Another week, another crowded schedule, and another highly anticipated fall film.

In Theaters

Looper
(TriStar Pictures)

I’m a huge fan of Rian Johnson’s first two films, Brick and The Brothers Bloom, but the main knock against them is that they feel small.  The same doesn’t seem to be the case for his latest work, Looper.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a titular assassin, hired to kill people sent from the future.  A person appears before him at a designated location, and he smokes the target, no questions asked.  That is until one day when the target is himself, 30 years older (Bruce Willis), and he lets his future self escape.  Also starring Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, and Jeff Daniels, the buzz has been tremendous, including from The Mountain Xpress’ Justin Souther, who saw the film at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.

2 Days in New York
(Magnolia Pictures)

On the indie comedy front is 2 Days in New York, Julie Delpy’s follow-up to 2 Days in Paris.  The film finds Marion (Delpy) now living in the U.S. and in a relationship with Mingus (Chris Rock).  When Marion’s nutty family visits, cultures clash, and if the trailer any indication, comedy arises.  60 lucky Asheville Film Society members will get to see it on Wednesday night at 7:30 at The Carolina.  Tickets are available starting at 11:30 at The Carolina.  One ticket per membership.

The Imposter
(Indomina Releasing)
Documentary-wise, two non-fiction works open this week.  The one I can speak for is The Imposter, which I saw at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in April and loved.  It’s a wild, engaging film about a foreigner who poses as a lost Texan child and the family who accepts the false return without much question.  Some of the year’s strangest cinematic moments are found within and proceeds at a pace and level of intrigue that will win over those who typically don’t go for documentaries.
Samsara
(Oscilloscope Pictures)

Joining The Imposter is Samsara, which appears a tad bit different.  From the makers of Baraka, the film captures life in 25 countries on five continents, offering rare glimpses at the far reaches of our planet.  The trailer before The Master was visually stunning and the film itself promises to be a unique experience.  Whether or not it borders on sensory overload remains to be seen.

Hotel Transylvania
(Sony Pictures)

Not to forget the family-friendly set, Hotel Transylvania provides a little pre-Halloween animated fun.  Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (TV’s beloved “Clone Wars” and “Samurai Jack”) and using Sony Animation money, the film follows Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) and his eponymous haven for monsters and ghouls.  All goes well in isolation until a human (Andy Samberg) crashes the castle and woos the count’s daughter (Selena Gomez).  Real-life Sandler has largely lost his appeal, but vocal goofiness has always been one of his strengths and may still hold some power.  Other names include Steve Buscemi, Fran Drescher, and Cee-Lo Green, but the film also appears to be a covert “SNL” reunion with Jon Lovitz, David Spade, Molly Shannon, and Chris Parnell joining Sandler and Samberg.  Could be great fun for all ages…could be a train wreck like another Sony Animation film, The Smurfs.

Won’t Back Down
(Twentieth Century Fox)

Sadly not a Tom Petty biopic, Won’t Back Down is a clear crowd-pleaser about two mothers (Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal) who take a stand to improve their children’s troubled school.  There’s an audience for this kind of film, who will love it regardless of artistry.  All that matters is the end result, and it’s telegraphed from miles away.

Fleeing the Scene

To make room for these titles, plus bring on Searching for Sugar Man, the Carolina bids farewell to The Bourne Legacy, The Campaign,  Farewell, My Queen (tough times for powdered wigs), Hope Springs, The Intouchables, Last Ounce of Courage, and Lawless.

On DVD

For the three people who didn’t catch The Avengers in theaters, now is your chance to see its surprising charms minimized on the small screen.  Somehow, folks will choose to watch Joss Whedon’s film on their iPhones and other micro-devices and be OK with that decision, but if there’s a modern action film that demands big-screen attention, this is it.

When rental supplies for the superhero flick run low, don’t overlook Damsels In Distress.  Whit Stillman’s film features the most original dialogue to come along in quite a while, which will engage just as many viewers as it repels.

On Netflix Instant

I’m most looking forward to a pair of edgy Scandinavian exports.  The Norwegian thriller Headhunters takes the shockingly violent route, while Danish comedy Klown looks to offend by pushing the envelope in a more wacky manner.

Well worth your time is the super bleak post-WWII British drama The Deep Blue Sea, featuring fine performances from Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston, and Simon Russell Beale.  One if not all of these names are likely to be in the year-end awards conversation, especially Weisz.

From director Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace) comes the Gerard Butler vehicle Machine Gun Preacher, also starring Michael Shannon and Kathy Baker.  The film looks interesting, but not to the point of seeking it out in theaters…in essence, precisely the kind of title for which Netflix Instant was created.

Likewise intriguing is Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary, Mansome.  The film seeks the input of such names as Paul Rudd, Jason Bateman, and Will Arnett to examine modern masculinity.  Michael Chabon has already covered this territory, but Spurlock’s spin on the topic promises to be interesting.

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