Fall film frenzy

After a long, really crappy summer-movie season, the days may be getting shorter, but the fall flicks may be worth staying up for




Black Dahlia
Brian DePalma’s Black Dahlia is based on the true story of a murdered starlet in Hollywood in the late 1940s—a murder that became a topic of dark obsession. Mia Kirshner plays the startlet, and the cast also includes Hilary Swank, Josh Hartnett, Aaron Eckhart and the ubiquitous Scarlett Johansson.

Gridiron Gang
If Crossover didn’t give you your fill of fraternal sports movies, The Rock’s been cooking something especially for you. Like The Longest Yard but serious, this is the mostly true story of a counselor (Rock) at a Los Angeles juvenile detention center who starts up a football program to rehabilitate the whippersnappers. Only problem is, once they reach ready-to-rumble status, coaches at area high schools are—unjustifiably?—wary of letting their non-incarcerated high-schoolers play a full-contact sport with a team of big, charging juvies. What makes this film stand out from others is it is based on a true story, and a worthwhile one—kids who were locked up, and whose existence was based on what they did and how bad it was, are now given a chance to make something of themselves.

The US vs. John Lennon
This documentary, written and directed by John Scheinfeld and David Leaf, looks at the late ‘60s, early ‘70s transformation of Lennon from musician to antiwar activist. It’s slated for limited release, so all we are saaaaying is: Bring it here!

Jackass: Number Two
For those who are fans of self-induced paper cuts, crashing into two-story-tall stacks of garbage cans and getting blasted away with a water hose, you’re in luck. Johnny Knoxville and his friends are back for a second cinematic dose of sheer stupidity. There really isn’t much that needs to be said—if you think Steve-O is a comic genius, Bam Margera is a dreamboat and Ryan Dunn deserves his own TV show, you’re going to see it. If you think these guys are morons who are going to be dead by the age of 30 and don’t deserve anyone’s time, then there’s no way anyone can convince you otherwise.

All the King’s Men
There’s a whole lot of buzz preceding this remake of the 1949 classic, based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren. It has a powercast: Jude Law, Sean Penn, Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Anthony Hopkins and Patricia Clarkson. Director Steven Zaillian (Searching for Bobby Fischer, A Civil Action) takes on the story of journalist Jack Burden (Law) as he gets down and dirty in Deep South politics with thrashing, pontificating governor Willie Stark (Penn), a man willing to do just about anything to get his way, his character loosely or not-so-loosely based on Louisiana’s Huey Long. It’s shaping up to be a tour de force of dangerously charismatic characters and impressively filthy dealings.


Children of Men
The year is 2027, and the fate is bleak. For an unknown reason, the entire world has become sterile and, apparently, this makes people want to firebomb cars and shoot each other. When a girl somehow manages to become pregnant, Clive Owen must transport her safely to an island sanctuary where she can be probed and studied by physicians and scientists, or else mankind may never be able to conceive again. Cuarón’s projects always are guaranteed to be varied, if nothing else, from Y Tu Mamá También to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

The Last King of Scotland
When Scottish doctor Nicholas Garrigan becomes the personal physician to the president of Uganda, it’s all parties and beautiful women for a while. Soon, however, Doc realizes the horrible atrocities committed by President Idi Amin’s administration and his own guilt by association. When Garrigan tries to escape the country, he is told he can’t. He’s held by a mix of strange loyalty to the tyrant and fear for his life. James McAvoy plays the fictional physician to the real-life Ugandan leader, portrayed by Forest Whitaker. It’s quite possible that this politically heavy story with a celebrity-light cast could pull a Hotel Rwanda: virtually no returns at the box office, yet hugely successful critical acclaim and award nominations.


The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning
When four young people get stranded in a house in the middle of nowhere with a creepy dude who will eventually become Leatherface, you’ve got a Grade-B prequel on your hands. There are girls running through fields screaming, old ladies singing wacked-out lullabies and a sheriff with big black boots—uh-oh is right.

The Departed
Maybe it’s all those Teen People covers talking, but it’s still really hard to picture Leonardo DiCaprio playing a big-kid role. In Martin Scorcese’s latest film, he does just that, along with fellow former heartthrob Matt Damon. DiCaprio is a Boston police officer who infiltrates the mafia, while Damon is a mobster who manages to weasel his way into the force. Once they each figure out that they’ve been double-timed while double-timing, chaos ensues.

The Grudge 2
Sarah Michelle Gellar (also known as Buffy the vampire slayer) returns as Karen. In part one, she stumbled across a bizarre supernatural curse in a surprisingly terrifying movie. In part two, her sister is exposed to the same horrors. Once again, set in Tokyo and directed by Takashi Shimizu, who apparently has already written The Grudge 3.

Based on the ‘40s novel and ‘50s TV series, this revival of a perennial classic is sure to get 8-year-old girls flocking to the theater and rekindling pleas for their own ponies. When corn-fed little Katie (Alison Lohman) decides to tame a wild horse, she can only hope that her father (Tim McGraw) will, as a result, see her fit to take over the family ranch.