My excellent colleagues Matthew Price, George Lang, Gene Triplett and I collaborated on this fall movie preview. A version appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
Falling for film
Cooler weather means equally cool movies
Summer sure is shorter than it used to be, thanks to public education and the movie industry. Schools now reopen in the dog-days middle of August, and Tinseltown starts touting its year-end trophy contenders while the trees are still green and neighborhood lawn mowers are still roaring in unison.
But while classrooms may be full of the same old pencils, books and teachers’ dirty looks, the fall batch of films promises welcome relief from the dunderheaded digital duds that have caused such a withering drought in multiplexes this past season. Some of these fall films from the likes of Martin Scorsese, Spike Jonze and Oklahoma’s own Ron Howard could be worth playing hooky to see, so bring on autumn. The sooner the better.
Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron and John D’Leo star as a family put in the witness protection program and relocated to a quiet French town after snitching on the mob. Despite Agent Stansfield’s (Tommy Lee Jones) efforts to keep them under wraps, their old mafia habits blow their cover in writer-director Luc Besson’s dark action-comedy.
“Insidious: Chapter 2”
Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, Barbara Hershey and Ty Simpkins reunite with director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell in a sequel to their 2010 horror hit. In the follow-up, the haunted Lambert family tries to uncover the childhood secret that has forged their dangerous tie to the spirit world.
Keri Russell stars as a “Pride and Prejudice”-infatuated New Yorker who takes a trip to an English resort catering to women obsessed with Jane Austen’s writings in this romantic comedy.
A watchful guard (Bobby Sommer) at Vienna’s grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum strikes up a friendship with a Canadian visitor (Mary Margaret O’Hara) who has temporarily relocated to the Austrian city to care for an ill relative. The drama will screen Friday through Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
Hugh Jackman plays a frantic father whose young daughter and her friend go missing in the star-studded thriller featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello, Viola Davis, Paul Dano, Terrence Howard and former Tulsan Melissa Leo.
“Battle of the Year”
A Los Angeles hip-hop mogul (Laz Alonso) recruits a down-on-his-luck basketball coach (Josh Holloway) to assemble a dance “dream team” to triumph in the Battle of the Year, an international dance crew tournament the Americans haven’t won in 15 years.
“Wizard of Oz IMAX 3D”
In honor of the 75th anniversary, the Oscar-winning MGM classic will follow the yellow brick road back to theaters for a special one-week IMAX 3D engagement leading up to the film’s Oct. 1 Blu-ray release.
“Thanks for Sharing”
Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins and Josh Gad play recovering sex addicts in the directorial debut from Stuart Blumberg, the Oscar-nominated co-writer of “The Kids Are All Right.” Gwyneth Paltrow, Joely Richardson, Patrick Fugit and Alecia “P!nk” Moore co-star.
Director Shane Salerno began production on his documentary more than nine years ago, and his look into the life of the reclusive “Catcher in the Rye” author features interviews with more than 150 people, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack and more.
“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara play an impassioned young outlaw couple on a crime spree who crosses paths with Ben Foster’s local sheriff in the Sundance Film Festival favorite, set in the Texas Hill Country in the 1970s. The romantic crime drama plays Sept. 20-22 at the OKC Museum of Art.
Set in the 1970s — the glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing — two-time Oscar winner Ron Howard’s first movie since 2011′s “The Dilemma” chronicles the real-life rivalry between charismatic Englishman James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth, “The Avengers”) and methodical Austrian driver Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl, “Inglourious Basterds”).
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2”
In the animated sequel, inventor Flint Lockwood (Tulsa native Bill Hader) discovers his infamous machine that makes food out of water is still operational and creating culinary beasts like tacodiles, shrimpanzees and apple pie-thons.
In his debut as a feature writer and director, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as an old-fashioned guy whose penchant for watching pornography has given him unrealistic expectations about relationships. His title character meets his match with Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), an old-fashioned, rom-com-loving lady who is looking for her Prince Charming.
“Metallica Through the Never IMAX 3D”
Dane DeHaan (“Chronicle,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2”) plays a young crew member dispatched on an urgent mission while the legendary metal band is playing a rousing live set in front of a sold-out crowd and unexpectedly finds his world turned completely upside down. The musical adventure, which will debut in IMAX a week before expanding to additional theaters, will be the first release for the reopened indie distribution company Picturehouse, founded and led by Oklahoma City native Bob Berney.
A seasoned astronaut (George Clooney) and a medical engineer (Sandra Bullock) on her first mission are conducting a space walk when their shuttle is destroyed, stranding them in space. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity” examines how the two tethered explorers deal with the real possibility of death and desperately look for a way home.
A Princeton college student (Justin Timberlake) who makes his living as a professional gambler travels to Costa Rica to find the computer wizard he thinks swindled him. “Runner, Runner” also stars Ben Affleck, Gemma Arterton and Anthony Mackie, and is produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Writer-director Nicole Holofcener (“Please Give,” “Lovely and Amazing”) explores the unusual emotional politics encountered by Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) when she begins dating Albert (James Gandolfini). Eva then discovers that one of her massage clients used to be married to him and revels in discussing his bad habits and behavior. This is Gandolfini’s final completed starring role.
“Acquire the Fire Presents: Surge”
Part concert film, part comedy and part religious message, “Surge” features comedy by John Grey; music by Acquire the Fire, Casting Crowns, Newsboys and Lecrae; and a sermon by Ron Luce.
Director Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Supremacy,” “United 93”) brings his documentarian’s eye to the intense story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking by Somali pirates. Tom Hanks plays Captain Richard Phillips, who was kidnapped by the pirates after they boarded the ship.
Robert Rodriguez returns to his extreme pulp mode in this follow-up to “Machete,” in which the title character (Danny Trejo) is asked by the U.S. president to dispatch an insane billionaire bent on world domination. Co-stars include Mel Gibson, Michelle Rodriguez, Sofia Vergara and Amber Heard.
“Romeo and Juliet”
Hailee Steinfeld of “True Grit” will be star-crossed with Douglas Booth in “Romeo & Juliet,” based on William Shakespeare’s classic romantic tragedy.
“Herb & Dorothy 50 x 50”
In 2008, Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a retired postal worker and librarian who had quietly amassed a huge art collection, announced a plan to distribute 2,500 pieces of art to museums in all 50 states. “Herb & Dorothy 50 x 50” chronicles how people of modest means became art benefactors. It will show Oct. 17-20 at the OKC Museum of Art.
A remake of Brian DePalma’s classic take on Stephen King’s novel about a wallflower taking supernatural revenge on her high school tormentors, “Carrie” stars Chloe Grace Moretz (“Hugo,” “Kick-Ass 2”) in the title role and Julianne Moore as her domineering mother. Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”) directs.
A structural security expert (Sylvester Stallone) must try to break himself and a fellow prisoner out of the most foolproof prison ever made. “Escape Plan” is directed by Mikael Hafstrom (“The Rite”) and co-stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Jim Caviezel and Amy Ryan.
Directed by Ridley Scott, “The Counselor” stars Brad Pitt as a lawyer whose brief dalliance with an illegal business operation comes back to bite him. The thriller also stars Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Michael Fassbender.
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”
Johnny Knoxville plays an 86-year-old man taking his 8-year-old son on a cross-country adventure. From the “Jackass” brand, it’s just bound to be wholesome and heartwarming. “Bad Grandpa” co-stars Spike Jonze as an elderly woman.
The film version of Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi novel features Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin, a young recruit to Earth’s defense during a future war. Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford co-star.
Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson voice turkeys who travel back in time to change the Thanksgiving menu.
It looks like “Grumpy Old Men” meets “The Hangover” as characters played by Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline go to Las Vegas to relive their glory days.
“Thor: The Dark World”
Chris Hemsworth returns as Marvel Comics’ Thor as he must protect both Earth and the Nine Realms from an ancient enemy. Natalie Portman and Tom Hiddleston co-star.
“Dallas Buyers Club”
Matthew McConaughey stars as cowboy Ron Woodroof, diagnosed with AIDS in 1985. Without effective treatment available, Woodroof seeks non-approved medicines and supplements, taking matters into his own hands by forming the “Dallas Buyers Club.” The story is inspired by actual events. Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto co-star.
The time-travel romantic comedy from the director of “Love Actually” stars Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, and Bill Nighy.
“The Wolf of Wall Street”
Leonardo DiCaprio stars in this Martin Scorsese film about the rise and fall of a Wall Street trader. The film is based on the true story of Jordan Belfort.
“The Book Thief”
“The Book Thief” is based on the best-selling book about a young girl sent to live with a new family in World War II Germany.
“The Best Man Holiday”
Morris Chestnut and Taye Diggs star in the sequel to the 1999 film “The Best Man.”
“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”
Jennifer Lawrence returns as Katniss Everdeen in this sequel to the blockbuster hit “The Hunger Games.” After her success, along with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), in the 74th Hunger Games, the pair finds themselves targeted by powerful enemies.
A slacker (Vince Vaughn) discovers sperm donations he made as a young man have led to him being the biological father of more than 500 children, some of whom now want to learn his identity. Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders co-star in this American remake of the 2011 French film “Starbuck.”
This Alexander Payne film about a father-son road trip was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. Star Bruce Dern won the Best Actor Award at Cannes; Will Forte plays Dern’s son in the film.
This Disney 3D-animated film is loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Snow Queen.”
Spike Lee directed the American remake of the 2003 South Korean mystery-thriller that was itself based on a popular manga. An advertising executive is kidnapped and held in solitary confinement for 20 years. When he is set free, he goes on a mission of vengeance.
Sylvester Stallone wrote and produced this film about an ex-DEA agent moving to a small town and coming into conflict with a meth drug lord.
This holiday musical stars Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett, Jacob Latimore and Jennifer Hudson. A teen goes to New York City over the holidays to stay with his estranged grandparents. The film is a contemporary adaptation of the play by Langston Hughes.
Also for fall (release dates to be determined)
“12 Years a Slave”
Steve McQueen directs from a script by John Ridley, based on an autobiography by Solomon Northup (played by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man who is abducted in Washington,D.C., in 1841 and sold into slavery in Louisiana, where he endures the cruelty of a brutal slave master (Michael Fassbender) and encounters the kindness of a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt).
“The Fifth Estate”
Director Bill Condon tells the true and timely tale of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (a white-wigged Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Bruhl), who create a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, exposing dark government secrets and corporate crimes.
“Wish You Were Here”
Two young couples take a tropical vacation in Cambodia, but only three of their number come back home to Sydney, where they are forced to deal with the truth and consequences of a boyfriend’s mysterious disappearance. Kieran Darcy-Smith directs a cast including Joel Edgerton, Teresa Palmer, Felicity Price and Antony Starr.
A crotchety widower (Terence Stamp) honors his recently deceased wife’s (Vanessa Redgrave) memory by joining the offbeat local choir to which she had belonged, which unexpectedly leads to a gradual reconciliation with his estranged son (Christopher Eccleston). Paul Andrew Williams directs.
In this French romantic comedy set in 1958, Rose Pamphyle applies for a secretarial position with charismatic insurance agency boss Louis Echard. She proves to be a lousy secretary but she possesses a special gift — the ability to type at extraordinary speed. Louis decides to enter her in a speed-typing competition. But love of winning doesn’t always mix well with love itself.
This French comedy/biopic tells the story of Hortense Laborie (Catherine Frot), a renowned chef from Perigord, who is appointed by the President of the Republic (Jean d’Ormesson) to be his personal cook, responsible for creating all his meals at the Elysée Palace. She overcomes jealousies and resentments of the other kitchen staff to establish herself. Based on the true story of President Francois Mitterand’s cook.