Talk, Talk, Talk: September 2008

After the non-event that was Nicolas Cage’s collaboration with the Pang Brothers (Bangkok Dangerous? More like deadly!) the first official month of Fall really starts up in its second week. There, the voices along the bottom line landscape come in crystal clear. From wars both past and present to a number of nail-biting thrillers, September is sizing up as a potentially profitable one. The artistic aspects of the following 18 films are still a major question mark, even considering the Award winning talent behind the scenes and in front of the lens.

Director: Diane English
Film: The Women (2008)
Studio: Picturehouse
Cast: Meg Ryan, Eva Mendes, Annette Bening, Debra Messing, Jada Pinkett Smith
Website: http://thewomenthemovie.com/index.html
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-12
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/t/thewomenposter.jpg

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12 September

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The Women

You’d figure that a movie that has been in development for over a decade would garner more buzz that this. But Diane English’s adaptation of the George Cukor proto-chick flick (itself taken from the Clare Boothe Luce play) has been more or less supplanted by the fierce female quartet from Sex and the City. While the success of that TV adaptation suggests that lady-oriented audiences are ready for more gaudy and sparkly girl power, the casting argues for a less than inspired experience. Still, with Annette Bening bringing on the bitchiness in the otherwise lackluster trailer, we could be looking at a solid post-Summer hit — or an indication of how limited the “you go girl” premise can be.

The Women (2008)

Display Artist: Joel and Ethan Coen
Director: Joel
Director: Ethan Coen
Film: Burn After Reading
Studio: Focus Features
Cast: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich, Richard Jenkins, David Rasche, J.K. Simmons
Website: http://www.burnafterreading.com–live.com/#/home
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-12 (General release)
UK Release Date: 2008-10-17 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/b/burnafterreadingposter.jpg

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12 September

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Burn After Reading

Leave it to the Coen Brothers to once again shake things up when it comes to their creative canon. Last time they won Oscars (for the magnificent kidnapping comedy Fargo), they followed it up with a true cult classic, the ballsy Big Lebowski. Now, fresh off their domination of the 2008 Oscars, the No Country for Old Men mavericks are once again aiming for screwball comedy territory. Early indications suggest more Intolerable Cruelty than Raising Arizona. Still, the amiable, above the marquee cast (including such one name superstars as Pitt and Clooney) along with the guy’s standard cache of cleverness promises something daring and affectionately demented.

Burn After Reading

Director: Jon Avnet
Film: Righteous Kill
Studio: Overture Films
Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Curtis Jackson, Donnie Wahlberg, Carla Gugino, John Leguizamo
Website: http://www.righteouskill-themovie.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2008
Distributor: Anchor Bay
US Release Date: 2008-09-12 (General release)
UK Release Date: 2008-09-25 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/r/righteouskillposter.jpg

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12 September

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Righteous Kill

It’s shocking, really. A major motion picture starring Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino (their first onscreen pairing since Michael Mann’s Heat) and yet there’s very little spark surrounding this police procedural. Off course, part of the problem could be the old school Method actors’ combined reduced commercial reputation. The smart money says that this Jon Avent directed thriller is sloppy and subpar — 88 Minutes/Hide and Seek subpar.

Righteous Kill

Director: Tyler Perry
Film: The Family That Preys
Studio: Lionsgate
Cast: Tyler Perry, Sanaa Lathan, Alfre Woodard, Rockmond Dunbar, Kathy Bates, Robin Givens, Cole Hauser
MPAA rating: PG
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-12
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/f/familythatpreysposter.jpg

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12 September

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The Family That Preys

The last time he tried creating a feature film without relying on one of his fabled plays as a foundation, the result was the underperforming Daddy’s Little Girls. Now, Tyler Perry is tempting fate again, avoiding his urban comedy canon to offer up a multi-cultural take on racism, adultery, and the strange, seedy bedfellows both produce. With a capable company led by Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates, this could be a breakout film for the still fledgling filmmaker… or another dud.

The Family That Preys

Director: Alan Ball
Film: Towelhead
Studio: Warner Independent Pictures
Cast: Summer Bishil, Aaron Eckhart, Peter Macdissi, Toni Collette, Maria Bello, Eugene Jones III
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2007
US Release Date: 2008-08-12 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/t/towelheadposter.jpg

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12 September

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Towelhead

Alan Ball’s Oscar for American Beauty remains a well deserved screenplay win. It stands as one of the most insightful looks at suburban malaise this side of Joe Sarno. What he knows about the Arab experience in these United States is questionable at best. Apparently, this film about a sexually frustrated young Lebanese girl has been getting a lot of uncomplimentary buzz for the teen promiscuity angle. Oddly enough, the racial element is not a problem.

Towelhead

Director: Neil LaBute
Film: Lakeview Terrace
Studio: Screen Gems
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, Patrick Wilson, Ron Glass
Website: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/lakeviewterrace/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2008
Distributor: Sony
US Release Date: 2008-09-19 (General release)
UK Release Date: 2008-12-05 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/l/lakeviewterraceposter.jpg

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19 September

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Lakeview Terrace

Samuel L. Jackson is a Los Angeles cop with a clear cut prejudice. When a bi-racial couple moves into his neighborhood, he becomes the pair’s worst nightmare. Hiding under the badge to wreak his blatant bigotry, we anticipate some highly charged criticism within this film’s prickly premise. One expects that former indie icon Neil LaBute (In the Company of Men, Nurse Betty) can rebound from his half-baked remake of The Wicker Man to deliver something chilling as well as socially relevant. He definitely has the skill set – and the cast – to accomplish both.

Lakeview Terrace

Director: David Koepp
Film: Ghost Town
Studio: DreamWorks
Cast: Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, Téa Leoni, Billy Campbell, Alan Ruck, Kristen Wiig
Website: http://www.ghosttownmovie.com/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-19 (General release)
UK Release Date: 2008-10-24 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/g/ghosttownposter.jpg

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19 September

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Ghost Town

Ricky Gervais remains an elusive mainstream marvel. On the one hand, his hit British sitcom The Office has spawned a literal international cottage industry. There are at least five different adaptations (including the smash US version on NBC) of the deadpan mockdoc. This has made Gervais a much in demand performer, and yet movie success has so far been elusive. Mostly featured in bit parts, this David Koepp directed starring vehicle may change that status. The studio has been sneaking the film around the country since early August, and some very positive buzz has been building.

Ghost Town

Director: Fernando Meirelles
Film: Blindness
Studio: Miramax
Cast: Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Gael García Bernal, Danny Glover, Alice Braga
Website: http://blindness-themovie.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2007
US Release Date: 2008-10-03 (General release)
UK Release Date: 2008-11-28 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/b/blindnessposter.jpg

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19 September

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Blindness

In the vein of Children of Men and other reality based dystopian visions of the future, City of God/The Constant Gardener director Fernando Meirelles brings the 1995 allegorical novel by José Saramago to life. Offering a clear metaphorical premise — an epidemic of unexplained blindness causes panic among the populace and police state tactics from the government — Merirelles hopes to inspire dialogue about our current cultural reactionary responses and the willingness to let those in power determine the inherent rights of individuals. The trailer sure is enticing, and though some have found the film heavy handed, early previews have been positive.

Blindness

Director: Ed Harris
Film: Appaloosa
Studio: New Line Cinema
Cast: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons, Lance Henriksen, Ariadna Gil
Website: http://welcometoappaloosa.warnerbros.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-19 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/a/appaloosaposter.jpg

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19 September

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Appaloosa

A good old fashioned no frills western, told with Golden era Hollywood reverie by actor turned director Ed Harris. One imagines that if all horse operas had this kind of acting power — Harris himself is on hand, along with Viggo Mortensen, Renée Zellweger, Jeremy Irons and Lance Henriksen — the genre would have never died. Indeed the tome by Spencer series scribe Robert P. Barker is given an honorable oater polish, remaining true to the tenets of the archetypes without missing the main themes of the story. While festival takes have been lukewarm, the acceptance of last year’s 3:10 To Yuma suggests a much sunnier audience approval.

Appaloosa

Director: Anthony Leondis
Film: Igor
Studio: Weinstein Company
Cast: John Cusack, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Eddie Izzard, Molly Shannon
Website: http://igor-movie.com/main.html
MPAA rating: PG
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-19 (General release)
UK Release Date: 2008-10-17 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/i/igorposter.jpg

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19 September

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Igor

It’s surprising that more CGI cartoons don’t deal with the supernatural and things that go goose-bumps in the night. Now, the French company that helped create the Disney Channel’s Rolie Polie Olie has revived the famed mad scientist sidekick character for a family friendly turn about competition and being true to yourself. Revolving around the annual Evil Scientist Contest, our title hero hopes to show his peers that he is more than just a stock subordinate.

Igor

Director: Saul Dibb
Film: The Duchess
Studio: Paramount Vantage
Cast: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Hayley Atwell, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper, Aidan McArdle, Emily Jewell
Website: http://www.theduchessmovie.com/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-19 (Limited release)
UK Release Date: 2008-09-05 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/d/dutchessposter.jpg

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19 September

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The Duchess

Kiera Knightley and her infamously famished physique are on hand in this perfunctory period piece about the scandalous British royal Georgina Cavendish. Relative filmmaking novice Saul Dibb took over for Things We Lost in the Fire helmer Susanne Bier, resulting in some minor tension during preproduction. However, Knightley has since defended the film, suggesting that any hard feelings have been swept away by a fine finished product.

The Duchess

Director: Howard Deutch
Film: My Best Friend’s Girl
Studio: Lionsgate
Cast: Jason Biggs, Kate Hudson, Dane Cook, Alec Baldwin, Lizzy Caplan
Website: http://www.mybestfriendsgirlmovie.com/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-19
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/b/bestfriendsgirlposter.jpg

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19 September

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My Best Friend’s Girl

Why on Earth does someone still demand that (un)funny man Dane Cook maintain an acting career? Several thousand MySpace friends do not a thespian make. Heck, by his track record as an onscreen humorist, he’s barely a comedian. Here, he’s the buddy of Jason Biggs, forced to take his pal’s ex (Kate Hudson) out to prove what a catch his friend really was. Sure sounds stupid.

My Best Friend’s Girl

Director: Stuart Townsend
Film: Battle in Seattle
Studio: Redwood Palms Pictures
Cast: Martin Henderson, Michelle Rodriguez, Woody Harrelson, Charlize Theron, André Benjamin, Rade Serbedzija, Connie Nielsen, Ray Liotta
Website: http://www.battleinseattlemovie.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2007
US Release Date: 2008-09-19 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/b/battleinseattleposter.jpg

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19 September

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Battle in Seattle

The 1999 Ministerial Conference for the World Trade Organization wasn’t supposed to be so controversial. What the international association failed to understand was that anti-globalization movements were preparing for months to protest the talks. The scale of the event dwarfed even the radicals’ expectations, and now actor Stuart Townsend has made a movie based on that profound clash of ideologies. Heavily pushed by production company Redwood Palms, this could be one of the Fall’s first sleepers.

Battle in Seattle

Director: Spike Lee
Film: Miracle at St. Anna
Studio: Touchstone Films
Cast: Laz Alonso, Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, Omar Benson Miller, Matteo Sciabordi, Valentina Cervi, Pierfrancesco Favino, John Turturro, John Leguizamo
Website: http://miracleatstanna.movies.go.com/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-26 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/m/miracleatstannaposter.jpg

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26 September

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Miracle at St. Anna

Spike Lee has been very vocal as of late when it comes to depictions of World War II on film. Taking Clint Eastwood to task for not featuring black Marines in either Flag of Our Fathers or Letters from Iwo Jima, he decided to adapt James McBride’s novel about African American soldiers trapped in a small Italian town during the height of the fighting. Though the target of his attacks has since hit back (suggesting that claims of historical inaccuracy were bogus), Lee has found himself stuck in his own minor controversy. Some survivors of the historical Sant’Anna di Stazzema atrocity have called for the film to be banned, suggesting Lee took his own liberties with the truth as well.

Miracle at St. Anna

Director: D.J. Caruso
Film: Eagle Eye
Studio: DreamWorks
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Michelle Monaghan, Rosario Dawson, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Chiklis, Anthony Mackie
Website: http://www.eagleeyemovie.com/
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-26 (General release)
UK Release Date: 2008-10-17 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/e/eagleeyeposter.jpg

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26 September

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Eagle Eye

It was D.J. Caruso who gave current young movie poster boy Shia LeBouf his first major motion picture legitimacy. While the future Mutt Jones did have Holes in his resume, it was the post-modern Hitchcock riffs of Rear Window wannabe Disturbia that delivered the actor to greater casting clout. Add in his work in Michael Bay’s goofball Transformers and you’ve got some pretty solid bankability. Now the director is back with LeBouf in tow, taking on the story of a kid and his mother framed as terrorists. With a story suggested by none other than Stephen Spielberg himself, and Caruso’s growing cred, this could be one of the Season’s biggest non-popcorn blockbusters.

Eagle Eye

Talk, Talk, Talk: September 2008 (Part 2)

Director: George C. Wolfe
Film: Nights in Rodanthe
Studio: Warner Brothers
Cast: Richard Gere, Diane Lane, Viola Davis, Jame Franco, Scott Glenn, Christopher Meloni
MPAA rating: PG-13
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-26 (General release)
UK Release Date: 2008-10-10 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/n/nights-in-rodanthe-poster.jpg

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26 September

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Nights in Rodanthe

Ever since they co-starred in 2002’s Unfaithful, Hollywood has been looking for a way to bring Richard Gere and Diane Lane back together. This translation of Nicholas Sparks’ 2002 bestseller, which follows adaptations of The Notebook, Message in a Bottle, and A Walk to Remember to the big screen, suggests that they might have found the proper reunion vehicle. While director George C. Wolfe has extensive TV and theatrical credits, his cinema experience is far more limited. This could be the filmmaker’s commercial coming out. It could also be the end of any future Gere/Lane combo talk.

Nights in Rodanthe

Director: Clark Gregg
Film: Choke
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald, Brad William Henke, Jonah Bobo
Website: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/choke/
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2008
Distributor: Fox
US Release Date: 2008-09-26 (Limited release)
UK Release Date: 2008-11-21 (General release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/c/chokeposter.jpg

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26 September

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Choke

It may not be Fight Club (and frankly, what can be), but Chuck Palahniuk’s novel about a sex addicted swindler who uses the title malady to pry money out of unfortunate restaurant marks could be this year’s underground smash. A resounding success at Sundance, where the Hollywood Reporter declared it “an extreme post-modern fairytale”, this has cult favorite stamped all over it. Sam Rockwell and Anjelica Huston give knockout performances, and the entire tone is part social commentary, part twisted fantastical farce. Sounds like the perfect combination for a cynical, Generation Hex audience.

Choke

Director: Neil Burger
Film: The Lucky Ones
Studio: Lionsgate
Cast: Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins, Michael Peña
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2008
US Release Date: 2008-09-26
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/blog_art/l/luckyonesposter.jpg

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26 September

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The Lucky Ones

Last fall, it seemed like every other movie dealt with the growing influence of the Iraq War. Sadly, many of those efforts made the soldiers the subject of villainy and unsympathetic stratagems. Now on the heals of this past spring’s Stop-Loss comes this wounded warrior saga, the story of three returning vets discovering that life doesn’t stop because they served their country. They end up on a road trip to rediscover themselves.

The Lucky Ones

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