The early fall season is sort of a thankless time for movies, being wedged in between summer blockbuster season and the award-worthy movie season in December. Like January, early fall is the time when a lot of studio afterthoughts are put out, and a time where low-quality fare might actually get some notice and make a buck, for example obviously horrible kiddie-fare such as Beverly Hills Chihuahua, coming out Oct. 3, and the money-making machine that is the third installment of the High School Musical franchise set for Oct. 24. Up for release as well are some just-not-flashy-enough action flicks and thrillers such as Eagle Eye, on Sept. 26 starring Shia LaBoeuf, and the potentially okay video game thriller Max Payne for Oct. 17 starring Mark Wahlberg.
Despite the outward appearances of these majorly mediocre blockbusters, looking deeper will reveal some overlooked gems. Catch the tail end of the Calgary International Film Festival for such films, both domestic and foreign. Be the first in Canada to see premieres of films like Deepa Mehta's Heaven on Earth on Sept.25, Gonzo: The Life and Times of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and 12 on Sept. 26, the Chechnyan adaptation of 12 Angry Men: My Life Inside on Sept. 27-- a documentary about an illegal Mexican immigrant nanny accused of the death of her charge-- and The Beautiful City on Sept. 28, a film that takes a look at Toronto's lower west-end, where chic new lofts and their affluent dwellers live side by side with the city's hookers and drug dealers. For more information on screening times and tickets, visit calgaryfilm.com.
If you're hankering for more indie goodness once CIFF finishes this weekend, make sure to check out the Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers (csif.org). They're presenting an Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative Exchange on Oct. 10-11 during the month of October, which consists of short films by independent filmmakers from Nova Scotia, Liss Platt (Oct. 16) a media artist who will project her short film by powering a customized bike and the society's CSIF 30th anniversary bash Oct. 31.
Noteworthy limited and wider studio releases that have good intentions of at least entertaining us this early fall include: The Lucky Ones on Sept. 26, which stars Rachel McAdams as one of three soldiers home from Iraq on a road trip to deliver a guitar back to the family of her soldier boyfriend who saved her life. Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna is another war-themed drama set in WWII era Italy and the events surrounding a group belonging to the U.S. Army's all-black "Buffalo Soldiers."
Simon Pegg will play the detestable social-climbing celebrity journalist Sidney Young alongside Kirsten Dunst and Jeff Bridges in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People on Oct. 3. Simultaneously overrated and underrated actors Greg Kinnear and Keira Knightley will star in the bio-pics Flash of Genius, which tells the story of Robert Kearns' battle with Detroit automakers who stole his idea of intermittent windshield wipers, and The Duchess, the story of the proto-feminist Duchess of Devonshire. Finally, this packed Friday will also see the release of the hipster rom-com Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, starring the artist-forever-known-as George-Michael Bluth, Michael Cera.
One of the most expensive Canadian productions of all time, the Calgary-shot war epic Passchendaele hits theatres a month before Remembrance Day on Oct. 10. Paul Gross-- best known as the modern-day Dudley Do-Right in Due South-- stars as a soldier in the most pivotal WWI battle fought by Canadians. A more conventional sounding CIA thriller, Body of Lies, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, bids for your time and money on the same day. With a premise that sounds appealing on paper, but will probably be overlooked, the Robert DeNiro vehicle What Just Happened? sounds suspiciously like a rip-off of an episode of Entourage.
Oliver Stone gets annoyingly "big" and political again with his bio-pic W., about, well, you know on Oct. 17. Expect heavy-handed messages and Stone obviously trying too hard to become a great American director.
Ugh. Saw V on Oct. 24. Instead of encouraging the people behind these movies to inflict yet another one on the world, go see Real Time, a Canadian film which got good reviews at the Sundance Film Festival and which stars Randy Quaid and Jay Baruchel as a hitman who gives his target, a compulsive gambler, one hour to live. Also out is Pride and Glory which stars Edward Norton as a NY cop from a prestigious family of cops who must investigate his own brother (Colin Farrell) for corruption.
Finally, for some cheap entertainment on campus and to relive some summer blockbusters, stop by Cinemania in ICT 102 every Monday at 6:30 and 9:00 p.m.. Screening are Kung Fu Panda on Sept. 29, a decent summer family flick that was a bit overshadowed by the monstrously good Pixar machine, Wall-E, the M. Night Shyamalan flop The Happening on Oct. 6, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on Oct. 20.