September gave us a month to recover from the onslaught of the summer movie season. The season of excess gave way to month of leftovers and placeholders. The major film festivals are taking place and setting the stage for the sprint to the finish line. Movies will battle for box office and awards season glory. Here are the movies that have us here at Bro Jackson excited for fall, along with the movies we’re actively avoiding. Good luck sifting through the prestige, popcorn, and pretender flicks.
Bro’s Most Anticipated Fall Movies
Last time director Paul Greengrass gave a slice of history the cinematic treatment, with “United 93,” he perfectly captured a moment in time in a bottle. I hope he does the same thing here. One advantage this film has over the other, the timeline of the events and the slow burning nature of Billy Ray‘s script should allow plenty of room for the actors to flex their muscles and create sympathetic, multifaceted characters rather than rely solely on the scenario’s innate tension.
“Thor 2: The Dark World”
Now that everyone has seen “The Avengers” and hopefully understands that Chris Hemsworth is the embodiment of his character and the most indispensable of the Marvel bunch, Hollywood will turn The Dark World into the blockbuster it deserves to be. Thor 2 does what any good sequel does: Expands the mythology, explores new character relationships, and my personal favorite– raises the stakes so desperately we must now depend on Loki, who has tried to usher in world destruction once before and will know the cost of his betrayal should it happen again.
George Clooney shows he can do just about anything with “Monuments Men,” the story of a group of art historians tasked with finding a treasure trove of works stolen by Hitler before Hitler can destroy them. The film looks to deftly balance nail biting tension with the fish-out-of-water element of a group of intellectuals learning to be soldiers and inevitably rising to the occasion of being heroes. In spirit, it feels like a companion piece to “The Men Who Stare At Goats,” not for any particular absurdities but more for the men and mission. Imagine being asked to suit up to save the history you’ve given your life to studying; it feels like a grand, unlikely adventure when you look at it that way and that’s the impression that I left “The Men Who Stare At Goats” with– it’s the one adventure we’re entitled to out of life, and we’d take it if we knew we could survive it.
“Dallas Buyers Club”
Matthew McConaughey, the adventurous, risk-taking performer strikes again. This time he plays an HIV-positive man who helps provide access to drugs for the sick and dying by becoming a globetrotting, drug acquiring entrepreneur. This all happens at a point in time where people refuse to have a conversation about the epidemic and one man decides to use the ticking clock of his diagnosis as a lightning rod to improve the quality of life for everyone in his orbit. I hope this is the performance that gets people to stop talking about what a treasure McConaughey is and act on it. By all accounts he burrows into the role of Ron Woodroof and stays there. In a year that seems chock fuller than usual of very ordinary heroes, Woodroof seems to be the most vital as he belongs to a period in time that lacked either champions or understanding.
Spike Jonze is one of the most exciting and original American filmmakers. All he does is drop classics, so we’re willing to overlook the superficial similarities to “S1m0ne.” Joaquin Phoenix stars as a man that falls in love with Scarlett Johannson’s voice. He also deals with Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, and Rooney Mara in real life, so his is a universal plight. But seriously though, take Wesley Snipes’ advice and always bet on Jonze.
Few movies are as successful in hitting their targets as the “Jackass” series. You know exactly what you’re going to get every time out. That’s both comforting and terrifying. In a season that’s guaranteed to be drowning in pretention and self-seriousness, it’ll be a relief to just laugh for an hour and a half. Everyone wants to feast like a king, but sometimes a candy bar hits the spot too.
“12 Years A Slave”
The cast is so stacked (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael K. Williams, Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Quvenzhane Wallis) that not even Paul Dano’s presence can make it weaker. Oscar©-bait of the highest order.
“Inside Llewyn Davis”
The Coens have a permanent spot on these lists. They’re arguably (though that qualifier is debatable) the most prolific and consistent filmmakers going right now and there’s no reason to start doubting them. They’re back on their “O Brother” tip, only this time there will be more film awards to complement the honors the film’s soundtrack is likely to garner. Tracking a week in the life of a singer, “Drive” lovebirds Oscar Isaac and Carey Mulligan headline along with Justin Timberlake, Coen staple John Goodman, and a couple players from “Girls” (Adam Driver and Alex Karpovsky) thrown in for good measure.
Bennett Miller directs this erotic thriller that’s sure to titillate audiences superficial (Channing Tatum), nerdy (Mark Ruffalo), and middle-aged (Steve Carell). Wait, I thought “Foxcatcher” was the new title for “50 Shades of Grey.” “Foxcatcher” actually follows the true life story of world class wrestling brothers (Tatum and Ruffalo) and the schizophrenic (Carell) that comes between them. Miller’s first two films were nominated for Best Picture (“Moneyball” and “Capote”), and he’s right in his wheelhouse with another story based on true events, with a strong cast, and a one word title.
“All is Lost”
As far as great trailers go, “All is Lost” is tied with “Wolf of Wall Street” at the top of the class. It looks like a mix of “Open Water” and “Cast Away” in all the best ways. It boasts the single most intriguing performance of the fall (this side of Matthew McConaughey) in Robert Redford’s man stranded at sea. It could be a disaster or it could be incredible. Since Redford didn’t write it and doesn’t have an easy opening to political proselytizing, we’re betting on the latter.
Bro’s Most Unanticipated Fall Movies
If you need a visual approximation of how an over-schedule, over-budget, novice feature film director loses control, “47 Ronin” might finally be able to accommodate you this Christmas. Keanu Reeves stars as an exiled warrior who is recruited to help a gang of Ronin avenge their master’s death at the hands of the very people who exiled him. There are plenty of dodgy looking special effects, a simple sounding plot that will no doubt become convoluted by the expanding menagerie of monsters, and the trailer seems to boast a complete obliviousness to how bad it all looks. It’s OK, though. We all need a more disastrous looking “Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” right?
“Kill Your Darlings”
It’s the Beat Generation involved in a murder mystery. It’s well-cast but at the end of the day I’m sure it’ll be perplexing and meandering and rudderless. The only thing that makes me wonder if it might actually be worth the trouble is that James Franco isn’t in it. On the downside, it has Michael C. Hall and we can stop pretending that he knows thing one about intelligent scripts anymore.
Peter Berg still has to atone for “Battleship” and I’m not sure that re-teaming with Taylor Kitsch was the way to go. This could easily land on the side of patriotic swill, and it starts with how tonally wrong the trailer feels. The heroes are up against incredible odds, we know there is only one survivor, yet the music and the intercutting titles paint it as the story of four men who triumph over incredible odds. Do you not understand the way this is starting to look? Come on, Peter Berg, get it together.
The absurdity on the film is turned up to 11. The charm probably down to about two. If time has tempered our desire for a “Machete” sequel it has certainly been less kind to this notion: Charlie Sheen playing someone with a sense of inflated self-importance surrounded by beautiful women. It’s an old charmless joke right up there with Machete don’t text or tweet or whatever else he doesn’t do. Then you have the machine gun bra. That’s old hat too. And Michelle Rodriguez‘s quip: “I smell fish tacos.” They go bad, too. This whole enterprise looks rank and charmless.
If there’s one thing that’s hilarious, it’s old people getting into hijinks. Oh wait, this isn’t “Bad Grandpa,” and that’s not good. If you want to see wily old men talk about how many ex-wives they have, their medical ailments, and how they just want to go to sleep earlier, please re-calibrate your taste in film. If you like jokes about old people not knowing who rappers are, your DVR is probably full of “Home Improvement” reruns. The cast (Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Kline, and Turtle from “Entourage”) is better than this, or at least used to be. You certainly are.
Vince Vaughn has been chasing the ghost of “Wedding Crashers” for nearly a decade. There’s always hope that he’ll recapture the magic, with his effortless charm and screen presence. The premise of a man finding out that his donated seed spawned over a hundred kids has promise, but a PG-13 rating all but ensures the humor will be kept in check and the schmaltz will be all the way turnt up.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”
No joke, I nearly fell asleep just writing the title. Three three-hour movies as a prequel to three three-hour movies is overkill, to put it politely. You already know if you’re going to watch this cinematic tryptophan or not. We’re not, and we’re already dreading the extended cut Blu-ray.
“August: Osage County”
You can feel the award campaign already just watching the trailer. Star-studded, melodramatic, with plenty of angst and still-born dialogue (“You have boobs!”), this is what happens when Oscar©-baiting movies go awry.
Ah, here is the James Franco contribution.
“Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas”
Madea continues following in the hallowed footsteps of Ernest P. Worrell and takes on Christmas. Next expect an NBA turn, a trip to camp, and for someone to be scared stupid.