Jack’s 2013 Fall Film Preview

I go to a lot of movies. I generally try to go to the movies about once a week, sometimes more, sometimes I don’t get there. But on average, I get there about every seven days. Film is a bit of a passion of mine, and it’s also a hobby to read about upcoming projects that I think I’d enjoy.

Those of you who know film know that the fourth quarter of every year is where we start to see the quality movies that are pushing for the Academy Awards and others that have done well at film festivals around the world. If you aren’t watching, it’s hard to even be aware of the best of the best before they’ve come and gone – just because you’re an Oscar contender, that doesn’t mean that you have a decent marketing budget or will even make bank at the box office.

So here’s a list of films I personally am looking forward to this fall. Hope this helps some of you (and some of these great projects).

CHEAT SHEET
So, yeah, I listed a lot of films below. Here’s my Top 10 for the season (in order of my excitement – also click links to view trailers):
1. All Is Lost (October 18)
2. Gravity (October 4)
3. The Wolf of Wall Street (November 15)
4. American Hustle (December 13)
5. Nebraska (November 22)
6. The Monuments Men (December 18)
7. Inside Llewyn Davis (December 6)
8. 12 Years a Slave (October 18)
9. Jack Ryan (December 25) (no trailer available yet)
10. Ender’s Game (November 1)

SEPTEMBER

Riddick (R)
September 6
Starring: Vin Diesel, Karl Urban
Directed by: David Twohy
Unfortunately for Riddick, he made his mainstream debut with the studio-neutered Chronicles of Riddick in 2004. Riddick is a much more interesting character than that (see 2000’s Pitch Black), and this film should be closer to his core.

Enough Said (PG-13)
September 20
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
Romantic comedy and one of Gandolfini’s final roles. Worth seeing based on the sparkling chemistry between the two leads in the trailer.

Parkland (PG-13)
September 20
Starring: Zac Efron, Paul Giamatti
Directed by: Peter Landesman Drama following the initial hours after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, focusing on Abraham Zapruder’s film.

Prisoners (Not Yet Rated)
September 20
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
A cerebral vigilante thriller about a man taking the law into his own hands after his daughter is kidnapped. Not at all like Taken; Jackman’s performance is getting a lot of Oscar buzz.

Rush (R)
September 20
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde
Directed by: Ron Howard
Race car film based on a true story. Ron Howard is generally worth watching (not if directing a Dan Brown book) and Hemsworth and Wilde are up and coming stars.

Don John (R)
September 27 Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Character study of a selfish New Jersey body builder. Levitt’s directorial debut was the talk of Park City at Sundance.

OCTOBER

Gravity (PG-13)
October 4
Starring: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney
Directed by: Alfonso Cuaron
Do not do yourself the disservice of dismissing this as an action movie just because it’s set in space. Cuaron is a visionary director who spent seven years developing this film (and the technology needed to shoot it). It’s earned rave reviews at film festivals around the world, and Bullock is a likely Oscar nominee. Just see it.

Runner Runner (R)
October 4
Starring: Justin Timberlake, Ben Affleck
Directed by: Brad Furman
Gambling thriller film. Looks like a lot of fun.

Captain Phillips (PG-13)
October 11 Starring: Tom Hanks
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
The real-life story of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship when it was hijacked by the Somali pirates in 2009. See it for Hanks and Greengrass (who directed the Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum).

Kill Your Darlings (Not Yet Rated)
October 16
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ben Foster
Directed by: John Krokidas
Coming of age of poet Allen Ginsberg in New York City in the 1940’s.

12 Years a Slave (R)
October 18 Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumerbatch
Directed by: Steve McQueen (not that Steve McQueen)
Film about a free black man from the north who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in the south. McQueen’s last feature (Shame) was terrific (if unsettling) and 12 Years a Slave has been the talk of the Toronto Film Festival this weekend.

All is Lost (Not Yet Rated)
October 18
Starring: Robert Redford (LITERALLY NO ONE ELSE IS IN THE MOVIE)
Directed by: J.C. Chandor Survival tale and one-man film. Chandor became a favorite of mine with his first film, Margin Call in 2011, which is now one of my Top 20 favorite films of all time (if you haven’t seen it – rectify that today). Redford, of course, played Sundance so I see all of his stuff – which is always quality. All is Lost has gotten a ton of rave reviews and Redford is a shoe-in for an Oscar nom.

The Counselor (Not Yet Rated)
October 25
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Directed by Ridley Scott, written by Cormac McCarthy with an all-star cast. Okay, it’s about a lawyer drawn into a drug-running operation, but weren’t you in already?

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (Not Yet Rated)
October 25
Starring: Johnny Knoxville
Directed by: Jeff Tremaine
Just kidding – wanted to see if you were paying attention.

NOVEMBER

About Time (R)
November 1
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams
Directed by: Richard Curtis
Written and directed by the same man who did Love Actually, this is an English time travel romantic comedy. I trust Curtis; he makes good films.

Ender’s Game (PG-13)
November 1
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford
Directed by: Gavin Hood
Unlike a lot of people, I actually liked what Gavin Hood did with the last Wolverine movie (the Origins one). Ender’s Game is a personal favorite book of mine, so I’m looking forward to see what he did with this. The trailer looks spot-on.

Last Vegas (PG-13)
November 1
Starring: Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline
Directed by: Jon Turteltaub
Four old guys going to Vegas for a bachelor party. The Hangover this is not (and nor should it be), but these four guys should be a hell of a lot of fun together.

Thor: The Dark World (Not Yet Rated)
November 8
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman
Directed by: Alan Taylor I’m a big fan of The Avengers universe on film, and you know what this is by now. New director Alan Taylor is one of the principles in Game of Thrones.

The Wolf of Wall Street (Not Yet Rated)
November 15
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
The names should be enough to get you interested. Scorsese turns his gangster eye on the banking world. The trailer is AWESOME.

Nebraska (R)
November 22
Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Alexander Payne wrote (or co-wrote) and directed The Descendants, Sideways and Election. Very small budget personal film for Payne (though he didn’t write it) has earned terrific reviews with Dern taking home the Best Actor prize at Cannes.

Oldboy (R)
November 27
Starring: Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley
Directed by: Spike Lee
Lee’s Inside Man is a Top 50 movie for me, and Oldboy looks a lot like that. Remake of the 2003 South Korean cult classic.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
November 29
Starring: Idris Elba, Naome Harris
Directed by: Justn Chadwick
Elba is a top-flight actor who has just been waiting for the right on-screen role (he played The Wire’s Stringer Bell, among others). Mandela should be his break-out.

DECEMBER

Dallas Buyers Club (R)
December 6
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallee
Based on true story of Ron Woodroof in the 80’s , who smuggled meds from oversees after contracting HIV. Lots of Oscar buzz around McConaughey for this one; his third buzzy movie of the year (The Wolf of Wall Street, Mud). McConaughey’s a much better actor than the movies he’s done for the last 10-15 years; glad to see he’s back to doing meaty roles.

Inside Llewyn Davis (R)
December 6
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman
Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen Folk music character study written and directed by the Coen Brothers (Burn After Reading, O Brother Where Art Thou, Fargo, The Big Lebowski). So you know what you can expect: great performances and characters with a lot of charm and quirk.

Out of the Furnace (Not Yet Rated)
December 6
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson
Directed by: Scott Cooper
Mystery thriller set in Pennsylvania with an all-star cast.

American Hustle (Not Yet Rated)
December 13 Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by: David O. Russell
Dramady surrounding Abscam investigations in the 1970’s. Russell was nominated for Silver Linings Playbook last year and the cast is stellar. See this film.

Saving Mr. Banks (PG-13)
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti
Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Feel-good film about the surprising backstory of the making of Mary Poppins, with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.

The Monuments Men (Not Yet Rated)
December 18
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray
Directed by: George Clooney
Worth seeing for the cast alone (also includes Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin and John Goodman). Based on a true story; World War II rescue film of great works of art from behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany.

47 Ronin (Not Yet Rated)
December 25
Starring: Keanu Reeves
Directed by: Carl Rinsch
Keanu Reeves, half Japanese, half English tracker joins a band of ronin warriors in 18th century Japan. Project long in the making and expensive ($175 million), it sounds like a cross between The Matrix and The Last Samurai, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed.

August: Osage County (Not Yet Rated)
December 25 Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts
Directed by: John Wells
Character study of a dysfunctional family in Oklahoma. If nothing else, just see it to see heavyweights Streep and Roberts on screen together.

Jack Ryan (Not Yet Rated)
December 25
Starring: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
A reboot of the popular Tom Clancy character from such films as The Hunt for the Red October and Clear & Present Danger. Loved all four films and sure I’ll enjoy this one; easy to see what you’re getting here.

Labor Day (Not Yet Rated)
December 25
Starring: Kate Winslet, John Brolin
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Brolin is an escaped convict who takes shelter with a single mom (Winslet) who is teetering on the edge. I’ll see almost anything with Winslet, who is one of the best actresses alive today, and Reitman’s films are usually very good (Thank You for Smoking, Juno, Up in the Air).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Not Yet Rated)
December 25
Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig
Directed by: Ben Stiller
Based on the popular short story. Stiller has become a good visual storyteller; looking forward to seeing what he can do with this (his passion project).

Lone Survivor (R)
December 27
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
Directed by: Peter Berg
True story of four Navy SEALs are ambushed by Taliban forces in the Afghan Mountains. Though Berg badly misfired on Battleship last year, his gritty style is generally good.

BIG-NAME FILMS I DIDN’T LIST

Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
The first one got good reviews. I loved the book, and Jennifer Lawrence and director Gary Ross are personal favorites. So I watched it a second time thinking I had missed something the first time. I didn’t; it just wasn’t very good. The visuals were incredibly unimaginative, Lawrence was flat (I now count this as her worst leading performance) and what should have been gut-wrenching emotional scenes were simply procedural. I’m hoping new director Francis Lawrence will fix this, but am not hopeful.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.
I HATE Anchorman. All due respect to Will Ferrell; I think he’s a good performer in supporting roles (Frank the Tank!!), but his brand of comedy is just too much when he’s in leading roles like this one. Just not my cup of tea.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
There was a lot to like in last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. About 90-100 minutes worth. Problem is the film checked in near 170 minutes. Every time something threatened to happen, we hit the brakes on the narrative and did a bunch of not-so-subtle foreshadowing of The Lord of the Rings story. I’m hoping this year’s entry will be better. I’ll still see it, for the stunning visuals if nothing else.