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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Silver Screen Surprises Coming in September

Sex Addicts, Salinger, Sawyer from "Lost," the Stars of "Seinfeld" and "The Sopranos," and Tony Danza

By Chris Sabga

As one season ends and another begins, the flashy blockbusters of the summer recede into the background, making room for quieter but more interesting and varied fare. But there's still some shooting left, and more than one explosion – all coming in September.

Bounty Killer (September 6th): Corporations have taken over the world, and it's up to a group of bounty hunters to kill off all of the greedy CEOs and white collar criminals. "Bounty Killer" will either be tons of fun or a total disaster – there's usually no middle ground with a movie like this – but I have a good feeling. It's based on the graphic novel of the same name.

Salinger (September 6th): With 150 interviews – ranging from Salinger's inner circle to contemporary celebrities influenced by his work – and never-before-seen film footage and photographs, this promises to be a rare glimpse into the mysterious life of the reclusive author of "The Catcher in the Rye." Shane Salerno, the director of "Salinger," also wrote a book to coincide with the documentary. At over two hours and more than 700 pages respectively, there's a danger that both projects will buckle under their own weight – but I suspect that Salinger's fans will be probably happy to know too much after knowing too little for so long.

Battle of the Year (September 13th): When "Lost" ended, everyone expected Josh Holloway (Sawyer) to become a major star. What happened? In this film, he plays a basketball coach who is hired to lead an American team to victory – in a dance tournament. After the surprising quality of "Step Up," I can appreciate a premise like this – and it should be a fun fish-out-of-water role for Holloway. The only problem: Chris Brown is also in it. I can't see his toxic reputation doing the movie's box office any favors – even if his last album did top the charts. It also makes me feel a bit sad for Holloway – a bigger star in a better position would have been able to veto the casting (as Zach Galifianakis reportedly did when Mel Gibson was going to be in "The Hangover: Part II"). Who knows, maybe we'll get to see Holloway channel Sawyer again and smack the living daylights out of Brown.

The Family (September 13th): Several months ago, a casual filmgoer friend of mine e-mailed me excitedly about the "awesome" trailer he had just seen. It was for "The Family." There's something to be said for that. Robert De Niro is back in familiar territory – as the head of a Mafia family – but this time he's playing it for laughs. Michelle Pfeiffer joins him as his wife. Along with their two kids, they're forced to relocate to France after entering the Witness Protection Program. Tommy Lee Jones plays the agent in charge of them, and Luc Besson directs. I like Besson's style; it's always a bit wacky, which serves a movie like this well.

Enough Said (September 20th): I love it when two interesting actors come together in an unexpected way. Julia Louis-Dreyfus ("Seinfeld") and James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos") are the last two people I'd think of to play a romantic couple. When so many casting decisions feel like they took place in boardrooms, a unique pairing like this is refreshing. This will be one of the late Gandolfini's final film roles.

Parkland (September 20th): Everyone knows the story of JFK's assassination – or thinks they do – but "Parkland" focuses on the peripheral people involved that you don't hear much about: the doctors and nurses, cameraman, and others who were there that day and in the aftermath. It's a fresh angle on an incident that has already been dramatized countless times.

Prisoners (September 20th): A father's daughter goes missing, and he'll do anything to get her back. As we've seen from other movies, it's not wise to get in the way of an intense Hugh Jackman. In addition to Jackman, "Prisoners" features a huge cast of respected actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, and Paul Dano.

Thanks for Sharing (September 20th): One man, played by Josh Gad ("1600 Penn," "Jobs"), tries to shove a camera up his boss's dress in this comedy-drama about a 12-step program for sex addicts. Meanwhile, Adam (Mark Ruffalo) struggles after five years of sexual sobriety when he meets the irresistible Phoebe (Gwyneth Paltrow). Putting Paltrow in that role seems like a stretch to me, but it all depends on how she plays it. With one of the screenwriters of the wonderful "The Kids Are All Right," Stuart Blumberg, directing and also co-writing this, I have high expectations.

As I Lay Dying (September 27th): This seems like exactly the kind of movie everyone was making fun of during Comedy Central's Roast of James Franco – and maybe it is. It's based on the novel by William Faulkner, starring James Franco, directed by James Franco, and written by James Franco. Pretentious? Perhaps. But it also features Danny McBride in a major role. This is not the type of film I'd expect him to pop up in. That alone makes me curious.

Don Jon (September 27th): Tony Danza returns to the silver screen as Joseph Gordon-Levitt's father. What else needs to be said? Actually, even if you aren't an '80s Danza fanatic, there's a lot to like here. A porn addict (played by Gordon-Levitt, who also writes and directs) has to navigate potential true love in the form of Scarlett Johansson. Glenne Headly, Brie Larson, and Julianne Moore also star.

Blockbusters: Riddick (September 6th), Insidious: Chapter 2 (September 13th), Rush (September 20th), The Wizard of Oz: IMAX 3D (20th), Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (September 27th), Metallica Through the Never (27th)

The first "Insidious" was a pleasant surprise – a smart, fun, interesting little horror movie. I'm excited for the sequel.

I'm a bit ambivalent about "Rush." The trailer seems to reveal everything, and the color scheme appears to be murky for no good reason. Perhaps the washed-out look is meant to evoke the time period in which the film is set, but I think the effect might be overdone.

Everyone I've talked to who saw the first "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" feels a special fondness for it. We'll see if the sequel can capture the same magic.

If I'm able to find a theater showing "The Wizard of Oz," I will be there. It is technologically mind-blowing for a movie released in 1939, and it feels every bit as fresh and modern today. It remains an all-time classic. Purists might frown that a gimmick like 3D has been added to one of the most iconic and revered motion pictures ever made, but original 2D version is still readily available – no one has taken that away.

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