Something Useful: My Fall Preview

Summer has come and gone, and with it a plethora of truly excellent movies (as well as some truly awful ones). I missed the cut-off point at which composing a list of my favorite movies of the summer season would still be acceptable, and am now in the dreaded “so late that it’s painful” territory. With that in mind, I’ve still got plenty of wiggle room for putting together my thoughts on what I’m looking forward to as we march into fall 2009’s film season. Read on!


9— Okay, so maybe this shouldn’t be on here since my opinion on the film is already out there for your reading enjoyment. And I was also sort of hot and cold on it. So why is it on here? Because as much as I didn’t walk out of it loving it, I want to see Shane Acker do well; he’s a solid director and a creative filmmaker, and I’d like to see him go on to do greater and better films with his career. If not for that, then the animation at least is a joy to watch.

The Informant!— The latest Soderbergh film, and Matt Damon vehicle, sees the latter put on roughly twenty or so pounds to play real-life former President of Archer Daniels Midland’s BioProducts Division, Mark Whitacre. Whitacre became an FBI informant and helped expose his company’s price-fixing activities. Soderbergh, even at his worst, is often still interesting to watch; a dark comedy about corporate whistle-blowing sounds up his alley. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Damon playing a paunchy, bi-polar corporate informant pretty much sells itself as far as my ticket’s concerned.

Surrogates— it’s been a good year for science fiction so far, between Neil Blomkamp’s District 9 (reviewed here) and Duncan Jones’ Moon; Surrogates may continue that trend, or shatter it entirely. It certainly has a high concept premise, envisioning a future world where people remotely control robotic surrogates for all their daily doings instead of going out into the world themselves. (Like a real-life World Of Warcraft avatar, but with way better graphics.) Of course, this genius invention turns deadly when people start dying while in control of their surrogates. Commentary on how technology allows people to interact while managing to keep them separate, featuring Bruce Willis? Consider me intrigued.

Brief Interviews With Hideous Men— Directed by John Krasinski, the charming and funny young hero of the US version of The Office, this film is based on a collection of 23 short stories written by the late and magnificent David Foster Wallace, each written as a transcript of an interview with– you guessed it– hideous men. The film expands on that slightly, as Julianne Nicholson plays a young woman who conducts these interviews as a way of getting past a recent break up. Wallace’s writing is darkly funny, very wry, and in this case deals with very strange issues of sexuality; if the movie has half as much bite it should prove to be a worthwhile experience at the cinema.

A Serious Man— The latest Coen Brothers film, detailing the life of a Minnesota professor as he tries to cope with the slow collapse of his life when his wife threatens to leave him after getting fed up of living with his clueless and idiotic brother (played by the master of the oblivious and the incompetent, Richard Kind). After the huge acclaim bestowed upon No Country For Old Men, and the positive but mostly tempered response to Burn After Reading, it’s sort of hard to get a read on how critics will respond to this one, but lately the Coens have been on a roll; it’ll be interesting to see if they continue their misanthropic streak with A Serious Man.

Zombieland— With Halloween coming right around the corner, ’tis the season for horror and gore. Zombieland guarantees plenty of red splatter and human and undead dismemberment all around, but more than that it promises to be extremely funny. Woody Harrelson appears to be having a blast in the trailers playing a man who finally realizes he was meant for zombie killing; Jesse Eisenberg plays the twitchy, far less macho sidekick, and the two travel together and survive in a world overrun by zombies. With influences appearing to range from Shaun of the Dead to Looney Toons (you will believe that a falling piano is a legitimate way to kill the shambling dead), Zombieland should be able to deliver as a great time in the theater.

Where The Wild Things Are— It’s hard to believe that not too too long ago, it looked like this film would never get made. But the film geeks of the Internet together have developed a voice loud enough to make studios stop and listen, and today Spike Jonez’s highly anticipated third feature film is on its way to theaters near you come October 16th. The story should need no introduction, being an adaptation of the much-beloved children’s book of the same name by Maurice Sendak, about a young boy named Max who creates his own world where he is crowned the King of the Wild Things, here brought to life almost entirely through practical effects (as I understand it, only the faces required use of CGI to perfect). It looks breathtaking, emotional, and giddy, unbridled fun, as well as an incredible piece of cinematic world-building; the only thing in this film’s way is the built-up anticipation of its audience.

Precious I never once dreamed that I would live in a world where  a movie featuring both Mo’Nique (who, don’t get me wrong, is a hoot to watch in movies like Beerfest)  and Mariah Carey in pivotal roles is…actually supposed to be totally fantastic. The buzz from Sundance on Precious is incredibly high; the film is based on the novel Push by Sapphire, and details the hard times faced by a pregnant teen as she takes steps to better her life. Her confrontations with Mo’Nique, playing her mother, are said to be utterly gripping; if the film even partially makes good on that promise it could easily be deemed a success.

The Men Who Stare At Goats— In a story about a highly-secretive military organization that trains psychic warriors, the strangest thing about the account might be that it’s actually true. George Clooney stars as a member of said unit; Ewan McGregor is the reporter who is tagging along as Clooney searches for his unit’s MIA commander. The fact that this is based on real events alone makes it worth the price of admission, but throw in an all-star cast of Clooney, McGregor, Kevin Spacey, and Jeff Bridges, and this could easily turn into something special.

That’s all for now folks. Thanks for stopping in!


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