2012 Fall movie preview

 

‘The Master’ leads this year’s crop of Oscar hopefuls

rrodriguez@MiamiHerald.com

The kids are back in school, the superhero pictures are (almost) all gone and the Venice, Toronto and New York Film Festivals are about to begin. It’s time for movies to lure adults into the theater again: Paul Thomas Anderson, Steven Spielberg, Ang Lee, Ben Affleck, Sam Mendes and Andrew Dominik all have new films to share. Of course, there will be plenty for kids and teens, too, including another Twilight movie. Here is a list of the 50-plus films heading our way between now and Thanksgiving. Dates are subject to change:

SEPT. 7

Bachelorette: Three former high school mean girls (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher) are asked to be bridesmaids at the wedding of a friend (Rebel Wilson) they used to taunt as teenagers.

For a Good Time Call: In order to afford a New York City apartment, two college friends and roommates (Ari Graynor and Lauren Miller) start a thriving phone-sex business.

The Cold Light of Day: A tourist (Henry Cavill) vacationing in Spain goes on the run after his family is kidnapped and some sinister agents (including Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver) start asking him about a briefcase he knows nothing about.

The Words: Bradley Cooper is a frustrated writer who makes the find of a lifetime — an award-worthy manuscript, unpublished and unsigned, tucked away inside an old briefcase. Jeremy Irons is the stranger who shows up after the book has been published to great success, claiming the work is his.

SEPT. 14

Arbitrage: Richard Gere is a fraudulent hedge fund manager trying to keep up pretenses as his fortunes start dwindling and the cops are on his trail.

Chicken with Plums: A master violinist (Mathieu Amalric) loses his will to live after his wife smashes his prized musical instrument.

Searching for Sugar Man: Documentary about the search by two music fans to track down the folk singer Rodriguez, who vanished in the 1970s.

Resident Evil: Retribution: Poor Milla Jovovich, still fighting zombies.

Finding Nemo 3D: What’s arguably Pixar’s best movie returns, this time in three dimensions.

SEPT 21

End of Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are two police officers marked for murder by a drug cartel in the latest gritty cop drama from writer-director David Ayer ( Training Day, Harsh Times).

Samsara: The latest eye-popping documentary by Ron Fricke (who directed Baraka and served as cinematographer on Koyaanisqatsi) was shot over a period of five years in 25 countries, uncovering visual wonders both natural and man-made.

Hara Kiri: Death of a Samurai: The unpredictable Takashi Miike ( 13 Assassins) returns to the samurai genre with this drama about a disgraced swordsman seeking moral redemption.

Side By Side: Keanu Reeves produced this documentary that examines what the movie industry stands to gain — and lose — with the extinction of 35mm film. Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Steven Soderbergh, David Lynch and David Fincher are among the big names who weigh in.

Compliance: The staff at a fast-food restaurant cooperates with a police officer who calls the store and claims one of the employees may have committed a theft.

Dredd 3D: Karl Urban is the futuristic cop (previously played by Sylvester Stallone in 1995) who is judge, jury and executioner all in one.

House at the End of the Street: A mother and daughter (Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence) move to a new home and discover the girl who lived next door murdered her parents.

The Master: A new movie by Paul Thomas Anderson ( Boogie Nights, There Will Be Blood) is always cause for excitement. But this story about a World War II veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls under the sway of the charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) of a faith group looks exceptional, even by Anderson’s standards. Frankly, we can’t wait.

Trouble with the Curve: Although he said Gran Torino would be his final screen performance, Clint Eastwood apparently changed his mind to play an aging baseball scout who takes his daughter (Amy Adams) along on his last recruiting trip. Justin Timberlake plays the young ballplayer who just might be good enough for the big leagues. Directed by Robert Lorenz, Eastwood’s longtime assistant director.

SEPT. 28

Hotel Transylvania: Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Andy Samberg provide the voices for this animated comedy about a boy who discovers Dracula is real — and falls in love with his daughter.

Looper: A time-travel movie like none you’ve seen before. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play the young and old versions of the same character in writer-director Rian Johnson’s surprising, exciting sci-fi adventure set in the near future.

Won’t Back Down: Frustrated by bureaucracy and politics, two mothers (Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal) decide to do something to save their kids’ failing inner-city school.

OCT. 5

Butter: When her husband retires, a woman (Jennifer Garner) decides to keep his 15-year streak as Iowa’s champion butter carver going by entering the annual competition herself. Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry and Olivia Wilde are among her rivals trying to outdo her butter skills.

Frankenweenie: Tim Burton returns to his roots with this 3D, black-and-white feature-length adaptation of a famed short he made early in his career, about a boy who manages to bring his beloved pet dog back from the dead, with a few unexpected consequences.

The Paperboy: A camp classic or a misunderstood drama? That was the debate that raged around director Lee Daniels’ adaptation of Pete Dexter’s novel when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Matthew McConaughey is a Miami journalist who returns to his home turf of the South Florida swamplands to investigate a story. His younger brother (Zak Efron), disgraced after having been kicked out of college, has been reduced to delivering newspapers for a living. Nicole Kidman, John Cusack and Macy Gray play some of the other residents of the town, where everyone is behaving a bit loonily.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower: A shy freshman (Logan Lerman) is adopted by two popular seniors (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) who help ease him out of his shell.

Pitch Perfect: Anna Kendrick is a college freshman who leads her all-girls singing group in a school competition against the boys’ team. You know, like Glee, but in college.

Sinister: A novelist (Ethan Hawke) discovers a box of creepy videos in his new home that reveal how the previous family died there. Then, strange things start to happen.

Taken 2: Last time, they took Liam Neeson’s daughter hostage. This time, they’ve kidnapped Neeson himself. Are these bad guys trying to get themselves killed or what?

OCT. 12

Argo: Director Ben Affleck ( Gone Baby Gone, The Town) continues to stretch as a filmmaker with this fact-based story about an attempt to rescue six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979.

Here Comes the Boom: A biology teacher (Kevin James) becomes a mixed martial arts fighter to raise funds and save the school’s music program — and discovers he’s pretty good at beating other guys up.

Seven Psychopaths: Martin McDonagh, writer-director of In Bruges, returns with this violent comedy about a screenwriter (Colin Farrell) whose wacky friends (Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell) kidnap a gangster’s dog. There will be blood.

VHS: This anthology of found-footage horror movies directed by some of the genre’s most promising newcomers (including Ti West, David Bruckner and Adam Wingard) scared the bejesus out of audiences at the Sundance Film Festival.

OCT. 19

Alex Cross: Tyler Perry sets aside the Madea drag to play the detective of James Patterson’s best-selling novels, on the trail of a psychotic serial killer (Matthew Fox).

Killing Them Softly: Brad Pitt reunites with writer-director Andrew Dominik (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) for this violent drama about a mob enforcer investigating the heist hijinks that went down during a high-stakes poker game. James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta and Richard Jenkins are among the possible suspects.

Paranormal Activity 4: More spooky things go bump in the night at sudden moments.

Madrid 1987: Spanish director David Trueba explores generational and cultural differences with this witty two-character drama about a cranky newspaper reporter (the great José Sacristán) and a college student (María Valverde) who get locked inside a tiny bathroom.

OCT. 26

Chasing Mavericks: A surfer (Jonny Weston) embarks on a quest to ride the dangerous Northern California waves known as Mavericks.

Cloud Atlas: The fall’s most ambitious (and craziest, in a good way) film is an adaptation of David Mitchell’s seemingly unfilmable novel, with Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Susan Sarandon and Hugh Grant playing multiple roles in interlocking stories set during different time periods. Tom Tykwer ( Run Lola Run) and Larry and Lana Wachowski ( The Matrix) shared the directing duties.

Fun Size: Victoria Justice stars as a teen planning to attend a big Halloween bash when she’s asked by her parents to look after her little brother — who almost immediately disappears.

The Sessions: The Sundance crowd raved about this drama about a man in an iron lung (John Hawkes) who asks his priest (William H. Macy) and his therapist (Helen Hunt) to help him lose his virginity before he dies.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D: After the death of her father, a girl is drawn into an alternate universe replete with monsters and spirits.

NOV. 2

A Late Quartet: A renowned string quartet (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener, Jeremy Northam and Christopher Walken) try to keep it together despite illness, death, egos and affairs.

Café de Flore: The stories of two seemingly unrelated characters — a single mother raising her son in the 1960s and a middle-aged DJ raising his family in the present-day — intersect in a beautiful and unexpected manner in the latest from Canadian director Jean-Marc Vallée ( C.R.A.Z.Y.)

Flight: Director Robert Zemeckis’ first live-action movie since 2000’s Cast Away stars Denzel Washington as an airline pilot whose past comes back to haunt him after he becomes a hero for saving the lives of his passengers during a disastrous flight.

The Man with the Iron Fists: Wu-Tang Clan member RZA makes his directorial debut with this martial arts adventure (co-written by Hostel’s Eli Roth) about a blacksmith (Russell Crowe) who must help defend his small village from attackers in feudal China. Kanye West and The Black Keys contributed to the soundtrack, and Quentin Tarantino served as a consultant. Oh, and it’s also in 3D. How’s that for eclectic?

This Must Be the Place: After the death of his father, a retired rock star (Sean Penn) living in Dublin returns to the United States to track down the Nazi war criminal his dad was chasing down.

Wreck-It Ralph: The villain (voiced by John C. Reilly) of an old-school 1980s arcade video game (think Donkey Kong, only not exactly) tires of always being the bad guy and starts to sneak into other video games to play the hero. Judging by the trailer, this one is going to be huge.

NOV. 9

Skyfall: Expectations are high for the 23rd installment in the James Bond series, with Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney joining the returning Daniel “007” Craig for director Sam Mendes ( American Beauty), who is trying his hand at action for the first time.

NOV. 16

Lincoln: Director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner adapt Doris Kearns Goodwin’s critically acclaimed book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Daniel Day-Lewis stars as the 16th president during his final months in office. Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader and Tommy Lee Jones round out the supporting cast. Can you say “Oscars all over the place?”

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2: How is the vampire Bella (Kristen Stewart) adapting to motherhood and marriage to her longtime beau Edward (Robert Pattinson)? Why is the werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) so fascinated by their infant daughter? And what will happen when the legion of elder vampires known as the Voltari come to claim the couple’s baby? Bill Condon, who directed the previous film, returns for the final installment in the record-setting franchise.

Holy Motors: Madman Leos Carax ( The Lovers on the Bridge) wrote and directed this surreal fantasy about a man who assumes various identities, from father to monster, over the course of a single night. The crowds at Cannes loved it.

NOV. 21

Life of Pi: Ang Lee ( Brokeback Mountain) adapts Yann Martel’s best-selling novel about the son of an Indian zookeeper who is stranded on a lifeboat with an assortment of wild animals, including a 450-pound Bengal tiger. The trailer is astonishing.

Red Dawn: Long-delayed remake of the 1980s staple about a group of teens defending the United States from a foreign invasion. Chris Hemsworth, Adrianne Palicki, Josh Hutcherson and Josh Peck are among the young soldiers on the front line. Instead of Russia, the enemy is now North Korea.

Rise of the Guardians: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and other legendary titans must join forces to fight off an evil spirit that threatens to spoil the innocence of children the world over. Chris Pine, Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin and Jude Law provide the voices.

Silver Linings Playbook: David O. Russell ( The Fighter, Three Kings) directs this drama about a former schoolteacher (Bradley Cooper) who tries to move on with his life after a stint in a mental institution. Robert De Niro plays his dad, Julia Stiles is his ex-wife and Jennifer Lawrence is a mysterious girl who changes everything.

Read more Reeling with Rene Rodriguez stories from the Miami Herald

  •  
Dad (Ethan Hawke, right) plays around with his son (Ellar Coltrane) in a scene from “Boyhood.”

    Boyhood (R)

    Contrary to most dramas, which tend to dwell on traumatic or seismic events, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood argues that life is a compilation of small, everyday moments, an accumulation of the feelings and thoughts and emotions we start to gather from the time we are children. Shot over the span of 12 years, with the cast getting together for a few days annually to shoot some scenes, the movie charts the growth of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from the ages of 5 to 18. Mason has an older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director’s daughter) and he has two loving parents, Mom (Patricia Arquette) and Dad (Ethan Hawke), who are divorced and live apart. Their relationship can be contentious at times, but they both care deeply for their kids.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">‘Life Itself’:</span> Gene Siskel, left, and Roger Ebert get into one of their countless arguments during the taping of their TV show.

    Life Itself (R)

    There are scholars who blame Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel for dumbing down film criticism with their thumbs-up, thumbs-down approach, the same way they blame Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for ruining movies with the success of Jaws and Star Wars. But Siskel and Ebert accomplished just the opposite: They popularized criticism and introduced it to the masses via their PBS show in which they spent a lot of time debating (and fighting) over movies before delivering their final, yes-or-no verdict. The first version of their show, which was titled Sneak Previews and aired on PBS in the late 1970s, led me to read Pauline Kael and Film Comment and American Film and the Miami Herald’s late, great Bill Cosford as a kid. Suddenly, my nascent love of movies blew up: Movies weren’t just something you watched for entertainment. Sometimes, there was a lot to find beneath their surface.

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Caesar (Andy Serkis) leads a war against mankind in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)

    Yawn of the Planet of the Apes — excuse me, Dawn — has a big-budget sheen, a few terrific action setpieces and some of the most jaw-dropping CGI effects to date: You will believe these apes are real (although some of them are actors wearing costumes).

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