The new movie season has arrived. We'll be bringing you a variety of coming attractions in weeks ahead. To begin, Jerry Bowen with a look at fall movies...
Big names … epic sagas … even a tall tale or two. If you really love the movies, then this is your time of year.
The very best time of year, says Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan:
"You have to be optimistic in the fall," Turan said. "The fall is the season when the studios put all their quality eggs into that basket. So, if you're not optimistic in the fall, you're gonna have a terrible time the rest of the year!"
If its spy craft you crave, there's "Body of Lies," with Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe from director Ridley Scott.
"He's really turned into one of the great craftsmen, I think, of modern movies," Turan said. "He always does something interesting."
And if it's looney spycraft you really want, there's the Coen Brothers' "Burn After Reading."
Brad Pitt is a dim-witted gym employee trying to extort money from John Malkovich, a CIA agent with a short fuse.
Pitt appears again in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," a strange story of growing younger.
And the other half of the power couple, Angelina Jolie, stars in the Clint Eastwood-directed "Changeling," a case of mixed-up missing boys.
"Titanic" stars DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite in "Revolutionary Road," suffering together in suburbia.
A couple of other giants, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, team up again as a pair of cops in "Righteous Kill."
And what of this pair? Oscar-winners Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman are nun and priest in the film "Doubt" about accusations of clergy sexual abuse.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing how they interact with each other," Turan said. "These are two of our best actors, with really strong material. It could really ignite."
Looking for something a little cheerier? Sally Hawkins sees a bright side to everything in "Happy-Go-Lucky."
Michael Cera and Kat Dennins see the town in "Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist."
And Ricky Gervais sees dead people in "Ghost Town."
In a year when the longest-running and most riveting political drama has been the still-evolving presidential campaign, it seems appropriate to have a choice of political dramas at the box office, a trio of films to remind us that truth … or what passes for truth … is always stranger than fiction.
Director Oliver Stone bids farewell to President Bush with "W," Stone's version of how the 43rd president made it into office. Josh Brolin stars.
"You know, this could be anything," Turan said. "It certainly won't be boring. That's the one thing you'll say: 'I don't think it's gonna bore anybody.'"
"Frost/Nixon" is based on the real televised interviews David Frost conducted with the disgraced ex-president.
And Sean Penn stars in "Milk," the story of gay politician Harvey Milk who was murdered by a fellow San Francisco supervisor, a performance with Oscar buzz.
"The strength of the film is gonna be in the performances, and especially Sean Penn's," said Turan. "And whenever he gets really into a part, you want to watch."
No Oscar expected for the Disney sequel, "High School Musical 3: Senior Year," just big box office for the popular franchise.
Teenaged girls are expected to flock to "Twilight," a saga of vampires and teen love based on the popular Stephanie Meyer books.
Also off the book shelf: Diane Lane and Richard Gere costar in "Nights in Rodanthe," from the Nicholas Sparks novel.
And Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr. play a homeless musician and the journalist who befriends him in "The Soloist."
World War II is back in a big way. Daniel Craig leads the Jewish underground against German troops in "Defiance."
"Miracle at St. Anna" is director Spike Lee's story of African American soldiers caught behind the lines in Italy.
And in the epic "Australia," Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman fall in love as war with the Japanese looms.
In an odd way, says critic Turan, Americans find comfort in WWII movies:
"We are in such a quandary now about our place in the world. And I think we have a real nostalgia for the days when it was crystal-clear who the good guys were, the bad guys were, what we should be doing. And also, when we clearly won."
"The Wrestler" won top honors at this fall's Venice Film Festival, with Mickey Rourke as the title character looking for one more rematch, and one more chance to connect with his daughter.
Other festival favorites include Anne Hathaway as the just-out-of-rehab sister of the bride in "Rachel Getting Married."
And "The Secret Life of Bees" got good buzz at the Toronto Film Festival last week.
And finally … James Bond is back in "Quantum of Solace," still angry over the death of his girlfriend in the last film.
So if it's movies you like … this is your time of year.
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