With the end of the summer almost here, it’s time to close the door on what was a mostly lousy first half of the year slate – including what was supposed to be a great summer lineup of movies. When Wedding Crashers is one of your biggest money makers of the season, you know we’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.
But it’s even worse than that. The box office slump, as it were, can be directly attributed to the fact that there are simply more entertaining things to do and better ways to spend one’s money than to settle for an overpriced serving of crap.
But wait, here comes the Fall season to enliven movie going once again. As usual, studios have saved their best for last. While the very end of August has seen some wonderful documentaries, Grizzly Man for starters, a couple of other films are opening next week, including The Brothers Grimm, (August 26) directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger; and Oscar-buzzed The Constant Gardener (August 31), starring Ralph Fiennes, directed by City of God’s Fernando Mereilles.
Early in September brings Peter Hyams’ A Sound of Thunder, starring Edward Burns and Ben Kingsley (September 2). Other September highlights include The Exorcism of Emily Rose, starring Laura Linney and Tom Wilkinson. The film will likely scare the bejesus out of anyone, even if it isn’t quite as scary as The Exorcist, as it involves an extremely rare instance of the Catholic church officially recognizing a demonic possession of a young girl. Shudder.
Opening the same week is the long-shelved single mother drama An Unfinished Life, starring Jennifer Lopez and Robert Redford. It’s supposed to either be so good they wanted to wait for Oscar season or so bad they wanted to avoid Oscar season (September 9).
Also in September, the long-awaited (and shelved) Miramax film Proof, which stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins (September 16), the great David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence, starring Viggo Mortensen, Roman Polanski’s take on Oliver Twist, and Tim Burton’s animated The Corpse Bride (September 23). The end of the month brings Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote, and The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, with Julianne Moore (September 30).
Little horse lovers everywhere will certainly love Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, starring the ridiculously talented Dakota Fanning, and the ridiculously cute Kurt Russell about an injured race horse that gets a second chance (October 21) and Cameron Crowe’s sweet and sappy Elizabethtown, with Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom (some time in October). Also in October, In Her Shoes, notable for its director, Curtis Hanson, more than for its star, Cameron Diaz (who also stars with Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine) (October 7), North Country, with Charlize Theron looking unattractive and fighting for her rights (October 14th) and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit from the delightful Nick Park (October 7).
November, which signals the end of the Fall season, is a time for still more great films, even if the very best of the litter usually hits Christmas week, or some time in December. Rent, the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway show, opens November 11, along with Sam Mendes’ Jarhead. Mendes hasn’t directed a feature since Road to Perdition, and though that film failed to get a Best Picture nomination (inexplicably), Jarhead looks like it will give Mendes another crack at it (the director won big for his debut, American Beauty).
Harry Potter fans will finally get to crack open their piggy banks for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, directed by Mike Newell (November 18), and Traffic scribe Stephen Gaghan directed Syriana, starring George Clooney, will open November 23.
December will bring, among other gems, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which should give Harry Potter some competition at the box office, Memoirs of a Geisha, directed by Rob Marshall and starring Ken Watanabe and Ziyi Zhang, and Brokeback Mountain, yet another Oscar hopeful, starring Heath Ledger, and directed by Ang Lee (December 9).
Lord of the Rings fans will get to see their favorite director Peter Jackson’s King Kong, the third remake of the King Kong movies, this time with Naomi Watts as “the blonde” (December 14), and finally, the Jennifer Aniston starrer Rumor Has It will be released Christmas Day. No doubt all eyes will be on the lady whose heart has just been so publicly squashed. That’s enough to get an Oscar nod for the girl.We hope the good movies shown in fall and winter will remind the studios, and the public, that it’s worth spending a few bucks to see films in the theater, and the box office slump will be a thing of the past.