2012 Fall Movie Preview

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Denzel Washington may be working his way through movie modes of transportation. After trying to halt a runaway train in "Unstoppable," he crash-lands a plane in "Flight," which looks like it will frighten and fascinate us this fall.

The season will bring two made-in-Pittsburgh movies with "Won't Back Down" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," a new James Bond adventure, a fresh take on Abraham Lincoln with doppelganger Daniel Day-Lewis and Clint Eastwood as an aging baseball scout talking to co-stars Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake instead of an empty chair.

As always, dates are subject to change and titles will be added and subtracted by Thanksgiving. We will tackle the holiday movies such as "Jack Reacher" (formerly "One Shot") with Tom Cruise, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and "Les Miserables" in November.


"The Words": Bradley Cooper is a struggling writer who finds a long-lost manuscript and claims it as his own, which brings him success and money but not happiness and peace. Cast also includes Zoe Saldana, Jeremy Irons and Dennis Quaid. (Review at left.)

"Cosmopolis": Unfolding in a single cataclysmic day, the story follows a seductive young billionaire (Robert Pattinson) as he heads out in his stretch limo to get a haircut while remotely wagering his company's massive fortune on a bet against the Chinese yuan. (Review at right.)

"The Cold Light of Day": Before he soars as Superman, Henry Cavill will portray a Wall Street trader whose family is kidnapped during a sailing vacation near Spain by intelligence agents looking for a mysterious briefcase.

SEPT. 14

"Finding Nemo": Re-release of the 2003 charmer about a fretful clown fish (voice of Albert Brooks) as he searches for his only son, Nemo, who disappeared in the Great Barrier Reef.

"Resident Evil: Retribution": Fifth installment of the franchise with Milla Jovovich's character of Alice the only hope as a deadly virus ravages the Earth and transforms people into flesh-eaters. For extra pop, it's all in 3-D.

"For a Good Time, Call ...": Contemporary comedy about young women, played by Ari Graynor and co-writer Lauren Anne Miller, who launch a phone-sex line to help pay the bills in New York City.

"Arbitrage": Suspense thriller starring Richard Gere as a New York hedge-fund manager desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire to a major bank before his fraud is revealed. He's also got women trouble.

"Trishna": If you missed the one-time showing during the Silk Screen Film Festival, this movie will be back for a regular run. It's an adaptation of Thomas Hardy's "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" starring Freida Pinto and set in modern-day India.

"The Imposter": Documentary about a 13-year-old who disappears from Texas in 1994 and appears to resurface three years later in Spain, but he now has a strange accent and looks different, prompting an investigator to start asking the hard questions.

"Sleepwalk With Me": Mike Birbiglia plays a younger version of himself, a struggling comic whose adoring girlfriend wants to get married. That causes anxiety and spectacular bouts of sleepwalking.

"Last Ounce of Courage": Marshall Teague is a small-town mayor who butts heads with an ACLU-type organization over a public religious display. Timed to coincide with Patriot Day on Sept. 11.

SEPT. 21

"Trouble With the Curve": Clint Eastwood is a baseball scout who refuses to be benched for the final innings of his career and reluctantly accepts help from his daughter (Amy Adams), an associate at a high-powered Atlanta law firm. Justin Timberlake is on the lineup card as a fellow scout.

"The Master": Paul Thomas Anderson's portrait of drifters and seekers in post-World War II America, featuring Joaquin Phoenix as a Navy veteran who comes home unsettled and uncertain of his future. That is, until he is tantalized by "The Cause" and its charismatic leader, played by Philip Seymour Hoffman.

"End of Watch": David Ayer ("Training Day") writes and directs this "found-footage" crime story about up-and-coming Los Angeles police officers (Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena) who find themselves on the lam from a drug cartel after making an unexpected discovery during a seemingly routine traffic stop.

"Dredd 3D": Karl Urban, who re-created the role of Bones in the new "Star Trek," puts his spin on Judge Dredd in a futuristic neo-noir action film. Dredd's challenge is ridding the city of a "Slo-Mo" drug that allows users to experience reality at a fraction of the normal speed.

"House at the End of the Street": Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence are a divorced mother and daughter who seek a fresh start in a small rural town but discover the house next door was the scene of a double murder. Now, only a surviving son (Max Thieriot) is living there, but ghosts and ghastliness linger.

"Red Hook Summer": A 13-year-old from suburban Atlanta spends the summer in the Brooklyn projects with his Bible-thumping grandfather in the sixth film in Spike Lee's Brooklyn Chronicles series.

SEPT. 28

"Won't Back Down": Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal play mothers determined to fix their children's failing inner-city school in this drama, filmed in Pittsburgh in 2011. It flirted with a number of titles, including "Steel Town."

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower": Emma Watson had been dead-set against any more high school roles until she read Stephen Chbosky's script, based on his coming-of-age novel. Logan Lerman plays a bewildered high school freshman in 1991-92, and Ms. Watson and Ezra Miller are step siblings and seniors who befriend him and offer a crash course in life.

"Looper": In this futuristic action thriller, time travel is illegal and only available on the black market. When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they send their target 30 years into the past, where a "looper" -- a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) -- is waiting to mop up. Life is good until the mob decides to "close the loop," sending back Joe's future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.

"Hotel Transylvania": The title venue is Dracula's lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up. When a human stumbles onto the hotel, he takes a shine to Dracula's daughter, who is marking her 118th birthday in this animated comedy with the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez.

"Beauty Is Embarrassing": Documentary about Tennessee-born artist Wayne White, who started his career as a cartoonist, found success with TV's "Pee-wee's Playhouse" and says his mission is to bring humor into fine art.

"[REC]3: Genesis": Third movie in a Spanish horror series, this time focusing on wedding crashers who are zombies.

OCT. 5

"Frankenweenie": Tim Burton directs this stop-motion animated tale about a boy who unexpectedly loses his beloved dog, Sparky, and harnesses the power of science to bring him back to life.

"Taken 2": Sequel to the 2009 hit starring Liam Neeson as a retired CIA agent who stopped at nothing when Albanians kidnapped his teenage daughter for the underground sex trade. This time, he and his wife are taken hostage in Istanbul, and they need the young woman's help.

"Pitch Perfect": Jason Moore, who directed "Avenue Q" on Broadway, trades puppets for the cutthroat world of college music competitions in this comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks.

"Sinister": Ethan Hawke is a crime writer who moves into a new home with his family, only to discover home movies of previous residents who were murdered. He fears his children will be next in this tale of supernatural horror from the director/co-writer of "The Exorcism of Emily Rose."

"Head Games": Director Steve James ("Hoop Dreams") tackles the concussion crisis in American sports in this timely documentary. Pros and young people alike share their struggles in dealing with the long-term effects of injuries.

"Chicken With Plums": Story of a famous musician whose prized violin is ruined. Unable to replace it, he decides to die and, eight days later, renders his soul in what is the beginning rather than the end of the story from Marjane Satrapi ("Persepolis").

OCT. 12

"Argo": Ben Affleck directs and stars in this dramatic thriller, based on true events, about the covert operation to rescue six Americans who slipped away to the home of the Canadian ambassador during the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Mr. Affleck plays a CIA "exfiltration" specialist with a risky plan to get them out of the country.

"Here Comes the Boom": Comedy featuring Kevin James as a former collegiate wrestler turned apathetic biology teacher in a failing high school. When cutbacks threaten the school's music program, he starts to raise money as an MMA fighter and rallies the school.

"Seven Psychopaths": Martin McDonagh, who penned "In Bruges," writes and directs a dark comedy about a struggling screenwriter (Colin Farrell) who inadvertently enters the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball pals kidnap a gangster's beloved Shih Tzu. Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits and Abbie Cornish co-star.

"Bill W.": Documentary about Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Also: Reel Q, new name for Pittsburgh Lesbian & Gay Film Society annual festival, Oct. 12-21, at the Harris Theater, Downtown.

OCT. 19

"Paranormal Activity 4": "All the activity has led to this," the preview promises along with creepiness, the requisite cameras and an automatic voice announcing, "Back door open, back door open, back door open," and that cannot be good.

"Alex Cross": Tyler Perry temporarily kisses Madea goodbye to play the title character, a homicide detective/psychologist from James Patterson's novels. Here, he faces off against a serial killer portrayed by Matthew Fox.

"Killing Them Softly": Three dumb guys who think they're smart rob a mob-protected card game, sending the local criminal economy into collapse. Brad Pitt plays the enforcer hired to track them down and restore order. The cast includes James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins and Ray Liotta.

Also: Projecting Hope Film Festival, 10th annual collection of family-friendly films, being shown at Waterworks Cinemas and helping Mission Vision.

OCT. 22

"How to Survive a Plague": Story of men and women who demanded the attention of a fearful nation and helped to stop AIDS from being a death sentence.

OCT. 26

"Cloud Atlas": The Wachowski siblings (Larry is now Lana, Andy is still Andy) and Tom Tykwer adapt the David Mitchell novel exploring how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another through the past, present and future. Each member of the ensemble -- led by Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and Jim Broadbent -- appears in multiple roles.

"Chasing Mavericks": Gerard Butler landed in the hospital after throwing himself into this role about a surfing legend who takes a young man who wants to surf Mavericks, Northern California's most dangerous waves, under his wing. Cast is led by Mr. Butler, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Breslin, Jonny Weston and Leven Rambin.

"The Sessions": John Hawkes, an Oscar nominee for his role as Teardrop in "Winter's Bone," plays a 38-year-old confined to an iron lung who is determined to lose his virginity. He seeks help from therapists and the guidance of his priest to achieve that goal in this film based on the autobiographical writings of journalist and poet Mark O'Brien.

"Fun Size": Comedy with Nickelodeon star Victoria Justice, Jane Levy and Chelsea Handler and set at Halloween when a teen charged with watching her younger brother loses track of him on the craziest of nights.

"Silent Hill: Revelation 3D": On the eve of her 18th birthday, Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) is plagued by nightmares, the disappearance of her father (Sean Bean) and the discovery she's not who she thinks she is. Sequel to 2006's "Silent Hill."

NOV. 2

"Flight": Mystery thriller starring Denzel Washington as a seasoned airline pilot who miraculously lands his plane after a midair catastrophe, saving nearly everyone on board. Afterward, he is hailed as a hero, but questions soon surface about who or what was really at fault and what happened on the plane. Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood and Melissa Leo co-star.

"Wreck-It Ralph": Tired of playing the bad guy in a video game for decades, Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) marches across the arcade and multiple generations of video games to prove he's got what it takes to be a hero in this animated comedy.

"The Man With the Iron Fists": Quentin Tarantino presents and RZA directs, co-writes and stars alongside Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu, in an action-adventure about warriors, assassins and an outsider who descend on one fabled village in China in a battle for gold.

Also: The 31st Three Rivers Film Festival will be Nov. 2-17 at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' three venues.

NOV. 9

"Skyfall": If the movie is as gripping as the preview, we're in for a treat. Daniel Craig, whose James Bond quips that his hobby is "resurrection," returns as 007, and this time, his loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her in this installment also featuring Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney.

NOV. 16

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2": By the time this movie comes out, Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson will either be history as a couple, back together or contractually obliged to be polite and friendly in public appearances. If that weren't drama enough, novelist Stephenie Meyer and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg cooked up a new sequence not in the book, prompting even the actor who plays Edward Cullen to say, "What?" EW has reported.

"Lincoln": Daniel Day-Lewis, whose resemblance to Abraham Lincoln is astonishing in early posters and photos, plays the 16th president in his final months. Steven Spielberg directs and Tony Kushner wrote the screenplay, based in part on a Doris Kearns Goodwin book.

NOV. 21

"Silver Linings Playbook": Bradley Cooper stars as a man who lost his wife, job and house and is living back with his Philadelphia Eagles-obsessed parents (Jacki Weaver and Robert De Niro). A mysterious woman (Jennifer Lawrence) with troubles of her own offers to help him reconnect with his wife but wants a favor in return.

"Red Dawn": The North Koreans are coming in this remake of the 1984 original about invaders on American soil. Characters played by Chris Hemsworth, Josh Peck and Josh Hutcherson seek refuge in the woods near their homes in Washington state, train as guerrilla fighters and call themselves the Wolverines after a high school mascot.

"Life of Pi": Director Ang Lee directs this 3-D adventure about an Indian boy who survives a shipwreck, only to be marooned on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger in the Pacific Ocean. Based on the Yann Martel novel.

"Anna Karenina": Director Joe Wright collaborates for a third time with actress Keira Knightley in a new adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's great novel. Cast also includes Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kelly Macdonald, Matthew Macfadyen and Emily Watson, among many others.

"Rise of the Guardians": Animated adventure about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Sandman and Jack Frost, all with previously unknown extraordinary abilities. When an evil spirit known as Pitch plots to take over the world, the immortal Guardians must join forces to protect beliefs and imaginations of children everywhere.


"Butter": Satire featuring Jennifer Garner as the wife of Iowa's long-reigning champion butter carver (Ty Burrell), who decides to try her hand at the art and bumps up against a talented 10-year-old competitor. (October)

"Special Forces": Diane Kruger and Djimon Hounsou appear in this film about French special forces sent to rescue a kidnapped journalist in Pakistan. (October)

"Rust and Bone": Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts star in a gritty love story from Jacques Audiard ("A Prophet") about an unlikely pair who fall into a tentative courtship. He's a back-alley boxer and a father; she's a killer-whale trainer at an amusement park who suffers a terrible accident. (November)

"This Must Be the Place": Sean Penn portrays a former rock star who, at 50, still dresses goth and lives in Dublin off his royalties. The death of his father brings him back to New York and into an unlikely mission. (November)

"A Late Quartet": Members of a world-famous string quartet struggle to stay together in the face of death, competing egos and insuppressible lust in this movie starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener and Christopher Walken. (November)

"Smashed": A young married couple enjoy a bond built on a mutual love of music, laughter and drinking -- especially drinking -- but when she decides to get sober, a new set of complications arise in this release starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally and Octavia Spencer.

"Tattoo Nation": Documentary exploring how a few incarcerated but talented Chicano artists changed the world of ink forever. It follows three tattoo pioneers and shows how a new style using detail and shading to achieve a remarkable realism revolutionized the world of ink.

"Toys in the Attic": Stop-motion film, about toys and knickknacks stored in the attic of a Prague home during the Cold War era, featuring the voices of Forest Whitaker, Joan Cusack and Carey Elwes.


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies. First Published September 7, 2012 4:00 AM


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