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DONALD CLARKEmarks your movie card from September to Christmas as we prepare to bid farewell to Harry Potter, Sawand that girl with the dragon tattoo, but catch up with the folks in Narnia, reacquaint ourselves with Tron and catch our first movie starring Facebook
I ALWAYS think the Christmas is a sad time. Winter 2010 is a more than usually morose period for fans of several significant movie franchises. Nine years after the first Harry Potter film began that franchise’s colonisation programme, Warner Brothers triggers the beginning of the end with the launch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. The gruesome Sawsequence winds down with Part 7 and the Swedish-language adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattooseries completes its trilogy.
On the other hand, a spirit of renewal is on display with Narnia returning after two years in the wardrobe and – a full 30 years after the first film – a return to the digital Oz of Tronfor Walt Disney. What else? Well, Oscar-hunting seasons begins on October 15th with the launch of David Fincher’s The Social Network. Burlesque, internet pioneers and artificial insemination appear to be the subjects of the season, and 3D continues its progress about the schedules. Merry Christmas. Ho, ho, ho!
Tides ebb and flow. Kingdoms rise and fall. But Jennifer Aniston continues to make romantic comedies. In her latest, she discovers surprising news about the father of her artificially inseminated child.
CHERRY TREE LANE
Paul Andrew Williams, director of the fine London to Brightonand the dodgy The Cottage, serves up a low-budget house-invasion thriller. Eyebrows were raised at the recent Edinburgh Film Festival.
Adaptation of a vintage DC comic starring the ubiquitous (and welcome) Josh Brolin as some sort of bounty hunter in the Wild West. Megan Fox and Michael Fassbender are also among the sagebrush.
Rousing tale of the Northern Soul scene that cheered up England during the 1970s. Respected Irish director Shimmy Marcus – creator of Aidan Walsh: Master of the Universe– is behind the helm.
WHY DID I GET MARRIED TOO?
A rare transatlantic release for a film by African-American sensation Tyler Perry. Janet Jackson is among those wondering why she ever tied the knot in a morally upright comedy drama.
A widower rubs his fiancée’s selfish son up the wrong way in a well-reviewed comedy from the up-and-coming Duplass brothers. If nothing else it’s cleverly cast. John C Reilly, Marisa Tomei and Jonah Hill do the honours.
GOING THE DISTANCE
With that title, it’s either a romantic comedy or a sports movie. It turns out to be the former. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long are the couple trying to maintain a long-term relationship.
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE
What do you need to know? In the latest film in the zombie cycle, Milla Jovovich returns to LA and launches a direct assault on the appalling Umbrella Conglomerate. Once again, the wrong Paul Anderson directs (WS, not T).
Rock drama dealing with the rise and fall of the band that gave us Joan Jett. Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning will be bellowing such hits as Cherry Bomband Neon Angel.
The unstoppable Stephen Frears – he of Prick up your Earsand a dozen other gems – directs Gemma Arterton in an adaptation of Posy Simmonds’s Guardiancomic strip. It’s a loose version of Far from the Madding Crowd.
Five people get stuck in an elevator. One of them might be the Devil. Pardon? Co-directed by John Erick Dowdle, who brought us the decent Quarantine, the picture looks to have set itself a few daunting narrative challenges.
It’s a romantic comedy about a physical therapist who falls in love with a professional basketball player. Heck, to get me interested in that, you’d have to cast Queen Latifah. Ah, your majesty.
THE OTHER GUYS
Director Adam McKay is reunited with Will Ferrell – collaborators on such romps as Talladega Nightsand Anchorman– for a comedy about two hopeless police officers. Mark Wahlberg is the other dope.
Hugely acclaimed crime drama following a young woman as she searches the Ozarks for her a father – a drug dealer – after learning he has put their house up as a bail bond. A stunning sense of place.
Hooray! Joe Dante is back. The director of Gremlinsand The Howlingreturns to what he knows best. The Hole, shot in 3D, is a family-friendly horror film concerning a mysterious aperture in a young family’s basement.
EAT, PRAY, LOVE
Adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling novel concerning a woman who, following a divorce, travels in search of enlightenment. Julia Roberts was won over to Hinduism during the shoot.
ENTER THE VOID
The great puzzler of the 2009 Cannes film festival, Gaspar Noé’s psychedelic melodrama concerns the afterlife of a young American drug dealer. Opinion is divided as to whether it’s a masterpiece or a catastrophe.
Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck’s debut feature as director, was an enormous smash in this country. The follow-up, another Boston-based crime drama, stars Jeremy Renner in an adaptation of Chuck Hogan’s admired novel Prince of Thieves.
Now here’s a high concept for you. Ryan Reynolds plays a truck driver who awakes to find himself buried in a box with nothing but a lighter, a knife and his cell phone. Get out of that, Reynolds.
MADE IN DAGENHAM
How long have you waited to see the credit “Miranda Richardson is Barbara Castle”? Oh, please yourself then. Nigel Cole’s film concerns an iconic strike by car workers in 1960s London.
Another film that’s been lurking around since Cannes 2009, Corneliu Porumboiu’s Romanian puzzler finds a police officer questioning the moral dynamics of his profession. Greatly admired on the festival circuit.
Yes, this is one of those films that keeps appearing on such seasonal previews. The likes of Matt Dillon, Hayden Christensen and Paul Walker involve themselves in bank robbery.
CHARLIE ST CLOUD
Adaptation of a drippy novel about a young man who has to choose between a pact he made with his dead brother and pursuing the woman he loves. Zac Efron is the chap with the dilemma.
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT
October appears to be hankie season. This comic weepy features Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel as two friends who adopt a young girl when her parents, their mutual pals, are killed in a car crash.
Wake up, students. The film you’ve been waiting for is finally here. Yes, it’s that biopic of dope dealer Howard Marks starring Rhys Ifans. The flexible Bernard Rose directs.
WALL STREET: MONEY NEVER SLEEPS
You know what this is. In Oliver Stone’s sequel to a defining 1980s drama, corporate hoodlum Gordon Gekko emerges from prison and cosies up to his daughter’s boyfriend. It’s fresh-faced Shia LaBeouf.
ALL GOOD CHILDREN
Spooky, avant-garde piece by newcomer Alicia Duffy concerning a painful coming-of-age in rural France. A co-production of the Irish Film Board, the film also features a largely domestic cast.
Computer-generated comedy – already a hit in the US – concerning an evil genius who, while attempting to use a trio of young orphans in a diabolical scheme, finds himself softening somewhat.
William Monahan, writer of The Departed, directs a drama concerning a reclusive female movie star and her newly hired bodyguard. Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley star. Classy.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK
David Fincher follows up the achingly meretricious Benjamin Buttonwith a drama concerning the men who invented Facebook. Really?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. After Scary Movie, Date Movie, Meet the Spartansand the surprisingly bearable Dance Flick, we get yet another collection of film parodies. Expect plenty of Twilight-based humour.
ALPHA AND OMEGA
It’s already the answer to a (quite difficult) movie trivia question. This animation concerning friendly wolves is the last film that Dennis Hopper worked on. I bet he voices a bad guy.
How much do you know about Iceland’s immigrant communities? Bone up with this drama concerning a football team largely composed of Africans living in the snowy northern country.
A teenager finds her reputation ruined when a rumour gets out that she has lost her virginity. That’s right. It’s a high-school comedy vaguely inspired by The Scarlet Letter. Emma Stone is the latter-day Hester Prynne.
LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS:
THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE
An adaptation of a highly respected novel series by Kathryn Lasky. Zack Snyder’s film has to do with the interactions of talking owls – it can only be more fun than Snyder’s soporific Watchmen.
RAMONA AND BEEZUS
It must be half term. Elizabeth Allen, director of the ropey Aquamarine, returns with a kids flick concerning tensions between a third-grader and her long-suffering sister.
Yet another comic-book adaptation. This one stars Bruce Willis as a former CIA agent who, after narrowly evading an assassin, reassembles his old team and goes on the offensive. Sounds okay, actually.
PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2
Hmm? The first low-budget horror was very good fun, but it was really little more than a carnival sideshow. Could the sequel turn out to be this generation’s Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2? Let’s hope not.
BURKE AND HARE
Shaun of the Deadmeets An American Werewolf in London. Simon Pegg, star of the former, joins John Landis, director of the latter, for a comic take on the notorious Scottish grave robbers.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
This restrained comedy follows a lesbian couple as they seek out the anonymous chap who donated the sperm for their two children. From Lisa Cholodenko, director of Laurel Canyon.
Phew! It’s been a long, gruesome, often rather tiresome journey, but the torture cycle has finally reached the end of the road. If you liked the other six, you’ll almost certainly like this.
Robert Rodriguez expands his trailer from Grindhouse– a federal agent exacts bloody revenge on those who framed him – into a bloody, noisy, pulpy feature. Rob fans will guess that Danny Trejo leads the cast.
Jaws hit the ground when the best-reviewed film at Cannes failed to pick up a single prize. Another Year, which focuses on Ruth Sheen and Jim Broadbent’s decent middle-class couple, is one of Mike Leigh’s most touching works.
Todd Phillips, director of The Hangover, returns with a comedy about an uptight man who is desperate to reach his pregnant wife, hitching a ride with a layabout actor. Robert Downey jnr and Zach Galifianakis trade quips.
It’s in 3D. Whoopee! Now, when stuff flies out of the pranksters’ butts, you will duck to avoid its damp, malodorous trajectory. If that’s what you want.
LET ME IN
Cloverfield’s Matt Reeves directs Kick Ass’s Chloe Moretz in an American remake of the hugely admired Swedish vampire chiller Let the Right One In. Reports suggest that the film-makers have been respectful.
What is it with Tony Scott, Denzel Washington and trains? Following their collaboration on that remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, the pair reunite for a flick about a runaway locomotive.
You can’t argue with the cast. Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Cloris Leachman and Betty White team up for a comedy in which a young woman discovers that her high-school enemy is set to marry her brother.
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 1
Have you aged as dramatically as the young stars? Nearly a decade after the first film was released, we ease into the final straight. The last chapters have been shot in 3D.
THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST
The third and closing adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s thriller sequence finds tattooed sleuth Lisbeth Salander digging ever deeper into the Zalachenko affair. Larsson fans need not despair: David Fincher’s English-language version of Dragon Tattooarrives in 12 months.
George Clooney’s a star, but his films rarely make money. Perhaps Anton Corbijn, director of Control, can change things with this low-key thriller about an assassin’s holiday from slaughter.
It always takes Hollywood a decade or two to catch up with the zeitgeist. George Gallo’s film stars Luke Wilson as one of the first men to make a million by marketing pornography on the internet. It’s all handled very respectably, I’m sure.
Dreamworks brings us a heightened comedy about the conflict between a hugely brained villain and his arch-enemy. Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt get behind the microphones.
OF GODS AND MEN
Extravagantly praised French film concerning a group of monks and their ultimately disastrous interactions with Muslim extremists in 1990s Algeria. Xavier Beauvois directs this true story.
CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER
They’re back. After parting company with Disney, the Narnia posse set sail under the 20th Century Fox flag for another bout of morally uplifting fantasy.
Charismatic actor Mathieu Amalric makes his directing debut with a feature concerning a group of American burlesque performers touring seedier corners of France.
What now? It’s a film about some American racehorse that achieved a number of spectacular feats during the 1970s. Diane Lane is the nag’s spirited owner.
You probably thought that the time for Christina Aguilera’s movie career had come and gone. You thought wrong. The Dirrty girl plays a spirited kid who takes up old-school musical revue.
The original video-game fantasy garnered fairly modest box-office receipts on its 1982 release, but it has generated enough cult energy to inspire this belated 3D sequel. Jeff Bridges is back for more.
Virtually every adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s satire has focused solely on Lilliput and ignored the book’s more savage commentary. Will this version with Jack Black be any different?
Hard though it may be to believe, Meet the Fockerswas the most successful film in Ireland during 2005. The third film in the series – Ben Stiller quivers before Robert De Niro – was thus inevitable.
THE WAY BACK
Another big Oscar hopeful, Peter Weir’s film features Colin Farrell and Saoirse Ronan in the story of an escape from the Russian Gulags during the second World War. Weir’s first since Master and Commander.
LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS
Ed Zwick, director of po-faced pieces such as Blood Diamondand Defiance, returns with – of all things – a comic drama concerning the discontents of a Viagra salesman. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the erection hawker.
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck has paused before following up The Lives of Others. Such was that film’s reputation that he has secured the world’s biggest stars – Depp and Jolie – for this thriller in Venice.