Fall Movie Preview: October 2010

10/03/2010 Posted by Admin

Fall Movie Preview: October 2010

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

Over the years, studios have really gotten the hang of releasing in October. Where September is an awkward transition in between seasons, by the time October comes around, studios have found their footing and actually know what they're doing – sometimes.

All of the October film staples are here for 2010--Oscar hopefuls, Oscar bait, the horror flicks and, of course, the throwaways. Yes, as you look through the schedule, you'll notice the major Hollywood stars are few and far between this month, but the releases are more consistent and less patchy than September. For the most part, though, studios are playing it pretty safe in October – and if you don't take risks around this time of year, movies can and will fade away amid the Oscar rush.

There are a lot of titles that could (I emphasize the word could) break and out and make loads of money, depending on audience and critic reaction. The foremost example of this is “Paranormal Activity 2.” Others are “The Social Network,” “Let Me In” and “Red.” But one wrong step, and you could have the next “Surrogates,” “Amelia” or “Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant” on yours hands. And, quite frankly, nobody wants that.

Below is a list of films for October broken up into four sections: Movies to see, movies on the fence (you'll notice a lot of those), movies to skip and October's surprise.

Movies to see:

“It's Kind of a Funny Story” (Comedy, drama, Oct. 8) This is what a popcorn indie movie should be. A coming-of-age story (boring) of a clinically depressed teen (better …) who is placed in an psychiatric ward for adults (better still …). The best part, and the key to the whole film, is selling the humor of the situation, and finding that critical balance with the dramatic moments (after all, it is about depression).

From directors Anne Boden and Ryan Fleck (collaborators on “Sugar” and “Half Nelson”), it seems as though the material is in the right hands. Zach Galifianakis will have the chance to show his range with some surprisingly touching moments – but I'll be damned if he still doesn't make me laugh. Emma Roberts and Keir Gilchrist star.

“Inside Job” (Documentary, Oct. 8) Director Charles Ferguson (“No End in Sight”) exposes mistakes and corruption yet again in his latest documentary. This time he sets his sights on the financial meltdown. Ferguson's take on this disaster will no doubt be as eye-opening as “No End in Sight.” Capturing classic soundbites from the biggest scumbags makes for amusing, yet scary entertainment.

“Red” (Action, Oct. 15) John Malkovich's second go in October (the first being “Secretariat”), and by far the more ballsy of the two. “Red” (which stands for Retired and Extremely Dangerous), based on the Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer's graphic novels, is one of the few big-budget movies scheduled for October, and quite possibly, the only action movie.

Bruce Willis stars as Frank Moses, who assembles a crew of the best (and, obviously, retired) CIA operatives after being targeted by the agency they once worked for. Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, Mary-Louise Parker and Malkovich co-star in what could be one of the oddest, yet strangely satisfying casts ever in its genre. Top that off with what looks like a classic Malkovich performance, and you have a winner. Robert Schwentke (“Flight Plan,” “The Time Traveler's Wife”) directs.

“The Hereafter” (Thriller, Oct. 22) We're currently in an era where Clint Eastwood can do no wrong. He is that good. “The Hereafter” marks his second time directing Matt Damon in this supernatural thriller about three very different individuals who are all touched by death in some way.

There were more than just shades of darkness in Eastwood's “Changeling,” and from the premise, it seems that “The Hereafter” could follow nicely in those footsteps. But Eastwood will no doubt keep us guessing right up until the film's premiere.

Movies on the fence:

“Nine Nation Animation” (Animated, Sept. 29) Nine animated shorts from around the world, of course it's worth a shot, even if none of them makes a lick of sense.

“Let Me In” (Horror, Oct. 1) It's hard to completely dismiss “Let Me In” as just another attempt to cash in on a popular foreign film – a trend that, by the way, sucks. But with “Cloverfield” director Matthew Reeves behind the project (a remake of 2008's “Let the Right One In”) I have to give it the benefit of the doubt.

“The Social Network” (Drama, Oct. 1) aka “The Facebook Movie.” One of the most pretentious trailers I've seen in a long time, David Fincher's ego seems like it might be a little out of control with this one. Has he earned the right to have that ego? A lot of fans would argue that he has. I'm not as sold, though. I can't say that I'm entirely stoked to see a movie about the guys who made billions off of Facebook – I already know that story. But curiosity of what Fincher might have up his sleeve will draw me in, as usual. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield (the new Spider-Man) and Justin Timberlake.

“Douchebag” (Comedy, drama Oct. 1) Not only does this indie comedy win best title of October, it also looks pretty good. A quirky story about two brothers reuniting after a few years, and their journey to find one of the brother's former fifth-grade girlfriends. Drake Doremus's “Douchebag” got strong word of mouth coming out of Sundance, and ranks among the indie films to keep an eye on.

“Freakonomics” (Documentary, Oct. 1) Based on the best-selling book “Freakonomics,” this film has some of the biggest documentarians behind it: Heidi Ewing, Alex Gibney, Seth Gordon, Rachel Grady, Eugene Jarecki and Morgan Spurlock. And, on top of that, it looks to be the best kind of documentary – the kind that makes sense.

“My Soul to Take” (Horror, Oct. 8) Wes Craven returns with this new slasher film – the genre that pretty much made his career. A serial killer returns to stalk, and of course, kill, high school students who were born on the day of his original spree. “My Soul to Take” looks pretty dumb – but the film is very much aware of that. Its best bet is that it will be just entertaining enough to get people amped for Halloween.

“Stone” (Thriller, Oct. 8) Here's something I didn't expect: I'm kind of looking forward to the new Robert De Niro film. After a string of embarrassments (the height of which was “Righteous Kill”), De Niro has aligned himself with Edward Norton, one of the best actors working today, and a good director in John Curran. Edward Norton plays a convicted arsonist looking to manipulate his parole officer played by De Niro. Curran, as he showed in “The Painted Veil,” has a knack for developing strong but believable characters. “Stone” looks to capitalize on that.

“Tamara Drewe” (Comedy, Oct. 8) Based on the comic strip of the same title, Stephen Frears directs Gemma Arterton in this story about the complications of love in a quaint English countryside town. With anyone else behind the camera, this would probably turn into rubbish. But with Frears, it might just be gold. Also starring Dominic Cooper and Luke Evans.

“Jackass 3-D” (Comedy, Oct. 15) When I was 15, I found “Jackass” really funny. I'm 25 now, and no matter how hard I try to suppress it, I still find “Jackass” funny. Go figure. I must say, however, it's a far better way to waste 3D technology than with “Cats and Dogs: Revenge of Kitty Galore.”

“Conviction” (Biopic, drama, Oct. 15) If this movie doesn't draw great (not good, but great) performances from its stars Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, then it's nothing better than a Lifetime movie. “Conviction” is the true story of a woman who goes through law school to prove her brother's innocence in a homicide case. With Swank and Rockwell, and Melissa Leo in a supporting role, it seems like the cast will pull it off.

“Nowhere Boy” (Biopic, drama, Oct. 8) The biopic from director Sam Taylor-Wood casts Aaron Johnson (“Kick-Ass) as the John Lennon a lot of people don't know. Telling the story of Lennon as a young man presents a new vision of the legend. But as with all biopics, it has to do more than just tell the story, it has to really say something about Lennon.

“Secretariat” (Sports, family, Oct. 8) It's like “Invincible” or “The Rookie” only with a horse and John Malkovich -- both of which might make it worth seeing. It has the rare opportunity to deliver great scenes of horse racing and, as always, a great performance from Malkovich.

The good news for Disney is that they already have a built in audience, pretty much locking it in for about $80 million domestically. But if word of mouth is good, they can expect much, much more. Just try to keep the sentimentality to a minimum, and also, for my sake, don't try to be “The Blindside.” That's the last thing we need.

“Paranormal Activity 2” (Horror, Oct. 22) Cheap scares with night vision goggles! This sequel to last year's breakout hit will probably make some bank at the box office, but I'm not so sure critics – or even audiences – will be satisfied. With a bigger budget, there are so many ways they can mess this one up – just ask a brilliant filmmaker like Joe Berlinger … “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2” anyone? Probably not the case here, but I'm just saying ...

“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest” (Foreign, thriller, Oct. 27) Fans of the series based on Stieg Larsson's wildly popular novels should be pleased with Music Box's quick turn around of the third installment, a mere three and a half months after “The Girl Who Played with Fire.” After “Hornet's Nest,” series faithfuls will have nothing to do but sharpen their knives for speculative criticism of David Fincher's take on “Dragon Tattoo,” starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara slated for 2011.

“Strange Powers: Stephin Merrit & Magnetic Fields” (Documentary, Oct. 27) A documentary in the tradition of “Scott Walker: 30 Century Man,” “Strange Powers” focuses on obscure singer-songwriter Stephin Merritt.

“Saw 3D” (Horror, Oct. 29) With a franchise like this, you either stand with it or against it. I'm the anomaly. I stand somewhere in between. Will I see “Saw 3D”? Ask me on Oct. 29.

Movies to Skip:

“Case 39” (Supernatural thriller, Oct. 1) Haven't we seen this movie a thousand times before? A young child is brought into a new home after her previous family locked her away. Strange things start happening in the new home … I'm talking satanic things. No originality points for “Case 39,” and no point in seeing it. Renee Zelwegger and Bradley Cooper star.

“Hatchet 2” (Horror, Oct. 1) It's hard to judge “Hatchet 2” based on the trailer, because all it wants to show you is how great the original “Hatchet” was. That's enough to make me cautious about the sequel.

“Life As We Know It” (Drama, Oct. 8) Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl play polar opposites who are both named as the legal guardians of a little girl when the parents die unexpectedly. The trailer ends with Heigl wiping excrement off her face. That about sums it up.

“It's a Wonderful Afterlife” (Romantic comedy, Oct. 8) “Bend It Like Beckham” director Gurinder Chadha takes what might have been a traditional romantic comedy about an Indian woman unlucky in love, and adds a hint of murder and the supernatural. Her eye for bright, popping colors sucks me in, but I still believe “It's a Wonderful Afterlife” will rely too heavily on cliches.

“Carmo Hit the Road” (Action, adventure, Oct. 15) A South American film that competed at 2009's Sundance in the World Cinema Dramatic category. A crippled smuggler, Marco, forms a relationship with a young woman, Carmo, after she saves him from bandits who assault him and steal his goods.

“I Want Your Money (Documentary, Oct. 15) Just as there is liberal propaganda, there also is conservative propaganda. “I Want Your Money” is a prime example of the latter, and it will resonate primarily with Tea Partiers.

“Wild Target,” (Comedy, crime, Oct. 29) An incredibly lame premise (an assassin falls for his target -- a thief, nonetheless) completely overshadows a great cast. Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Everett, Martin Freeman and Rupert Grint star in this romantic crime comedy.

October's Surprise:

“Monsters” (Sci-fi, horror) There is no release in October more exciting than “Monsters.” Take the best parts of “Cloverfield,” add a little of “District 9” and a pinch of “28 Days Later,” wrap it in bacon and that's how much I am looking forward to “Monsters.”

A large section of Mexico has been quarantined after an alien invasion, and new life forms begin to manifest in the infected zone. A U.S. Journalist (Scoot McNairy) agrees to take a tourist (Whitney Able) through the forbidden area to the U.S. Border.

Mark my words, “Monsters” will be the movie to see in October – if not of the entire fall season. Directed by Gareth Edwards.

Below is the trailer for “Monsters” and other October releases. What are your thoughts?

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