Fifteen Flicks for Fall 2006

Exactly one year ago, I posted my previews of about 15 movies that sounded cool for fall 2005. I ended up watching all but three of them. This year, there are fewer movies that I am dying to see (no Harry Potters), but I still managed to cobble together a decent roster (there’s at least one Potter-like film). Traditionally, the fall is when studios release their Oscar contenders. However, as you can tell from my lists, I’m not a fan of the Oscar-friendly anymore. These days I’ve gravitated back to my first love: supernatural/sci-fi movies (but that doesn’t mean I won’t see some trophy-bait flicks if they catch my eye). So here’s my list, in no particular order. See what you think.

1. The Prestige
This one is going to be awesome: Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale star in
Batman Begins and Memento director Christopher Nolan’s tale of two competing stage magicians at the turn of the 20th century. It’s supposed to be a twister, puzzler of a story (and I believe Nolan when he promises something like that). Oct. 20 cannot come soon enough.

2. Casino Royale
Bond is back, baby! I’m only a mild James Bond fan—the recent movies were a bit derivative—but I’m excited about Daniel Craig’s debut as the new Bond. He’s been good in everything I’ve seen (
Tomb Raider, Mother, Munich, and especially the British gangster pic Layer Cake). This movie is supposed to be a reboot of the franchise (how James Bond became 007), so maybe they can breathe in some new life. Let’s think of it as Bond Begins. (Nov. 17.)

3. Eragon
Based on the first book in Christopher Paolini’s fantasy trilogy, the tag line tells it all: One boy… One dragon… A world of adventure. I’ve never read the book, but it’s frequently mentioned as something that Harry Potter fans would enjoy. Following in the footsteps of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the HP films and Narnia last year, I expect Eragon to be another excellent, visually-spectacular, fantasy adventure. (Dec. 15.)

4. The Fountain
Hugh Jackman gets to work with all the cool directors (except in X-Men 3—boo Brett Ratner!). This time he stars with Rachel Weisz in Darren Aronofsky’s fantastic tale of a couple whose story spans over a thousand years (I know. Cool, eh?) in three parallel stories. Aronofsky is mostly known as an innovative, mind-bending indie film director (works include Pi, and Requiem for a Dream). Now he has a big budget, an epic story, and marquee actors. I’m drooling already. (Sept. 28.)

5. Dreamgirls
I don’t know how much I’m actually looking forward to this one. I love musicals, but I’m not too familiar with Dreamgirls. The tale of a Supremes-esque singing group could be as good as Chicago or as un-good as Rent. Beyoncé in the lead grabs my attention, but her movie career hasn’t exactly been bootylicious. (Dec. 21.)

6. Children of Men
In 2007, the women of the world are no longer able to bear children. As the human race creeps slowly towards extinction, Clive Owen discovers a young woman who may be the only hope left, and he has to protect her so she can save the world. That description sounds grander than the film really looks to be. Director Alfonso Cuaron (director of HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban) has been known to make the world look grittier and darker in his films (remember what he did with Hogwart’s?). (Sept. 29.)

7. The Departed
This remake of the hit Hong Kong cop-gangster movie Infernal Affairs is directed by Martin Scorsese. The cast includes Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon as the leads (one’s a cop posing as a gangster, the other’s a gangster posing as a cop), along with Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, and Alec Baldwin. I haven’t been a big fan of DiCaprio since The Beach, but I’ve always liked Matt Damon. I was underwhelmed by the original Chinese movie, but maybe Scorsese can bring something fresh to his version. (Oct. 6.)

8. Babel
Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu knows how to tell intertwined stories. His Amores Perros and 21 Grams were both critically acclaimed movies that played with narrative structure. Babel tells three stories spanning the globe from Mexico, Japan and Morocco. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Brad Pitt, and one of the best actresses working: Cate Blanchett, this is sure to be another interesting film. (Oct. 27.)

9. The Reaping
This one could go either way. I’m not a huge fan of Hilary Swank, but this time she follows in Demi Moore’s footsteps to play a missionary facing ten apocalyptic biblical plagues. I’m not sure where the story’s going to go, but I loved Seventh Sign. If there’s one thing I know about plagues, it’s that you have to see them on the big screen. (Nov. 8.)

10. Apocalypto
Between the scandal of The Passion of the Christ and the scandal of director Mel Gibson’s drunken outbursts, he had some time to create a film that I am dying to see. It’s set in the ancient Mayan empire (which has fascinated me since grade four) and the dialogue is actually in the original language. Remembering the Gibson of Braveheart, I trust that this will be an exciting epic set in a place and time that has hardly been depicted on film. (Dec. 8, hopefully.)

11. Pan’s Labyrinth
It seems like all the cool indie directors are into doing interesting projects for this fall. Guillermo del Toro (of Hellboy fame, who also did an excellent and creepy film called The Devil’s Backbone) has not left the fantastical world just yet. Pan’s Labyrinth is about a girl whose family moves to rural Spain in 1944. Rather than dealing with the Fascist oppression around her, she escapes into an imaginary world that includes the goat-god Pan himself. (Dec. 29.)

12. Stormbreaker
Alex Rider is a cross between James Bond and Harry Potter, and Stormbreaker is the first film based on a popular series of books featuring the 14-year old British MI6 super-spy who saves the world. It sounds like the start of another cool franchise. I trust they will stay away from Agent Cody Banks territory. (Oct. 6.)

13. Wicker Man
Another iffy one. It’s a remake of a 1973 British horror thriller about a girl who goes missing and the sheriff whose investigation of her disappearance leads him to a small, creepy island. If this is more horror than thriller, then boo. Nicolas Cage is the lead, also boo. However, if it’s still around by then, it might make an excellent Halloween treat. (Sept. 1.)

14. Happy Feet
Have you seen the trailer for this movie? That penguin is so cute! We’re in a time when computer animation doesn’t guarantee a worthwhile movie anymore, but did I mention that these penguins are really cute? And the dance! If that’s not enough, Robin Williams, (the ubiquitous) Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and Elijah Wood all provide voices. (Nov. 17.)

15. Night at the Museum
Ben Stiller is not my favourite comedian, but his latest is more of a family film that looks pretty fun. He plays a night watchman at the museum where all the animals and other exhibits come to life at night. It could be good, right? (Dec. 22) Plus
Honourable mention goes to a two-way tie for movies that I know nothing about, but have the best titles: G.I. Jesus & The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes. (Sept. 30 and Nov. 17, respectively)

Whew! That’s a lot of movies.

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