The summer frivolity at the multiplexes is now behind us, and it's time to get serious. From now until the end of the year, moviegoers can count on nothing but meaty, pensive dramas guaranteed to rack up industry awards and critics' accolades. We're talking about movies like, uh, Jackass 3-D? Saw VII? The remake of the cult gorefest I Spit On Your Grave?
OK, so it's not all heavy lifting. Truth be told, the fall film season always offers a mix of serious fare and surface outings, and this year is no exception. Between now and the middle of November — prior to the Harry Potter-fueled holiday season — approximately three dozen titles are scheduled for release in local theaters. Here, then, are 10 of those movies — one per weekend release date — heading our way to enlighten and/or entertain us.
Sept. 3: Inspired by one of the mock trailers in Grindhouse, Machete finds Danny Trejo cast as the title character, a Mexican vigilante who seeks revenge on those who double-crossed him. Robert De Niro, Steven Segal, Jessica Alba and jailbird Lindsay Lohan co-star.
Sept. 10: Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth film in the video game-inspired series, again finds heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) battling hordes of zombies in a postapocalyptic world. Viewers have the option of seeing this in regular 2-D, 3-D or IMAX.
Sept. 17: My favorite trailer experience of the year by far — because when M. Night Shyamalan's name flashed on the screen, half the theater groaned, causing the other half to bust out laughing — Devil takes place on a stuck elevator in which one of the inhabitants isn't quite human.
Sept. 24: Melbourne is the setting for the Australian import Animal Kingdom, a crime saga in which a greenhorn criminal (James Frecheville) finds himself caught between an honest lawman (Guy Pearce) and assorted thugs and crooked cops.
Oct. 1: The American remake of the popular 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In, Let Me In (directed by Cloverfield's Matt Reeves) centers on the unique relationship between a young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and his new neighbor, a child vampire (Kick-Ass' Chloe Moretz).
Oct. 8: Secretariat chronicles the true story of the racehorse who, in 1973, became the first horse in a quarter-century to capture the Triple Crown. Diane Lane headlines as the animal's unlikely owner, with John Malkovich appearing as the trainer who lends a hand.
Oct. 15: Based on the comic book penned by Warren Ellis, Red stars Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich as four CIA agents who've been framed for murder and find themselves on the run.
Oct. 22: After scoring a rare disappointment with Invictus, director Clint Eastwood returns with Hereafter, which weaves together a trio of tales focusing on individuals coping with issues of life, death and the afterlife. Matt Damon heads an international cast.
Oct. 29: In Saw 3D, the seventh picture in the franchise, past survivors of Jigsaw's (Tobin Bell) reign of terror gather, only to be confronted with new dangers.
Nov. 5: On the heels of Despicable Me comes another animated effort about a supervillain coping with moral dilemmas: Megamind, in which a baddie creates a superhero to function as his adversary, only to be shocked when his experiment turns out to be evil in his own right. Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt and Tina Fey contribute the vocals.
MORE FILM EVENTS
• The Charlotte Film Society continues its 2010 Saturday Night Cine Club Series with four screenings. The lineup features two documentaries (The Art of the Steal, Sept. 4, and Afghan Star, Nov. 20), a Swedish Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film (Evil, Oct. 23), and a Japanese import that won the aforementioned Oscar (Departures, Dec. 4). ($8 general admission. 7:30 p.m., Theatre Charlotte, 501 Queens Road; www.charlottefilmsociety.com.)
• The Cult Movie Monday series continues with a screening of 2001's superb rock odyssey Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which made my list (found here) of the 10 best films of the 2000s. (Free admission and popcorn; cash bar. 8 p.m. Sept. 27. Actor's Theatre, 650 E. Stonewall St.; www.lightfactory.org.)
• In conjunction with its Suspicious Minds exhibit, The Light Factory will present a trio of cinematic surrealist masterpieces Tuesday evenings at Spirit Square: Luis Bunuel's 1962 The Exterminating Angel (Oct. 12), David Lynch's 1976 Eraserhead (Nov. 9), and Jan Svankmajer's 1994 Faust (Dec. 14). (Free admission. 7:30 p.m. Knight Gallery, Spirit Square; www.lightfactory.org.)
• During the last week in October, The Light Factory will be sponsoring the retrospective Wunderkinder: New German Cinema, which will look at some of the cutting-edge mavericks of the German film industry. Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog and Rainer Werner Fassbinder will all be included, although the focus will be on Volker Schlöndorff: The director of the Oscar-winning The Tin Drum will appear over the course of the final weekend. The event will feature film screenings, panel discussions and more. (Oct. 25-31; locations, films & admission all TBA; www.lightfactory.org.)
• The Main Library will host a documentary series on present-day Afghanistan, with the films derived from the National Film Board of Canada work The Faces of Afghanistan. (Free admission. 2 p.m. Nov. 6 & Nov. 13, The Main Library. www.plcmc.org.)