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Fall movie highlights: James Bond’s ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Twilight’s’ end

By Moira Macdonald, The Seattle Times –

The leaves are changing, and so are the theater marquees. Here’s a list of some of what we’ll be seeing on screens this fall. Note that movie-release dates are tentative and as changeable as an autumn sky.


By which I mean, of course, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2,” which everyone promises really is the end of that story of the girl and the vampire and the werewolf. No further questions. Nov. 16; get your red contact lenses ready.


The James Bond franchise celebrates its 50th anniversary (looking good, James!) with “Skyfall,” featuring current Bond Daniel Craig alongside Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem and Judi Dench. As we all pause to hum the James Bond theme, note that it will open Nov. 9. Also coming to theaters on that date is “Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg’s long-awaited historical drama based on historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “Team of Rivals,” and starring Daniel Day-Lewis as Honest Abe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who’s in nearly every 2012 movie, it seems) as his son Robert, Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln and an all-star supporting cast.

One of the season’s biggest popcorn movies should be Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight” (Nov. 2), with Denzel Washington as an airplane pilot who performs a heroic act — or does he? And the wait’s been long for Ang Lee’s screen version of the popular novel “The Life of Pi,” coming Nov. 21 and starring Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan and an animatronic (at least for some scenes) tiger.


Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams play father and daughter in “Trouble with the Curve” (Oct. 21), a baseball drama about an aging talent scout. Julie Delpy plays a Frenchwoman in New York entertaining her visiting relatives and mollifying her irritated boyfriend (Chris Rock) in “2 Days in New York” (Sept. 7). Spike Lee returns with a tale of an Atlanta boy visiting his Brooklyn grandmother in “Red Hook Summer” (Sept. 7). Paul Dano is a father fighting for custody of his daughter in “For Ellen” (Sept. 14), while Patrick Wang’s “In the Family” (Oct. 5) explores a custody battle in a gay family.

In the Sundance award winner “Middle of Nowhere” (Oct. 12), a wife tries to put her life together while her husband is incarcerated.

And remember how in “Taken” a daughter was abducted on a trip abroad? Now, in “Taken 2” (Oct. 5), her father and mother (Liam Neeson and Famke Janssen) have been abducted; presumably Neeson will have to save the day yet again. I don’t know why that family ever leaves the house.


Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” was pretty great the first time around; now it’s back in 3D (Sept. 14). Kids happily anticipating Halloween might want to check out “Frankenweenie” (Oct. 5), Tim Burton’s animated tale of a dog brought back to life Frankenstein-style, or “Hotel Transylvania” (Sept. 28), in which Count Dracula’s all-monster resort gets invaded by a human. Adam Sandler heads the voice cast of the latter, just so you know. The latest Disney animated comedy, “Wreck-It Ralph” (Nov. 2), takes place within a video game, and “Rise of the Guardians” (Nov. 21), based on William Joyce’s book, features an all-star crew of voices led by Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law and Chris Pine.


Those who make their movie choices based on favorite thespians have plenty to choose from this fall. How about Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon as husband and wife in the high-finance thriller “Arbitrage” (Sept. 14)? John Hawkes and Helen Hunt as a man in an iron lung and his sex surrogate in the Sundance hit “The Sessions” (Oct. 26)? Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Harry Dean Stanton doing God knows what in the blood-spattered dark comedy “Seven Psychopaths” (Oct 12), about a dognapping gone wrong, from the writer/director of “In Bruges”?

Brad Pitt investigates a heist in the thriller “Killing Them Softly” (Oct. 19) in the good company of Ray Liotta, James Gandolfini and Richard Jenkins. Elizabeth Olsen, so marvelous in “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” goes to college in “Liberal Arts” (Sept. 21), alongside Josh Radnor (who also wrote and directed), Zac Efron, Jenkins (again) and Allison Janney. Jennifer Lawrence, heroine of “The Hunger Games,” goes all horror-y in “House at the End of the Street” (Sept. 21); Josh Hutcherson, her Games-mate, turns up in the action drama “Red Dawn” (Nov. 21). Sean Penn plays a bored rock star (hmm; doesn’t he often seem like a bored rock star?) in “This Must Be the Place” (Nov. 9) alongside the ever-great Frances McDormand.

Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons and Dennis Quaid wrestle with questions of literary fame and book-stealing in “The Words” (Sept. 7), and Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal tackle issues of inner-city education reform in “Won’t Back Down” (Sept. 28).


Among the season’s smorgasbord of documentaries are films about a fashion maven (“Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel,” Oct. 5), the 1992 Lithuanian basketball team and its Barcelona Olympics triumph (“The Other Dream Team,” Oct. 12), a wild-horse adoption program (“Wild Horse Wild Ride,” Sept. 14), the AIDS epidemic (“How to Survive a Plague,” September; date to be announced), a French restaurant handed off to the next generation (“Step Up to the Plate,” Oct. 12), a poet who can neither hear nor see (“Planet of Snail,” Sept. 7), Chinese girls adopted by American families (“Somewhere Between,” Oct. 19) and a father retracing his past in the hopes of connection with his son (“Photographic Memory,” Nov. 2).


Want to be scared? “Paranormal Activity 4,” the latest never-ending horror franchise, pops up in time for Halloween (Oct. 19). Ethan Hawke plays a true-crime writer investigating a murder in “Sinister” (Oct. 5); a young woman copes with nightmares in “Silent Hill: Revelation” (Oct. 26, in 3D, as if 2D wasn’t scary enough). For those who like their horror movies old-school, a group of misfits is terrorized by a VHS tape (not a Beta, which seems scarier?) in “V/H/S” (Oct. 5).

Less blood-and-horror and more suspense? The Alex Cross detective franchise, whose lead character was formerly played by Morgan Freeman (“Along Came a Spider”) returns with Tyler Perry playing the title role in, natch, “Alex Cross” (Oct. 19). Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena play a pair of cops who tangle with a dangerous cartel in “End of Watch” (Sept. 21). The Thai thriller “Headshot” (Sept. 28) features a hit man who, after being shot, sees everything upside down—not a bad premise, no? — and Russell Crowe, of all people, turns up in feudal China in the action thriller “The Man with the Iron Fists.”


Comedies tend to be few and far between in the fall — all that angst and gunfire doesn’t leave much room for giggles. “Bachelorette,” the raunchy tale of a bridal party starring Kirsten Dunst and Isla Fisher, nonetheless turns up Sept. 7; “The Inbetweeners,” a likewise raunchy tale of a group of English misfits on holiday, opens the same day. Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow headline the choir-competition comedy (say that three times fast) “Pitch Perfect,” opening Oct. 5. Kevin James plays a biology teacher turned mixed-martial-arts fighter in “Here Comes the Boom” (Oct. 12), and the made-in-Seattle comedy “Fat Kid Rules the World,” about a misfit kid who finds happiness through punk rock, opens Oct. 19.

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