Becoming attractions

Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson seek guidance in the <i>Darjeeling Limited</i>.

Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson seek guidance in the Darjeeling Limited.

The holiday movie season is approaching, and it pretty much got its unofficial kickoff in our area last week with the release of Michael Clayton and Across the Universe, two films that their studios want recognized at the next Oscar ceremony. We’ve just emerged from what is generally regarded as Hollywood’s dumping ground. The worst films of the year are usually released in September and early October, with the good stuff kicking in mid-October through December. So, moviegoers, it appears the time has come for us to switch our brains on while watching movies.

Here’s a preview of the next couple of months, broken down into two categories: Award-Show Wannabes and Mainstream Fare. Yes, films qualify as both, but, for the most part, they are easily divided. Keep in mind that sometimes it takes a little longer for us here in Reno to get the fancy and artsy stuff due to our market size. Some of the films mentioned below might never make it here, and you’ll either have to drive or wait for DVD to see them. Most Exciting and Award Show Wannabes

Ridley Scott’s American Gangster, the Coen brothers No Country For Old Men, Sean Penn’s Into the Wild and Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited were all mentioned in a list of five movies I stated as my “most anticipated” in our Fall Preview issue. I still anticipate them greatly as each looks to get their mitts on a few Oscars this year. I also mentioned The Heartbreak Kid, and while I enjoyed it, I sort of regret including it on my “most excited to see list.” It made me look so pedestrian.

Brad Pitt portrays Jesse James in <i>The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert </i>Ford.

Were I to list 10 movies that I’m most excited about, the following would be included: Juno is a comedy starring Hard Candy’s Ellen Page as a high school student who gets pregnant, with Superbad’s Michael Cera as the boy who does the impregnating. Director Paul Thomas Anderson, absent since Punchdrunk Love, teams with Daniel Day Lewis for There Will Be Blood, an epic looking drama about turn-of-the-century Texas oil barrens.

Two old pros go to work for director Rob Reiner in The Bucket List. Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman star as two hospital roomies who skip town to partake in last wish adventures. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford stars Brad Pitt as Jesse and Casey Affleck as Robert. The title says it all. Finally, numerous actors and actresses, including Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale, portray Bob Dylan at different stages of his life in Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There.

Also seeking Golden Boy and garnering interest will be Nicole Kidman, Jack Black and Jennifer Jason Leigh in Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding, with Kidman playing a woman unimpressed with her sister’s (Leigh) choice for a husband (Black). For the political stuff, there’s Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts teaming up for Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War about a Texas congressman’s involvement in a covert war. Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon and new boyfriend Jake Gyllenhaal star in Rendition, about the CIA interrogating prisoners in the war on terror. Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs deals with the same war, and stars Tom Cruise and Meryl Streep (who also appears in Rendition).

There couldn’t be an awards season without Woody Allen, the McDonald’s of art cinema, churning out yet another flick. Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor star in Cassandra’s Dream which, oddly enough, doesn’t star Scarlett Johansson.

Tom Hanks and Juliet Roberts star in<i> Charlie Wilson’s War.</i>

Mainstream Stuff

Movies that could’ve landed in the summer blockbuster season but didn’t include Frank Darabont’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist, Timothy Olyphant in the videogame adaptation of Hitman, and Will Smith as the last man on Earth in I Am Legend. For sequels, Aliens and Predators try to make a comeback after their shitty first pairing with Aliens vs. Predators: Requiem, while Nicolas Cage continues to embarrass himself with National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

Johnny Depp plays the murderous barber in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, which is decidedly not for the kiddies (lots of throats getting slit).

For the children, there’s Nicole Kidman in the popular book adaptation The Golden Compass, and Vince Vaughn playing Santa’s bro in Fred Claus. Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman star in the toy store fantasy Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.