2006 September fall movie preview, September 2006 films

2006 Fall Movie Preview: September

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Wow, is there a whole lot of nothing on the release boards this month. There’s “Speed 3: Run or Die” (a.k.a. “Crank”), the smoking gun in Jessica Simpson’s divorce suit (“Employee of the Month”), Jet Li’s last action movie ever (“Fearless”), and, God help us, another “Jackass” movie. It takes us back to when August meant “Mortal Kombat” and “Lord of Illusions.” You get the drift: September is more of a music month than a movie month. Have you seen who’s releasing albums this month? The list is a mile long, long enough to make you forget about going to the movies until October.

Crank (Lionsgate, September 1)
Starring: Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Efren Ramirez, Jose Cantillo, Dwight Yoakam
Director: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Rating: R

The Pitch: A seasoned hitman (Statham) is given a “Beijing cocktail” in his sleep that requires him to keep moving or he will die.
The Buzz: The fact that we’re hearing about this movie two months before its release has us worried.
Trailer Highlight: Statham defibrillating himself to keep his adrenaline pumping.
Bottom Line: Look, do we really need to give you a reason to go see an actioner starring Jason Statham? If you liked both “Transporter” films (and why wouldn’t you?) then you’ll want to check this out.
Official Web Site: http://www.crankfilm.com/

The Wicker Man (Warner Brothers, September 1)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn, Leelee Sobieski, Kate Beahen, Frances Conroy, Molly Parker
Director: Neil LaBute
Rating: PG-13
Read our review

The Pitch: A sheriff (Cage) visits an island to investigate the case of a missing child, and runs across a community filled with pagan rituals and, for whatever reason, bees.
The Buzz: Yet another remake, of a 1973 thriller starring Christopher Lee (have evil, will travel). On the surface, this appears to be a little out of Neil LaBute’s sphere of influence (“In the Company of Men,” “Nurse Betty”), but he’s earned the benefit of the doubt at this point, personal feelings for Cage aside.
Trailer Highlight: Every shot of Burstyn, who just oozes evil.
Bottom Line: We get a “Skeleton Key” vibe from the trailer. Hopefully, that doesn’t ruin anything for anyone.

Official Web Site: http://thewickermanmovie.warnerbros.com/

Goal 2: Living The Dream (Touchstone, September 1)
Starring: Kuno Becker, Alessandro Nivola, Anna Friel, Stephen Dillane, Rutger Hauer, Nick Cannon, Santiago Cabrera
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Rating: PG

The Pitch: After gaining professional experience with the English Premiere club Newcastle United, Santiago is transferred to international giant Real Madrid.
The Buzz: The grand idea of filming the trilogy back-to-back was quite risky, but if the sequel is good enough to warrant a third installment, then it’ll certainly have paid off.
Trailer Highlight: Beckham. Ronaldo. Zidane.
Bottom Line: With the next World Cup four years away, soccer fans will be looking for the next best thing. Unfortunately, that probably means they’ll have to wait for “Goal 3.”
Official Web Site: http://goal.movies.go.com/main.html?lang=us

DOA: Dead or Alive (Weinstein Co., September 8)
Starring: Devon Aoki, Jaime Pressly, Brian J. White, Kevin Nash, Sarah Carter, Silvio Simac, Holly Valance, Derek Boyer, Natassia Malthe, Matthew Marsden
Director: Corey Yuen
Rating: N/A

The Pitch: Based on the bestselling game franchise about a group of female fighters in a competition to the death.
The Buzz: The game is great eye candy and the animated feature was entertaining, but whose idea was it to turn this into a live action film? The first trailer isn’t very promising, complete with candy color-haired girls running around with samurai swords.
Trailer Highlight: Jamie Pressly in an American flag bikini.
Bottom Line: We’ve seen this movie before. It was called “Mortal Kombat.”
Official Web Site: N/A

Hollywoodland (Focus, September 8)
Starring: Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, Bob Hoskins
Director: Allen Coulter
Rating: R
Read our review

The Pitch: The story of “Superman” star George Reeves’ (Affleck) alleged suicide, and the private detective (Brody) investigating the unsolved death.
The Buzz: Affleck or not, the film is a possible dark horse contender for the Oscars, and with the recent release of “Superman Returns,” there will surely be a renewed interest in the Superman franchise.
Trailer Highlight: Ben Affleck… not talking.
Bottom Line: It’s Superman meets “L.A. Confidential.”
Official Web Site: http://www.hollywoodlandmovie.com/

The Black Dahlia (Universal, September 13)

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johannson, Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, Mia Kirshner
Director: Brian De Palma
Rating: R
Read our review

The Pitch: An adaptation of a James Ellroy novel about two cops looking for the killer of an up-and-coming actress.
The Buzz: With the exception of pretty/vacant guy leading the film, the cast is gold. Eckhart and Swank reunite for the first time since the deliciously silly disaster movie “The Core,” and Johannson has the best agent in Hollywood, landing roles under De Palma, Woody Allen and Christopher Nolan in the same year.
Trailer Highlight: No trailer available at press time.
Bottom Line: De Palma is riding a pretty long cold streak (we still haven’t forgiven him for “Snake Eyes”), but when your source material is the author of “L.A. Confidential,” you’re off to a good start.
Official Web Site: N/A

Employee of the Month (Lionsgate, September 15)
Starring: Dane Cook, Jessica Simpson, Dax Shepard
Director: Greg Coolidge
Rating: PG-13

The Pitch: Two loser Costco employees (Cook and Sheperd) square off to become the movie’s title once they learn it’ll net them a chance with the hot new girl (Simpson).
The Buzz: We at BE are big Dane Cook fans – along with everyone else in the Western world, save Ron White – but we did not laugh once while watching the trailer for this. Not once. If the tabloids are to be believed, Cook had a hell of a time making this movie, though he seems to have no regard whatsoever for anyone who has to see it.
Trailer Highlight: Again, not one funny bit in it.
Bottom Line: All concerned should fire their agents.
Official Web Site: http://www.employeeofthemonthfilm.com/

The Guardian (Touchstone, September 15)
Starring: Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Dule Hill, Sela Ward, Clancy Brown, John Heard
Director: Andrew Davis
Rating: PG-13
Read our review

The Pitch: God love IMDb. They make everything so succinct: “In an effort to find his place in life, a troubled young man enlists in the Coast Guard, where he's taken in by a renown rescue swimmer who's hardened by the loss of his team from an accident years back.”
The Buzz: Given that we didn’t even know about the movie until we saw it on the release boards, we guess it’s safe to say that the buzz is nonexistent at this point. But Costner, between this and “The Upside of Anger,” is clearly positioning himself for some sort of comeback role a la Burt Reynolds and Robert Forster.
Trailer Highlight: Any time Costner gives Kutcher a verbal smackdown.
Bottom Line: Looks like an amped-up version of another Touchstone movie we saw earlier this year: “Annapolis.” We didn’t like “Annapolis.”
Official Web Site: http://theguardian.movies.go.com/

The Last Kiss (DreamWorks, September 15)
Starring: Zach Braff, Jacinda Barrett, Casey Affleck, Michael Weston, Eric Christian Olsen, Rachel Bilson, Blythe Danner, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Tony Goldwyn
Rating: R
Read our review

The Pitch: Based on the critically acclaimed Italian film, “L’Ultimo Baccio,” the story centers around a successful thirtysomething (Braff) struggling with the idea of settling down with his girlfriend (Barrett) only to fall in love with another woman (Bilson).
The Buzz: You stand the shot of misinterpretation when adapting a foreign film, but the cast is amazing and the script was written by current “It” director Paul Haggis.
Trailer Highlight: Braff running into a tree with his car and then screaming “No, no, no” as it comes crashing down.
Bottom Line: “Garden State” was great, but this could be the film that finally transforms Braff into a bonafide leading man.
Official Web Site: N/A

Lucky You (Warner Brothers, September 15)
Starring: Eric Bana, Drew Barrymore, Debra Messing, Robert Duvall, Robert Downey, Jr.
Curtis Hanson

The Pitch: Huck Cheever (Bana) struggles to raise the money to play in the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, where he knows he may square off against his estranged father (Duvall). Barrymore plays a Vegas lounge singer who just so happens to be the sister of Huck’s girlfriend.
The Buzz: Although his last flick was definitely for the chicks (“In Her Shoes”), Hanson’s films – “8 Mile,” “Wonder Boys,” and “L.A. Confidential” being three significant examples – generally click with both the crowds and the critics.
Trailer Highlight: No trailer at press time.
Bottom Line: Bana still isn’t a matinee name, but Barrymore is, and it may not even be physically possible for Duvall to turn in a bad performance. Count on a quality picture.
Official Web Site: http://www.luckyyoumovie.com

Gridiron Gang (Columbia, September 15)
Starring: The Rock, Xzibit, Vanessa Ferlito, L. Scott Caldwell, Leon Rippy
Phil Joanau
Read our review

The Pitch: Teenagers at a juvenile detention center, under the leadership of their counselor (The Rock), gain self-esteem by playing football together.
The Buzz: The Rock’s track record might be hit or miss with his theatrical releases, but the kids all know Xzibit from “Pimp My Ride.” Plus, it’s a sports flick, so who cares who’s in it? Guys will go see it, anyway.
Trailer Highlight: “Now it’s time to see who has the heart,” says the Rock. “Now is the time to prove to yourselves and prove to everybody out there that even though you’re locked up, you’re somebody.”
Bottom Line: No matter how many times we see it on screen, everyone loves to see the underdog come out victorious.
Official Web Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/gridirongang/

The Science of Sleep (Warner Independent, September 22)
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alain Chabat, Miou-Miou
Director: Michel Gondry
Rating: R
Read our review

The Pitch:A man is controlled by the people in his dreams, and tries to “wake up” in order to take control of his life.
The Buzz: Warner Independent paid $6 million for Gondry’s French-speaking true follow-up to “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (all apologies to “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party”), and if you thought Gondry directing a Charlie Kaufman script was strange, wait until you see Gondry directing one of his own scripts. Freaky deaky.
Trailer Highlight: Big hands, big hands, big hands!
Bottom Line: We’re cautious, but so, so there.
Official Web Site: The US site isn’t up yet, but you can find the French site here.

Jackass: Number Two (Paramount, September 22)

Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Bam Mergera, Steve-O, Chris Pontius, Preston Lacy, Ryan Dunn
Director: Jeff Tremaine
Rating: R
Read our review

The Pitch: You know the drill. Johnny takes shot after shot in the onions, and Steve-O performs acts on himself that would violate the Geneva Convention.
The Buzz: Buzz? We don’t need no stinking buzz. If you release a “Jackass” movie, they – the jackasses, that is – will come.
Trailer Highlight: Too many to count. The jet-powered bicycle, the super big bouncy ball, and the Sideshow Bob rake-in-the-face are all money, but perhaps the money shot is the ‘let’s remove this tooth’ bit, featuring a guy in a chair with a string tied to his tooth…and a speeding car.
Bottom Line: We’re there, though we’ll hate ourselves for it in the morning.
Official Web Site: http://www.jackassmovie.com/

Jet Li’s Fearless (Rogue, September 22)
Starring: Jet Li, Shido Nakamura, Collin Chou, Nathan Jones, Brandon Rhea.
Director: Ronny Yu
Rating: PG-13
Read our review

The Pitch: The story of martial arts legend Huo Yuan Jia and his journey to greatness.
The Buzz: Publicized as Jet Li’s last martial arts film, this is either one big publicity stunt or Li doesn’t plan on working in Hollywood ever again.
Trailer Highlight: Insert cool action sequence here.
Bottom Line: It’s Jet Li kicking ass for two hours. Of course we’ll be there.
Official Web Site: http://www.fearlessthemovie.com/

All The King’s Men (Columbia, September 22)

Starring: Sean Penn, Jude Law, Kate Winslet, James Gandolfini, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, Anthony Hopkins
Steven Zaillian
Read our review

The Pitch: Based on the Robert Penn Warren novel, this is the story of populist Southerner Willie Stark (Penn), a politician loosely based on Louisiana Governor Huey Long.
The Buzz: Despite all the big names in the flick, the fact that it’s being dropped in September rather than December makes it seem less than Oscar-worthy.
Trailer Highlight: “They want to ruin me ‘cause they want to ruin you,” screams Stark, “but I won’t let them!” Cue the rapturous applause.
Bottom Line:  If it’s placed in wide release, audiences will probably go see it because of the phenomenal cast, but it won’t be setting any box office records.
Official Web Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/allthekingsmen/

Flyboys (MGM, September 29)
Starring: James Franco, Martin Henderson, Jean Reno, Jennifer Decker, David Ellison, Mac McDonald, Tchéky Karyo, Ian Rose
Director: Tony Bill
Rating: N/A
Read our review

The Pitch: The adventures of the Lafayette Escadrille, young Americans who volunteered for the French military before the U.S. entered World War I, and became the country's first fighter pilots.
The Buzz: James Franco continues to try and become the Sean Penn of his generation by doing a period piece, while producer Dean Devlin appears to have put together another film that’s all looks and no substance.
Trailer Highlight: When the scrappy young Americans return from their first mission and are invited by the Brits to have a drink. “I thought you only drank with killers.” “You’ll do.”
Bottom Line: Given that it looks full of lots of obviously-CGI’ed air battle shots, we have to ask: do the words “Pearl Harbor: The Prequel” sound good to you? Yeah, us, neither.
Official Web Site: http://www.flyboysthemovie.com/

School for Scoundrels (Weinstein Co., September 29)
Starring: Jon Heder, Billy Bob Thornton, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jacinda Barrett, Dan Fogler, David Cross, Sarah Silverman
Director: Todd Phillips
Rating: N/A
Read our review

The Pitch: An ill-fated meter reader (Heder) enrolls in a confidence-building workshop to help win over the girl of his dreams (Barrett), only to discover that his instructor (Thorton) shares the same motives.
The Buzz: Early reactions have all been positive, and the fact that no one on this side of the pond has even heard of the 1960 Brit comedy will ultimately work in its favor.
Trailer Highlight: Not available at press time.
Bottom Line: Heder and Thorton could prove a dangerous comedic duo, but we’ll reserve our final judgment until the first trailer is released.
Official Web Site: N/A

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