Here's a rundown of the fall movies, combining info from having actually seen the movies, the reviews they've received overseas or at film festivals, buzz from friends who've seen them and the nebulous "buzz" -- of course my opinion on any of them could change once I've actually seen the movie, but these are what I'm eager to see or avoid as of this moment.
Borat -- extremely funny, in a Jackass/Candid Camera sort of way; crude and blisteringly on target about casual prejudice. Can't wait to see it again.
Dreamgirls -- seen 20m and it looks very glossy and a lot of fun. Can't wait to see.
Flushed Away -- the umpteenth animated movie of the year and I can't get beyond the fact that they're trying to make a 2-D animated film look like the stop-motion delights of Wallace & Gromit.
Volver -- very commercial, very satisfying Almodovar -- and the most FUN movie he's made in years. Penelope Cruz should get an Oscar nomination.
A Good Year -- looks a tad iffy and soft for Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, but I'm seeing it Monday.
Copying Beethoven -- stiff costume piece. Maybe Ed Harris will be worth a look.
F*ck -- uh, they already made The Aristocrats. Don't try the same thing again.
Fur -- an oddball, but Nicole Kidman keeps it just worth a look
Stranger Than Fiction -- looks labored to me, but I love Emma Thompson and everyone else loves Will Farrell
Bobby -- Altmanesque look at the people at the hotel on the day Bobby Kennedy was shot. Directed by Emilio Estevez and maybe it's not the classic I'm hoping for but it's gotten good to great reviews and sounds like a lot of fun.
Casino Royale -- I'll see any James Bond movie, but the longer the trailers and the more often I see them, the more I'm looking forward to this one. They DEFINTELY went for and captured the Bourne aura of real world danger and menace.
Fast Food Nation -- not the gut-wrenching film you'd hope for -- maybe a documentary WOULD have been better -- but not bad.
For Your Consideration -- another Waiting for Guffman type film and while diminishing returns have set in a tad, they started so high that these are still fun to see for fans of Best In Show, et al. I just love the Entertainment Tonight spoofs.
The History Boys -- you should have seen the play.
Happy Feet -- penguins dance. I don't care. NOTE: Wait, I take that back. I didn't realize this was directed by George Miller, one of my favorite and most idiosyncratic directors. He helmed the Mad Max trilogy, Lorenzo's Oil, oversaw Babe, and directed the unfairly overlooked Babe: Pig in the City. Knowing he's in charge, I'm definitely interested.
Tenacious D in the Pick Of Destiny -- if it's half as funny as I hope it is, it'll be funny. But Borat is the comedy of the fall.
The Fountain -- devastating reviews from film festivals. Ranks with Southland Tales as the bellyflop of the year.
3 Needles -- feels noble. I can't bring myself to get to a screening.
Rescue Dawn -- it's Christian Bale. I go see everything by Christian Bale. Twice. And Werner Herzog is delightfully odd and on a good roll and this is practically his biggest budget movie ever. I'm definitely intrigued.
Turistas -- cheapo horror flick. Audiences at a screening of Borat giggled over the trailer. Not a good sign for them.
Apocalyto -- I'll go. It's such an offbeat project and if I start rejecting movies simply because I think the artists behind it aren't decent people, why I'd end up watching almost nothing. On the other hand, I don't think Gibson is a very good director (he came closest on Braveheart). But I have to see it just to take part in the discussion, know what I mean? I'l see it so you don't have to.
The Good German -- Clooney in post-war Berlin trying to find his mistress. Soderbergh back on track? Definitely interested.
Blood Diamond -- DiCaprio in Africa dealing with diamonds and political overtones a la Graham Greene. Looks noble but fun, maybe, if the message doesn't take over.
Eragon -- this year's fantasy flick a la Narnia. The kids' book it comes from isn't that deep, but simple books often are easier to turn into good movies. I'm a sucker for fantasy but I'll be surprised if this is more than mindless fun.
Home Of The Brave -- Irwin Winkler tries to direct the Iraq war equivalent of The Best Years Of Our Lives. Just saw the trailer and that alone makes me think he didn't come within a mile.
The Pursuit of Happyness -- Will Smith in a heart-tugger. No thanks.
Venus -- strictly for Peter O'Toole's hammy, career-capper of a performance as an aging man fallen (again) for a pretty young thing. If he'd fallen for a boy, this would be a dark tragedy. But it's a girl, so we can all smile.
Charlotte';s Web -- I don't know why, but I've got a good vibe about this and hope it will be a worthy, Babe-like movie.
Night At The Museum -- Ben Stiller at Natural History Museum where all the creatures come to life. Looks noisy and obvious.
Rocky Balboa -- I can't imagine, but I'm giving Milo Ventimiglia and Stallone the benefit of the doubt.
The Good Shepherd -- De Niro directs the early days of the CIA with Matt Damon in full, tightly wound mode. Just saw the trailer and looks terrific. Damon in this and DiCaprio in Blood Diamond are two reasons why The Departed will be lost in the shuffle come Oscar time.
We Are Marshall -- more stirring football drama. Looks obvious.
Children of Men -- scifi thriller w Clive Owen. Mixed reviews.
Miss Potter -- Renee Zellwegger as Beatrix Potter. I've never actually cared for Peter Rabbit -- its appeal escapes me. But this is certainly top-drawer so who knows.
In The Name Of The King -- low-rent sword and sorcery
Untitled Noah Bambauch -- hopefully, this will prove The Squid and the Whale wasn't a fluke.
Pan's Labyrinth -- not a big fan of Guillermo Del Toro, but then I'm not a big horror person. Certainly didn't think much of Hellboy or Mimic or Blade II or Cronos. But I love fairy tales and this dark story about fascist Spain crossed with a very Grimm fairy tale (not for kiddies this one) won me over completely at Cannes. Really unique and mature and subtle and utterly compelling as only a folk tale can be.
The Departed -- solid popcorn fun, but not great. The cast is very good, though I think it will be overshadowed come Oscars since it doesn't have an aura of importance the way , say even GoodFellas did. Still, cinephiles will have to check it out. And if you want to be cool, rent the very fun original Infernal Affairs first.
The Queen -- The terrific Helen Mirren will get an Oscar nomination for what is basically a very good TV movie.
The Prestige/The Illusionist --dueling Magician movies. Neither great, but both well-acted.
Infamous -- the second Capote movie. Skip.
The Last King Of Scotland -- just for Forest Whitaker's peformance as Idi Amin.
Little Children -- worthwhile, with good acting
Death Of A President -- not nearly as interesting as you'd think
Flags of Our Fathers -- a bit of a disappointment for me, actually. But it's not a bad movie and there are a lot of good actors in it. Just not that special and quickly fades from memory. I think despite the terrific reviews that the quick fade at the box office will kill it for the Oscars. But not a waste of time.
Shut Up and Sing/Jesus Camp/Absolute Wilson/The US Vs John Lennon -- good documentaries, all.
Babel -- from the folks behind Amores Perros and 21 Grams -- the same shtick, w convoluted screenplay bringing together seemingly disparate storylines. For me, they've pulled the same rabbit out of the hat three times in a row and I've grown increasingly disinterested. Well-acted by Brad Pitt, etc., but not emotionally satisfying for me. I'd be surprised if it did very well at the box office, and wonder if Oscar voters will get bored. But certainly feels Oscar-ish so you may have to see it just to discuss it.
Running With Scissors -- just for Annette Bening's performance.
Shortbus -- sweet but very hippie-ish. Lots of nudity but not erotic -- it's not trying to be.
Marie Antoinette -- boring, the sort of costume film where you barely learn any of the characters' names by the end and don't care. (But then I wasn't a big fan of Lost in Translation or Virgin Suicides, so keep that in mind.)