Fall Highlights: Film
(Miramax, R)It wasn't enough for indie-film guru John Pierson—who's been behind the scenes with everyone from Michael Moore to Kevin Smith—to move his family to Fiji to open a movie theater. He also agreed to let Steve James (Hoop Dreams) film it. That seems like an irresistible combination for a documentary. Sept 9.
(Miramax, rating TBD) This highbrow bodice-ripper stars Johnny Depp as debauched 17th-century aristocrat and poet John Wilmot, whose fast life and early death made rock-star behavior de rigueur for all serious writers of verse. Sept 16.
(Miramax, PG-13)Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins star in this drama about an aging mathematician and the daughter who comes to his aid when he starts to lose his grip on reality. It's an adaptation of David Auburn's Pulitzer Prize–winning play, it's got a solid cast and director John Madden (Shakespeare in Love) can be good when the material is good. Sept 16.
(BV, PG-13, Wide)Jodie Foster, who eluded home invaders in Panic Room, plays another beleaguered mother in a thriller set aboard a transatlantic jumbo jet. When her daughter disappears mid-flight, no one believes that the kid was ever on board. Time for some justifiable air rage! Sept 23.
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
(Warner Bros., PG)Tim Burton returns to his stop-motion animation roots for this gothic treat about a man who accidentally marries a corpse who comes back as a zombie demanding her marital rights. Sept 23.
(Sony, rating TBD)Roman Polanski makes great films (Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown) or god-awful stinkers (Bitter Moon, The Ninth Gate). We've got a good feeling about this Dickens adaptation, starring Ben Kingsley as crime boss Fagin. Sept 23.
(Magnolia Pictures, rating TBD)A drama about a girl's sexual awakening may not sound like anything new (the French turn out about five a year). But this low-budget film from Down Under swept the Australian equivalent of the Oscars, taking home 13 awards—including all of the major categories. Sept 28.
A History of Violence
(New Line, R)A diner owner kills two robbers, and when the media makes him a hero, strange men come calling, claiming he is a professional killer. It sounds like a straight thriller, but prepare for something a bit more twisted: It's directed by David Cronenberg (The Fly, eXistenZ) and based on a graphic novel by the same guys who did Judge Dredd. Sept 30.
The Squid and the Whale
(Goldwyn Films, R)For this family drama set in the '80s about two married writers—one on the rise (Laura Linney) and the other on the way down (Jeff Daniels)—writer-director Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming) drew on personal experience: He is the son of noted Village Voice critic Georgia Brown and novelist Jonathan Baumbach. Oct 7.
In Her Shoes
(Twentieth Century Fox, PG-13)Chick lit wit Jennifer Weiner's second novel, about a hard-drinking, sex-loving woman who clashes with her more strait-laced sister, arrives on the screen with star power (Cameron Diaz), serious actor cred (Toni Collette) and a respected director (Curtis Hanson). With that kind of line-up, we're even willing to tolerate scenery-chewer Shirley MacLaine as the grandmother.Oct 7.
(Paramount, PG-13)Cameron Crowe's tune-filled take on the quarter-life crisis: A young exec (Orlando Bloom) returns home for his dad's funeral. With a superior cast (Susan Sarandon, Kirsten Dunst, Alec Baldwin, Judy Greer) and a nostalgia-rock soundtrack, this sounds like Almost Famous, all grown-up–like. Oct 14.
(Buena Vista, R)Though Steve Martin's recent comedies don't exactly have us swooning (Bringing Down the House, Cheaper by the Dozen), we love his witty novel about a sales clerk in love with two men. Claire Danes seems like the perfect choice to play the winsome Mirabelle. Oct 21.
(Universal, rating TBD)Marine Anthony Swofford's account of his experiences in the first Gulf War arrives on the screen with Jake Gyllenhaal playing the lead and Sam Mendes directing. We're ready for Mendes to redeem himself after the sluggish Road to Perdition, and advance word on this is good. Nov 4.
(Sony Pictures, rating TBD)Admit it; you're as curious as we are to see how Chris Columbus (fresh off the first two Harry Potter films) handles Jonathan Larson's oh-so-'90s musical about New York's bohemian community. In a move that is either brilliant or insane, most of the original Broadway cast is reprising their roles, ten years later. Nov 11.
Breakfast on Pluto
(Sony, R)Neil Jordan revisits the cross-gender agenda of The Crying Game with this drama about an Irish foster kid who heads for the swinging London of the '60s to become a transvestite cabaret chanteuse. The movie is based on a novel by Patrick McCabe, as was Jordan's grossly underrated 1997 release The Butcher Boy. Nov 18.
Pride and Prejudice
(Focus, PG)Keira Knightley (Pirates of theCaribbean) and Matthew MacFadyen (A&E's MI-5) star in what the filmmakers term the "muddy-hem version" of Jane Austen's 1813 novel of love and misunderstanding. Nov 18.
The White Countess
(Sony Pictures Classics, TBD)James Ivory, master of the tasteful period drama, directs this love story, his last co-production with the late Ismail Merchant. In 1930s Shanghai, blind diplomat Ralph Fiennes becomes enamored of a beautiful Russian emigré (Natasha Richardson), who will do anything to save her family. Nov 23.