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Thursday, August 09, 2007


The 2007 Fall Movie Preview at Modern Fabulousity

With The Bourne Ultimatum and Stardust making August a pleasant end to a dismal summer at the movies, I've gotten excited about the rest of 2007. We're about to enter the golden season for cinema, with film festivals, the awards race, and studios finally releasing their best. After getting even more excited by this list, I decided to compile my own: what I'm looking forward to, what I'm worried about, and what I'll be avoiding at all costs. To wit:

10. Love in the Time of Cholera (November 16)
One of the best-loved novels of the 20th century has been matched with an extraordinary cinematic varsity squad: director Mike Newell (Enchanted April), cinematographer Affonso Beato (The Queen), and an acting ensemble deep in talent (Liev Schreiber, John Leguizamo, Javier Bardem, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Benjamin Bratt, Laura Harring, and Hector Elizondo.

9. Rendition (October 19)
Terrorism is the big theme of the fall, with a half-dozen releases directly or indirectly pimping the subject for high drama. This film might be the best of the lot; I wasn't really sold until seeing the trailer, which made Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon seem believable onscreen with the ubiquitous Meryl Streep. Expect a tony release strategy...it's opening in the same time slot as The Departed last year, which won the Oscar months later.

8. Charlie Wilson's War (December 25)
I'm ranking this terror-in-Afghanistan political thriller about Rendition, primarily because it's got a higher profile team behind it. It's being directed by a legend (Mike Nichols), written by a legend (Aaron Sorkin), with a cast packed with legends like Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman and the return of Julia Roberts. And it's also based on a well-regarded hit bestseller. Will all of that pay off? I hope so...otherwise, it'll be a big disappointment.

7. The Golden Compass (December 7)
You've seen the trailer, you've seen the Narnia and Lord of the Rings comparisons, and you've seen Nicole Kidman in that killer gold dress. I can add to that: the book's great, a Harry Potter-ish tale for a more discerning audience. And I've been waiting for Chris Weitz, the increasingly assured director of About A Boy and In Good Company, to have his breakthrough film to the A-List. This may be it.

6. Shoot 'Em Up (September 7)
How can this plot line possibly miss: a gunman, played by Clive Owen, has to deliver a woman's baby in an emergency...then has to protect the baby from other assassins? It's Three Men and a Baby and a Glock. I love it. And with Monica Bellucci and cinematic good-luck charm Paul Giamatti by his side, I'd watch Mr. Dreamboat do just about anything.

5. Lust, Caution (September 28)
What do you do for a follow-up to Brokeback Mountain? If you're Ang Lee, you grab the most talented Asian actor working today (Tony Leung) and leave behind Americana entirely...off to a WWII spy thriller set in Shanghai. For art-house fans, it simple can't miss. Mainstream success, however, is another thing entirely.

4. No Country For Old Men (November 9)
The Coen Brothers' latest jumped onto must-see lists everywhere last May when it became the most-buzzed project at Cannes. The early word is incredibly positive on this story about a botched drug heist and the battle over its remains. Tommy Lee Jones and Javier Bardem star...doesn't that seem like perfect Coen casting?

3. The Savages (December 26)
Why is this little film, that came and went at Sundance with little more than a whimper, so high on my must-see list? Because it's got my favorite actors working today as its leads: Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman. This sibling drama looks to be an actor's showcase, and there's an endless supply of Broadway talent backing them up (Margo Martindale, Philip Bosco, Debra Monk and David Zayas among them). In other words, The Savages hits me right in the sweet spot.

2. Elizabeth: The Golden Age (October 12)
Like many people, I adored Elizabeth, the film that launched Cate Blanchett onto the world stage. It was a near-impeccable costume drama, grounded by a great actress turning in what still remains the role of a lifetime. Director Shekar Kapur has never been as good as he was with this material; with the team all back together, how can anyone be less that salivating for the Queen's return?

1. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (December 21)
What, you thought I was gonna choose something else? Sondheim's greatest musical will (hopefully) shock and enthrall those who aren't aware of its macabre story. The cast, led by Johnny Depp, is unimpeachable...but can director Tim Burton actually make a musical that terrifies us, and keep his tongue out of his cheek? This is the danger of expectations. Sweeney will be a masterpiece if they get it right, but a disaster if they get it wrong. And there's not a lot in-between.

And here's what I think of everything else:

The Next Five
(Plus One):

There Will Be Blood (December 26)
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (September 21)
Gone Baby Gone (October 19)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (December 14)
Silk (September 14)
I Could Never Be Your Woman (November 9)

Sleeper Hit Predictions:
Atonement (December 7)
Margot at the Wedding (November 16)
The Other Boleyn Girl (December 21)
Sleuth (October 12)
We Own The Night (October 12)

Everyone Else Is Excited, But I'm Not:
American Gangster (November 2)
The Darjeeling Limited (September 29)
Eastern Promises (September 14)
The Kingdom (September 28)
Michael Clayton (October 5)

Excited, But Scared They're Gonna Suck:
Across The Universe (September 14)
Beowulf (November 16)
Cassandra's Dream (November 30)
I Am Legend (December 14)
I'm Not There (November 21)
The Invasion (August 17)
Lions For Lambs (November 9)
Southland Tales (November 9)
3:10 To Yuma (September 7)

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