October 2005 Forecast
By John Seal
1. The Legend of Zorro
The Mask of Zorro raked in over $90 million back in 1998, so this overdue sequel figures to clear the $100 million hurdle with ease. The absence of blockbuster competition this month clears the path for Legend: additionally, the return of the charismatic Antonio Banderas and a terrific trailer make this the number one film this month - hands down. Plus it has Pedro Armendariz, Jr. in it!
2. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
Can everyone's favorite cult cartoon cross over and become a big pop hit? I get the feeling it will, and not just because I've overdone it on the Stinking Bishop. It's been a long wait for Wallace and Gromit fans, who will be out in force for this claymation comedy about, erm, gardening, apparently. A good ad campaign, good voice talent (Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter), and wry humor should produce decent returns at the box office for this G-rated feature. And as far as British animation goes, it's gotta be better than Valiant.
3. The Fog
Another John Carpenter remake? The original wasn't exactly all that - frankly, it marked the beginning of Carpenter's long, painful artistic decline - but apparently we need to see the same story dolled up in 21st century drag. So here it is, a low budget, Old Dark Lighthouse thriller designed to make some quick bucks in the Halloween season. And you know what? It's gonna make 'em, even if it was directed by the chap responsible for 1990's Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em: The Movie.
4. In Her Shoes
Ah, it's the old ugly-duckling-with-inner-beauty versus attractive-yet-shallow-but-blessed-with-a-heart-of-gold sistah story. This time the great (and not ugly) Toni Collette has been cast opposite the appalling (and unattractive) Cameron Diaz. The trailer ain't half bad, but there's not much here that screams 'must-see'. Should deliver decent returns at the box office, but don't expect too much - especially when you factor in the film's whopping 130 minute running time. However, credit where credit's due: it's great to see director Curtis Hanson cast 90-year-old Hitchcock vet Norman Lloyd in his film!
This looks like the sort of completely crappy video-game adaptation that generates big bucks at the box office, so I'm going to go out on a limb, and predict it will rake in big bucks at the box office. It will suck mightily, but at least it wasn't directed by Uwe Boll.
6. Saw II
It's low budget predecessor made a lot of money last Halloween, and there's every reason to think the sequel can duplicate that feat. Likely to be the winner of this month's profit-to-cost ratio sweepstakes.
7. The Weather Man
It's been re-scheduled more times than your next trip to the oral surgeon, but this new Nic Cage flick finally seems to have found a release date that will stick. Cage plays an on-air meteorological personality whose big chance to spin the weather news over The Big Apple's airwaves leads to trouble in his family life. Whilst there are plenty of 'weather weenies' out there - present company and fellow BOP scribe Kim Hollis included - this film won't repeat the success of Cage's 2004 blockbuster National Treasure, and may be hard-pressed to outperform 2003's Matchstick Men. Heck, it'll probably do even worse than last month's Lord of War.
8. North Country
Another small scale Fall release that will rely on solid reviews to provide it with box office receipts, North Country has some pedigree: Oscar winner Charlize Theron and the uber-talented director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) behind the camera. It also looks to be another 'liberal Hollywood' feature that should engender some positive press. Nonetheless, unless the reviews are incredibly good (which, I should note, the early ones are), it ain't going nowhere.
9. Two For the Money
Oy, October movies. Here's another one that looks like a complete stiff. Al Pacino and Rene Russo play a rich husband and wife team who operate a high stakes gambling operation for fun and profit. Matthew McConaughey plays the young man (young here being a relative concept) sucked into their iniquitous plans. McConaughey's previous film, Sahara, exceeded everyone's wildest expectations, but I don't think lightning is going to strike twice. From the screenwriter of Freejack. Yikes!
Not sure what to expect here, but Cameron Crowe has rarely delivered the commercial successes anticipated of him post-Jerry Maguire, and I don't get the feeling this is the film that will change that. The bloom is off the Orlando Bloom bloom at this point, so it's up to Kirsten Dunst to put butts in the seats - and without Tobey Maguire to lend a helping hand, that may be a rather tall order. It didn't go over real well at the Toronto Film Festival, either.
This has bomb written all over it, even with Domino Harvey's real-life suicide providing the film with some free bizarro publicity. The trailer seems to be going for some sort of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind vibe but fails miserably. Will director Tony Scott avoid the obvious, and NOT include Van Morrison's annoying song of the same name somewhere on the soundtrack? We're lobbying for the inclusion of Roy Orbison's far superior tune in its place.
Naomi Watts, nuff said. Stay will rapidly depart from theatres.
13. Dreamer: Inspired By A True Story
Never trust a movie 'inspired by a true story', and especially never trust one that trumpets that ridiculous tag line as part of its title. This film about a horse trainer (Kurt Russell) and his 11-year-old nag also has room for cute li'l Dakota Fanning (who, oddly, doesn't play the 11-year-old nag), and it's a surprise to learn that this is a DreamWorks feature, because the plot sounds like it came from the Disney assembly line. I like Russell, but this film will be home video dog meat in no time.
If it didn't feature Steve Martin, I'd say this romantic comedy would be heading straight to the dumpster. Of course, Martin's presence didn't do a whole lot to save Novocaine from a fate worse than Pluto Nash, but on a weekend where the competition is Doom and Dreamer, surely Shopgirl will generate some revenue. Cinematography by David Cronenberg regular Peter Suschitzky guarantees that at the very worst, this film will look great.
Assuming this film isn't a figment of our imagination, Barely Legal sounds like it will be barely watchable.
Good Night, and Good Luck
Good Night, and Good Luck took home an impressive five prizes from this year's Venice Film Festival, but George Clooney's biopic about CBS tele-journalist Edward R. Murrow was denied the festival's crown jewel, the Golden Lion. Not to worry, though - while it's unlikely to make a big initial breakthrough at the box office, this film should be an Oscar-night contender that could stay in art-houses for a while. It's in black and white, so even though it's rated PG, leave the kids at home.
This one looks interesting. It's an Israeli film written and directed by Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad, the man responsible for Ford Transit, a wonderful little documentary that's played periodically on the Sundance Channel. Paradise Now couldn't be more topical: it confronts head on the ethics of suicide bombing, a tall order for Abu-Assad and fellow screenwriters Bero Beyer and Pierre Hodgson. Paradise Now won the Amnesty International Film Prize earlier this year, so my guess is it isn't going to advocate permanent detention, torture, or breaking rocks for the terrorists/freedom fighters it depicts.
The Squid and the Whale
It has an awful title, but the trailer is terrific, as is the cast. Jeff Daniels looks to deliver the performance of his career, and Laura Linney can do no wrong. Another one we might see more of come Oscar time.
Extremes, in a Takashi Miike film? Naaah, can't be true. Actually, this is an Asian horror anthology, and only one of its three segments was directed by Miike, the other two being lensed by Oldboy's Park Chan-Wook and the brilliantly named Fruit Chan. Chan's segment apparently involves some rather unusual dumplings, a popular theme in Asian horror that was previously explored in films like 1992's Human Meat Pies: The Untold Story. I'm not making this up.
Where the Truth Lies
It's rated NC-17! It's an Atom Egoyan film! Bring out your dead!
Michael Bentley's October Forecast
Dan Krovich's October Indie Forecast