 22-23: Beau Travail. Sept. 20-22, 27–30: Compliance. Sept. 27-30: Shut Up and Play the Hits.
Live Simulcasts from the National Theatre of London.
Oct. 7: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Oct. 11, 14: The Last of the Haussmans.
Opera from The Met.
Oct. 13, 20, 21: Donizetti’s L’Elisir D’Amore. Oct. 27, Nov. 3, 4: Verdi’s Otello. Nov. 10, 17, 18: Ades’s The Tempest. Dec. 1, 9, 22: Mozart’s La Clemenza Di Tito. Dec. 8, 16, 29: Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera.
Williamstown Film Festival
Various locations in and around Williamstown, Mass., (413) 458-9700, www.williamstownfilmfest.com
Oct. 17-21: Schedule to be announced soon. See website for details.
Woodstock Film Festival
Various locations in and around Woodstock, Rhinebeck, Rosendale. WFF box office is at 13 Rock City Road, Woodstock, (845) 810-0131. woodstockfilmfestival.com. Check website for schedule, venue information and show times.
Oct. 10-14: 13th Annual Woodstock Film Festival. Will feature dozens of premieres and world premieres.
Listings by Molly Eadie