Films to tickle your fancy this fall

By Nick Coviello

Courtesy of Columbia Tristar Marketing Group

This list will not serve as the typical rundown of overly familiar fall movies. Rather, it will call attention to the movies that might ultimately play second fiddle to the big-name releases. Many people are anxiously waiting the release of the first part of the final “Twilight” this fall. Others, like “The Muppets,” “Puss in Boots” and “A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas” are hugely anticipated, but repetitive to mention.

“Moneyball” – Sept. 23

Directed by Bennett Miller

It seems that every so often there is a release containing material that makes you scratch your head. Simply put, it does not sound like a story that you would expect to see transitioned to the big screen. “The Social Network” fit that bill last year. This year, Brad Pitt’s “Moneyball” takes the cake. It is the story of Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane, who builds a small-budget team based around on-base percentage, creating a winner. Odd, yes, but similar to “Social Network,” the trailer looks promising. Though it has the chance of being just another sports redemption story, the cast is one worth boasting about. The film stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Chris Pratt of “Parks and Recreation”

“Wanderlust” – Oct. 7

Directed by David Wain

In “Anchorman,” “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Wet Hot American Summer” and several other popular films, Paul Rudd has collaborated with either Judd Apatow or David Wain. That’s not too shabby of a comedy resume. In “Wanderlust,” Rudd teams up with both – with Wain directing and Apatow producing – in what figures to be the next installment of comedy gold. However, the focus may mainly be on Rudd’s co-star Jennifer Aniston. Coming off of her raunchiest role to date in “Horrible Bosses,” Aniston tackles an even racier role in this film. That alone may demand a watch.

“J. Edgar” – Nov. 9

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Regardless of the reason, Clint Eastwood’s directed pictures have become both box office smashes and some of the best reviewed films of their respective years, with only a few deviants. Likewise, Leonardo DiCaprio has regained his “Titanic” level of popularity and is among today’s most sought-after stars, especially following “Shutter Island” and “Inception.” In “J. Edgar,” Eastwood and DiCaprio team up to create a film about a famous historical figure –

J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Guaranteed home run? Maybe. Match made in heaven? Certainly. Despite an amazing track record, DiCaprio has never claimed an Oscar of his own. Barring a catastrophe, one that it seems Eastwood and DiCaprio are not capable of (“Hereafter” and “The Man in the Iron Mask” aside), both of these Hollywood icons should be reaping the rewards from sales and may have more achievements come during awards season.

“50/50” – Sept. 30

Directed by Jonathan Levine

Of all the movies to anticipate this fall, “50/50” has the potential to be the best. Starring the extremely talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the seemingly redefined Seth Rogen and the underutilized Anna Kendrick, this movie tells the story of how a young man copes with the news of his own cancer diagnosis. Promoted as a “dramedy,” “50/50” has the chance to show the pain that comes from having cancer while also examining the bright side of not letting cancer take over one’s life. As it has already received wide acclaim pre-release, the film’s momentum will only increase as Sept. 30 gets closer. When all is said and done, “50/50” could be the must-see movie of the fall.

“Drive” – Sept. 16

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Remember back in 2002 when no one believed that Matt Damon was capable of being an action star? The very same skepticism surrounds Ryan Gosling in the upcoming film, “Drive.” The question remains – why? Gosling is beginning to strip himself of his reputation as “the guy from ‘The Notebook,’” and is of the day’s most underrated actors,fresh off of a scene-stealing role in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” “Drive’s” reliance on car stunts, heists and extreme violence could mold anyone into an action star. But it’s the mixing of material with Gosling that makes this one stand out. With a supporting cast that includes Carey Mulligan and the outstanding Bryan Cranston, “Drive” will get September off on the right foot.

“The Ides of March” – Oct. 7

Directed by George Clooney

Imagine if the likes of George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti and Marisa Tomei teamed up to make a movie about political corruption. This plot comes to form in “The Ides of March.” What more is there to say, really? Amidst this cast, some might lose sight of Clooney in the pile up, although he is the main figure – an icon that is running for president. This film may rebuild American moviegoers’ appreciation for him as an actor. Mostly absent since his Oscar nominations in “Michael Clayton” and “Up in the Air,” Clooney is looking to shake off two September duds in “The Men Who Stare At Goats” and “The American.” Look for Clooney to step up in a big way.

“Take Shelter” – Sept. 30

Directed by Jeff Nichols

If none of the previous listed films have been appealing, then “Take Shelter” will be a breath of fresh air. Odds are, this film will not find its way to the mainstream big screens, but will undoubtedly fit right into Amherst Cinema’s rotation. Movies about the apocalypse have been right behind vampires when it comes to Hollywood’s go-to money-makers. However, as an independent release, “Take Shelter” does not presume to make much and thusly does not have to produce material that caters to everyone’s desires. With an undeniable “Donnie Darko” vibe to its trailer and the bordering insanity of Michael Shannon (of “Boardwalk Empire” fame) as the lead, “Take Shelter” is bound to be a sleeper, but one that packs a punch.

Nick Coviello can be reached at [email protected]