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Fall Movie Preview 2011

As summer fades, the minds of moviegoers being to change ever as the leaves turn colors and flitter effortlessly toward the ground. But at Player Affinity, we avoid such metaphor nonsense and give it to you straight: it's time for some original and thoughtful movies — enough of the brainless cash-cow remakes and sequels.

Like we've done with the past few major movie seasons, we of the PAM staff have pooled together our collective 10 most anticipated movies of Fall 2011 (from this weekend through Nov. 11) into one major list, and each of us has offered one or two other films, from lesser-known festival films to guilty pleasures, as Critic's Picks.

All we can say is this is not a fall you're going to want to sleep through on your way to Holiday Season. 

10. Moneyball (Sep. 23)

Who doesn’t love a good sports movie? And Moneyball has a lot of talent behind it; it is based on a successful non-fiction book by Michael Lewis, has Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, American Beauty) and Aaron Sorkin writing it and had Bennett Miller (Capote) in the director’s chair (replacing Steven Soderbergh). Added to that, Brad Pitt leads the cast that includes Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Wright. Even Christopher Nolan’s long time cinematographer Wally Pfister worked on this movie.

Moneyball focuses on the early 2000s rise of the Oakland Athletics, an unfashionable baseball team lacking the financial resources to compete with the bigger payroll teams. Tired that the Athletics being on the bottom of the MLB, their general manager, Billy Beane (Pitt), turned to Peter Brand (Hill), a mathematician who comes up with a radical sabermetric approach to look for players who are consistent performers but undervalued by other teams. Moneyball could be this year’s The Social Network, a true story that mixes drama and quick, witty dialogue. ~Kieran


Directed by Bennett Miller
Written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (screenplay), Michael Lewis (book)
Starring: Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman


Kieran’s Critic’s Pick: Machine Gun Preacher (Sep. 23 - Limited)

Machine Gun Preacher could easily be the title of an exploitation movie, but it is in fact a serious drama about Sam Childers. Machine Gun Preacher has some great potential; it is directed by Marc Forster whose credits include Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland, The Kite Runner and Quantum of Solace and he is a director who has reputation for getting great performances from his actors.

Gerard Butler leads this movie and seeing as he also has a supporting role in Coriolanus this fall, he looks like he trying to prove himself as a serious actor. Michelle Monaghan and Michael Shannon support him.

Sam Childers is an ex-biker who has done some terrible things in his life and ends up being a born-again Christian. After seeing the horrors of what is going on in Darfur, Childers vows to go to the troubled province and protect its orphans from the Janjaweed.

This type of movie has been popular with the awards bodies, Schindler’s List and Hotel Rwanda being examples, though it could be more along the lines of well-received but not awarded like with Blood Diamond. Either way, Forster’s movie brings us the first story about the Darfur conflict — no, I’m not counting Uwe Boll’s attempt.


Machine Gun Preacher
Directed by Marc Forster
Written by Jason Keller
Starring: Gerald Butler, Michelle Mongahan, Michael Shannon


T8. Martha Marcy May Marlene (Oct. 21 - Limited) 

Elizabeth Olsen (yes, she’s related to those Olsens) leads Sean Durkin’s indie flick Martha Marcy May Marlene, the story of a girl who’s taken and influenced by a cult leader. The low-key drama played to rave reception at both the Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, as well as some Oscar buzz for its leading lady.

Even with all of that going for it, will it wow audiences? Sometimes there’s a significant disconnect between moviegoers and film critics (see The Tree of Life), but a film like Martha Marcy May Marlene could bridge such a gap. Unlike other “indie fare,” the sense of danger in this one is always present, and many who’ve seen it say even go as far to say that it’s a horror film.

What’s more, the performances from Olsen and John Hawkes as the ruthless cult leader appear to be not only in top form, but also tinged with hues of drama and never escaping the realm of reality. Despite what might happen at the box office, Martha Marcy May Marlene looks like a hit to me. ~Julian


Martha Marcy May Marlene
Writtend and Directed by Sean Durkin
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson 


Julian’s Critic’s Pick: Red State (Oct. 19 - Limited)

For better or for worse, Kevin Smith is one of the most notable directors in the film industry thanks to his quirky body of work and occasionally controversial remarks. It’s rare that his films don’t inspire laughs, at least with certain crowds, but his new film Red State sees him taking things in a starkly different direction.

Red State is a horror/thriller that more or less takes inspiration from the Westboro Baptist Church. It stars Michael Parks as the leader of all the chaos, while Melissa Leo and John Goodman look to have some incredible supporting roles to chew on.

The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year to mixed reception and a bizarre distributor “auction” where Smith bought his own film. Despite the varying opinions, the concept and performances are intriguing enough to instill interest in this potentially haunting feature.

Red State has played in several locations across the country since the Sundance premiere, including a one-week stint in New York to qualify it for Oscar attention; it hits theaters Oct. 19 but is expected to be available on-demand and on DVD/Blu-ray around the same time.


Red State
Written and Directed by Kevin Smith
Starring: Michael Parks, Michael Angarano, Melissa Leo, John Goodman


John’s Critic’s Pick: Take Shelter (Sep. 30 - Limited)

The apocalyptic movie is coming on strong toward the end of the year with the release of Lars von Trier's Melancholia and this film from writer/director Jeff Nichols. Take Shelter was featured at both Sundance and Cannes, and it stars the future General Zod, Michael Shannon, as well as 2011's “it girl,” Jessica Chastain.

The film follows a man who starts seeing apocalyptic visions and begins building a storm shelter to protect his family should any of these visions become reality. His wife, friends, and family are extremely worried about him, however, especially after it becomes known that there's a history of mental illness in his family. But nothing will stop him from completing the shelter.

It sounds like a premise Hitchcock would have loved, and a quick look at the trailer shows some very Hitchcockian themes and images. Shannon is always great in roles like this, and early word suggests this could be the performance of his career. Though it strikes me as a very non-commercial film (and not one that's likely to rack up Oscar nominations), it does look very creepy, very visually interesting and extremely promising.


Take Shelter
Written and Directed by Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, and Shea Whigham


T8. The Thing (Oct. 14)

No…it’s not a typo and you’re not surprised. They have indeed remade The Thing ... again. For those unaware, the 1982 classic is actually a remake of a 1951 film The Thing From Another World. The plus is it has the awesome Mary Elizabeth Winstead (of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World fame) as the leading lady. The con is it’s a remake — kind of.

The story apparently takes place three days before the events of the original film (so it’s a prequel, dammit!) when Dr. Kate Lloyd (Winstead) joins a team made up of Norwegian and American scientists in Antarctica. Upon arrival, it is quickly discovered that the scientists have unearthed an alien ship, housing a (frozen) creature thought to be long dead. When they melt it down for study (uh-oh), the creature soon escapes and soon they discover that it can mimic human form by killing the ones it imitates. As the crew hunts the creature, paranoia sets in as they realize that any of them could be the monster.

Sound familiar? That’s because it’s happened before! Still, with Winstead taking the lead, the producers of the better-than-expected Dawn of the Dead remake behind the camera and the always awesome Ronald D. Moore (who helped create the revamped and superior Battlestar Galactica series) pitching in on the script, perhaps this updated The Thing can sweep one out from under the rug … or ice. ~Max


The Thing
Directed by Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.

Written by Ronald D. Moore, Eric Heisserer, John W. Campbell Jr. (story)
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje


Max’s Critic’s Pick: Paranormal Activity 3 (Oct. 21)

In what has essentially become the new “Saw” franchise without the violence, we are now on number trois of the “Paranormal Activity” series. To recap, the first film was the first, the second a prequel to the first and now we are getting a mega-prequel (as far as we can tell). Feeling dizzy yet? You should, especially given the massive success of the first two films, which raked in over $300 million combined when they cost just more than $3 million to make.

Now, Paramount is hitting us with Paranormal Activity 3. Little is known about the actual plot, but the trailer shown takes place in 1988, when Katie and Kristi (protagonist of the first and second film respectively) were little girls being stalked by the demon for the first time. The events of their childhood hauntings were heavily mentioned in both “Paranormal Activity” films, but it is still not clear if the third entry will be a complete prequel or a parallel sequel in the vein of its predecessor. Regardless, given its October release date and slightly increased budget (up to $4 million), you can bank on this one being a financial success. Whether it’ll be well0received by the public is another matter, but don’t worry: Paramount will get its money back.


Paranormal Activity 3
Directed by Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost

Written by Christopher B. Landon

Starring: They haven’t told us yet


Dinah’s Critic’s Pick: Dream House (Sep. 30)

Dream House is the sort of movie that can add a small spark to the horror genre or utterly fail because of predictability. Take one haunted house, add a brooding man, his pretty wife and picture-perfect girls, and a know-it-all neighbor and you’ve got yourself what could be the easiest plot to figure out ever.

My skepticism lies in the marketing. The trailer shows what seems to be the entire story. Daniel Craig plays Will Atenton, who relocates with his family to a small New England town. Too bad the home they move in has a legend about the murder of the previous owner’s wife and kids at the hands of said husband. Will goes about figuring whose house he is living in only to realize he is the husband and was just released from the mental hospital.

A few things: why doesn’t the neighbor (Naomi Watts) who is shown talking to Will tell him he is the husband? Something else is going on here — a conspiracy I hope! In any event, some nice camerawork, the direction of a veteran dramatic director in Jim Sheridan and dreamlike visuals may enhance this otherwise predictable tale.


Dream House
Directed by Jim Sheridan
Written by David Loucka
Starring: Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz 


7. 50/50 (Sep. 30)

Formerly titled I’m With Cancer and Live With It, this comedy/drama has settled on the ambiguous 50/50, but by the looks of it and the early buzz, the odds are much better than a coin flip that you’ll enjoy the latest film from director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars a 27-year-old who discovers he has cancer and as good of a chance to die as he does to live. With Seth Rogen in tow as the best friend, you can bet that this take is somewhat irreverent but presumably in a way that’s sensitive enough. At the least, the film is bravely going into territory deemed too depressing for Hollywood before.

50/50 has made quite an impression in the early going, with some critics considering it a serious Oscar contender if it didn’t have Rogen and his R-rated comments tossed in. Levine definitely showed he could work both ends of the spectrum in “Wackness,” which should be on your to-watch list regardless how this one turns out. ~Steven


Directed by Jonathan Levine
Written by Will Reiser
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard


Simon’s Critic’s Pick: A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (Nov. 4)

It seems the holiday season is upon us early this year with the third entry in the cult franchise as the now-estranged stoner duo eventually unite after Kumar burns down Harold’s family Christmas tree. From there it’s off to find an apt replacement (no doubt with a few bumps along the way).

The first “Kumar” flick was a surprise to audiences and critics alike; it brought a new light (pun intended) to the genre. And again in 2008, the average Joe found a lot to like in the follow-up comedy. After the fun that was the first two, I have a feeling that third time will not be the charm for this franchise but who can be a total pessimist around the holidays?

The trailer seems very teaser-like as none of the central plot is touched upon, but who really cares about a proper ramp-up concerning a film like this. Before his resurgence thanks to How I Met Your Mother, hosting gigs, Emmy wins and TV guest appearances, Neil Patrick Harris was a highlight of these movies' setup as a foul-mouthed, womanizing version of himself to great effect. Despite his shift in stature (and possibly fatal encounter at a brothel), the man is back for a third helping of Christmas brownies (the movie would not have been the same without him). “H&K 3” delivers this Christmas munchies about a month and a half early on Nov. 4.


A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas
Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson
Written by John Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Starring: Kal Penn, John Cho, Neil Patrick Harris,

6. Real Steel (Oct. 7)

Rock‘em Sock‘em Robots beat Battleship to the cutting room floor it seems. No, Mattel’s classic two-player toy has not actually been made into a motion picture — quite. Real Steel tells the story of some down-and-dirty robots who beat the metal parts off of each other in the ring. But there is more to it than heads popping off with dignified thespian Hugh Jackman in the credits.

Set in the future where robot boxing has rendered human cage fighting obsolete, a down-on-his-luck promoter (Jackman) finds a discarded robot that may be his ticket to regained fame. For the sake of drama and heart, a long-lost son (Dakota Goyo) is thrown into the mix to push the plot along.

It sounds ridiculous, it sounds stupid, but so did highly intelligent talking apes taking over the world. From the trailer it is obvious much funding has been spend on bright well-chiseled robot designs and special effects. Just as Rocky and other fight movies prove irresistible to a segment of fans, Real Steel will make a mint even in the face of a George Clooney political vehicle and a Judd Apatow comedy that same weekend. ~Dinah 


Real Steel
Directed by Shawn Levy
Written by John Gatins, Dan Gilroy and Jeremy Leven
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly, Dakota Goyo


Dinah’s Critic’s Pick: Killer Elite (Sep. 23)

Guys beating other guys up is the first ingredient in a movie I may like. Throw in Jason Statham and Clive Owen, two British blokes that make me want to change continents, and I’m 100 percent in.

This shoot-‘em-up action flick offers some dignity to the decidedly undignified Robert De Niro. The gist is this: two elite operatives Danny (Statham) and Hunter (De Niro) are up against a secret military society led by (Owen). The trailer shows an awesome sequence where Statham escapes the grasp of Owen while handcuffed to a chair. It makes no sense and that is why it is awesome and must be seen.

We’ve seen all of this — and from these very men — before. The twist is this is a highly stylized true story. It appears a step up from the Crank and Transporter franchises Statham is accustomed to and with Owen’s pedigree might class up the funk left by De Niro’s predictable phoned-in performance. The action looks awesome, the cast is delicious, and I can’t wait to see this in late September. 


Killer Elite
Directed by Gary McKendry
Written by Ranulph Fiennes, Gary McKendry, Matt Sherring  
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jason Statham, Clive Owen 


Julian’s Critic’s Pick: Safe (Oct. 28)

Jason Statham is as much of a staple to the action genre now as Sylvester Stallone was when leading the “Rambo” films. He’s solidified himself in the genre with performances in films like The Italian Job, the “Transporter” series, Death Race, and – perhaps the biggest sign that he was welcome to the Action Hero Club – The Expendables.

Although he’s definitely capable with action, there’s room for some growth in his dramatic acting chops, and that hunger might be satisfied with Boaz Yakin’s Safe. Typical to what Statham usually does, the film features the leading man as a former agent seeking to save a young girl from some sort of danger. Unfortunately, details on this one are scarce at the moment — there’s not even a trailer for it just yet.

Despite the lack of knowledge out there about Safe, the film might see Statham tackling some more drama than he’s used to, while still retaining the take-no-prisoners action that he can probably pull off in his sleep in films such as Killer Elite, also out this fall. 

Written and Directed by Boaz Yakin
Starring: Jason Statham, Chris Sarandon, Catherine Chan


5. In Time (Oct. 28) 

Justin Timberlake has done well enough with The Social Network and Friends with Benefits. Now he aims to be an action star with the upcoming In Time, which takes place in a dystopian future where the aging gene has been rendered ineffective and can be controlled at humanity’s will. The new currency becomes time itself, where the rich live forever (never aging past 25) and the poor must barter for what time they can get.

When workingman Will Salas (Timberlake) crosses paths with a rich but world-weary aristocrat (Matt Bomer), he unknowingly inherits his vast wealth of time — and a murder accusation as a result. On the run from the ruling class, Will enlists the help of Sylvia Weis (Amanda Seyfried), in an attempt to clear his name and overthrow the class system split by time.

Its premise is a little stretched (a la The Adjustment Bureau), but the trailers — which give far too much away — look slick and packed with enough action to warrant an entry into the crowded sci-fi genre. Combine action with a brimming (beautiful) cast, a romantic subplot that hopefully goes somewhere and an intriguing enough premise, In Time looks to take a big chunk of the date night demographic. ~Max


In Time
Written and Directed by Andrew Niccol

Starring: Justine Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried, Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde


Max’s Critic’s Pick: The Three Musketeers (Oct. 21)

I admit it: I have a love for Milla Jovovich. She’s gorgeous and badass all wrapped into one and the only real reason I would go to see The Three Musketeers from the guys that brought us Resident Evil: Afterlife. Still, Paul W.S. Anderson can have some fun ideas when in the director’s chair, especially when he’s got Jovovich, Matthew Macfadyen (Pride & Prejudice), Ray Stevenson (Thor), Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds), Orlando Bloom (Lord of the Rings) and Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale) to throw around.

To try and explain the synopsis would take far more room than my editor (or common sense) would allow, suffice it to say there are three legendary swordsmen (The Musketeers) that get wrapped up in all kinds of shenanigans that involve royal assassination attempts, stolen airship plans, a priceless diamond and a double-agent femme fatale (Jovovich); all of which involve explosions, chases, sword fights and yes — 3D. It’s obviously the exact way author Alexandre Dumas intended his work to be translated. Anyway, it sounds (and looks) out of control but could wind up to be one of the more entertaining films to come out of the normally sullen (or scary) fall season.


The Three Musketeers
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Written by Andrew Davies, Alex Litvak

Starring: Ray Stevenson, Matthew Macfadyen, Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich


4. The Ides of March (Oct. 7) 

The fall is a time for movies that mean something, and considering today's tense political climate, a film reminder of how politics can change us for the worse might be something all of us need. And who better to turn to for that than George Clooney and some of his finest fellow actors?

For the first time since 2008's Leatherheads, Clooney directs, and unlike that film, this one looks good — really good. Clooney plays a rising governor with his eyes on the White House. He seems like the ideal man to rally a nation behind, which is what draws a hot young staffer (Ryan Gosling) to his campaign team. But when he learns a damning secret about his candidate, the opposing side approaches him and he must decide where his loyalties lie.

If that's not a juicy enough description for a fall prestige film, consider for a moment that Gosling and Clooney are joined by the likes of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright and Evan Rachel Wood. Need another reason to see it? Check out the awesome trailer. It promises a lot of amazing acting, some smart dialogue and a few surprises. And if buzz means anything, this is a film we'll be talking about all the way until Oscar night. ~John 


The Ides of March
Directed by George Clooney
Written by George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Starring: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood


John’s Critic’s Pick: Like Crazy (Oct. 28 - Limited)

No film came out of Sundance with more buzz than Drake Doremus' Like Crazy, a romantic drama with rising stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones. Yelchin you already know from films like Star Trek and Charlie Bartlett. Jones might be unfamiliar, but she won't be for long. She took home a Special Jury Prize at Sundance this past January, and she's an early contender for a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

The film follows two students, Jacob and Anna, who fall madly in love but are torn apart suddenly when Anna is deported back to the U.K. and banned from re-entering the States. The two try a long-distance relationship, but it's wrought with complications, making them both rethink what's important to them and whether or not it's best to continue as a couple.

It's certainly not the most original premise, but if the trailer and buzz is any indication, the film is an honest and emotional look at the highs and lows of young love. The film gives off similar vibes as 2009's indie romance (500) Days of Summer, and if the acting and writing in this film come close to that level, it'll be a contender for my end-of-year top 10 list, for sure.


Like Crazy
Directed by Drake Doremus
Written by Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones
Starring: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence


3. Contagion (Sep. 9)

Steven Soderbergh returns to mainstream film with The Informant! writer Scott Z. Burns and they’ve roped in a cast that cannot be described with words, just a list: Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne, John Hawkes and more. The film appears to put the fad of global outbreak science-fiction films into as real of terms as possible.

The film follows a disease from its first cases to worldwide pandemic. On the large scale, a team of doctors must determine a swift course of action to contain the virus and on the small scale, a father/husband (Damon) deals with the consequences.

Everyone who sees this film will probably comes away with OCD, but it’s certainly fascinating in premise and in star power. I’m worried about it juggling too many story lines in trying to show how government is handling the outbreak as well as how it’s impacting people on an individual level, but Soderbergh has shown he can direct large ensembles successfully and handle multiple stories (Traffic). ~Steven


Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Written by Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, Jude Law


Steven's Critic’s Pick: Immortals (Nov. 11)

You can blame a lot on 300. Zack Snyder’s highly stylized sword-and-sandals epic based on a graphic novel becoming an unprecedented success in March a few years back convinced every major studio that mythology and related epics were insanely bankable. But the more examples we get, the more 300 proves to be the exception.

Tarsem Singh’s Immortals (amusingly from the producers of 300) might change all that (at least from a quality standpoint). The director of The Fall and The Cell begins his resurgence five years later with this glowing action fantasy starring your future Clark Kent/Superman Henry Cavill as Theseus, a demi-god chosen by Zeus to defend humanity against King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), a power-crazy warlord. Hyperion seeks to obtain a bow that can be used to release the vengeful titans that the gods defeated ages before whom he would ally with to rule the world. Basically, it’s Clash of the Titans meets Disney’s Hercules.

Immortals easily looks like the best thing from a visual/cinematography standpoint since 300 and the cast of Cavill, Rourke, Freida Pinto, John Hurt, Stephen Dorff and others will certainly help bolster things. In fact, Singh’s film looks like the Thanksgiving dinner of visual feasts (fitting for the time of year). The least fantasy fans can hope for is to be riveted beyond compare.

Directed by Tarsem Singh
Written by Charley and Vlas Parlapanides
Starring: Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt



2. J. Edgar (Nov. 11 - Wide)

J. Edgar Hoover is certainly one of the most colorful characters in American history. He was the first and is the longest-serving director of the FBI, fought against gangsters in the 1930s and was accused by conspirators of helping support them, was an ally of McCarthyism and more infamously was suspected of being a homosexual and cross-dressing. One of my favorite quotes about him is from Lyndon B. Johnson who said, “it’s better to have him inside the tent pissing out then outside the tent pissing in.”

This biopic sets out to examine Hoover’s private life, particular his alleged homosexuality, which should be no surprise coming from openly gay screenwriter Dustin Lance Black of Milk fame. Clint Eastwood has shown a knack for directing historical movies: Changeling, Letters from Iwo Jima and Invictius were met well by audiences and critics.

Leonardo Di Caprio adds another great director to his resume while Armie Hammer (The Social Network), Naomi Watts and Judi Dench co-star. J. Edgar already has a strong Oscar buzz behind it as one would expect with these talents. Unsurprisingly with Eastwood, we’ve yet to see a trailer. ~Kieran 

J. Edgar
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Dustin Lance Black
Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Arnie Hammer, Naomi Watts


Simon’s Critic’s Pick: Straw Dogs (Sep. 16)

The remake machine keeps on churning in Hollywood and with so many classics having gone untouched, fuel is abundant — so to speak. The original Straw Dogs starring Dustin Hoffman is widely considered an ahead-of-its time masterpiece, thanks in no small part to its shocking depiction of rape and violence. Although the original is no favorite of mine, I certainly do stand against such undertakings on principle alone but in spite of my better judgment, this thriller has my interest piqued thanks to a riveting trailer showcasing some solid talent including James Marsden and Kate Bosworth as the leads and a great slate of television stars such as Alexander Skarsgard, Dominic Purcell and Walton Goggins.

For those unfamiliar with the general story, Straw Dogs follows a couple that moves to the wife’s home to the Deep South (originally rural England), where tensions arise between them and some locals, forcing Marsden’s David to shed his timid shell and protect what’s his. The premise of this reimagining seems to keep the same plot but no doubt with some modern twists. Even if this fails to live up to the level set by the 1971 film (and certainly will not in terms of impact on filmmaking as a whole), keeping a tense tone with a nice slow burn could easily make this simply a solid fall thriller.

Straw Dogs
Directed by Rod Lurie
Written by Rod Lurie, David Zelag Goodman and Sam Peckinpah (1971 film)
Starring: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard, Walton Goggins


1. Drive (Sep. 16)

Nicolas Winding Refn took home the Best Director award for his indie action thriller Drive at Cannes back in May and has been earning raves from critics and moviegoers alike ever since. Ryan Gosling stars in the lead role; his second of three high profile projects this year after Crazy, Stupid, Love and prior to the George Clooney political thriller The Ides of March. Gosling portrays a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a hired hand for those certain high-octane missions, but as fate would have it he crosses paths with the wrong man and finds himself on the run.

The screenplay from Oscar-nominated Iranian Hossein Amini (who will also unleash the samurai war epic 47 Ronin and has been rewriting bits of Snow White and the Huntsman, both due in 2012) is reportedly incredibly strong as well, brought to life by Gosling’s intense central performance and Refn’s stylish direction. Ample stunt work and chase sequences are also promised which should entice camps looking for a potential Academy Award winner as well as those who miss the action of the summer blockbuster season. Regardless of what side you land upon, don’t expect this to be the last time you hear about Drive. ~Simon 

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by Hossein Amini
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Cary Mulligan, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman


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