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A few fine films for fall

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With the shift in the seasons, we also get a bit of a shift in our cinematic offerings. After a summer that featured blockbuster after blockbuster, a season of nine-figure box office dynamos led by all-time high-grossing superhero movies such as 'The Avengers' and 'The Dark Knight Rises,' things are calming down a bit this fall.

That's not to imply that there aren't some potentially great films coming out over the coming months.

The fall of 2012 has an awful lot to offer. You've got the triumphant return of a great director with Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master.' You've got a once-in-a-generation talent like Daniel Day-Lewis taking on the title role in the biopic 'Lincoln.' There's melodrama and intrigue, goofy animation and gritty science fiction. It looks like there could be some really good movies coming our way.

And also 'Twilight.'

The Words Sept. 7

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Who doesn't love the idea of a literary thriller? Bradley Cooper stars as Rory Jansen, a young writer whose first published novel has lent him a large degree of literary celebrity. The only problem is that his book, the source of all his fame and fortune, was written by someone else. Jansen discovered the story in an antique satchel his girlfriend gave him as a gift and claimed it as his own. But his secret may be on the verge of coming out and exposing his lies.

With Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons and Dennis Quaid joining Cooper in the cast, 'The Words' from debut writer-directors Brian Klugman and Lee Sternthal looks like it might have something interesting to say.

The Master Sept. 14

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As a long-time fan of writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson, this is an eagerly anticipated film for me personally. Though perhaps not for the Church of Scientology. Anderson's latest opus stars Philip Seymour Hoffman (a perennial Anderson favorite) as Lancaster Dodd, charismatic founder of a new religious movement. Joaquin Phoenix is back in his first role since his lunatic faux-retirement from acting, playing a drifter who becomes increasingly swept up into the world of Dodd's religion.

By all accounts, the resemblance between Dodd and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard are striking, though Anderson states that the film is not about the real-life religion. Regardless, any opportunity to watch Hoffman and Anderson work together is likely one worth taking.

Looper Sept. 28

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It's always nice to see science fiction films that are a bit more challenging than your standard alien/robot/outer space fare. 'Looper' stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joseph Simmons, a young hit man in the Kansas City of 2047. He is an assassin, killing all who are sent to him. His victims come from 30 years in the future, sent back in time by Simmons's gangster bosses. But when his latest victim turns out to be the older version of himself, he hesitates. 2077 Joseph (played by Bruce Willis) escapes, which leads to young Simmons becoming a target himself.

Time travel as a plot device allows for some really interesting ideas to be explored. With Gordon-Levitt and Willis leading the way along with the rest of a cast that features Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels among others 'Looper' looks like it has the potential to be really, really good.

Argo Oct. 12

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There was a stretch there when I thought Ben Affleck's career trajectory was going to plummet him into obscurity. He rebounded nicely and his next project looks like a good one. Affleck directed and starred in 'Argo,' a film based on the true story of a CIA mission to rescue six Foreign Service workers from hostile Iran. The plan? An agent named Tony Mendez (Affleck) proposes that they claim the hostages are members of a Canadian film crew working on a sci-fi film named 'Argo' a completely fictional film using real-life concept art and borrowing a screenplay.

It's an absolutely fantastic cast guys like Bryan Cranston and John Goodman and what sounds like an engaging story. The fact that it's based on a true story is just icing on the cake. 'Argo' promises to offer a different kind of intrigue.

Cloud Atlas Oct. 26

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This one might be one of the more intriguing fall offerings. 'Cloud Atlas' is based on the acclaimed 2004 novel of the same name. It's a series of interconnecting stories, each building upon the next and weaving a web that spans across centuries. Those connections mean that cast members such as Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent are all playing multiple roles as they span the different storyline. The film is written and directed by Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski of 'The Matrix' fame.

In the past, many people have declared the original David Mitchell novel unfilmable, but here it is. The idea of seeing such a complex story streamlined for film is an interesting one, to be sure. If nothing else, 'Cloud Atlas' should be applauded for its ambition.

Wreck-It Ralph Nov. 2

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This newest Disney offering has John C. Reilly playing the titular Wreck-It Ralph, the villain of an arcade video game called 'Fix-It Felix Jr.' After 30 years of destroying the same building over and over, while Fix-It Felix simply rebuilds it, Ralph has an existential crisis. Deciding he no longer wants to be bound in this endless loop, he escapes his game, only to find himself wandering through other video game landscapes and finally discovering that the entire arcade may be in danger and he's the only one who can fix it.

There are a lot of video game tropes out there that are ripe to be skewered and satirized. The level of voice talent is quite high and director Rich Moore established his animation bona fides as an animation director for 'The Simpsons' and 'Futurama.' The pieces are all there.

Skyfall Nov. 9

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After a lengthy delay caused by MGM's financial problems, 'Skyfall,' the 23rd installment in the James Bond franchise has arrived, 50 years after Sean Connery first graced the screen as 007 in 1962's 'Dr. No.' Daniel Craig is back for his third go as Bond after mixed reviews of his first two tries. Javier Bardem is the latest Bond villain, while Judi Dench and Ralph Fiennes are also prominently featured. This time around, MI6 itself is under attack and you guessed it only James Bond is going to be able to save the day.

Director Sam Mendes should be able to inject some life back into the franchise after the generally-disappointing 'Quantum of Solace.' Add to that the almost-assuredly awesome performance we're likely to get from Bardem and you've got a recipe for success.

Lincoln Nov. 9

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Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln as directed by Steven Spielberg in an adaptation of a Doris Kearns Goodwin book; film nerds and history buffs alike have good reason to be excited about this movie. Expect Day-Lewis to be handed his third Academy Award for this role. Spielberg has had a couple of so-so offerings in the past couple of years; look for this one to prove that he hasn't lost his fastball as a director. The film will focus primarily on the last few months of Lincoln's life, shining light on the President's political battles including some that were against members of his own cabinet.

This is Oscar bait of the highest caliber. Day-Lewis is always magnetically magnificent to watch on screen. Spielberg is one of the best directors of his generation. Put those two together with a polished, powerful work like that of Goodwin and you're likely looking at multiple statues come awards season.

Red Dawn Nov. 21

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Finally someone remade the most ridiculous 'war' movie of all time. 1984's 'Red Dawn' has a special place in the hearts of many who grew up in the 80s, so this new version has big shoes to fill. It's the story of a group of young people forced to defend their small hometown from an invading foreign army. In 1984, the enemy army was Russian. This time around, it's North Korean (though it was originally Chinese). The film was to be released a couple of years ago, but was also sabotaged by the money problems at MGM.

Plucky underdogs going up overwhelming odds is always a good time. The young cast is anchored by a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth. Plus, we can surely count on this film being jam-packed with explosions and banter. Will it be great cinema? Hardly, but it could be a whole lot of fun.

Last modified on Wednesday, 22 August 2012 12:25

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