Fall into film

It’s not just leaves that fall this time of year; box office expectations do, too. Vacation is over for blockbusters. The best multiplex customers, the under-25 set, have less leisure time for smitten vampires and pre-sold sequels. As this year’s Academy Awards race gets going, sophisticated older audiences will find autumnal themes of career tragedy and financial triumph, emotional punishment for Hollywood’s “serious” actors, and, as usual, fewer films aimed at the kids.


Never Let Me Go

Who: Keira Knightley, “An Education’s” Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield
What: Based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (“The Remains of the Day”), a love triangle gets complicated by dark science run amok.
When: Sept. 15
Why: This surreal genre blend of veddy British coming-of-age drama and futuristic cautionary tale is unlike anything else opening this fall.
Low-down: “Brideshead” isn’t just revisited, it’s harvested for its body parts — eek!
Rated R


Who: M. Night Shyamalan produces Chris Messina, Geoffrey Arend, Jenny O’Hara
What: Five people get stuck on an elevator with — could it be? — Satan!!
When: Sept. 17
Why: The scary trailer teases just enough for …
Low-down: … a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare
Rated PG-13

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger

Who: Woody Allen writes and directs Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins, Freida Pinto, Naomi Watts
What: This light sex comedy tracks the coupling and uncoupling of two couples.
When: Oct. 1
Why: Because it appears to be a typical, middle-level Allen affair, it should attract his niche fan base.
Low-down: Nothing dark or strange about it
Rated R


Who: Clint Eastwood produces and directs Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard and Derek Jacobi
What: This ensemble drama interweaves three story lines about the struggle to understand life’s final, most mystical passage.
When: Oct. 22
Why: Pondering death in this company, which also includes executive producer Steven Spielberg, could tickle Oscar.
Low-down: Good grief?
Not yet rated


Who: Tony Scott directs Denzel Washington, “Star Trek’s” Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson
What: It’s “Speed” on a train: Choo-choo with a lethal load must be halted.
When: Nov. 12
Why: Not exactly a fresh idea for an actioner, but it does have Denzel.
Low-down: All aboard!     
Rated PG-13


The American

Who: George Clooney, Violante Placido, Thekla Reuten
What: A weakened professional assassin has issues in this Italian-set thriller from Martin Booth’s 2005 novel “A Very Private
When: Wednesday
Why: Traditionally, few people go to the movies in early September, so it’s unpromising that an A-lister’s earnest star vehicle is opening at this time.
Low-down: On the other hand, Clooney is shirtless in at least one scene
Rated R

The Town

Who: Star and co-writer Ben Affleck directs “Madmen’s” Jon Hamm, “Hurt Locker’s” Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively
What: Based on the Chuck Hogan novel “Prince of Thieves,” a bank robber in a risky romance tries to elude the FBI.
When: Sept. 17
Why: Boston-area native Affleck shows off his multitasking in another classy-looking crime saga set there.
Low-down: Promising preview trailer from the “Gone Baby Gone” guy
Rated R


Who: Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman
What: This action comedy follows retired old CIA killers forced back on the job.
When: Oct. 15
Why: Senior citizens kicking butt.
Low-down: The Queen wields an automatic weapon … even cooler
Rated PG-13


Who: Edward Norton, Robert DeNiro, Milla Jovovich
What: It’s a psychological drama between a prison thug, his sexy wife and the parole officer they are trying to manipulate.
When: Oct. 22
Why: Two of the best actors of their respective generations go toe-to-toe again years after hanging with another, the late Brando, in 2001’s “The Score.”
Low-down: The Hulk vs. the Raging Bull — cool!
Rated R


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Who: Oliver Stone directs Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Josh Brolin
What: More drama from the infamous capitalist Gordon Gekko, over two decades and one long prison term after he first epitomized corruption.
When: Sept. 24
Why: As happened with the classic 1987 original, Stone times his sequel perfectly to coincide with the current economic meltdown.
Low-down: Greed looks good, again
Rated PG-13

The Social Network

Who: “Fight Club’s” David Fincher directs Jesse Eisenberg, Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones
What: Based on the book “Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal,” it traces how computer nerd Mark Zuckerberg went from undergrad to youngest billionaire ever in six years.
When: Oct. 1
Why: Because the poster’s tempting tagline reads, “You Don’t Get to 500 Million Friends Without Making a Few Enemies.”
Low-down: Status update: A must-see
Not yet rated

The Company Men

Who: Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper
What: What happens to a prosperous white-collar man’s identity when he loses his job and is forced into crisis?
When: Oct. 29
Why: A drama about redemption in recession hits right on the zeitgeist and was received well at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Low-down: But is there a box office upside in the harsh reality of downsizing?
Not yet rated

Morning Glory

Who: Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, Diane Keaton
What: In this workplace comedy-drama, an unemployed career gal finds her new gig as producer of a troubled television morning show to be less than glamorous.
When: Nov. 12
Why: Because if it is even half as great as 1987’s tour de force “Broadcast News,” which it sort of resembles, that would be OK.
Low-down: Indiana Jones as Regis Philbin?
Not yet rated


Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole

Who: Voices of Geoffrey Rush, Helen Mirren, Anthony LaPaglia with “300” director Zack Snyder
What: A computer-animated fantasy adventure, based on a series of 15 children’s books by Kathryn Lasky, presents a parliament of mythic owl warriors in a struggle between good and evil.
When: Sept. 24
Why: With its large Aussie and Brit vocal cast and painterly nocturnal imagery, this heavily promoted epic looks more stately than the usual family fare.
Low-down: Could it be too finely feathered for today’s hyper audience?
Rated PG


Who: Diane Lane, John Malkovich
What: A docudrama of the famous chestnut colt’s exciting story and the people behind his historic 1973 Triple Crown win.
When: Oct. 8
Why: Walt Disney Pictures’ confident publicity campaign indicates that it has high hopes for this take on the legendary thoroughbred.
Low-down: A crowd-pleaser that makes horse sense
Rated PG

Due Date

Who: Robert Downey Jr., Zach
Galifianakis, Jamie Foxx with “Hangover” director Todd Phillips
What: An expectant father tries to get cross-country in time for his baby’s birth with a zany bearded screw-up behind the wheel to cause R-rated problems.
When: Nov. 5
Why: ROAD TRIP!! Does there really need to be a reason, considering the passengers?
Low-down: Think “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” … with facial hair  
Rated R


Who: Voices of Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill
What: It’s a madcap animated send-up of the Superman legend; only this time, the super-villain becomes the hero.
When: Nov. 5
Why: The Dreamworks
people, who brou-ght you “Shrek,” deliver another of their quick-firing cartoons, with snarky attitude for grown-ups.
Low-down: Kryptonite Komedy lightens the somber season
Not yet rated

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