It's been a mixed summer at the movie theater. For every beloved film ("Iron Man 3") there was a bomb ("Lone Ranger") or an enormous blockbuster that is already forgotten ("Great Gatsby," "World War Z"). But as schools open, leaves fall and fresh starts are in the air, we're gambling that the movie season from Labor Day to Thanksgiving will remind us why we like to go to the movies.
"Gravity," "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2," and "All is Lost" are three films to look forward to this fall.
Here are a half-dozen reasons why we're excited to line up for tickets:
If you liked 'A Perfect Storm' or 'Cast Away,' you'll like 'All Is Lost'
Here's your most unusual film of the fall. Robert Redford is the only cast member in "All Is Lost," and he barely speaks. Sailing alone on a yacht, he wakes one morning to find his boat damaged and flooding, and the battle is on. But in this action movie, it's not giant sea monsters against humans in robot shells, it's one man, on the far end of his years, with no name, past, or friends that we know of, battling to survive. At least Tom Hanks had Wilson the volleyball. Plan on an early showing of this one. You're going to want dinner afterward so you can discuss. (Opens Oct. 25.)
If you liked 'Fargo' or 'A Simple Plan,' you'll like 'A Single Shot'
Some movies chill you to the bone not with monsters or jump scares, but by the slow build of bad decisions. In "Fargo" and "A Simple Plan," characters tried to hide their actions with what seems like logical moves, but everything was built on sugar snow, and when it started to melt, the lies below were revealed. That same vibe emanates from "A Single Shot," starring Sam Rockwell and William H. Macy. Rockwell's a poor hunter who accidentally shoots a teenage girl in the woods, then discovers she has $100,000 in cash. When he tries to hide the money, the dominoes get stacked up and then it's just a matter of time before disaster. (Opens Sept. 20.)
If you liked 'Senna,' you'll like 'Rush'
You didn't have to know Thing One about Formula 1 to love "Senna," a fascinating 2011 documentary about the life and too-early death of driver Ayrton Senna. And you don't need to have heard of James Hunt, Niki Lauda, and Lauda's horrific 1976 crash to get sucked right into director Ron Howard's "Rush." As "Senna" did with the rivalry between Senna and fellow driver Alain Prost, "Rush" drives you straight into the racing world and may just make an F1 fan out of you. (Opens Sept. 20.)
If you liked 'Despicable Me 2,' you'll like "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2'
It wasn't all over when the credits rolled on 2009's "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs." Flint, Sam and crew return to Swallow Falls and discover that the food machine from the first movie has gone even more nuts and is now producing "foodimals," food-animal hybrids, including shrimpanzees and cheespiders. Bill Hader, Anna Faris and Neil Patrick Harris are among the returning cast. (Opens Sept. 27)
If you liked 'Wall Street' or 'Boiler Room,' you'll like 'Wolf of Wall Street'
Martin Scorsese. Leonardo DiCaprio. Matthew McConaughey. Jonah Hill. Like the companies it portrays, "Wolf of Wall Street" almost seems too big to fail. DiCaprio and his crooked banker cronies have no barriers. They toss dwarfs at dartboards, have half-naked bands marching through their office, eat live goldfish, pal around with monkeys and throw decadent parties with bikini babes, Champagne and yachts. When it all comes crashing down, and it has to, you know the crash is going to be big. And you know that DiCaprio's name is likely to get mentioned come Oscar time. (Opens Nov. 15.)
If you liked 'Apollo 13,' you'll like 'Gravity'
It's that nightmare that dances around the backs of our minds whenever we think astronauts have glamorous jobs. Space is so sprawling, so cold, and humans so small in its dark vastness. In "Apollo 13," some genius NASA brains and close-to-the-bone courage saved the crew. But what hope can there be for George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in "Gravity," playing astronauts who find their shuttle destroyed and themselves stranded with limited air and no way to communicate with Earth? Going in to "Apollo 13," we knew there was a happy ending coming. We're not so sure here. (Opens Oct. 4)
First published September 6 2013, 6:43 AM