Most of 2006's blockbusters (wannabe and otherwise) have already blown by in a sugary cloud of Sour Patch Kids dust. Poseidon's already on DVD; The Da Vinci Code was totally boring; X-Men: The Last Stand killed off Professor X (or did it?); Superman Returns was stomped on by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest; and Snakes on a Plane did only so-so business despite widespread prerelease hyperventilation. Frankly, my teeth hurt and I'm ready for some meatier cinematic fare — especially the 10 picks that follow. As always, release dates are subject to change.
The Black Dahlia Serial homage artist Brian DePalma has been in a rut lately. His recent efforts include the underwhelming Femme Fatale, Mission to Mars, and Snake Eyes. But lest we forget, he's also the guy who brought us Scarface and The Untouchables — and Phantom of the Paradise, though that may be my own personal bias speaking. His latest noir draws from a James Ellroy novel, itself based on Hollywood's most famously unsolved murder case (pre-O.J., that is). The Black Dahlia stars Josh Hartnett, Hilary Swank, and Elizabeth Short look-alike Mia Kirshner as the starry-eyed dame headed for sliced-in-half doom. (Sept. 15)
Mutual Appreciation Just because a movie isn't opening at the Metreon doesn't mean you can't count down the minutes until it arrives. Writer-director Andrew Bujalski's Funny Ha Ha was the most honest film about postcollege malaise in aeons; his latest, Mutual Appreciation, about a musician adrift in New York City, has earned excellent festival reviews and looks to extend this talented young filmmaker's winning streak. (Sept. 29, Red Vic)
The Last King of Scotland In a stroke of genius casting, Forest Whitaker stars as the bloodthirsty yet oddly charming Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. James McAvoy (Mr. Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia) plays his personal physician. This based-on-true-events drama can't possibly surpass Barbet Schroeder's creepy 1974 doc Idi Amin Dada — but it'll probably best 1977's made-for-TV Raid on Entebbe (with Yaphet Kotto as Amin). In any case, a new Amin movie is reason enough to fire up the Revolutionary Suicide Mechanized Regiment Band. (Sept. 27)
Jesus Camp Yep, it's all about a summer camp for right-wing, conservative, evolution-hating, antiabortion, born-again Christian kids. I doubt there will be many Meatballs moments. However, this doc from Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (The Boys of Baraka) has earned praise for its unbiased filmmaking — this kind of subject matter speaks for itself, as demonstrated by 2001's Hell House. (Oct. 6)
The Departed Martin Scorsese shifts Infernal Affairs' cops ’n' crooks action from Hong Kong to Boston, with Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as deep-cover operatives working opposite sides of the law. It's a killer premise based on a proven hit, with a stellar team behind it — plus, Jack Nicholson plays gangster number one. How can The Departed miss? (Oct. 6)
American Hardcore Black Flag, Minor Threat, and other 1980s hardcore punkers have their say in this doc by Paul Rachman (a onetime music video director), based on Steven Blush's exceedingly detailed 2001 book American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Rachman and Blush conducted 100-plus interviews over five years and strove to keep the filmmaking process as appropriately DIY as they could. Also, the trailer fucking rocks. (Oct. 13)
Marie Antoinette Speaking of rocking trailers, by now we've all patted our dainty, Marc Jacobs–clad feet to New Order every time the clip for Sofia Coppola's latest unspools during the coming attractions. If not, perhaps you've hefted the 25-pound Vogue featuring Kirsten Dunst and her period-appropriate Bride of Frankenstein ’do on the cover. No? OK, well, it's the director's follow-up to her Oscar-winning Lost in Translation, and even if the French pooh-poohed Marie Antoinette at Cannes, a new Coppola movie is an indisputable must-see for fans and haters alike. (Oct.