1. Into the Wild | Sept. 21
Sean Penn directs this movie based on the incredible book of the same name written by Jon Krakauer in 1996. The book developed from a lengthy article Krakauer wrote in 1993 for “Outside” magazine about the life of Christoper McCandless, who grew up in a wealthy suburb of Washington, D. C., and died in the Alaskan wilderness at age 24. In April the prior year, a trucker had dropped McCandless – who had cut off all communication with his family soon after his college graduation – off near the Stampede Trail in Alaska. All McCandless had with him was camping gear, a few books and field guides, 10 pounds of rice, a small rifle and ammunition and a camera. In early September of that year, McCandless’ body was found in an abandoned bus by moose hunters. The story – like the call of the wild of the Alaskan wilderness – is amazingly compelling; I’ve read the book twice and listened to it in audiobook format another couple of times. It’s the movie I’m most looking forward to.
2. The Darjeeling Limited | Sept. 29
I saw Wes Anderson’s “Rushmore” in its theatrical release and didn’t like it, but in the days following I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It grew on me and I’ve probably watched it on DVD a dozen times since. I wasn’t as crazy about his other films (“Bottle Rocket,” “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”), but I’m eager to see this one, which involves three estranged brothers (played by Owen Wilson – a regular in Anderson’s films – and Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman) who take a train ride through India after the death of their father.
3. Grace is Gone | Oct. 5
John Cusack stars as a man who adjusts to life after his soldier/wife (played by Marisa Tomei, from what I’ve read) is killed in Irag. I enjoy Cusack’s work and I’ve always liked Tomei, plus it promises to be a tear-jerker.
4. The Final Season | Oct. 12
Feel-good baseball movie starring Sean Astin being billed as “baseball’s version of ‘Hoosiers.'” It’s based on the true story of the Norway, Iowa, high school team and its legendary run through Iowa’s state high school baseball championships. I like Astin and sappy baseball movies (I cried during the previews for “Field of Dreams”), so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this one as well.
5. Reservation Road | Oct. 19
Joaquin Phoenix stars in a drama about a hit-and-run driver (played by Mark Ruffalo) who crosses paths with the parents of one of his victims. The movie is based on John Burnham Schwartz’ novel and directed by Terry George (“Hotel Rwanda”).
6. Martian Child | Oct. 26
John Cusack, again, in a story about a recently-widowed science fiction writer who adopts a young boy who claims to be from Mars. If you’ve been to the movies lately, you’ve probably seen the previews. I enjoyed the similarly-genred K-Pax, the Kevin Spacey/Jeff Bridges film about a homeless man who claims to come from another galaxy.
7. National Treasure: Book of Secrets | Dec. 21
Say what you will…I loved National Treasure. What a fun, fun movie. Critics are already predicting this will be a worthless sequel designed to have a huge opening weekend in order to score big paychecks for those involved, but if it’s half as fun as the original, it’ll still be great.
“Rendition” (Oct. 19), starring Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal… “American Gangster” (Nov. 2), starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe… “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (Dec. 21), starring Johnny Depp…
See today’s Herald (Section C) for the Associated Press’ fall preview and a look from Neil Morris – our reviewer – at new home releases on DVD.