What to Look Forward to In … October 2009

29 08 2009

We give the movie industry late August and all of September to recover from the busy summer season, but in October, it starts to kick it into gear again.  Unfortunately, my most anticipated movie in October, Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island,” was pushed back to February.  But the month still puts forth several great movies for all tastes.

October 2

This week, I can promise you that I will be throwing my money not at a new release, but at the re-release of two staples of my childhood.  “Toy Story” and “Toy Story 2” will hit theaters again for a few weeks.  1 ticket.  2 movies. 3-D.  Need I say more?

The week also gives us “The Invention of Lying,” which could be a sleeper comedy hit. The movie stars Ricky Gervais, who was the lead of the British version of “The Office.” Around this time last year, he starred in “Ghost Town,” a comedy with a heart that you need to go rent now, that was dismissed by audiences. I have high hopes for his latest, in which he plays a man who tells the world’s first lie on an alternate Earth. He continues to wield the power to suit his own selfish needs. The movie also features Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, and the always funny Tina Fey.

And not to mention, the week delivers Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut, “Whip It.” The movie stars the irresistible Ellen Page (“Juno”) as Bliss, a teenager weary of the beauty pageants that she is forced into by her parents. One day, she discovers the world of roller derby and she finds the happiness that she has been so desperately seeking. The movie boasts a hilarious supporting cast including Kristen Wiig (“SNL”), Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden, and Barrymore herself.

And it just keeps getting better.  The Coen Brothers (“No Country for Old Men”) are back with their latest feature, “A Serious Man;” they also wrote the original screenplay.  The movie seems to be a big risk.  It features no marquee names other than the Coens themselves. The trailer is cryptic, giving no indication of what to expect from the movie. I don’t mind an aura of mystique, but this is an aura of confusion. The movie is being marketed as a dark comedy, and I pray that it is the polar opposite of the Coens’ last foray into the genre, “Burn After Reading,” which I didn’t find funny at all. The movie starts in limited release and then will slowly expand from New York and Los Angeles.

The other major release of the week is “Zombieland,” a horror-comedy with Woody Harrelson.

October 9

The only exciting movie hitting theaters across the country this weekend is “Couples Retreat.”  A comedy centered around four couples at a luxurious tropical resort that is revealed to be a marriage therapy clinic, it appears to provide something for everyone.  It has pretty women (Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis) AND funny guys (Jason Bateman, Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau).  The movie is the directorial debut of Ralph Billingsley, best known for playing Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” and the screenplay is written by Vaughn and Favreau.  Hopefully it can provide some good laughs in a season usually replete of hilarious comedies.

Opening in limited release is “An Education,” a movie that has been garnering massive Oscar buzz for months now.  Most of it has centered on the breakout performance of lead actress Carey Mulligan.  In the movie, she stars as Jenny, a 17-year-old in 1960s England who is set on going to Oxford.  However, an older gentleman (Peter Sarsgaard) comes along and sweeps her off of her feet, introducing her to a lifestyle that she immediately loves.  But reality bites, and Jenny is left at a crucial crossroads.  The movie has also generated buzz around supporting actors Alfred Molina and Rosamund Pike (the red-haired villain of “Die Another Day”).  Raves are also flying in for the screenplay, written by author Nick Hornby, writer of “About a Boy” and “Fever Pitch.”  And with the 10 nominees for Best Picture at this year’s Oscars, many people say it has a good chance of claiming one of the ten.

October 16

Finally.  This weekend will bring the long-anticipated movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s beloved children’s book “Where the Wild Things Are.”  And unlike “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” this looks like it will stay somewhat along the story of its source material.  The movie is cloaked in a fair amount of mystique, but most fans of the book are excited for the direction it is heading.  The film features an exciting collaboration between quirky director Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich”) and renowned writer Dave Eggers (“Away We Go”).  The technology, which involved the actors walking around in giant suits while filming, stays true to the look of Sendak’s book but gives them some upgrades.  The cast is phenomenal, featuring Catherine Keener, Forest Whitaker, Chris Cooper, and Mark Ruffalo.  The movie has even been talked about as having what it takes to be nominated for Best Picture.  But I only see this is as plausible if it can assuage the die-hard fans of the book.  I think they will be, because my entire theater burst out in applause after watching the trailer at the midnight showing of “Harry Potter.”  Regardless of what anyone thinks, I’m going to see it.

In limited release, “New York, I Love You,” opens.  I wouldn’t feature this trailer or even have thought twice about the movie had a good friend of mine not sent me the link to the trailer.  Even though it is being distributed by a no-name distributor, it packs so much star power that it could knock you out.  The movie is comprised of 11 short films with two things in common: love and New York City.  Writers include Natalie Portman and the late Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”).  Directors include Portman, Mira Nair (“Amelia”), and Brett Ratner (“X-Men: The Last Stand”).  Actors include Orlando Bloom, Bradley Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Blake Lively, and Rachel Bilson, just to name a few.

The weekend also brings “Step Father,” a horror movie hoping to capitalize on the need for screams around Halloween, and “Law Abiding Citizen,” a thriller starring Gerard Butler as a psychotic killer and Jamie Foxx as a cop.  (NOTE: “The Road” was pushed back to November 25th.)

October 23

The only movie that looks intriguing to me is “Amelia,” a biopic of the famous female aviator that chronicles her rise to fame and her life.  Earhart is played by Hilary Swank, who has already won two Oscars in her somewhat brief career.  Some people, including myself, will scream if she wins three Oscars before Meryl Streep.  The movie has an impressive supporting cast that includes Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, and Virginia Madsen.  From the trailer, I don’t think we are in for anything special.  In my humble opinion, it looks like another Oscar bait film that is destined to play every weekend on Hallmark Channel and every week in a middle school American History class.

And even more scary movies hit the screens this weekend, giving us our now obligatory annual installment of “Saw,” and “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant,” based on the popular teen book series.  Two animated movies are also entering release.  Something old with yet another re-release of Tim Burton’s haunting “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in 3-D, and something new with “Astro Boy,” based on an anime series.

October 30

We wrap up the month of October with the unfortunate release of Michael Jackson’s rehearsal footage for his “This Is It” concerts.  The film will attract die-hard Jackson fans and all those curious about what the King of Pop was working on at the time of his death.  It will only show for two weeks (so they claim), and I hope that it will be a moving experience for all those like myself who sincerely miss Jackson and his artistry.  At this time, no official trailer has been released, but you can see a clip of the rehearsal footage that was released to CNN here.  (UPDATE: A trailer has been released!  Now I’m actually kind of excited.)

For all those “Napoleon Dynamite” fans out there, the director has his latest attempt at a movie with a plot with “Gentlemen Broncos” opening in limited release. After seeing “Nacho Libre,” my opinion is that he should just stick to randomness. (UPDATE: “Youth in Revolt” has been pushed back to 2010.)

What are you eagerly anticipating in October? Is anyone dying to see “An Education” or “New York, I Love You” after reading about it?  Take the poll at the bottom and comment … the movie with the most votes gets its trailer featured on the site at the beginning of the month!

Until the next reel,

Marshall

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