Silicon Valley Fall Arts Preview

Fall Flicks

The fall has a great deal to offer movie fans

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MOCKING JAY: Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen in the final chapter of the 'Hunger Games' movie seires.

Among the spine-chilling theatrical events prepared for the advent of Halloween is the second and third coming of Steve Jobs. (It seems that neither the grave nor Ashton Kutcher can keep the Apple icon out of cinemas.) Here we have Jobs, both in documentary form (Alex Gibney's Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, opening Aug. 28) and in pumped-up feature film form, with Michael Fassbinder as the tech titan, and Aaron Sorkin writing the fulminating dialogue (Steve Jobs, Oct. 25).

Among the reboots and remakes: The Secret in Their Eyes (Nov. 20). A redo of the Oscar- winning 2009 Argentine film, it's a James Ellroy-ish tale of a murder investigation reopened. Stars are Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman. Jack Black appears as the dad facing a supernatural menace in Goosebumps 3D (Oct. 16). Pan (Oct. 9) does the origin story of Peter Pan; more promising is the Peanuts movie (Nov. 6) in 3D animation.

You want franchises? Apparently you do: The Transporter Refueled (Sept. 4); Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension, (Oct. 23); Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (Sept. 25); Rings (Nov. 13)—the revival of The Ring series—this time, presumably with an illegal download instead of a video tape. Mockingjay: Hunger Games Part 2 (Nov. 20) sees Katniss (J.Law) in striking distance of fruity old President Snow (Donald Sutherland). If only the film had been called "Snowfall" (you know, in order to capitalize on Skyfall).

A 'SPECTRE' HAUNTS MOVIES: Daniel Craig returns as James Bond in 'SPECTRE,' playing opposite Christoph Waltz.

Speaking of which, SPECTRE (Nov. 6) aims to burn up $300 million dollars in your presence. Daniel Craig's James Bond is reunited with his old rivals: the H-bomb purloining, space-capsule stealing, total sterility of all plant-life threatening, laser-satellite wielding, and kitty-petting gang, the Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

Casting an eye over the fall releases, one notes how well elderly viewers are served—as well they might be, given their lifelong habit of going to the movies. Lily Tomlin (career rejuvenated by Grace and Frankie) plays an all-wise but irascible Grandma (Sept. 4). The Visit (Sept. 11) shows audiences the downside of going to grandma's house: she may be a witch, as she is in this M. Night Shyamalan flick.

Bill Bryson's memoir A Walk in the Woods (Sept. 2) is about hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail. It's been tweaked to cast actors in their AARP years: Nick Nolte and Robert Redford. Rock the Kasbah (Oct. 23) has the ever-young Bill Murray as a rock promoter with a young Afghan singing star; Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog) directs. If you like to hear senior citizens grumble, show them the preview for The Intern (Sept. 25); a female boss (Anne Hathaway) shows an elder intern (Robert De Niro) which button to push on the keyboard in this equal-opportunity patronizer.

Lurking in the shade of the tentpoles is a surprising number of social justice films—not just the offerings at the UNAFF film festival in Palo Alto, a must for activists.

The melodramatic but evocative 99 Homes (October) by Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart) concerns the scads of evictions in the wake of the collapse of the Florida real estate market five years ago, as glimpsed in Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story. Andrew Garfield stars, but the film is overridden by the magnetic evil of Michael Shannon as the realtor in question, making a mint off the agony of thousands.

SHAREEF DON'T LIKE IT: Bill Murray plays a washed-up rock promoter stuck in Afghanistan in 'Rock The Kasbah.'

Suffragette (Nov. 13), which is surprisingly the first movie ever shot inside the House of Parliament, honors the centennial of women who were derided, accused of terrorism, and subjected to torture in their struggle to get the vote in England. Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter are the women warriors. He Named Me Malala (Oct. 9) tells how an Afghan activist advocating for the universal schooling of girls survived a gunshot to the head and went on to win the Nobel prize; bring Kleenex.

Based on an Oscar-winning short documentary, Freeheld (Oct. 16) is a companion piece to Stonewall (Sept. 25)—about NYC's Stonewall rebellion, the cradle of the gay pride movement. Julianne Moore plays a lesbian police detective, succumbing to cancer and using her last bit of strength to get her benefits to her domestic partner (Ellen Page). Trumbo (Oct. 23) features Brian Cranston as Dalton Trumbo, the populist screenwriter jailed for refusing to squeal to Congress during the red scare. Returning for an encore run in theaters, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (Sept. 25) is a documentary about that very sadly persecuted and misunderstood church of celebrities. Xenu saves!

The Walk (Oct. 2) is another example of how documentaries today are proving grounds for feature films. Few who saw Man on Wire could forget Phillipe Petit's Aug. 7, 1974, wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Robert Zemeckis, one of our great technical artificers, digitally rebuilds the WTC and hires Joseph Gordon-Levitt to play the Frenchman who mastered these towers. Zemeckis' constant colleague Steven Spielberg directs Bridge of Spies (Oct. 16) with Tom Hanks as the attorney who helped negotiate the release of one of the USSR's most notorious prisoners, CIA air man Francis Gary Powers—whose U2 spy plane was shot down by the Soviets on May Day 1960. Other fall biopics include the depiction of the feared gangster Whitey Bulger (Black Mass, Sept. 18) by Johnny Depp; and the story of chess master Bobby Fischer (Pawn Sacrifice, Sept. 18) with Tobey Maguire playing the vainglorious yet jittery wonk.

In By The Sea (Nov. 13) Brangelina goes all Richard Burton and Liz Taylor-like as a troubled couple giving it one more try; Jolie wrote and directed. Some buzz rattles Mississippi Grind (Oct. 2), a bittersweet indie road picture by the team of Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (Half-Nelson) with Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelsohn as pals headed for the card tables of New Orleans. I Smile Back (October), based on Amy Koppelman's novel, stars a serious Sarah Silverman as a mad housewife trying to keep a handle on her moods. The Martian (Oct. 2) has Matt Damon as a marooned astronaut who needs to be saved from the lethal red planet. Ridley Scott directs what is supposed to be an unusually realistic science fiction film, based on the hit book by Andy Weir.

A load of horror this fall, but Before I Wake (Sept. 25) is good news. Any partisan of Mike Flanagan's frightening last movie, Oculus, will want a look at this film about a family haunted by the nightmares of their odd foster child. Crimson Peak (Nov. 16) by Guillermo del Toro, stars Mia Wasikowska, Thomas Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain in an elegant Gothic with roots in The Haunting of Hill House and Rebecca. There's a nicer way to describe A Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (Halloween) than "Michael Landon's kid directing Arnold Schwarzenegger's kid," but that nice way won't be found here. However, it also stars the ever-spry Cloris Leachman. Green Inferno (Sept. 25) is Eli Roth flaunting political politesse (and intelligence, likely) by reviving the cannibalistic Jivaro movies of the 1950s. Who are the real savages, the Amazonian natives, or us? Hopefully, both.

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