Ann Hornaday on Upcoming Movie Releases

Sunday, September 13, 2009

All dates are subject to change.


Alien is back for a special 30th-anniversary, one-week screening. At AFI Silver Theatre. Through Sept. 17.

18 -- Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (3-D) will draw kids and nostalgic Gen-Yers alike for this adaptation of the popular children's book about a town where food falls from the sky like rain.

18 -- Jennifer's Body explores a darker side of "Juno" filmmaker Diablo Cody in this film about a popular high school girl (Megan Fox) who becomes possessed by a demon.

18 -- Love Happens asks one physician to heal himself: A therapist struggling with his own relationship issues (Aaron Eckhart) meets a florist who has sworn off men (Jennifer Aniston). But will these two find love in this romantic dramedy?

18 -- "Munyurangabo, a.k.a. Liberation Day" is the story of two Rwandan teens who, 15 years after the genocide, travel the countryside on a quest for justice. Writer-director Lee Isaac Chung appears in person at the Friday and Saturday screenings. At AFI Silver Theatre. Through Sept. 22.

18 -- The Burning Plain tells the story of a restaurant manager grappling with her mysterious, sexually charged past in this drama from Guillermo Arriaga, the writer of "Babel" and "21 Grams."

18 -- The Informant! Matt Damon turns whistle-blower but frustrates the FBI by changing his story to protect himself in this comedy based on a true story.

18 -- Teza is legendary Washington-based filmmaker Haile Gerima's long-awaited follow-up to his 1993 film "Sankofa." Here, an Ethiopian medical student studying in Germany returns to his native country to discover that it is embroiled in turmoil.

18 -- Earth Days is a documentary that chronicles the birth of the environmental movement with the publication of Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," culminating in the first Earth Day in 1970.

18 -- Fuel is a nonfiction film essay about one man's 11-year search for solutions to America's dependence on oil.

23 -- The AFI Latin American Film Festival will be the biggest yet in 20 years, with more than 30 films from 20 Latin American countries. Highlights: "Voy a Explotar" (I'm Gonna Explode), a tale of young lovers on the run; "Tony Manero," a disco-infused black comedy; and oddball love story "Gigante." At AFI Silver Theatre. Through Oct. 12.

25 -- Amreeka tells the story of a woman who moves from the West Bank to Illinois to begin a new life with her son.

25 -- Bright Star lays out the ill-fated romance between poet John Keats and girl-next-door Fanny Brawne in this biopic starring Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish.

25 -- Fame remakes the Oscar-winning 1980 musical, following singers, actors, musicians and artists through four years at the New York City high school of performing arts.

25 -- No Impact Man attempts to answer the question: What happens when an average family decides to be as green as possible? This enviro-doc follows a man (and his reluctant wife and daughter) who swears off electricity, cars and material consumption for a year.

25 -- Pandorum portrays two astronauts who awaken from hyper-sleep on a seemingly abandoned spaceship, but soon realize -- cue the screechy violins! -- that they are not alone.

25 -- Paris stars Romain Duris ("The Beat That My Heart Skipped") as a French dancer who has a fatal disease diagnosed and reaches out to his sister (Juliette Binoche) for help.

25 -- The Providence Effect tells the true story of a school on Chicago's West Side that for the past 30 years has left no child behind, sending a stunning 100 percent of its graduating seniors to universities and four-year colleges.

25 -- Somers Town, directed by "This Is England's" Shane Meadows, chronicles an unlikely friendship struck up by a runaway from Nottingham and a Polish immigrant during one long, hot summer.

25 -- Surrogates presents a future in which people live their lives through robotic surrogates -- sexy, perfect mechanical representations of themselves. Until something goes wrong, and FBI agent Greer (Bruce Willis) must risk his life to save the day.

25 -- Disgrace stars John Malkovich in an adaptation of the J.M. Coetzee novel, set in post-apartheid South Africa, where a college professor's impulsive affair with a student of mixed racial heritage has troubling repercussions.


1 -- The D.C. Asian Pacific American Film Festival gets underway at various venues. Headlining the festival is "9500 Liberty," an "interactive documentary" about immigration in Prince William County. Through Oct. 10.

1 -- The Miracle of Leipzig (Das Wunder von Leipzig Wir Sind das Volk) explores what happened when 10,000 armed policemen faced down 70,000 protesters in East Germany in 1989. At Goethe-Institut.

2 -- Betty Blue, the beloved 1986 French film about a madcap romance that descends into madness, makes a return appearance in a director's cut that has never been seen in the United States, with an hour of new material.

2 -- The Boys Are Back stars Clive Owen in the true story of an Australian sportswriter who, upon the death of his wife, finds himself the single parent of two sons, one a 6-year-old and the other a rebellious teen.

2 -- Capitalism: A Love Story features Michael Moore, up to his old tricks. In his latest doc, he takes on the political and corporate shenanigans that contributed to the global financial meltdown.

2 -- The Invention of Lying takes place in a world where lying does not exist, until an average guy (Ricky Gervais) discovers he can stretch the truth to his advantage. Oh, what tangled webs we weave.

2 -- Toy Story 3-D is for everyone who can't get enough Buzz and Woody. In addition to "Toy Story's" re-release, the sequel is also being released in 3-D to promote Disney's "Toy Story 3," out next year.

2 -- Whip It is Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, a film about the rowdy world of roller derby. In this film, a Texas beauty queen trades her tiara for a helmet, despite her mother's disapproval.

2 -- Zombieland asks us to picture a world in which the only thing worse than the undead are the survivors. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson lead in this zom-com.

3 -- New Films from Hungary: Selections From Magyar Filmszemle contains a selection of Hungarian films ("Prank," "Delta," "Miss Universe of 1929") chosen from recent premieres in Hungary. At National Gallery of Art, East Building, Auditorium. Through Oct. 24.

9 -- A Serious Man is the latest bleak comedy from the Coen brothers, this time about a down-on-his-luck professor at a Midwestern university in 1967 who, in trying to cope with an increasingly difficult family life, seeks out rabbis' advice in handling it all like a mensch.

9 -- Bronson follows the metamorphosis of Mickey Peterson from a 19-year-old to Britain's most dangerous prisoner. Based on a true story.

9 -- Coco Before Chanel stars Audrey Tautou in this biopic about the life of the legendary fashion designer, from her beginnings in a French orphanage to the haute couture empire she would create.

9 -- Couples Retreat finds comedy in dysfunction when four Midwestern couples take a trip to a tropical resort, only to discover that the resort's couples therapy is mandatory.

9 -- The Damned United is set in 1960s and '70s England, where Michael Sheen plays Brian Clough during his disastrous 44 days of coaching Leeds United in 1974.

9 -- Good Hair finds Chris Rock leading viewers through the fraught world of African American women and their hair. With Nia Long, Al Sharpton and Maya Angelou.

9 -- More Than a Game, filmed when NBA superstar LeBron James was still in high school, follows James and four of his high school teammates on their journey to superstardom.

9 -- Youssou NDour: I Bring What I Love captures the Senegalese pop sensation as he makes an album dedicated to his Muslim faith and the controversy that ensues.

16 -- The Horse Boy is a documentary about a family that travels to Mongolia in search of a shaman who is believed to hold the key to healing their autistic son.

16 -- Law Abiding Citizen tells the story of a sociopath who engineers a string of violent murders, all without leaving his jail cell, and the only prosecutor who can stop the violence.

16 -- New York, I Love You presents a selection of short films about love, all set against the crazy backdrop of New York City. With Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Christina Ricci, Ethan Hawke and more.

16 -- The Road sees a father (Viggo Mortensen) and a son (newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee) take a post-apocalyptic journey across a barren landscape. Based on Cormac McCarthy's best-selling, Pulitzer-winning novel by the same name.

16 -- The Stepfather stars "Gossip Girl's" Penn Badgley as a teenager who returns home to find that his mother is living with a new boyfriend, whom he suspects of harboring dark intentions. With Sela Ward and Dylan Walsh.

16 -- Where the Wild Things Are brings the award-winning children's book to the silver screen. In this adaptation, Max finds that being "King of all Wild Things" isn't as simple as he thought.

18 -- The Silesian Trilogy is Kazimierz Kutz's seminal work. "Salt of the Black Earth" presents the tale of seven brothers who join the Silesian Uprising of 1919, "Pearl in the Crown" centers on life in mining communities, and "The Beads of One Rosary" portrays a retired miner who misses his connection to the past. At National Gallery of Art, East Building, Auditorium. Through Oct. 25.

21 -- The Fourth Annual Washington, D.C., International Horror Film Festival will chill your blood with 40 new shorts and features and the 45th-anniversary screening of "2000 Maniacs" with director Herschell Gordon Lewis. At AFI Silver Theatre, and Cinema Arts Theatre in Fairfax. Through Oct. 25.

23 -- Amelia chronicles the life of the legendary aviatrix, her rise to fame and her stormy relationships with George Putnam and Gene Vidal.

23 -- An Education chronicles the coming of age of a girl caught between Britain's straitlaced postwar period and the free-spirited '60s.

23 -- Astro Boy brings the cherished 1960s Japanese manga series and TV cartoon to the big screen, with the voices of Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage and Donald Sutherland.

23 -- Antichrist is the latest provocation from Danish director Lars von Trier, here serving up a gothic psycho-sexual drama about a grieving couple coming to terms with loss and latent hostility. With Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe.

23 -- Bringing the World Home: The Global Film Initiative promote cross-cultural understanding through cinema in these films from South Korea, Iran, China and Vietnam. At Freer Gallery, Meyer Auditorium. Through Nov. 8.

23 -- Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is based on the literary series "The Saga of Darren Shan," about a boy who inadvertently breaks a 200-year truce between two warring factions of vampires. From director Paul Weitz ("About a Boy"), with John C. Reilly and Salma Hayek.

23 -- Crude follows the efforts of indigenous tribes of Ecuador as they seek restitution from Chevron for contaminating their region, in a multi-billion-dollar legal case that came to be known as the "Amazon Chernobyl."

23 -- Ong-Bak 2 features Muay Thai master Tony Jaa, playing a medieval Thai nobleman who masters the arts of fighting along a journey of revenge in this martial arts flick.

24 -- Noir City D.C. is the second edition of the hugely popular festival started last year at the American Film Institute in Silver Spring. Once again, the festival will feature noir and cult classics, presented by the Film Noir Foundation's Eddie Muller and Foster Hirsch. A few on tap: "Slightly Scarlet," "Ace in the Hole," "Gun Crazy" and "The Big Combo." Through Nov. 3.

28 -- Michael Jackson: This Is It follows the late singer as he rehearsed for the This Is It Tour, which was supposed to kick off this summer. Directed by Kenny Ortega.

30 -- The Box, by Richard Kelly ("Donnie Darko"), posits the vexing moral question of whether, given the choice to push a button giving you $1 million, but automatically killing someone else, you'd take the money or the high road. It's a philosophical quandary made even more complicated when Cameron Diaz is the one deciding. She co-stars with James Marsden and Frank Langella.

30 -- Gentlemen Broncos stars Michael Angararo as a teenager who is being home-schooled by his mother (Jennifer Coolidge) and whose fledgling attempts at writing are unexpectedly made into a movie by his hometown auteur. With Mike White and Sam Rockwell, from writer-director Jared Hess ("Napoleon Dynamite").

30 -- The House of the Devil features an adorable college girl (Jocelin Donahue) who agrees to a babysitting gig, only to arrive at a scary Victorian house in the woods inhabited by a spooky couple -- with no baby! And it's a lunar eclipse! Which means it's really, really dark! With Greta Gerwig ("Hannah Takes the Stairs").

30 -- The Maid is a Chilean film starring Catalina Saavedra as a domestic trying to hang on to her job after serving the same family for 23 years.

30 -- British Noir, a selection of moody crime dramas that flourished from the late 1930s through the 1950s in Britain, opens at the National Gallery of Art with Roy Baker's 1947 murder drama, "The October Man." Through Nov. 29.


5 -- European Union Film Showcase, the American Film Institute's annual collection of some of the best offerings on the festival circuit, comes to town with the usual gems and rarities. Through Nov. 24.

6 -- Disney's A Christmas Carol features the voice of Jim Carrey as Ebenezer Scrooge in this animated version of the Dickens classic. Gary Oldman plays his faithful clerk Bob Cratchit, with Bob Hoskins as Mr. Fezziwig.

6 -- The Fourth Kind takes place in Nome, Alaska, where a disproportionate number of people have disappeared over the years. This supernatural thriller stars Milla Jovovich as a psychologist researching the phenomenon.

6 -- The Men Who Stare at Goats stars George Clooney in a dark comedy based on real-life reporter Jon Ronson's story of a man claiming to have been involved with the U.S. military's attempts to use psychic powers to change the nature of warfare. File under "H" for, Hey it could happen!

6 -- Visual Acoustics is a documentary about the architectural photographer Julius Shulman, whose photographs of buildings designed by Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Frank Gehry helped define the image of Southern California style. Narrated by Dustin Hoffman.

13 -- Fantastic Mr. Fox features the voices of George Clooney as the title character in this animated story about a fox who, after living peacefully with his wife and son (Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman), reverts to his primal ways of stealing chickens, putting his family and community in mortal danger. From director Wes Anderson ("Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums").

13 -- Pirate Radio is a comedy about a group of rogue disc jockeys in 1960s Britain who led a generation on a life-changing musical adventure. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Kenneth Branagh and Bill Nighy.

13 -- Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, Father of Anime, a retrospective devoted to the groundbreaking Japanese animator opens with author Frederik Schodt discussing Tezuka's most famous creation, Astro Boy, and showing three episodes of the cartoon. The series will include "The Film Is Alive," a documentary about Tezuka's work, as well as his short films. At the Freer Gallery through Nov. 22.

13 -- Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire stars comedian Mo'Nique in a breakout performance as the abusive mother of a 16-year-old Harlem high school student (Gabourey Sidibe) whose life is turned around by a persistent teacher. This festival-circuit favorite co-stars Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.

13 -- Rashomon, Akira Kurosawa's 1950 drama about an event seen from four perspectives -- and whose title has become cultural shorthand for seeing something from different points of view -- makes a return appearance in a spanking-new restored 35mm print.

13 -- Red Cliff marks the return of Hong Kong action master John Woo, here with an epic historical drama set in China in the year 208, starring Tony Leung.

13 -- 2012 stars Will Smith as Barack Obama and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin in this nail-biting political thriller . . . naaah, we kid! It's actually an "apocalyptic thriller" from sci-fi action director Roland Emmerich, with John Cusack, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Amanda Peet starring in a story about (what else?) a global cataclysm that could trigger the end of the world.

20 -- The Messenger stars Ben Foster as an Iraq war veteran who, when assigned to be an Army Casualty Notification Officer, befriends a fellow soldier (Woody Harrelson) and makes a connection with a recent widow (Samantha Morton). Directed by Oren Moverman, who wrote the Bob Dylan anti-biopic "I'm Not There."

20 -- William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe is a documentary about the pioneering civil rights lawyer made by his daughters, Emily and Sarah Kunstler, who chronicle and life and career of a man who was a husband, father, activist, hero and, in some circles, "the most hated lawyer in America."

20 -- The Blind Side stars Sandra Bullock as a wealthy white woman who takes in a homeless African American teenager (Quinton Aaron), a move that will change everyone's lives in unexpected ways. From writer-director John Lee Hancock ("The Rookie").

20 -- Planet 51 is a space-age animated kids' film about astronaut Chuck Baker (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson) who lands on Planet 51, only to discover that its inhabitants are living in a state of paranoia about aliens exactly like . . . him.

20 -- The Twilight Saga: New Moon finds Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) pining for her lost love Edward (Robert Pattinson), only to have her interest piqued by were-hottie Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner). Hmmm, vampire or werewolf, what is a girl to do?

25 -- Nine stars Daniel Day-Lewis as a film director coming to terms with the women in his life, in this filmed adaptation of the Broadway musical adaptation of the film (take a breath) by Federico Fellini. With (take another breath) Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Fergie and Sophia Loren. (Exhale.)

25 -- Ninja Assassin is a tale of violence and revenge about a deadly, um, ninja assassin who breaks free of the secret society that trained him, in order to avenge the death of his friend. Starring Rain, by way of the Wachowski siblings, suggesting another contemplative, lyrical meditation on meaning and mortality.

25 -- Old Dogs brings Robin Williams and John Travolta together in a what's-really-important comedy about best friends on the verge of a huge business deal who must unexpectedly care for 6-year-old twins (one is played by Travolta's real-life daughter). From the director who brought you "Wild Hogs." (Do we detect a touch of male-pattern badness?)

27 -- 35 Shots of Rum marks the return of French writer-director Claire Denis ("Beau Travail"), here with a story about the relationship between a father and his daughter, which is complicated by the arrival of a handsome young man.

28 -- The Crowd, King Vidor's 1928 silent film in which a man (James Murray) tries to rise above the titular rabble to realize the American Dream, will be accompanied by organist Dennis James at this screening at the National Gallery of Art.


TBD -- Up in the Air, based on the book by Walter Kirn, stars George Clooney (is it us, or is he a tad busy this fall?) as a corporate downsizer and inveterate road warrior who is on the verge of racking up 10 million frequent-flier miles when he meets the woman of his dreams -- who might just bring him down to earth. From director Jason Reitman ("Thank You for Smoking," "Juno"), co-starring Jason Bateman and Vera Farmiga.

4 -- Armored is an action crime caper about employees of an armored car company who stage the ultimate inside job -- well, until the next one comes along. With Matt Dillon, Columbus Short, Laurence Fishburne and Jean Reno.

4 -- Brothers stars Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman in Jim Sheridan's drama about a young man who, after his older brother disappears while on duty in Afghanistan, tries to comfort his sister-in-law.

4 -- Everybody's Fine features Robert De Niro in this remake of Giuseppe Tornatore's "Stanno Tutti Bene," in which a father visits his grown children, only to discover their lives aren't going as well as they claimed. With Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell.

5 -- Recovered Treasure: UCLA's Festival of Preservation opens at the National Gallery of Art, with Joseph Losey's 1951 movie, "The Prowler," the last film he made in Hollywood before emigrating to Britain. The series will include Emile de Antonio and Daniel Talbot's 1963 masterpiece, "Point of Order!," John Cassavetes's "Woman Under the Influence" and John Sayles's "Return of the Secaucus 7" (also known as the real "Big Chill").

11 -- Invictus stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon as Nelson Mandela and François Pienaar, who joined in 1995 to bring South Africa together in a run for the rugby World Cup. Directed by Clint Eastwood, who adapts a nonfiction book about the episode.

11 -- The Lovely Bones, based on Alice Sebold's best-selling novel, tells the story of a murdered girl who observes her family and murderer from Heaven, trying to decide if she wants to avenge her death or help those left behind move on with their lives. With Mark Wahlberg, Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon. From director Peter Jackson.

11 -- The Princess and the Frog features the voice of Anika Noni Rose as a girl living in New Orleans whose encounter with a frog leads to a hilarious -- and just maybe romantic -- adventure, in Disney's first animated movie to feature an African American heroine.

18 -- Avatar finds James Cameron ("Titanic") upping the ante for 3-D in a sci-fi action epic that is anticipated to combine computer animation, live action and 3-D technology in groundbreaking ways. With Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver in a story about a man who leads a battle to save civilization.

18 -- Did You Hear About the Morgans? chronicles the attempts of a Manhattan "perfect couple" to preserve their image of high-flying perfection, even as their marriage disintegrates -- and they unexpectedly witness a murder. With Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant.

18 -- The Young Victoria chronicles the storied romance of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, with Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend in the leading roles. Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson and Jim Broadbent round out the cast.

19 -- The Little Match Girl, adapted by Jean Renoir and Jean Tedesco in 1928, is shown accompanied by pianist Andrew Simpson at the National Gallery of Art.

25 -- Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel has a subtitle that says it all. The striped, helium-voiced little scamps are back in this part-animated, part-live action follow-up to the hit 2007 family flick.

25 -- Broken Embraces, from Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar, stars Lluís Homar as a writer who must confront events that transpired 14 years earlier, when he was working as a film director. With Almodóvar's favorite muse, Penélope Cruz.

25 -- It's Complicated features Meryl Streep as a woman torn between her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) and a male friend (Steve Martin) as she grapples with empty-nest syndrome. From Nancy Meyers ("Something's Gotta Give," "The Holiday").

25 -- Sherlock Holmes stars Robert Downey Jr. as the titular detective, with Jude Law as his trusty friend Dr. Watson. Directed by Guy Ritchie in what is being called a "dynamic new portrayal," which is Hollywood-speak for, Be Very Afraid. (That trailer -- it's a joke . . . right?) With Rachel McAdams and Eddie Marsan.

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