EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 23, 2012

10 To Fall For

There's a bang-up line-up of films this coming season

By Greg Vellante
Eagle-Tribune Movie Writer

---- — I

’m falling in love with the upcoming movie season. And looking ahead to the final four months of 2012 cinema, it looks like I’m going to fall hard.

It’s unlikely that I’ll be the only one: 2012 marks one of the most impressive fall seasons for film in recent memory. There will be big blockbusters, super sequels, and a strong selection of awards-caliber Oscar bait.

I also report with glee that this will be the last year I ever have to watch a “Twilight” film (Part II of “Breaking Dawn” hits theaters in November). Not that my dislike of the film will matter, since the series boasts an incredible fan base.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” one of three planned films by Peter Jackson in adapting Tolkien’s 305 page book, will come with a pre-existing fan base, too. It’s set for a Dec. 14 release. Though “The Hobbit” sounds interesting, with the upcoming stream of impressive offerings, I’m finding it hard to get excited about fantasy characters with hairy feet.

What does excite me is that Paul Thomas Anderson and Quentin Tarantino — two of my all-time favorites — each have new pictures. I’m also beside myself of the ambitious, visually promising, and plot-driven stories on the agenda just when the leaves start to turn, the day turns to darkness earlier, and a cinema seat is calling my name.

I can’t name them all, so here are my top 10 choices for films you must see this fall.

“The Master” (Sept. 21)

The sixth film from director Paul Thomas Anderson (“There Will Be Blood,” “Magnolia,” “Boogie Nights”) has the capacity to be something. IN addition to the powerhouse director, the film is led by powerhouse performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman as the charismatic leader of a faith-based organization and Joaquin Phoenix as a drifter, bad boy sailor who is lured by the temptation of the group. Think Scientology, though Anderson has passed off any relation to the religion practiced by celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Regardless of subject matter, “The Master” the film promises to be something truly special.

“Looper” (Sept. 28)

The science fiction genre takes a new spin with director Rian Johnson reuniting with his “Brick” star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Gordon-Levitt plays a young “looper”—a hitman who kills victims from the future, sent back through illegal time travel from 30 years ahead, so the body can be disposed of in the past without evidence. When his “loop is closed,” and Gordon-Levitt is asked to kill his future self (Bruce Willis) all hell breaks loose.

“Argo” (Oct. 12)

Local favorite Ben Affleck’s ambitious third project as a director takes him away from the streets of Boston and into the conflict of Iran. “Argo” focuses on the hostage situation of the late ‘70s/early ‘80s and the secret mission that helped six hostages escape from the country. The operation involved creating a fake science fiction film — building buzz, attaching names — and posing hostages as a Canadian film crew in order to flee the country undetected. A taut, tense thriller and effortless crowd pleaser, Affleck could be looking at plenty of awards come Oscar season.

“Cloud Atlas” (Oct. 26)

I already have “love it or hate it” vibe about this movie. The ambitious new project for “Run Lola Run” director Tom Twyker and The Wachowski siblings follows multiple generations, multiple characters played by the same actors (a cast that includes Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugh Grant), and impressive visual power that can be seen in the extended trailer for the film. Not sure what to make of the plot, which comes from the intricate science fiction novel of the same name. One thing is for sure: “Cloud Atlas” very well may be different than anything every viewed. Whether this is a good or a bad thing soon will be determined.

“Wreck-It Ralph” (Nov. 2)

There have been some great animated films so far this year: “Madagascar 3,” “ParaNorman.” I’m now quite excited, too, for Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie” (out Oct. 5). “Wreck-It Ralph,” however, looks especially promising. It’s the story of a video-game villain named Wreck-It Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly), who escapes from his game in hopes of shaking up his day-to- day video-game life. The film’s trailer already boasts some innovative, impressive animation and seems hilarious, warm, and inspired.

“The Man with the

Iron Fists” @boxBreakerHead:(Nov. 2)

Rapper The RZA from Wu-Tang Clan is one of the more knowledgeable people of Kung Fu cinema in the world. He also is a good friend of Quentin Tarantino, who is presenting the rapper’s directorial debut; a homage to those classic Kung Fu films with an ultra-bloody, super-stylized palette that looks like something straight from Tarantino himself. With the film’s extensive knowledge and names behind it, I cannot help but be ridiculously excited for this one. You should be, too.

“Skyfall” (Nov. 9)

I loved “Casino Royale” and despised “Quantum of Solace,” but “Skyfall” looks like it very well might get the James Bond franchise back on track. With plenty of action, a structured plot, and returning as Agent 007, one can only hope that this movie picks up the shattered pieces left behind by “Quantum of Solace.”

“Lincoln” (Nov. 9)

Steven Spielberg directing actor Daniel Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln? If this doesn’t have awards written all over it, what does? Day-Lewis is one of the premier actors of the era and his performance will indubitably shine. With Spielberg behind the camera, our nation’s history could make for one of the most interesting biopics of the year.

“This Is 40” (Dec. 21)

Judd Apatow has matured with each of his films. From “The 40 Year Old Virgin,” to “Knocked Up,” to 2009’s almost-perfect “Funny People,” the filmmaker’s growth is embodied in the emotional punch of the latter. “This is 40” looks to be in similar territory, taking a look at Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s married couple from “Knocked Up,” making the movie an unofficial sequel of sorts. Considering Mann is Apatow’s wife, and the children in the film are his own, I expect honesty at its best from this movie.

“Django Unchained”

(Dec. 28)

This is the film I’m most excited about – though technically it’s a winter release. Quentin Tarantino takes on the slave era and meshes it with the spaghetti western genre to create what will surely be one of the most inventive, entertaining, and well-crafted films of the year. This is the man who has made nothing but perfect films. I expect nothing less from him this time around.