Fall movies hit theaters, many with Pittsburgh ties

As far as Hollywood is concerned, summer is in the rearview mirror. Fall movie season arrived Tuesday and will stretch into November when it gives way to holiday films including “Into the Woods” from director Rob Marshall.

As usual, Pittsburghers will see themselves or their neighborhoods (even if they’re identified as somewhere else) on screen or behind the camera.

The late Pirate pitcher Dock Ellis is the focus of “No No: A Dockumentary” arriving Friday at the Harris Theater, while onetime Homewood resident Antoine Fuqua directs Denzel Washington in a big-screen, present-day version of “The Equalizer.”

Michael Keaton, who grew up in the Forest Grove section of Robinson, could earn his first Academy Award nomination for “Birdman.” Variety called it the “comeback of the century” but Pittsburghers know he never went anywhere as we followed him through “Toy Story 3,” “The Other Guys,” “RoboCop” and “Need for Speed” in recent years.

“Foxcatcher” could land Steve Carell in the contenders’ circle, too, thanks to his portrayal of John du Pont, once called “the wealthiest murder defendant in the history of the United States.” He stars opposite Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo as champion wrestlers and brothers Mark and Dave Schultz in the movie filmed in Western Pennsylvania.

Fans of young adult books are counting down the days to “The Maze Runner” and “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” while families can anticipate “Dolphin Tale 2,” “The Boxtrolls,” “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” “Big Hero 6”and “The Penguins of Madagascar.”

One of fall’s big questions: How much will “Gone Girl” the movie differ from “Gone Girl” the novel? We’ll find out Oct. 3 with the release of the crime thriller starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as a couple who have a fifth wedding anniversary for which there are no Hallmark cards.

As always, dates are subject to change, some titles will vanish and others will appear by Thanksgiving.


“No No: A Dockumentary”: An elegy to Pirate Dock Ellis who pitched a no-hitter while tripping on LSD (and later counseled athletes about the perils of drugs and alcohol) and spoke his mind while playing with the likes of Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente.

“The Trip to Italy”: “The Trip” director Michael Winterbottom reunites comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon for a new culinary road trip, this time in Italy, where they riff on everything from Batman’s vocal register to the virtue of sequels.


“Frank”: Offbeat comedy about a musician who finds himself out of his depth in an avant-garde pop band led by enigmatic musical genius Frank (Michael Fassbender) who hides under a large fake head. With Domhnall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Scoot McNairy.

SEPT. 12

“Dolphin Tale 2”: The story of the dolphin with the prosthetic tail, a symbol of perseverance in the 2011 original movie, continues. But when her surrogate dolphin mother dies, she must bond with a new companion or be moved from her aquarium home. Surfer Bethany Hamilton joins the returning cast.

“No Good Deed”: A suburban Atlanta wife and mother learns no good deed goes unpunished when she offers to help a stranger claiming car trouble. Turns out he’s a dangerous escaped convict in this thriller with Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba.

“The Drop”: Crime drama following a lonely bartender (Tom Hardy) through a covert scheme of funneling cash to local gangsters — “money drops” — in the underworld of Brooklyn bars. James Gandolfini, in his final performance, is his employer and cousin.

“The One I Love”: Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss are a couple on the brink of separation whose weekend getaway to save their marriage takes a surreal turn.

SEPT. 19

“This Is Where I Leave You”: When their father dies, four adult siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live together for a week. Joining them are spouses, exes and might-have-beens in this dramedy with an ensemble led by Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman and Tina Fey.

“A Walk Among the Tombstones”: Lawrence Block’s best-selling crime thriller comes alive with Liam Neeson as Matt Scudder, an NYPD cop turned unlicensed private investigator. He races to find the deviants who kidnapped and murdered the wife of a heroin trafficker (Dan Stevens, “Downton Abbey”) before they strike again.

“The Maze Runner”: Movie based on James Dashner’s best-selling novel about a boy named Thomas, a place called the Glade, a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D. and something locked away in his memories that might be the key to solving the mysteries of the Maze.

“My Old Lady”: A down-and-out New Yorker inherits an apartment in Paris from his estranged father and is stunned to find a refined old lady living there with her protective daughter. Cast led by Maggie Smith, Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas.

“Tusk”: Kevin Smith is the mastermind of this horror movie being called “a truly transformative tale” about a podcaster who meets an adventurer (Michael Parks) in the backwoods of Canada who wants to turn him into a walrus.

“Code Black”: Physician turned documentary maker Ryan McGarry follows young doctors in training at Los Angeles County Hospital as they wrestle with their ideals and the realities of saving lives in a complex, overburdened system.

“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”: Much like a marriage brings two people together writer-director Ned Benson combined his films “Him” and “Her” into a single story about a once happily married couple played by James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain.

SEPT. 24

“The Zero Theorem”: Terry Gilliam directs Christoph Waltz as a reclusive computer genius living in a burned out church and working on a project about discovering the meaning of life, or lack, once and for all.

SEPT. 26

“The Equalizer”: An ex-CIA agent (Denzel Washington) uses his lethal skills to protect an endangered young woman (Chloe Grace Moretz) from the Russian mob, in a hard-edged adaptation of the cult ’80s TV show from director and Pittsburgh native Antoine Fuqua.

“The Boxtrolls”: A human boy, lovingly raised by quirky creatures beneath the streets of Cheesebridge, ventures above ground and teams up with a feisty girl to keep the Boxtrolls safe from a villain in a family movie from the creators of “Coraline” and “ParaNorman.”

“Love Is Strange”: After nearly four decades together, a couple played by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina tie the knot in an idyllic wedding ceremony in lower Manhattan. But when one loses his job, they must sell their apartment and contend with separation, intergenerational tensions and capricious family dynamics.

“The Skeleton Twins”: When estranged twins, played by Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, feel they’re at the end of their ropes, an unexpected reunion forces them to confront why their lives went so wrong.

“Finding Fela”: Story of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s life, music, social and political importance as he created Afrobeat to express his revolutionary political opinions against the dictatorial Nigerian government of the 1970s and 1980s.

OCT. 3

“Gone Girl”: Book a girls’ night out. Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck star in a thriller based on Gillian Flynn’s novel about a woman who goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary and the husband who becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance and possible murder.

“The Good Lie”: Reese Witherspoon and Sudanese actors, all of whom have direct, personal ties to the war in their country, bring the story of the lost boys of Sudan to the screen.

“Hector and the Search for Happiness”: Simon Pegg is a quirky psychiatrist who decides to break out of his routine-driven life and launch a global quest to uncover the secret formula for happiness in this adaptation of the Francois Lelord novel.

“The Guest”: A family, grieving the loss of the oldest son to war in Afghanistan, finds some solace in an unexpected visit from a recently discharged soldier. But a mysterious, sinister chain of events causes some to question his identity in this thriller.

OCT. 10

“The Judge”: Robert Downey Jr. is a big-city lawyer who returns to his childhood home where his estranged father, a judge (Robert Duvall), is suspected of murder. He sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.

“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”: Judith Viorst’s 1972 children’s book inspired this family film starring Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner and, as the boy who wakes up with gum in his hair and watches the day go downhill, Ed Oxenbould.

“Kill the Messenger”: Jeremy Renner portrays Gary Webb, a real-life investigative reporter driven to suicide in 2004 after writing a series linking the CIA to the explosion of crack cocaine in Los Angeles and watching others try to discredit his work. Based on his book, “Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion” and Nick Schou’s “Kill the Messenger.”

“Pride”: Gay and lesbian activists come together to support striking mine workers in 1984 England in this film inspired by a true story and starring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West and others.

“Addicted”: Sharon Leal plays a wife, mother, businesswoman and sex addict in this erotic thriller based on the novel by the author known simply as Zane.

“Dracula Untold”: Luke Evans stars in an origin story for Dracula alongside Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Diarmaid Murtagh and Samantha Barks.

OCT. 17

“Birdman”: Critics are rediscovering the genius of Michael Keaton with this black comedy-fantasy that opened the 2014 Venice Film Festival. He plays an actor, famous for portraying an iconic superhero, who struggles to mount a Broadway play while battling his ego and attempting to recover his family, career and himself.

“Fury”: Brad Pitt is a battle-hardened Army sergeant who commands a Sherman tank and five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines as the Allies make their final push in the European theater.

“The Best of Me”: Two sets of actors, including James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan, star in a romantic drama, based on Nicholas Sparks’ novel, about high school sweethearts reunited after 20 years.

“The Book of Life”: Animated fantasy-adventure about a conflicted hero and dreamer who sets off on an epic quest to rescue his one true love and defend his village. With the voices of Christina Applegate, Ice Cube, Hector Elizondo, Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum.

“Dear White People”: In a satire of race relations, writer-director Justin Simien follows a group of African-American students as they navigate life at a largely white college.

“One Chance”: James Corden stars in a movie inspired by the true story of British tenor Paul Potts’ meteoric rise to stardom via the TV program “Britain’s Got Talent.”

OCT. 24

“St. Vincent”: Bill Murray is a retired curmudgeon who becomes the caretaker for a new Brooklyn neighbor, a 12-year-old boy, and drags him to a race track, strip club and local dive bar. Melissa McCarthy is the child’s mother and Naomi Watts a pregnant stripper.

“John Wick”: Keanu Reeves is a retired hit man forced back into the game after thugs steal his car and kill his dog in an action thriller also featuring Adrianne Palicki, Willem Dafoe, Michael Nyqvist and Bridget Moynahan.

“Ouija”: Cue the shrieks. After a young woman dies, her friends try to contact her through a Ouija board and freaky, frightening stuff happens.

“Laggies”: A marriage proposal to an overeducated, underemployed 28-year-old woman sends her into a panic and the home of a new teenage friend in this coming-of-age comedy starring Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell and Chloe Grace Moretz.

OCT. 31

“Before I Go to Sleep”: Thriller, based on the S.J. Watson novel, about a woman who survived a traumatic accident but wakes up every day with no memory. New truths make her question everything and everyone, including her doctor and her husband. Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong and Colin Firth star.

“Nightcrawler”: Jake Gyllenhaal plays a driven man who joins freelance camera crews who film marketable mayhem for TV news. Cast also includes Rene Russo, Riz Ahmed and Bill Paxton.

NOV. 7

“Interstellar”: Christopher Nolan directs Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn and Michael Caine in the tale of explorers who use a newly discovered wormhole to conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

“Big Hero 6”: Inspired by Marvel comics of the same name, a boy with a plus-size inflatable robot transforms his friends into a band of high-tech heroes in an animated comedy-adventure.

“The Homesman”: Tommy Lee Jones directs and stars alongside Hilary Swank in a Western based on the Glendon Swarthout novel about madness and heroism on the Great Plains in the 1850s.

Three Rivers Film Festival: The 33rd annual festival will open Nov. 7 at Pittsburgh Filmmakers venues and run through Nov. 22.

NOV. 14

“Beyond the Lights”: A rising young musician (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) falls into a passionate affair with the cop (Nate Parker) assigned to protect her in a romance originally titled “Blackbird” from writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love & Basketball”).

“Dumb and Dumber To”: Twenty years after Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels transformed themselves into the moronic Lloyd and Harry, they’re back and on a road trip to find the daughter Harry never knew he had.

NOV. 21

“Rosewater”: Jon Stewart makes his screenwriting and directing debut with a movie version of the memoir “Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity and Survival” by BBC journalist Maziar Bahari. Gael Garcia Bernal leads an international cast.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1”: Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage in this sequel starring Jennifer Lawrence, Julianne Moore and Josh Hutcherson.

NOV. 26

“Horrible Bosses 2”: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis decide to launch their own business but when an investor pulls the rug out from them, they hatch a scheme to kidnap his adult son. Christoph Waltz and Chris Pine join the mix.

“The Penguins of Madagascar”: Benedict Cumberbatch provides the voice of Agent Classified and John Malkovich speaks for a villain in this 3-D animated comedy in which the birds get into the global espionage business.


“The Last of Robin Hood”: Kevin Kline plays Errol Flynn in his late 40s when, swimming in vodka and unwilling to face his mortality, he launches into a high-flying affair with an aspiring actress (Dakota Fanning) who was still a teenager with a fame-obsessed mother.

“Life of Crime”: Jennifer Aniston stars as a kidnapped wife, whose wealthy husband (Tim Robbins) doesn’t want to pay her ransom, in a dark caper comedy adapted from “The Switch” by Elmore Leonard. (September)

“Tracks”: Story of Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska), a young woman who leaves her city life to make a solo trek through almost 2,000 miles of sprawling Australian desert. (September)

“Men, Women & Children”: Jason Reitman directs this story of teens and their parents as they attempt to navigate the ways the Internet has changed their relationships, communication, self-image, and love lives. With Kaitlyn Dever, Rosemarie DeWitt, Ansel Elgort, Jennifer Garner, Judy Greer, Dean Norris and Adam Sandler. (October)

“Foxcatcher”: Wilpen Hall in Sewickley Heights was the stand-in for Foxcatcher Farms during 2012-’13 filming in Western Pennsylvania of this eagerly anticipated movie about the real-life DuPont chemical fortune heir who went to prison for killing an Olympic gold medalist and wrestler. It stars Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave and Anthony Michael Hall. (November)

“The Imitation Game”: Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code but later was prosecuted by the UK government for homosexual acts the country deemed illegal. (November)

“The Theory of Everything”: Eddie Redmayne, a standout as student rebel Marius in “Les Miserables,” portrays British scientist Stephen Hawking opposite Felicity Jones as his first wife, Jane. Together, they face the challenges of ALS in this movie based on Jane’s memoir, “Travelling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen.” (November)

Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.

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