Fall Films Promise Quality Fare

Fall Movies AP/CBS

No more monkeying around. It's the fall film season.

The studios are breaking out the big guns and the big names looking for a few big hits, CBS News Correspondent Jerry Bowen says.

"It's a tradition to save the good films for the fall and the holiday season," says Kenneth Turan, film critic for the Los Angeles Times and author of "Never Coming To A Theater Near You."

"This year, I think the studios have outdone themselves. They've really packaged a lot of good stuff at the end of the year," Turan says.

Good stuff such as "Brokeback Mountain," director Ang Lee's tale of two cowboys who fall in love starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. It won the top prize at this month's Venice Film Festival.

"It feels adventurous a little bit for a Hollywood film, even in this day and age," Turan says. "Given that it won in Venice, and the pedigree of everyone involved, that it could be quite good."

There are true life tales this season like "Walk The Line" with Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as country legends Johnny Cash and June Carter.

There's "Capote" with Philip Seymour Hoffman as the eccentric author Truman Capote.

"This really has a very good feeling about it. It really seems like it's going to be an involving film, really, about the nature of writing, the nature of observation, the nature of non-fiction," Turan says.

And "Good Night, Good Luck" about CBS's own Edward R. Murrow, who took on Sen. Joseph McCarthy during the height of the red scare.

"I think this film makes news casting really exciting. It's a film that really holds you because it's an enormous dramatic conflict," Turan says.

Broadway is coming to a multiplex near you. Want proof?

There's Gwyneth Paltrow in a version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Proof" about the depressed daughter of a brilliant but mad mathematician.

"This film for sure will get an Oscar nomination for Paltrow," Turan says. "It might even win it for her again. This is a very intensely dramatic film. It's a really agonizing role."

And there's "Rent," the award-winning musical about bohemians living in New York City.

By any measure, this year has not gone well for Hollywood. A slumping box office, few memorable films, even the big blockbusters weren't as big as expected.

For the audience that loves a good movie, the fall season couldn't come soon enough.

Many of those film lovers were in Toronto this past week for the annual Toronto International Film Festival, which has become a launching pad for both studio films and small independents.

"Increasingly a lot of key films are coming to film festivals," says Piers Handling, the executive director of Toronto's film festival. "You'll notice even Hollywood is beginning to take some of its riskier, more dangerous, darker material."

Handling says "buzz" can help propel a new film.

"Buzz is amazing," he says. "I mean, buzz is really what festivals are all about. When you get buzz around a movie it's fantastic. It can suddenly accelerate you from a non-entity into somebody who people are, you know, knocking on your door, agents, studios."

Among the 350 films at this year's festival: "North Country" with Charlize Theron.

And "A History of Violence" from director David Cronenberg.

"'History of Violence' is a fascinating film," Turan says. "It's about a guy in a small town, played by Viggo Mortenson, who kind of through an accident becomes a hero. And this act of being a hero changes his life in ways that he and no else expect."

One small film that Turan has big hopes for: "The Squid And The Whale," starring Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels.

"It's really a remarkable film. You really feel the pain, the agony, the unintentional humor," Turan says. "It's the kind of young, independent film making we should be seeing more of."

How about Roman Polanski's take on the Charles Dickens tale "Oliver Twist"? Or Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride," director Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown" with Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst or Terence Malick's "The New World," about John Smith and Pocahontas?

Also, from the imagination of claymation master Nick Park comes "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit," starring the eccentric inventor Wallace and his silent dog, who've already been in three Oscar-winning short films.

"There's never been a 'Wallace & Gromit' feature," Turan says. "And for 'Wallace & Gromit' fans, and we are legion, this is a big event."

From the bookshelf come a number of fall films, including "Memoirs Of A Geisha" from the bestselling novel.

"The director is Rob Marshall, who directed 'Chicago.' It looks to be a very beautiful film," Turan says.

"Jarhead," from the bestseller about one Marine's service in the first Gulf War, "The Chronicles of Narnia," from the C.S. Lewis fantasy classic and of course, "Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire."

"The 'Harry Potter' films are as close to a sure thing as there really exists in Hollywood now," Turan says. "There is a built-in audience for these films."

And what does Turan think might be the 800-pound gorilla at the box office this season?

"You can't be a movie fan and not be excited about the prospect of this 'King Kong,'" Turan says.

This remake of the 1930s classic is by director Peter Jackson of "Lord Of The Rings" fame.

"He credits a watching of 'King Kong' on TV when he was a kid with making him a film director," Turan says of Jackson. "If there's anyone who can come close to duplicating the impact of the first film, it's Peter Jackson.

"So, I think if you don't care about the new 'King Kong,' you're not a movie fan."

But if you are a movie fan, the fall films are here. So go bananas.
  • Sean Alfano

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