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Fall films worth looking forward to

Posted: August 21, 2014 - 12:00am
An image from the film "The Book of Life," due out this fall.  Courtesy image
Courtesy image
An image from the film "The Book of Life," due out this fall.

At long last, what seemed like an endless summer is over — at the movies, anyway.

It’s time to put aside all that comic book reading that we call “research,” sweep the word “sequel” aside and get serious about movies, because “serious movie season” is here.

Serious comedies, serious dramas, serious thrillers, serious “true story” adaptations, these are the movies that will swell the ranks of Oscar contenders between now and Thanksgiving.

That’s when the holiday season of films rolls out, packed with sequels — another “Night at the Museum,” another “Hunger Games,” another “Hot Tub Time Machine” — popcorn pictures, action pics. So we’ll leave “Exodus” and “Into the Woods” and such for the holidays.

But fall films? They’re a most intriguing lot this year, and here are a few titles worth anticipating.

• Now that Matthew McConaughey’s got his Oscar, it’s time for this ol’ boy to save the world in “Interstellar” (Nov. 7). It’s a Christopher Nolan sci-fi adventure about explorers sent to find a place humanity can flee to, now that we’ve ruined the Earth. This has to be more cerebral than the trailers, which are a tad on the glum side.

• “This is Where I leave You” (Sept. 19) brings Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Adam Driver, Rose Byrne, Abigail Spencer, Dax Shepard and others together under matriarch Jane Fonda’s roof after the family patriarch dies. The most promising Shawn “Night at the Museum” Levy comedy ever.

• “Foxcatcher” (Nov. 14) is director Bennett Miller’s version of the true story of an Olympic wrestler allowed to train in a DuPont heir’s house and the tragedy that ensued. Channing Tatum wrestles, Steve Carell takes a SERIOUS turn to the dark side as John DuPont, with Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave and Sienna Miller also in the cast.

• “Laggies” (Oct. 24) is worth looking forward to simply because it has Sam Rockwell as the responsible “adult” forced to deal with his daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz), who has befriended a commitment-phobic loser (Keira Knightley) and allowed her to move in.

• The trailers to “The Theory of Everything” (Nov. 7) suggest a sugar-coated take on the great Stephen Hawking’s triumphant/tragic life. But surely the dark stuff made it into this bio-drama, which stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

• “The Maze Runner” (Sept. 19) reminds us that, yeah, there’s another “Hunger Games” coming. Because there’s always another “Hunger Games” (“Mockingjay, Part 1,” Nov. 21) coming. But this film of the James Dashner novel promises to be a new variation on the kids fighting for the sci-fi future formula. This time, they’re dropped into this mysterious game zone, and forced to try to escape ... a Maze!

• The whole “Year of Michael Keaton” thing kind of fizzled when “Need for Speed” went nowhere. But Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Birdman” (Oct. 17) has him playing a has-been star of superhero films who struggles to revive his career with a Broadway play. Naomi Watts, Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis co-star. It’ll be dark, but will it be funny?

• “Book of Life” (Oct. 17), produced by Guillermo del Toro, is a Latin-infused pre-Halloween “Day of the Dead” romp done in a stop-motion (CGI) style, and is the best looking and most promising animated film of the fall. But “The Boxtrolls” (Sept. 26), a tale of a boy raised by trash-collection trolls, is from producers of “ParaNorman,” so fingers crossed. Disney’s “Big Hero 6” (Nov. 7) is a CGI approximation of anime, a more fanboy-oriented action pic, based on a comic book.

• “Gone Girl” (Oct. 3) is David “Zodiac” Fincher’s new thriller, about a man (Ben Affleck) whose wife (Rosamund Pike) has been kidnapped, and the media firestorm that starts to point the finger at him as possibly the perpetrator.

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