Sept. 01--There's a nip in the air and a faintly russet tone to the leaves, which can mean only one thing: The fall movie season is upon us. Here's a sampling of some of the titles soon on display at local multiplexes and art houses; note that all dates are tentative, and can change more quickly than popcorn prices.
Movies shot right here
Last seen at the Seattle International Film Festival this past spring, local filmmaker Lynn Shelton's "Touchy Feely" opens here Sept. 13. It's an ensemble piece, starring Rosemarie DeWitt as a massage therapist who develops an aversion to touch, Josh Pais as her dentist brother, Ellen Page as his daughter and the city of Seattle as ... well, see for yourself. For more Northwest close-ups, check out Northwest Film Forum's annual Local Sightings Film Festival, opening Sept. 27 with Seattle filmmaker Brendan Flynn's black-and-white drama "Walking Against the Wind" and continuing through Oct. 3 with an array of films from our own backyard.
The serious movie season begins now, with the usual pre-Oscar parade of not-so-young actors battling severe challenges. To wit: Robert Redford alone on a damaged ship at sea ("All Is Lost," Oct. 18), Tom Hanks facing Somali pirates ("Captain Phillips," Oct. 11), and Bruce Dern traveling from Montana to Nebraska to claim a lottery prize ("Nebraska," Nov. 22.) (Fun fact: "Nebraska," directed by Alexander Payne, is written by Northwest native and "Almost Live" alum Bob Nelson.)
Benedict Cumberbatch portrays WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in "The Fifth Estate" (Oct. 18), directed by Bob Condon. Also from real life (another perennial Oscar edge): "12 Years a Slave," starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free man sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War years, opens Oct. 18, and Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsmith star in Ron Howard's race-car-driver drama "Rush," written by Peter Morgan ("The Queen") and opening Sept. 27. Matthew McConaughey gets scarily skinny (don't take my word for it; watch the trailer) as an HIV-positive patient in the 1980s in "Dallas Buyers Club," opening Nov. 1.
Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo DiCaprio yet again, this time as a notorious stockbroker in "The Wolf of Wall Street" (Nov. 15). Academy favorites George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are loose in outer space in Alfonso Cuaron's "Gravity" (Oct. 4), whose trailer is already scaring the hell out of me (note to self: don't go to outer space), and Ridley Scott directs "The Counselor" (Oct. 25), a drug-trafficking thriller written by Cormac McCarthy and starring Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Oscar winners Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem.
For the kids
Should you feel the need to have "Under the Sea" playing in your head (yes, it's in mine now, and so very catchy), note that "The Little Mermaid" will be back in theaters in 3D Sept. 13 -- or, if you prefer to be stuck on "Follow the Yellow Brick Road," "The Wizard of Oz" pops up in 3D Sept. 20. Disney's also got something new for the season: "Frozen" (Nov. 27), an animated adventure set in a wintry wonderland and featuring, according to Disney PR, a "hilarious snowman." "Free Birds," which features the spot-on voice-casting of Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson as a pair of turkeys seeking freedom from Thanksgiving tyranny, opens Nov. 1, and the creatively named sequel "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" comes to the screen Sept. 27.
A whole new generation can get freaked out on prom night with "Carrie" (Oct. 18), Kimberly Peirce's new take on the Stephen King novel, starring Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role and Julianne Moore as her very unsettling mother. James Wan, who terrified moviegoers this summer (including yours truly, who's still recovering, thanks very much) with "The Conjuring," brings more haunted house chills with "Insidious: Chapter 2" (Sept. 13). "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," delayed seven years because of distribution problems, finally comes to the screen Oct. 11. "We Are What We Are," a family-secret thriller shown as a midnight movie at Sundance this year, arrives Oct. 11. And "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa" (Oct. 25), billed as "the most insane hidden camera road trip ever captured on camera, makes this list because, well, it sounds really scary.
By the book
Those wondering why the film version of Judy Blume's "Tiger Eyes" didn't make it to Seattle screens this summer need only wait a few more weeks: it plays Northwest Film Forum starting Oct. 25. On the best-seller front: "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," complete with Jennifer Lawrence, vicious teens and some weird costumes, arrives Nov. 22, and "The Book Thief," starring Geoffrey Rush and based on Markus Zusak's World War II-era novel, comes to the screen Nov. 15. Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" (Nov. 1) features the impressive cast of Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, Asa Butterfield and Ben Kingsley, while Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer star in "The Family" (Sept. 13), based on Tonino Benacquista's Mafia novel "Malavita."
Shakespeare's represented on screen this season with a contemporary version of "Romeo and Juliet" (Oct. 11) scripted by Julian "Downton Abbey" Fellows (well, it does have servants in it) and starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth as the star-crossed lovers. And those burning to know more about reclusive author J.D. Salinger ("Catcher in the Rye") will be eager for the debut of "Salinger" (Sept. 6), a documentary profiling the late writer.
As always, fall brings an assortment of intriguing real-life stories. Just a sampling: documentaries about the Port Townsend-based artist and poet James Broughton ("Big Joy," Nov. 1), America's widening economic gap ("Inequality for All," Sept. 27), a tragic expedition up K2 ("The Summit", Oct. 4), an IMAX exploration of one of the world's oldest cities ("Jerusalem," Sept. 28), a star boxer's fight to defend his religious and political beliefs ("The Trials of Muhammad Ali," Nov. 1), a small-town music studio that changed the world ("Muscle Shoals," Oct. 18), and an unsettled alternate-reality game ("The Institute," Oct. 18).
Make 'em laugh
On the rom-com front, love brews in a microbrewery in "Drinking Buddies" (Sept. 6), on a woman's air-miles-fueled quest to meet Mr. Right before her sister's wedding in "Baggage Claim" (Sept. 27), in a sex-addiction rehab program in "Thanks for Sharing" (Sept. 20), during time-travel in London in "About Time" (Nov. 8) and between a woman and her best pal's ex-husband in "Enough Said" (Sept. 27) -- the last of which features, sadly, the last major screen performance by the late James Gandolfini (opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus).
Meanwhile, on the gentlemen-hanging-out-together-getting-into-trouble front, we have "Last Vegas" (Nov. 1) in which the jolly crew of Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline hang out in Vegas, and "The Best Man Holiday" (Nov. 15), with Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs gathering for Christmas. "Delivery Man" (Nov. 22) features Vince Vaughn coping with having fathered a lot of children; "Don Jon" (Sept. 27) has Joseph Gordon-Levitt coping with having been with a lot of women (fun fact: he wrote and directed the film, too).
Action & noise
Hugh Jackman goes all Liam Neeson-ish (think "Taken") when his daughter is kidnapped in "Prisoners" (Sept. 20). Josh Brolin is determined to find the men who kidnapped him long ago in "Oldboy" (Nov. 27), Spike Lee's remake of the 2003 Korean film. "Blue Caprice" (Sept. 27), which premiered at Sundance, stars Isaiah Washington and depicts the Beltway sniper attacks of 2002.
Chris Hemsworth saves Natalie Portman from some dreadful fate in "Thor: The Dark World" (Nov. 8). Nine years after "The Chronicles of Riddick," Vin Diesel's facing aliens again in the rather more minimally titled "Riddick" (Sept. 6).
And Sylvester Stallone has his fingers in two action movies this fall: he wrote "Homefront" (Nov. 27), with James Franco as a DEA agent facing off against a drug lord, and stars in "Escape Plan" (Oct. 18) alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. (This movie is not, for the record, "The Expendables 3." Although, for the record, there is a "The Expendables 3," coming next year, and presumably for all of eternity.)
Shouldn't there be more musicals this season? Shouldn't there be more musicals in general, all the time? Didn't a lot of people Hear The People Sing in "Les Miz"? Anyway, all we've got this season on the tuneful front are two movies. "Black Nativity" (Nov. 27) is a holiday-themed musical story based on a play by Langston Hughes and directed by Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou"), and starring Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Jennifer Hudson. (If the title sounds familiar, you may know the stage version of the show; a holiday tradition in Seattle for many years.) And "Metallica Through the Never" (Sept. 27) mixes concert footage with a fantasy tale of a young roadie's travels through a post-apocalyptic world.
And finally, fall's a busy time for film festivals: mark your calendars for Cinerama's Big Screen 70mm Film Festival (Sept. 13-29, www.cinerama.com), Port Townsend Film Festival (Sept. 20-22, www.ptfilmfest.org), Ride the Night: The 36th Annual Film Noir series at Seattle Art Museum (Sept. 26-Dec. 5, www.seattleartmuseum.org), the Seattle Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Oct. 10-20, www.threedollarbillcinema.com) and the Friday Harbor Film Festival (Oct. 11-13, www.fhff.org)
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or email@example.com
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