The Farmer’s Almanac, Weather Channel, and NOAA have all been consulted: Oscar season is officially upon us.

In Theaters

Seven Psychopaths
(CBS Films)

A revered playwright and Oscar-winning short filmmaker, Martin McDonagh delivered pitch black comedy and resuscitated Colin Farrell’s career with 2008’s stunning In Bruges.  Since then, he’s helped get his brother John Michael’s equally impressive The Guard to the screen, raising speculation of a third McDonagh waiting in the wings, ready to burst onto the scene with a likewise fully formed cinematic brilliance.  (What was in these guys’ porridge growing up?)  After such a good time with these Brendan Gleeson films, my anticipation couldn’t be much higher for Seven Psychopaths.  Set in L.A., the film follows a struggling screenwriter (Farrell) who becomes mixed up in the criminal underworld when his lamebrain friends (Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken) kidnap a Shih Tzu belonging to a gangster (Woody Harrelson).  Immense potential here; can’t wait to see how it plays out.

(Warner Bros. Pictures)

With 2007‘s Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck unexpectedly became one of the most appealing mainstream filmmakers.  2010’s The Town had its moments, notably a heist set in Fenway Park, and was a near Best Picture nominee when the field expanded to 10, but wasn’t as impressive as Affleck’s debut.  Now comes Argo, his most ambitious work yet.  The fact-based film covers a 1979 CIA operation to sneak six U.S. citizens out of Iran under the guise of shooting a sci-fi movie.  Affleck stars along with Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor alert!), Adrienne Barbeau, and the ubiquitous Chris Messina.  Seems like the kind of well-rounded, intelligent work sure to connect with audiences and award-season voters.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
(Summit Entertainment)

When Stephen Chbosky’s novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower was published in 1999, I was the same age as its freshman protagonist, Charlie, and mired in my own struggle to understand high school.  I didn’t read the book, but it felt like a modern coming-of-age classic that I should eventually get to.  Instead, I waited for the film adaptation (written and directed by Chbosky) starring Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, and the kid who played Percy Jackson in the horrible The Lightning Thief film (real name: Logan Lerman).  Ken Hanke loved it.  I did not, and my review will be up soon.

Atlas Shrugged: Part II
(Atlas Distribution)

Ayn Rand is a perpetual hot-button topic, but I have very little to say about her, her philosophies, or her writing.  I like The Fountainhead movie and that’s where my Randian knowledge ends.  The first installment of Atlas Shrugged was universally hailed as one of 2011’s worst films, a designation that typically doesn’t suggest a sequel.  Yet here is Part II, starring Samantha Mathis and D.B. Sweeney, which will probably kick over to Netflix Instant within a few months, just like its predecessor.  If the subject matter is appealing and the big-screen treatment seems essential, catch it quick as I doubt it will stay in town for long.

(Summit Entertainment)

Aiding October’s annual bevy of horror flicks is Sinister from director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose).  The film stars Ethan Hawke as a true-crime novelist who, through the breakthrough concept of found footage, unearths how a family was murdered in his new home.  In the process, he unleashes some sort of supernatural badness on his own family.  Hawke’s presence is typically a good sign, so this one might be OK.

Here Comes the Boom
(Sony Pictures)

Adam Sandler and director Frank Coraci had a good 1998 with The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy.  The following year, Sandler made Big Daddy, probably the last great “vintage wacky Adam Sandler” movie, followed by numerous sad imitators (though Zohan has its charms).  Now, Sandler has apparently pawned off his former collaborator on Kevin James, who also worked with Coraci on Zookeeper.  Their latest teaming, Here Comes the Boom,  finds James as a high school teacher who turns to mixed-martial arts fighting to raise money for his cash-strapped workplace.  Salma Hayek and Henry Winkler (the guy just can’t leave high school) also show up.  Here Comes the Boom will be at the Regal Biltmore Grande, but not at the Carolina.  The “King of Queens” fan club may or may not be meeting in front of the theater after each 7 PM screening.

Also, be aware that Qfest begins Thursday night and will continue through Sunday evening at the Fine Arts Theater.  Downtown showings of The Master and Samsara will resume on Monday.

Fleeing the Scene

Searching for Sugar Man is heading out after a strong month at the Fine Arts and Carolina.  Several people have let me know how much they’ve enjoyed the film, but the outpouring doesn’t stop there.  Thanks in part to being one of Amazon MP3’s 100 $5 albums for October, the film’s soundtrack has been a Top 5 download, Rodriguez’s debut album Cold Fact has jumped in and out of the Top 10, and his follow-up Coming From Reality has been in the Top 50.  Good job, America!

2 Days in New York is also bidding adieu to the Carolina.  Be sure to catch it on DVD or, if it follows 2 Days in Paris, on Netflix Instant.


Ridley Scott’s Prometheus had no chance of living up to the amount of hype heaped upon it, but it’s still fine entertainment (for 9/10 of the run time, at least).  Now is also the time to catch the Tom Cruise ’80s arena rock homage Rock of Ages, sure to be up for its share of Razzies early next year, and The Raven, in which John Cusack attempts to convince audiences that Edgar Allan Poe was a crime fighter.

On Netflix Instant

Not much of note in terms of 2012 films.    Most promising is Pray For Japan, which “documents relief efforts in the Japanese region of Ishinomaki, Miyagi, a coastal city decimated by an earthquake and the devastating tsunami that followed.”  There’s also the Navy SEALs recruitment video Act of Valor and the ultimate WYSIWYG title,  The Girl from the Naked Eye, which not only features Dominique Swain (HBO’s late-’90s Lolita), but also adult film star turned, um, actress (thanks, Steven Soderbergh…), Sasha Grey.

Maybe just watch Looper director Rian Johnson’s debut, Brick, instead.


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