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Friday, August 27, 2010

Fall film preview, 2: Movies that might probably be good

Just because summer is ending, doesn't mean the sequels and remakes are going away. Among the big movies this fall are Oliver Stone's Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Tron: Legacy and the Coen Brothers' True Grit - which they emphasize is not a retread of the John Wayne movie, but a fresh adaptation of the original novel. The cineplex will still find room for original stories, but don't be surprised if many of them look a little familiar.

A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop (Sep. 24) The Coens aren't just remaking movies this year, they're being remade, as superb Chinese director Zhang Yimou transplants Joel and Ethan's first film, Blood Simple, from the badlands of Texas to the wilds of the Gansu province. Like the Coens, Zhang Yimou has crafted masterful film noirs such as Ju Duo, but A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop also reportedly includes "cross-dressing, hip-hop dance routines, and outrageous noodle-spinning sequences." I don't remember M. Emmet Walsh or Frances McDormand doing any of that. This trailer plays up the connection to the original film:

The Social Network (Oct. 1) The trailer alone feels plugged into the contemporary zeitgeist, conveying the way social networking programs (specifically, Facebook) can emphasize feelings of connectedness and isolation simultaneously. Jesse Eisenberg stars in this docudrama about Facebook's founder and his (alleged) disloyalty in the creation of a million-dollar on-line empire. Director David Fincher can capture modern, media-saturated angst — remember the IKEA scenes in Fight Club? — as long as the story feels like more than just grumpy Ivy Leaguers yelling at each other.

Black Swan
(Dec. 1 in select cities) Darren Aronofsky follows-up his comeback film The Wrestler with this psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman as a ballet dancer who grows increasingly obsessed with a rival (Mila Kunis) ahead of a major production of Swan Lake. Vincent Cassell plays the company director. It looks more conventional than Aronofsky films like Pi and The Fountain — but then, so did The Wrestler.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (Nov. 19) Director David Yates, having directed the past two Harry Potter films, helms the adaptation of the final book, split into two parts (with the second coming out next summer). The book finds finds Harry, Ron and Hermione on the run as Voldemort's forces seize control of the "wizarding world." If it faithfully emulates J.K. Rowling's book, it'll be less of a magic school coming-of-age fantasy than a downbeat, paranoia-infused fugitive narrative. (To which I say, cool.) Supposedly Deathly Hallows Part 1 will end at around Chapter 24 in the book, which could mean that some of the scenes in the trailer below come from the next film.

127 Hours (Nov. 5 in select cities) Filmmaker Danny Boyle presents his first feature since Slumdog Millionaire won its Oscars with this true story of Aron Ralston (James Franco), who resorts to extreme measures after trapping his arm beneath a boulder in a remote Southwestern mountain. It sounds like a docudrama version of a survivalist story like Touching the Void.

Other intriguing movies include Jim Carrey's much-delayed gay romance/con man comedy I Love You Phillip Morris, the English royalty drama The King's Speech (from the director of The Damned United), the remake of the Scandinavian vampire film Let Me In, director David O. Russell's boxing drama The Fighter, the Robert Downey Jr./Zach Galifianakis road comedy Due Date and the acclaimed, low-budget romance among alien invaders, Monsters, as well as others yet to emerge.

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