BOP 25 of Fall 2004: Selections 25-21

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It's September, and that means North America's favorite movie season has ended. The wizards, the comic book heroes and the shark bait have all come and gone. Presumably, that foreshadows an end to quality features at the local cineplex until holiday season sees another onslaught of quality cinema.

BOP does not buy that assumption, however. We say that people who think there is nothing worth checking out at the theater simply are not trying hard enough. Our staff voted on the most anticipated movies of September and October, and no fewer than 46 listings received a nomination. That's right, we found 46 different movies released in the next 60 days that we felt merited strong consideration. Eventually, our list was trimmed down to a set of 25 entries, each one of which we feel affords a tremendous amount of anticipation in its own way.

25) The Forgotten

Right now what this film has going for it is the most intruiging ad campaign of the fall, or at least until they get desperate and start spilling the beans closer to the release date. After surviving an accident, a woman (played here by Julianne Moore) finds her world coming apart as the people closest to her either not knowing her anymore or disappearing entirely. Is this a conspiracy, or is she just going crazy? As the saying goes, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not after you. The hook to this film is obviously in finding out what is actually behind the disappearances and/or how they could alter memories. It looks for now to be maddeningly literal (as in the trailer's end reveal) but we're with them for at least one flight of fancy.

24) The Motorcycle Diaries

Che Guevara has become entrenched as a historical icon in society, for better or for worse. His journal about his travels over the South American continent, which he wrote along with his friend Alberto Granado, were completed well before the leader of the Cuban Revolution ascended to his position of power. This film chronicles the men's journey by motorcycle, and by the end of the expedition, both of them fully realize where their destinies lie. Probably the greatest reason this film makes our list is the presence of the underrated Gael Garcia Bernal, who broke onto the scene by starring alongside Diego Luna in the Mexican film Y tu mamá también. Since that time, Luna has become more of a factor in films of the United States, with featured roles in Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, The Terminal and the aforementioned Criminal. Meanwhile, Garcia Bernal has contented himself working in films that are more grounded in his own language and culture. Even so, his screen presence can't be denied. Seeing him work alongside such an esteemed director as Walter Salles (Central Station) makes The Motorcycle Diaries a celebration of talent.

23) Criminal

Based on the Argentine hit Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens), this caper has been adapted for North American audiences by Steven Soderbergh and Gregory Jacobs, who has worked as assistant director for Soderbergh on the majority of his films. We're big fans of Soderbergh here at BOP, so we can't wait to see what he's done with an already winning concept. The film is set in Los Angeles over a 24 hour period, centering around two con artists who somehow manage to fall into a foolproof, lucrative scam. Deception and duplicity abound. The film has a sharp cast, including John C. Reilly, Diego Luna and Maggie Gyllenhaal, and looks stylish and fun.

22) Primer

The darling of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, Primer won both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic features and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize in that competition. Since then, this $7,000 film has been generating a fair amount of advance buzz. The story centers around four men who have developed a cottage industry of error-checking devices in a garage. They realize, though, that they are missing something. There is some notion, some mechanical device, some freak accident that keeps their devices from being perfect in their work. When they finally find that device that is sublime in its faultlessness, they innately understand that is too valuable to put on the market. In the process, trust issues come to the forefront, and they are faced with the question, "If you always want what you can't have, what do you want when you can have anything?" It's the first film ever created by writer/director Shane Carruth, and what a debut.

21) The Final Cut

The notion of "Robin Williams: Actor with Dramatic Chops" has hopefully ceased to be a novelty by now; the notion of "High concept science fiction films with no explosions are worth seeing" unfortunately seems to still be. This film, about a future in which people willingly have memory implants that record every thought for preservation, will start in limited release but hopefully will be able to use Williams' name to attain a wider bearth. In the film he plays a 'cutter', a person who reassembles the memories of the dead for the benefit of their families. However, after discovering a secret about himself in one of his projects, his world starts to collapse around him. A unique premise is almost always enough to get us into a theatre, and this is right up there with the best of them. Add in Williams at the top of his game and we're more than sold. Just show it somewhere near us.

Click here to read selections 20-16.
Click here to read selections 15-11.
Click here to read selections 10-6.
Click here to read selections 5-1.



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