Fall Films worth waiting for

At long last, what seemed like an Endless Summer is over — at the movies,
anyway.

It’s time to put aside all that comic book reading that we call “research,”
sweep the word “sequel” aside and get serious about movies, because “serious
movie season” is here.

Serious comedies, serious dramas, serious thrillers, serious “true story”
adaptations, these are the movies that will swell the ranks of Oscar contenders
between now and Thanksgiving.

That’s when the holiday season of films rolls out, packed with sequels —
another “Night at the Museum,” another “Hunger Games,” another “Hot Tub Time
Machine” — popcorn pictures, action pics. So we’ll leave “Exodus” and “Into the
Woods” and such for the holidays.

But fall films? They’re a most intriguing lot this year, and here are a few
titles worth anticipating.

stellarNow that Matthew McConaughey’s got his Oscar, it’s time for this ol’boy to
save the world in “Interstellar” (Nov. 7). It’s a Christopher Nolan sci-fi
adventure about explorers sent to find a place humanity can flee to, now that
we’ve ruined the Earth. This has to be more cerebral than the trailers, which
are a tad on the glum side.

“This is Where I leave You” (Sept. 19) brings Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam
Driver, Rose Byrne, Abigail Spencer, Dax Shepard and others together under
matriarch Jane Fonda’s roof after the family patriarch dies. The most promising
Shawn “Night at the Museum” Levy comedy ever.

foxcatcherFoxcatcher” (Nov. 14) is director Bennett Miller’s version of the true story
of an Olympic wrestler allowed to train in a DuPont heir’s house, and the
tragedy that ensued. Channing Tatum wrestles, Steve Carell takes a SERIOUS turn
to the dark side as John DuPont, with Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna
Miller also in the cast.

“Laggies” (Oct. 24) is worth looking forward to simply because it has Sam
Rockwell as the responsible “adult” forced to deal with his daughter (Chloe
Grace Moretz), who has befriended a commitment-phobic loser (Keira Knightley)
and allowed her to move in.

The trailers to “The Theory of Everything” (Nov. 7) suggest a sugar-coated
take on the great Stephen Hawking’s triumphant/tragic life. But surely the dark
stuff made it into this bio-drama, which stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity
Jones.

“The Maze Runner” (Sept. 19 ) reminds us that, yeah, there’s another “Hunger
Games” coming. Because there’s always another “Hunger Games” (“Mockingjay, Part
1″, Nov. 21) coming. But this film of the James Dashner novel promises to be a
new variation on the kids fighting for the sci-fi future formula. This time,
they’re dropped into this mysterious game zone, and forced to try and escape…a
Maze!”

The whole “Year of Michael Keaton” thing kind of fizzled when “Need for
Speed” went nowhere. But Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu’s “Birdman” (Oct. 17) has
him playing a has-been star of superhero films who struggles to revive his
career with a Broadway play. Naomi Watts, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis
co-star. It’ll be dark, but will it be funny?

book“Book of Life” (Oct. 17), produced by Guillermo del Toro, is a Latin-infused
pre-Halloween “Day of the Dead” romp done in a stop-motion (CGI) style, and is
the best looking and most promising animated film of the fall. But “The
Boxtrolls” (Sept. 26), a tale of a boy raised by trash-collection trolls, is
from producers of “ParaNorman,” so fingers crossed. Disney’s “Big Hero 6” (Nov.
7) is a CGI proximation of anime, a more fanboy-oriented action pic, based on a
comic book.

“Gone Girl” (Oct. 3) is David “Zodiac” Fincher’s new thriller, about a man
(Ben Affleck) whose wife (Rosamund Pike) has been kidnapped, and the media
firestorm that starts to point the finger at him as possibly the perpetrator.

“Fury” (Oct. 17), from David “Training Day” Ayer, is his WWII combat picture
with Brad Pitt playing a grizzled sergeant named Wardaddy leading his tank crew
behind enemy lines. Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman compete for Wardaddy’s
attention.

“A Most Violent Year” (Nov. 17) is a period piece from J.C. Chandor (“Margin
Call,” “All is Lost”), a thriller set in hyper-violent “American Hustle” era New
York, with Jessica Chastain, Oscar Isaac and an immigrant (David Oyelowo).

For a complete list of EVERYTHING opening between now and Thanksgiving, go to Comingsoon.net, which has the most thorough release slate on the Web. It’s where I go.

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