Fall Arts: Before and after Halloween

A killer croc, a sultan of suave, and eight other reasons to look at movie screens this fall
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cheryl@sfbg.com

1. Death Sentence Not to be confused with The Brave One (see "Popcorn — and Human Pies"), but you're forgiven if you do: old-school vigilantes are the new hotness. Splat packer James Wan (Saw) directs this adaptation of Brian Garfield's novel — the sequel to Death Wish — in which a brush with violence turns a mild-mannered dude (Kevin Bacon) into the human equivalent of Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance. (Aug. 31)

2. Halloween John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) is damn near perfection. Its sequels are no less delightful ("Eight more days till Halloween, Silver Shamrock!"), but all have lacked the artistic impact of the original. This ninth trip to happy Haddonfield is technically a remake, which under normal circumstances would be outright sacrilege. But as I've been intrigued by director Rob Zombie's previous films — and the cast he's lined up is pretty mind-blowing, with Udo Kier, Ken Foree, Adrienne Barbeau, Clint Howard, Danny Trejo, and about a zillion others — I'll have to see the thing before I start, uh, screaming for vengeance. (Aug. 31)

3. The Darjeeling Limited So you didn't really dig The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, except for the Willem Dafoe parts ("Not if I see you first, sonny"). You know you're duty bound to see Wes Anderson's latest, which stars Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman (who cowrote the script with Anderson and Roman Coppola) as brothers traveling across India. Prediction: there will be quirkiness. (Sept. 28)

4. Into the Wild Director Sean Penn adapted his screenplay from Jon Krakauer's best-seller about a recent college grad who up and moves to the Alaskan wilderness. Emile Hirsch — one of those young actors who shuttle between arty (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) and big-budget (2008's Speed Racer) — stars as the lad yearning for adventure. (Sept. 28)

5. Elizabeth: The Golden Age Whoever heard of Cate Blanchett before Elizabeth? Cast in every movie made since (seems like, anyway), the striking Aussie returns to the character that made her famous with Shekhar Kapur's sequel to his 1998 tale about Queen Elizabeth I's rise to power. Clive Owen appears (as Sir Walter Raleigh). Helen Mirren does not. (Oct. 12)

6. Rogue The director of Wolf Creek does the Australian tourism board another favor. A giant favor, in fact. A giant, crocodile-shaped favor. I believe the phrase you're looking for is "Fuck yeah!" (Oct. 12)

7. American Gangster This film's got a checkered backstory — it was supposed to be made a few years ago by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), and when the production went south, Denzel Washington got something like $20 million as part of his play-or-pay deal. Ridley Scott's in the director's chair now, with Russell Crowe and moneybags Washington having a thesp-off amid the 1970s Harlem drug trade. (Nov. 2)

8. Leatherheads When George Clooney acts, I'll most likely see the movie. When Clooney directs, my ass hustles to the theater — even for a romantic comedy ... about football ... set in the 1920s. John Krasinski (The Office) and Renée Zellweger (The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre) star alongside the sultan of suave. (Dec. 7)

9. I Am Legend Holy long-in-development blockbuster — can you believe this movie's finally coming out? The director of Constantine puts wily wisecracker Will Smith through his sci-fi paces in Richard Matheson's tale of Earth's last (human) inhabitant. (Dec. 14)

10. Aliens vs.

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