Our Woman of Fall Movies
Have you had a horrible boss? No, but I've worked with some horrible people. One time a photographer started shouting at me because I didn't have any "different" poses.
Your first movie role was in Cashback as “Frozen Girl in Sainsbury’s.” How did you prepare? I'm a method actor, so I stood naked in a freezer for hours. Jokes! You can't prepare for something like that.
Compared to American women, British women are _______.
The Crime Drama
James Gandolfini's final role is a supporting one. Here, he's the caretaker of a Brooklyn bar that's a front for Chechen mobsters. The story focuses on a bartender (Tom Hardy) caught between all sides. From writer Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island, Mystic River).
Fun fact: The story location was switched from Boston to Brooklyn by Lahane so the international cast and crew (Hardy, Noomi Rapace, director Matthias Schoenaerts) wouldn't "f--- up" the Boston accent.
See this week instead of: No Good Deed, yet another home invasion flick.
Kevin Smith's bizarre horror/comedy follows a kidnapped podcaster (Justin Long) as he's surgically altered into a walrus. Read that again.
Fun fact: The film's producers partnered with the pot shop Buds & Roses to release two movie-strained lines of herb: Mr. Tusk and White Walrus.
See this week instead of: The Zero Theorem, Terry Gilliam's latest and, by looks, nothing more than a Brazil rehash.
The Action Flick
Denzel Washington stars as an obsessive-compulsive vigilante who attempts to save a young prostitute (Chloe Grace Moretz, aka Hit-Girl) from Russian mobsters. It's Training Day via The Professional. Nothing wrong with that.
Fun fact: Director Antoine Fuqua (from, yes, Training Day) is following this with another remake: The Magnificent Seven, also starring Denzel Washington.
See this week instead of: Anything else, unless you dig stop-motion animation (The Boxtrolls) or Kirsten Dunst thrillers (The Two Faces of January).
The Big Mystery
Gillian Flynn's acclaimed novel about a missing wife (Rosamund Pike) and her possibly guilty husband (Ben Affleck). Domestic hell, claustorphobic small town America and intense crime drama, as directed by David Fincher. Sold.
Fun fact: The big surprise here is that Fincher changed the ending of the book. Also surprising: the casting of Neil Patrick Harris, Casey Wilson (Happy Endings), Emily Ratajkowski ("Blurred Lines") and Tyler Perry in dramatic supporting roles.
See instead of: Annabelle, a spinoff of The Conjuring (quick, name a good horror sequel/prequel) or Left Behind, where Nicholas Cage faces the Rapture.
The Indie Breakout
Jazz band as Hell. Miles Teller plays a student musician terrorized by a sadistic conductor (the great J.K. Simmons) in this Sundance audience/Grand Jury winner.
Fun fact: The film's dialogue-free final act is built entirely around a drum solo (Duke Ellington's "Caravan").
See this week instead of: The Judge, a courtroom drama starring Robert Downey Jr....but oddly directed by comedy hack David Dobkin (The Wedding Crashers, Fred Claus).
The Crowd Pleaser
A Sherman tank and a ragtag five-man crew (led by Brad Pitt, as "Wardaddy") are caught behind the German front line. It's less Saving Private Ryan war angst and more high-action thrills.
Fun fact: The film utilized an actual Tiger I tank, the only operational model of its kind left in the world.
See this week instead of: Well, you should see Birdman, Michael Keaton's meta take on superheroes and fading stardom...but given its limited release, the choice may not be yours.
A feel-good story of a gambling, alcoholic degenerate (Bill Murray) who becomes an after-school caretaker to his neighbor's withdrawn child. Hijinks ensue. It's old man Meatballs!
Fun fact: After failing to land Jack Nicholson, first-time director Theodore Melfi cast Murray by repeatedly pleading for him on the actor's 1-800 number (which Murray uses in lieu of an agent or manager).
See this week instead of: Ouija. It's Halloween, yes, but this is literally a film based off the toy board.
The Seedy Thriller
Desperate for money, a twitchy criminal (Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers a cash cow: taking photos of crime scenes and car accidents around Los Angeles. Morbidly comic stuff.
Fun fact: Gyllenhal, ever the method actor, credits "coyotes" as his inspiration for the role. Actual coyotes.
See this week instead of: Nicole Kidman's amnesia thriller Before I Go to Sleep, aka Memento Lite.
Christopher Nolan's moody variation on a sci-fi blockbuster. As the planet fades from environmental erosion, a team of scientists (including Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway) head for the far reaches of the galaxy in search of a new home for Earth.
Fun fact: The movie is loosely based on a script by physicist Kip Thorne about wormholes in space.
See this week instead of: Rosewater and The Theory of Everything. Good dramas, yes, but they're not going to look this "wow" on the big screen.
The Oscars Contender
Steve Carrell takes a creepy, dramatic turn as John du Pont, the multimillionaire philanthropist and sporting coach whose battle with schizophrenia led to his famed murder of Olympic champion wrestler Dave Schultz. Directed by Bennett Miller of Moneyball fame.
Fun fact: Carrell wore a prosethic nose to seem more "off-putting." Mission accomplished.
See this week instead of: Dumb and Dumber To. Because why?
The Thrilling Biopic
In this true life tale, Benedict Cumberbatch stars as mathematician Alan Turing, who leads a team of code hunters against the Nazis during WWII...whilst battling some serious personal demons.
Fun fact: Cumberbatch groupies are insane.
See this week instead of: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. Jennifer Lawrence needs a rescue, fellas.
Your Dumb Fun
More R-rated bumbling and attempted criminal hilarity, courtesy Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day—this time it's kidnapping, not murder. If the movie's as funny as its trailer, it's probably the highlight of your Thanksgiving weekend.
Fun fact: Though Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Aniston return, the "bad guys" this time out are Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine.
See this week instead of: The Penguins of Madagascar. The kids can wait their turn.
Your Date Film
Reese Witherspoon shoots drugs, uses guys and then, as penance, treks 1000 miles through the Pacific Northwest. Maybe not your initial cup of tea, but there's pedigree (Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallee) and Oscar buzz for Witherspoon. And your date will want to go.
Fun fact: Wild is the first major screenplay for author Nick Hornby (Fever Pitch, About a Boy).
See this week instead of: The Pyramid, a horror flick about an evil...pyramid.
It's Paul Thomas Anderson
The adventures of 70s P.I. Larry "Doc" Sportello amidst a California awash in pimps, drugs and a groovy saxophonist played by Owen Wilson. Shrouded in mystery, you can see about three seconds of footage here.
Fun fact: It's Paul Thomas Anderson adapting Thomas Pynchon's most light-hearted book. Should be fun.
See this week instead of: Exodus: Gods and Kings. Ridley Scott's in a near 15-year slump.
The Worthy Finale
It's over! Peter Jackson stretched one small book into (originally) two films, but eventually three. The added-on finale, however, promises an almost non-stop cavalcade of battling armies and CGI dragons. Meant for big screen viewing only.
Fun fact: A good summary of those five armies can be found here.
See it this week instead of: Annie? Night of the Museum 3? No hard decisions here.