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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 opens Nov. 19  but you'll have to wait until next summer for the thrilling conclusion.
Jaap Buitendijk
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 opens Nov. 19 but you’ll have to wait until next summer for the thrilling conclusion.



We already know how this goes.

Winter is for holiday movies. Spring is for rom-coms. Summer is for explosions.

And fall is for flicks with thoughtful, twisty plots, innovative, beautiful cinematography and mind-blowing performances. Fall is when studios put their best feet forward.

But after researching 40 films being released over the next few months, it appears the industry’s collective foot isn’t going to do a little soft-shoe for us; it’s going to kick us in our dang heads.

Sometimes in 3-D.

And while I (sort of) understand why the filmmakers of the 70th installation of the “Saw” saga felt the need to go that direction, the “in your face” format is getting out of hand. I know it’s fun to wear the little glasses and have everything pop off the screen. And I also know I sound like someone still trying to get over the invention of the “talkies.”

But as fun as 3-D can be, it’s a cheap parlor trick that often distracts from the elements of film I love. Making something two-dimensional that still has true depth, of any kind, is difficult. This is Contemplative Movie Season, so I want to see the next “No Country for Old Men,” not “Jackass 3-D.”

Thankfully, the upcoming lineup isn’t without merit.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s “Jack Goes Boating” looks promising; as does the Ginsberg biopic, “Howl.” I make fun below, but Edward Norton and Robert De Niro together (in “Stone” ) sounds like an intriguing way to blow a couple of hours. John Wells’ directorial debut, “The Company Men,” could be solid and I know the Academy is already slobbering over “Never Let Me Go” and “Secretariat.”

I won’t lie, though. I’m totally going to see Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. in “Due Date,” I won’t miss Robert Rodriguez’s “Machete” and I’m more than a little excited about the next installment of the “Harry Potter” series.

I’m taking you all the way to Thanksgiving here, but that means very little since release dates change often.

But at least you can start thinking about which flick to take Gramma to after she stuffs you to the gills. I’ll probably take mine to “Burlesque” with Cher and Christina Aguilera, but you never know, she could still be on her Dwayne Johnson kick.

SEPTEMBER

‘The American’

Sept. 1

Accomplished rock photographer Anton Corbijn did well with his first feature film in 2007, the slightly static but beautifully shot Ian Curtis biopic “Control.” His second feature stars George Clooney as an assassin cooling his heels in Italy while planning a last hit.

While there, he makes friends with a local priest (Paolo Bonacelli) and special friends with a local lady (Violante Placido.) The whole “one last job” setup typically spells clichéd plotlines, but with Corbijn behind the camera, at the very least, it’ll be a pretty film.







‘Machete’

Sept. 3

If Danny Trejo’s rogue federal agent partnering with Cheech Marin’s pugilistic padre to exact revenge on a buncha nasty dudes doesn’t sound like a whole heap o’ delicious to you, maybe adding Michelle Rodriguez (in an eye-patch!), Don Johnson, Steven Segal, Bobby De Niro, Jessica Alba and an almost constant stream of explosions could tempt you?

What if one explosion propels Trejo’s motorcycle 30 feet in the air? What if Robert Rodriguez co-directs alongside first-timer Ethan Maniquis, an editor whose only acting credit is “Bozo #1” in “Sin City” — virtually guaranteeing a sweet, pulpy B-movie?

No? What’s wrong with you?

‘Bran Nue Dae’

Sept. 10

First off, the title of this musical is grossly misspelled. Secondly, it stars Geoffrey Rush as a priest singing in what sounds like a German accent.

The film’s made the rounds at several festivals and landed distribution, so lots of people out there think the story of an aboriginal kid (Rocky McKenzie) ditching his strict boarding school to travel back to his girl, his life, and his home, is solid good stuff.

But it doesn’t change the fact there’s gonna be a lot of singing in this movie.

‘My Suicide’

Sept. 10

Director David Lee Miller ( “All Dogs Go To Heaven: Activity Center” ) directed and co-wrote this screenplay about a romance between a colossal nerd obsessed with recording his life (Gabriel Sunday) and the prettiest girl at his high school (Brooke Nevin).

It made the festival rounds, picked up some awards, and features a hodgepodge of animation and YouTube clips, with grainy, subpar footage thrown in. The trailer is essentially the kid moaning into the camera and acting so angsty, pretentious and self-involved, if I were actually going to see the film, I’d probably look forward to him offing himself.

And that’s just wrong.









‘The Town’

Sept. 10

Ben Affleck co-wrote, directed and starred in this adaptation of Chuck Hogan’s novel, “Prince of Thieves.” (He probably ran food services, costuming and makeup, too.)

Affleck plays a bank thief considering a career change while planning his next heist and navigating around John Hamm’s (“Mad Men”) FBI agent. THEN Affleck’s character falls for the one ex-hostage (Rebecca Hall) who can bring his house of cards down.

Affleck showed real promise with “Gone, Baby, Gone,” so I’m hoping this pressure-cooker of a plot explodes into something really great.

‘Never Let Me Go’

Sept. 15

Based on the award-winning novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (who also wrote “Remains of the Day” ), this film takes place in dystopian Britain, where three kids become fast friends at their boarding school.

While creative expression is encouraged throughout their education, it becomes clear as the children get older the school’s extreme emphasis on physical health isn’t for their own benefit.

A short, bleak future awaits them all (played by Keira Knightly, Andrew Garfield and Carey Mulligan) unless a rumor proves true. But by then, their little love triangle may wreck everything anyhow.

‘Alpha and Omega’

Sept. 17

This is a 3-D cartoon about a lady alpha wolf (voiced by Hayden Panettiere) and a dorky dude wolf (Justin Long), who are tranqued, relocated and expected to “repopulate” the wolf community of Idaho. This film is marketed towards children. And again, it’s in 3-D. Which makes it downright kinky.








‘Jack Goes Boating’

Sept. 17

This film might explode my squishy, squishy heart with all the quirky sentimentalism promised in the premise.

Philip Seymour Hoffman directs and stars in this flick about a deeply awkward, non-swimming limo driver who falls for his blind date, an equally awkward woman played by Amy Ryan.

When she invites him to go boating, Mr. Limo panics. But in what appears to be a beautiful balance between emotional risk and courage, Mr. Limo asks his pal (John Ortiz) for swim lessons so that come summer, he’ll be able to make good on his promise.

‘Howl’

Sept. 24

Nominated for big prizes at both the Berlin Film Festival and Sundance, this creatively-shot Allen Ginsberg biopic focuses on how the beat poet (played by James Franco and some huge Buddy Holly glasses) found his voice and how the obscenity trial his poem “Howl” sparked affected the country.

The film also stars Mary-Louise Parker, David Straithairn, John Hamm, Jeff Daniels, Treat Williams and archival footage of Ginsberg himself. Sounds awesome.

‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’

Sept. 24

This comedy’s based on a novel by Ned Vizzini, about a depressed kid (Keir Gilchrist) who checks himself into a psych ward. On the inside, he meets people who really belong there (such as Zack Galifianakis), gets a crush on a fellow patient (Emma Roberts), beats a nearly comatose dude at ping pong and eventually wonders if he’s doing better than he thought.

It’s written and directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden (“Half Nelson,” which garnered an Oscar nomination for Ryan Gosling.)

‘Like Dandelion Dust’

Sept. 24

Mira Sorvino and Barry Pepper star as the Porters, a working-class family set against the well-heeled Campbells (played by Cole Hauser and Kate Levering).

Years before, Mrs. Porter gave up their baby when Mr. Porter done run off. Now reunited (and feelin’ so good), they want the kid back — from the Campbells who adopted him, loved him and took him for yacht rides.

I’m guessing everyone loses here.







‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’

Sept. 24

Oliver Stone returns to Wall Street and the movie that made him big in 1987. (“Platoon” made him big the previous year.)

Michael Douglas gets released from the pen (after getting back his gigantic cell phone) and immediately hooks up with a young, uber-rich trader played by Shia LaBeouf. Together the two run around like a couple of pinstriped superheroes, alerting the financial community of the impending economic crises and solving the murder of LaBeouf’s mentor.

Holy Pork bellies, Batman!

‘You Again’

Sept. 24

Marni (Kristen Bell) is horrified to discover her brother is marrying an evil ex-cheerleader with a fancy, French name (Odette Yustman who also has a fancy, French name… coincidence?)

Monique Leroux bullied and mortified young Marni all through high school — an easy feat to do when your mark dresses in an alligator mascot getup.

But now Marni plans to take the beeyotch and her wedding plans down. Her parents (Jamie Lee Curtis and the delightful Victor Garber) are united in telling Marni to let it go, until Mama Leroux (Sigourney Weaver) arrives on scene — the very woman who made Marni’s mom miserable many moons mefore. Double Girl Fight + Betty White as randy Grandma Bunny = Not an Oscar.

OCTOBER

‘Let Me In’

Oct. 1

Matt Reeves, who directed “Cloverfield” and wrote a lot of “Felicity” episodes, wore both hats in his adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel about a little wisp of a kid (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who gets his arse kicked in school — until he makes friends with the little vampire girl next door (Cloe Grace Moretz of “Kick-Ass”).

Stealing a kid’s lunch money is harder when yer dead.

The movie looks genuinely freaky, but the idea here is sweet, so I’m gonna invite the Loch Ness Monster over for movie night, and then he can keep the drunken idiots out of the pool in return.








‘The Social Network’

Oct. 1

Unlike everyone I’ve whined to about this film, I’m not intrigued by the story of the creators of Facebook.

I don’t think watching Jesse Eisenberg invent it with his friends at Harvard and then get sued for $600 million by the same friends (including Justin Timberlake) will be all that fascinating.

With David Finch at the helm, I suppose it’s possible. But it seems a little premature to talk about the wild history of Facebook; it was seven years ago. The youngest billionaire in history loses some friends, while creating a site geared towards connecting friends, and then we make that the emotional center of a film?

No thanks.

‘Buried’

Oct. 8

Ryan Reynolds gets chucked in a coffin and buried in the Iraqi desert, presumably in a place that still gets excellent cell coverage, since the trailer is basically him making call after call, begging folks to find him and/or collect the ransom.

He also calls some people to warn them and a few others to figure out what happened.

Frankly, being able to do that much from inside a box in the sand makes the whole experience a little less scary. If he has enough battery power, he might be able to download some sweet apps and play online games while he waits.

‘Secretariat’

Oct. 8

Oh, shoot. This isn’t a follow-up to “Secretary,” that surprisingly thoughtful bondage movie.

Instead, it’s the story of a housewife named Penny (Diane Lane) whose horse runs really fast and wins the Triple Crown in 1973. She accomplishes this with the help of John Malkovich, who wears a series of increasingly ugly outfits.

It will probably be nominated for an Oscar.

‘Stone’

Oct. 8

This flick reunites director Edward Curran with Edward Norton; the two worked together on “The Painted Veil” in 2006.

In “Stone,” Norton plays an incarcerated firebug weeks from release and attempting to throw his days-from-retirement parole officer (Bobby De Niro) off his game by distracting him with Mila Jovovich.

Which is totally how I get out of pee tests, too.








‘Jackass 3-D’

Oct. 15

I don’t even know what to say here. We’ve got Johnny Knoxville on a jet ski in a tuxedo. We’ve got Steve-O and one of the other idiots prancing around a Mexican jail in thongs and tiny sombreros.

There doesn’t seem to be a plot, but everything is in 3-D. I didn’t think this level of filmmaking was even possible.

‘Hereafter’

Oct. 22

Clint Eastwood directs a supernatural thriller written by Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon”) and starring Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard and Jay Mohr.

Damon plays a factory worker with a blue collar and a connection to the afterworld he’d rather he didn’t have. He’s soon mixing it up with a French journalist (Cecile De France — she’s actually de Belgium) who saw some pretty messed up stuff before getting revived after a tsunami.

The third subplot involves a London schoolboy, whose twin was killed in a car accident.

And that’s all I can tell you for now, because Eastwood is keeping details locked down tight.

‘Saw 3-D’

Oct. 22

I accidentally watched the trailer for “Saw III” initially. Then I figured out we were up to the seventh film, which I suppose is an accomplishment of some kind for the filmmakers.

But instead of going back and watching the correct trailer, I decided instead to fill my mind with something more wholesome and socially responsible, and watched a few more “Jackass 3-D” clips.

‘The Company Men’

Oct. 22

Prolific writer/producer John Wells directs his first feature film, about a group of corporate middle-aged men with names like Jack, Phil, Bobby and Gene who wrestle with a round of layoffs, trying to keep their spirits and families afloat. The cast includes Kevin Costner, Maria Bello, Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Craig T. Nelson, and Rosemarie DeWitt. It appears as though the compositions of each frame were carefully thought out, so if the sentimentalism doesn’t get out of control, this could be a solid film on all counts.

‘My Soul to Take’

Oct. 29

Family-friendly writer/director Wes Craven brings us a heartwarming film this fall about a man returning to his hometown after many years of being away.

Upon his arrival, he connects with seven children whose birthdays correspond with the day he, uh, died. Oh wait, hang on a sec… Yeah, my bad.

The guy is a reanimated serial killer who apparently lives under a river, eats bark and plans on doing the children in.

Super sorry about that little mix up.








NOVEMBER

‘Due Date’

Nov. 5

Todd Phillips — who previously directed the classy, thoughtful film “The Hangover” — is reunited with his muse, Zach Galifianakis, who plays an emotionally stunted wannabe-actor with a penchant for small, plastic cone-collared dogs.

He hitches a ride with Robert Downey Jr., an uptight geek in a rush to get across the country to witness the birth of his first child.

I’m imagining this blend of clashing characters and self-discovery via travel is sort of a mix of “The Odd Couple” and “Easy Rider,” but with pee-pee jokes.

‘Megamind’

Nov. 5

OK, yes, it’s an animated kid’s movie about an evil villain battling a squeaky clean superhero.

BUT. Will Ferrell plays baddie Megamind, Brad Pitt plays goodie Metroman and Tiny Fey plays the mouthy reporter Metroman loves.

Still bored? I was too until I found out Megamind kills Metroman, gets depressed over the lack of a nemesis and turns a dorky cameraman (Jonah Hill) into a superhero, just so he has somebody to fight.

But then the cameraman uses his new powers to punish… yeah, you’re right. I’m still bored.

‘Morning Glory’

Nov. 12

Aline Brosh McKenna, who wrote “27 Dresses,” did the screenplay here, not Allie Brosh, who wrote the blog post “How a Fish Almost Destroyed My Childhood.” Just wanted to clear that up before you got too excited.

Anyway, Rachel McAdams stars as a harried, inexperienced television producer caught between an uptight, fluff-peddling anchor (Diane Keaton) and the new sonuvabitch on staff (Harrison Ford), who feels everything is beneath his hotshot career as a hard-hitting newsman.

McAdams’ boss (Jeff Goldblum) is mean to her, but her coworker (Patrick Wilson) makes out with her.

I’m guessing this film ends with a group hug, which makes me wanna vom, but I like Ford too much to give up entirely.








‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1’

Nov. 19

Director David Yates, who filmed the adaptations of Books 5 and 6, returns to helm the end of the series, wherein Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) must hide from Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) while figuring out how to take him down — sorta like guerrillas with magic wands.

And yes, the studio broke the seventh and final book in half, and part 2 doesn’t come out ’til next July.

This is very distressing, as I don’t know how to read and therefore have no idea what happens.

‘Red’

Nov. 19

Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren are retired assassins living quiet lives. But they know too much so the CIA tries to take them out. (This is where the “Retired: Extremely Dangerous” thing comes in.)

Also, Mary-Louise Parker is there, although what she’s doing with them is a mystery, since she is neither a retired assassin nor one of the CIA thugs. Maybe she’s Willis’ girlfriend?

Regardless, the flick will probably involve silly dialogue, ridiculous explosions, unbelievable stunts and a soundtrack filled with crunchy guitar riffs. It feels like a summer film, but what with global warming, it’ll still be hot at Thanksgiving when we go see it.

‘The Next Three Days’

Nov. 19

Writer/director Paul Haggis won an Oscar for “Crash,” but he also wrote some episodes of “Walker: Texas Ranger,” so we know the man is versatile.

Anyhow, the film is a remake of “Pour Elle,” a French film from way back in 2007, which inexplicably did not star Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks.

Haggis has one-upped the Frenchies by casting — yes — Elizabeth Banks as a woman accused of murder and — yes — Russell Crowe as her long-suffering husband, who understandably goes a tad bonkers and attempts to bust his special lady out of the clink.

‘Burlesque’

Nov. 24

Looking for a wholesome film to take Gramma to over the Thanksgiving holiday? Look no further.

Christina Aguilera stars as a small town girl with big talent, trying to make her way through the rough-and-tumble world of L.A. She soon finds a waitressing job and a mentor in her new boss, Cher.

With hard work, determination and a little moxie, this sprightly ingénue is soon taking her pants off for big money.

This is the stuff dreams are made of.








‘Faster’

Nov. 24

Just looking at that old, crumpled picture of himself and his brother fishing gets Dwayne Johnson’s blood boiling. So he sets out to avenge his brother’s death, which occurred while they were stealing from or robbing someone.

But never you mind that, just focus on the fishing picture.

Even though Billy Bob Thornton is in this, I don’t think car chases with old Mustangs, gunfights and hit men is the right stuff to expose your grandma to during a time of year that’s supposed to be about thanks, and stuffing.

But I’m just guessing here; I don’t know your Nannan very well.

‘Tangled’

Nov. 24

Oh look, an animated kid’s movie based on a fairy tale princess (Rapunzel) with kicky side characters (grumpy chameleon, giggly horse) and a charming rapscallion love interest. In 3-D.

I think instead my grandma and I will stay in and drink gin.

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