Fall Movie Guide: October 2011 – Week 1

Week 1: October 7th, 2011

Title: The Ides of March

Based on the play by Beau Willimon

Screenplay by: George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

Directed by: George Clooney

Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti and Evan Rachel Wood

“An idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.”

After the success of the play Farragut North, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood came calling. Lucky for Beau Willimon, one of Hollywood’s best came in the form of George Clooney as writer/producer/director/star. The script was the number 1 script on the 2010 Black List as compiled by Hollywood’s agents and managers, and the film has been getting Oscar buzz since the cast announcements., With a deep cast that includes the red hot Ryan Gosling, the nearly always Oscar worthy Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti back Clooney as well.

Set in the treacherous world of presidential politics, with a look into the world via an idealistic young staffer (Ryan Gosling) working for a presidential hopeful, he learns the ins and outs of the treacherous game from some of the best playing it. For him, the key is to not get sucked under.

Definitely a contender for many Oscars, I’m sure this will be a commercial hit as well, political movies do well when people are feeling political, and this next election is sure to be even more decisive and diverse than the last one. American politics are always a dangerous minefield, but when done right, the themes pay off in spades. Throw in one of the better stacked casts in years, with an assured eye and voice behind the camera (as well as in front of it) it’s sure to be something special.

Title: Real Steel

Screenplay by: John Gatins

Directed by: Shawn Levy

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo and Evangeline Lilly

“Set in the near future, where robot boxing is a top sport, a struggling promoter feels he’s found a champion in a discarded robot. During his hopeful rise to the top, he discovers he has an 11-year-old son who wants to know his father.”

Walking on the cooling heels of the Transformers trilogy, Real Steel is a non-licensed, big budget Rock Em Sock Em Robots movie. And really, who can blame them? With board games being bought up as hot properties, and the Transformers movies doing billions worldwide, what do they really have to lose?

Hugh Jackman stars as a burned out old promoter that no one thinks has a shot in the world. However, he miraculously sees something, a diamond in the rough, when he comes across a discarded robot, and believes he can take it to the top of the robot boxing profession.

He learns that he also has an 11 year old son who would like to know his father. Many early reviews (including Jeremy’s) complained that a lot of things in the story seemed sacrificed to cater to the father/son aspect of the film, which many criticized as heavy handed and poorly written. Somehow, in a movie about giant boxing robots, that doesn’t sound too far off. For fans of big dumb things and sappy stories it seems.

Title: 1911

Directed by: Jackie Chan and Li Zhang

Starring: Jackie Chan, Binbing Li and Winston Chao

“A historical drama based on the founding of the Republic of China when nationalist forces led by Sun Yat-sen overthrew the Qing Dynasty.”

The latest Jackie Chan film returns him back to Hong Kong once again, where he has most recently cooked up this historical drama. Moving away from straight up martial arts films, Chan has made a serious attempt to branch out of his comfort zone while acting, but too often it has come off like a segment from one of his other films with the action cut out, which is the reason Chan became a star in the first place, his martial arts abilities.

Here, reports are that Chan plays it relatively straight, but that the film itself is a bit of a hot mess. Many have called it overcomplicated and far too glossy to discern any real emotions, it seems the parts don’t make a tidy sum, and many have been disappointed overall.

However, for fans of historical Asian dramas and hardcore Jackie Chan fans, this is probably something worth checking out, but reports are that it is lackluster overall, void of the magic that made Chan’s past movies so enjoyable. Go at your own risk.

Title: Blackthorn

Screenplay by: Miguel Barros

Directed by: Mateo Gil

Starring: Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega and Stephen Rea

“In Bolivia, Butch Cassidy (now calling himself James Blackthorne) pines for one last sight of home, an adventure that aligns him with a young robber and makes the duo a target for gangs and lawmen alike.”

This film has gotten pretty wide praise as the rare western made every few years that’s actually worth a damn. Butch Cassidy (Sam Shepard) is living the quiet life in Bolivia when he finds out Etta Place has died, leaving behind a son. The long-known “Uncle Butch” is about to go on his last grand adventure to see what may be his long lost son.

Director Mateo Gil has garnered wide praise for his past Spanish language films like Open Your Eyes and Nobody Knows Anybody. Here, he reteams with former collaborator Eduardo Noriega as they film on location in Bolivia. Said to have excellent cinematography and a strong performance from Sam Shepard, this is one film I’m going to be seeing this weekend because I’ve heard so many good things.

So far, reviews have been very positive, giving high praise to the story and ultimately the execution of the story. Depending on the critical reception, might be a dark horse for a few Oscar nominations. Only time will tell.

Title: The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence)

Written and Directed by: Tom Six

Starring: Laurence R. Harvey, Ashlynn Yennie and Dominic Borrelli

“Inspired by the fictional Dr. Heiter, disturbed loner Martin dreams of creating a 12-person centipede and sets out to realize his sick fantasy.”

Tom Six is back, with a stated mission to shock the world even worse than when they saw The Human Centipede (First Sequence), and so far he’s done pretty well, already getting the film banned and cut in a few different countries. Taking a new twist on the old formula, Dr. Heiter reigns his madness on mankind for real by inspiring disturbed Martin to create his own human centipede.

I still have yet to sit and watch The Human Centipede (First Sequence) but I want to watch it just because of the widely different viewpoints on the film. Most say it’s trash, others claim it’s the highest form of high art. I’m inclined to believe either is true. Or both.

Not many people will probably go into this blind, but The Human Centipede has become enough of a cultural meme that Tom Six will have a built in audience as long as he has the ideas to commit to and unleash upon the planet. Make no bones about it, not for the weak stomached. Horror fiends, this is the beginning of our season.

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