Friday, September 04, 2009

Black Sheep Previews: The Fall 2009

At the moment that I am writing this, I am taking a break from trying to desperately unscramble my Toronto International Film Festival screening schedule. Many of the films that I am most excited for this fall will be screening at the festival – from Steven Soderbergh’s THE INFORMANT to Joel and Ethan Coen’s A SERIOUS MAN to Pedro Almodovar’s BROKEN EMBRACES. Depending on how I play my cards though, I may be fortunate enough to catch these during the festival. And as I will be dedicating most of September’s coverage to the film festival, I wanted my Top 5 picks for the fall to be made up of films that will not be seeing any love while the film world stops to focus on Toronto. And so, here are five other films from the fall that I cannot wait to see and share how I felt about them with you.

Directed by Kevin Tancharoen
Release: September 25

Anyone who knows me would think that I would ordinarily scoff at this remake of the 1980 film of the same name. It is clearly being repurposed to excite the current pop generation that has grown up on television shows like, “American Idol” and “So You Think You Can Dance”. Up until last year, I hadn’t bothered with either of these programs but now, anyone who knows me knows that I obsessed with “So You Think You Can Dance”. The latest season featured heavy FAME promotion in its finale and despite the fact that it will most likely make me groan when I see it, I can’t get enough of talented people dancing on screen. I may avoid the teen crowd certain to overpower the theatres opening night and opt for a quiet afternoon matinee but I will be there, dancing shoes and all.

Directed by Spike Jonze
Release: October 16

It has been some time since I read Maurice Sendak’s timeless children’s book about young Max (Max Records), a boy who feels misunderstood in his home and escapes every chance he gets to a world of wonder that exists only in his head. First off, I am a huge Spike Jonze fan. Not only did he make great music videos earlier in his career but also his two previous feature films, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH and ADAPTATION are two of my favorite films of all time. Who better to direct a film about the imagination then someone whose name is synonymously associated with the imagination? And this year, as is evident by the remarkable images in the trailer and the vast emotions they evoke, Jonze and this film will be serious contenders come Oscar time. This is certainly no simple feat for a family film but you’ve got to dream big to make it there.


Directed by Kenny Ortega
Release: October 28

I am not a Michael Jackson fan. I am not a hater but you won’t find even one of his songs on my iPod. It’s not that I don’t think they’re great; obviously a good number of Jackson’s singles are classics without question. They don’t call him the King of Pop for nothing, even if his camp was the only one still calling him that before his death last month. That said, I still want to see what director, Kenny Ortega is able to do with the rehearsal footage of what was supposed to be Jackson’s retirement tour. Sony has decided to release THIS IS IT as a limited two-week run in theatres and I can only imagine how quickly this will sell out. If there is no press screening for this film, I don’t even know if I will get in. Naturally, Sony is not going to release something that makes Jackson look bad after his death so I’m sure THIS IS IT will not disappoint fans but hopefully the title will triumphantly assert what the world is missing rather than leave people asking if that was it.

Directed by Wes Anderson
Release: November 13

Now this is a mind boggler for me. Wes Anderson, the man behind RUSHMORE and THE DARJEELING LIMITED, arguably a director who consistently polarizes audience opinions of his work, has assembled some of his regulars, like Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson, along with some new faces, like George Clooney and Meryl Streep, and made an animated film. This stop-motion animation film tells the tale of a war between a farmer and the foxes over the farmer’s chickens and seems on the surface to be distinctly aimed at children. With Anderson at the helm though, it is highly doubtful that his obscure characterizations will not turn these foxes into compelling figures that are bound to be a lot more human than one would expect a fox to be. The trailer is charming and I’ve no doubt the film will be too. I’m just happy to see the director push himself hard.

Directed by Rob Marshall
Release November 25

Whereas I do commend directors for braving new styles of filmmaking, I am overjoyed to see Rob Marshall, the director of CHICAGO, return to musical with NINE. I am not familiar with the musical itself, other than to say the premise is based on Federico Fellini’s 8½, but the combination of a director who has proven he can master and modernize the movie musical and this unbelievable cast is too good to be true. NINE features a famous director who must resolve his career and the women in his life. The women here will be played by Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson, Fergie and Sophia Loren. The director (originally supposed to be Javier Bardem until he pulled out for a break from filmmaking) is to be played by a singing and dancing Daniel Day-Lewis. And now we wait to see if Marshall can repeat his CHICAGO success and maybe even net himself an Oscar for direction this time.

What about you? What are you looking forward to? Enjoy the fall.

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