October is an erratic month at the movies. It’s not the awfulness of January and February, nor is it the packed-in Oscar month of December. In 2010, October brought us award nominees (“The Social Network”, “Inside Job” (last year’s documentary Oscar winner), and “Carlos” (which won a lot of international awards)) and pure Hollywood drivel looking for a Halloween crowd (Wes Craven’s worst movie yet “My Soul to Take” and “Saw 3D”). What will hit and miss in October 2011? Here’s a closer look at five October films people will be talking about:
TRESPASS: No, not a re-release of the Bill Paxton/ ICE-T film from the early 1990s; this film focuses on a married couple (Nicolas Cage looking unintentionally hilarious and Nicole Kidman lacking all ability to show emotion through the Botox) who are kidnapped in their own home and try to fight back.
JASON: I believe I saw and enjoyed this movie when it was called “Panic Room”, Jodie Foster’s last commercial success before she started making films about Mel Gibson shoving his hand into beaver (puppets). I also saw it when it was called “The Strangers”, a surprisingly scary horror film (until it slides into the slasher genre). Nicole Kidman, once a possible heir to Meryl Streep’s acting throne, is riding a slippery slope back into her “Bewitched”/ “The Stepford Wives” summer bomb world. Nic Cage is always Nic Cage, but why is he trying to beat Tom Hanks in “The Davinci Code” for worst toupee?
JAKE: Kidman has not made great choices in the last decade or so, though it seems she is in that place where no matter what she is in, it will bomb. I confess a love for Nic Cage movies, you are rarely bored. But this pairing? If it gets some buzz it might be worth renting, but I am not putting money on it.
JASON: Four words in counter: “Season of the Witch”. Too many words? I’ll try three: “The Wicker Man”. Two words? “Drive Angry.”
JAKE: I can’t comment on Season, but where else but “Drive Angry” are you going to see a guy fight off henchman while getting laid. And “The Wicker Man”? The BEEEEES, the BEEEEES! Hilarious.
JASON: Well, I know you’re already focused on “Ghost Rider 2” coming out in a few months, but we have two more movies to preview.
TAKE SHELTER: With a truly impressive trailer, this indie film focuses upon a man who has visions of the apocalypse and decides to take the little money his family has to build an underground shelter.
JASON: “Take Shelter” and “Melancholia” (starring Kirsten Dunst, who won some very prestigious awards) are my two indie potential gems of the fall, both about people prepping for the end of the world. Of course, picking an indie gem is usually pretty tough as “critics’ darling” could translate to “boring, pretentious crap” when it leaves the festival and hits theaters. Still, the intelligent mix of psychological drama, sci-fi intrigue (my hatred of sci-fi keeps eroding), and strong, original writing get me excited. And Michael Shannon (Oscar nominee for “Revolutionary Road” and Screen Actors Guild winner for TV’s “Boardwalk Empire”) deserves a prime role that showcases his talents.
JAKE: I am not sure what to make of “Take Shelter” besides finding Shannon creepy, though that is true of everything he as been in. “Melancholia” has peaked my interest for sure. A brooding indie about people dealing with the end of the world is right up my alley and Lars von Trier can produce really fascinating movies, at least some of the time.
JASON: I still won’t see von Trier’s film “Anti-Christ”, not because of any anti-American, pro-Nazi gibberish he yells at festivals but because it supposedly has a hell of a brutal scene. Still, his “Dogville” (starring Nicole Kidman and Lauren Bacall) was a brilliantly innovative film that I never recommend to anyone because, while I still think back about some of the scenes, I didn’t really like it until hour two of three. That was a time when Nicole Kidman would never have made a movie like “Trespass.”
IN TIME: Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried (OK, stay with me here …) star in this sci-fi thriller where people stop aging at 25 and must work to “earn” more time to live. The rich people in the world are those who are have piles of years stacked up, assuring they will only die when they want to, while the poor people must work every minute if they expect to see another day.
JAKE: I am actually very interested in “In TIme”. It is easy to dismiss Timberlake and pile on the hate, but the guy is usually good in everything he does, from SNL to “The Social Network”. The movie itself looks like an intereting blend of sci-fi elements and social commentary. If they can balance those elements with the inevitable romance subplot (Seyfried could work here, as she can deliver a unique energy to a predictable role. See season one of “Veronica Mars”), this could be a very cool movie you can rave about to the majority of people who will never see it.
JASON: Well, how many people see it depends on what audience it aims for. The trailer seems to be going for the “Gattaca” and “Dark City” audience which, if I remember correctly, consisted of four people who looked oddly like Comic Book Guy. Both films bombed in theaters, but did well on DVD, where I saw and enjoyed them both. The one thing that “In Time”‘s trailer doesn’t give me is a sense of how complex it is. Is this going to be 2011’s “Inception” or 2011’s “The Island” (a supposedly thoughtful (but not) sci-fi Michael Bay movie with a good cast, but horrible writing)? I root for the former, but have no idea. And yes, Justin Timberlake is really turning into quite the actor. He has more Emmys than the entire cast and crew of “Battlestar Galactica” already, doesn’t he?
JAKE: I hate you.