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Fall movie preview

Photo credit : Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros. Ent.
Fall movie preview

The fall movie season is a time of Shakespearean drama, Oscar contenders and movies about people being tortured. To help you keep them straight, here are the ABCs of the season, with a film list for everyone.

• The A-List

(The top dozen, in which major stars fight for love and country, although not necessarily Oscar nominations, and lucrative franchises return)

The American: In this suspense thriller, George Clooney - playing the world's hunkiest assassin- holes up in Italy for what he hopes is his final contract, and finds himself smitten by a local beauty. (Sept. 1)

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps: The continuing adventures of financial villain Gordon Gekko, with Michael Douglas returning as the convicted fraudster who forms a new alliance with his daughter's fiance (Shia LaBeouf). (Sept. 24)

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger: In Woody Allen's new film, Josh Brolin and Naomi Watts play a bickering couple and Anthony Hopkins is her philandering father. (Oct. 1)

Red: Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren (one of these names is not like the other ...) play ex-CIA agents who are being framed for assassination. (Oct. 15)

Fair Game: Naomi Watts plays Valerie Plame, the CIA agent whose identity was disclosed by the press, and Sean Penn is her controversial diplomat husband. (Nov. 5)

Morning Glory: Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton star as the feuding co-hosts of a struggling TV show and Rachel McAdams is the producer who must make it work. (Nov. 12)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: Harry, Ron and Hermoine are on the run from Voldemart. Next year: the conclusion. (Nov. 19)

The Next Three Days: A married couple's life is turned upside-down when the wife is accused of murder. Paul Haggis directs Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson. (Nov. 19)

Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: This new trip to the magical world of C.S. Lewis - aboard the ship the Dawn Treader - visits mysterious islands and a pool that turns anything it touches into gold. And that's just the domestic grosses. (Dec. 10)

How Do You Know: In this romantic comedy from James L. Brooks, Reese Witherspoon plays an ex-athlete who meets questionable businessman Paul Rudd on a blind date. Brooks regular Jack Nicholson (replacing Bill Murray) plays Rudd's father. (Dec. 17)

Little Fockers: It looks like a baby for the Focker family - who show no signs of wanting to change their names, by the way - to the delight of Ben Stiller and his co-stars, who include Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel and Barbra Streisand. (Dec. 22)

Biutiful: Javier Bardem - who shared the best acting honours at the Cannes Film Festival - plays a Spanish wheeler-dealer who is both dying of cancer and can see dead people. (December)

• The Eh List

(Five Canadian movies of both high and low provenance that tell our various stories)

You Don't Like The Truth: A documentary on the Canadian interrogation of Omar Khadr in Guantanamo. (Oct. 8 in Toronto and Vancouver, other markets TBD)

Fubar 2: The hosers from the 2002 cult hit realize they can't give'r without some money, eh? So they move from Calgary to Fort McMurray and she starts revving up. (Oct. 1)

Score: A Hockey Musical: A teenage hockey star learns about the violence of the game in this musical that opens the Toronto film festival. (Oct. 22)

Barney's Version: The Mordecai Richler novel about one man's dissolute life comes to the screen with Paul Giamatti as Barney and Dustin Hoffman as his father. (December/TBA)

Fathers & Sons: Carl Bessai's followup to Mothers & Daughters looks at a different set of dysfunctional relationships. (TBA)

Small Town Murder Songs: A man living in a small Mennonite town in Ontario must face his violent past. (TBA)

Also opening: Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie (Oct. 1 in Toronto and Ottawa, expands Oct. 15 to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Halifax); Water on the Table (Oct. 15 in Toronto).

• The 3-D List

(Five films that celebrate those magical glasses that transport you to a world that's in your face)

Resident Evil: Afterlife: In part four of the post-apocalyptic series, Milla Jovovich is still on the road, trying to save people from the Undead by taking them to Los Angeles. Good luck with that. (Sept. 10)

Tangled: An animated musical version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale abut the girl with 70 feet of magical hair, a lot of which will probably tumble right into your popcorn box. Mandy Moore voices Rapunzel. (Nov. 24)

TRON Legacy: In this sequel to the 1982 fantasy film in which Oscar-winner, Jeff Bridges, stars as a man who's been trapped for 20 years in a video game - a feeling that may be familiar to the target audience - and is hunted by his son (Garrett Hedlund). (Dec. 17)

Yogi Bear: The old TV show ("smarter than your average bear") hits the big screen with Dan Aykroyd as the voice of Yogi and Justin Timberlake as his sidekick, Boo-Boo Bear. (Dec. 17)

Gulliver's Travels: In this re-telling of the classic tale, Jack Black plays a mailroom clerk who washes up on the island of Lilliput, where everyone else is tiny. (Dec. 22)

Also opening in 3-D: Alpha and Omega (Sept. 17); Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (Sept. 24); StreetDance 3D (Oct. 1); Jackass 3D (Oct. 15); Saw 3D (Oct. 29); My Soul to Take (Oct. 29)

• The Eeeee! List

(Five films offering further evidence that horror and psychological thrills are a 12-month preoccupation)

Black Swan: A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet - there's a first - with Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis as ballerinas competing for the lead in Swan Lake. Darren Aronofsky directs. (December)

Buried: Ryan Reynolds wakes up to find he has been buried alive with only a cellphone and a cigarette lighter for company. (Oct. 1 in Toronto, expands Oct. 8);

Devil: A bunch of people are trapped on an elevator, and one of them may be a guy who wants to go down. Way down. Which one? Ask director M. Night Shyamalan. Mmbwahahahah. (Sept. 17)

Paranormal Activity 2: More spooky footage following the 2007 indie hit about a couple that tapes the strange happenings in their house. (Oct. 22)

Hereafter: Clint Eastwood directs this supernatural thriller about people who have had near-death experiences. Matt Damon stars as a psychic looking into things. (Oct. 22)

Also opening: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Oct. 15); Monsters (Nov. 5).

• The Gen-X, -Y and -Z List

(Five films about what young people are up to these days. Hint: it's still the same old story)

Going The Distance: The perils of the long-distance relationship, as enacted by Drew Barrymore and Justin Long. (Sept. 3)

Easy A: Emma Stone stars in this comedy as a high schoolgirl who pretends to be, um, loose in order to make herself popular. (Sept. 17)

Let Me In: In this remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In, a young boy who's bullied in school falls in with the girl next door, who's a vampire. (Oct. 1)

The Social Network: David Fincher's movie looks at the founding of Facebook, which created the world's youngest billionaire. (Oct. 1)

Love and Other Drugs: Anne Hathaway plays a free spirit who finds herself falling for Jake Gyllenhaal, a Viagra salesman. (Nov. 24)

Also opening: The Virginity Hit (Sept. 10 in London, Ont., only; expands Sept. 17 to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver); Catfish (Sept. 17); It's Kind of a Funny Story (Sept. 24 in Toronto only); You Again (Sept. 24); Waiting For Superman (Oct. 1 in Toronto only, expands Oct. 8).

• The Must-See List

(You want Shakespeare? You want the biography of a horse? Here are five examples of what else Hollywood has to offer)

Secretariat: The story behind the greatest racehorse in history, with Diane Lane as the woman who owned him and John Malkovich as his trainer. (Oct. 8)

Due Date: In this odd-couple comedy, Robert Downey Jr. is a frantic father-to-be hitching a ride to the birth with aspiring actor Zach Galifianakis. (Nov. 5)

Unstoppable: Denzel Washington stars in Tony Scott's film about a runaway train carrying poison gas. (Nov. 12)

The King's Speech: Colin Firth stars as King George VI and Geoffrey Rush is his Australian speech therapist in this drama based on a true story. (Dec. 10)

The Tempest: Helen Mirren stars as "Prospera" in Julie Taymor's version of the play, but W. Shakespeare still shares the writing credit. (Dec. 10)

Country Strong: Gwyneth Paltrow as a washed-up country music superstar trying for a comeback? Well, it worked for Jeff Bridges. (Dec. 22)

True Grit: The Coen Brothers remake of the John Wayne Western stars Jeff Bridges as a drunken lawman and Haillee Steinfeld as the girl who hires him to track down her father's killer. (Dec. 25)

Also opening: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Sept. 23 in Toronto); Life as We Know it (Oct. 8); Tamara Drewe (Oct. 15); North (Oct. 15 in Toronto and Vancouver); Inside Job (Oct. 29); Waste Land (October); Conviction (October); Father of My Children (Nov. 4); Megamind (Nov. 5); I Wish I Knew (Nov. 11 in Toronto); The Light Thief (Nov. 18 in Toronto); Made in Dagehnam (Nov. 19 in Toronto, expands Dec. 10), Burlesque (Nov. 24); Faster (Nov. 24); Vision (Nov. 25); 127 Hours (November); I, Don Giovanni (Dec. 16).

• The Jay List

(Five unclassifiable movies that I'm looking forward to anyway)

Machete: Robert De Niro and Steven Seagal, together at last, in the film, co-directed by Robert Rodriguez, that was inspired by the mock trailer in Grindhouse. The plot? Some guys screw with the wrong Mexican. (Sept. 3)

The Town: Ben Affleck directs and stars in this crime drama about a thief being hunted by an FBI agent and falling for a bank manager he once robbed. (Sept. 17)

I'm Still Here: A documentary portrait, directed by Casey Affleck, of the year when actor Joaquin Phoenix decided to become a hip hop musician and David Letterman was never the same. (Sept. 24.)

Never Let Me Go: Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley head the cast of this offbeat film, based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, about a group of young people in an English boarding school that isn't what it seems. (September)

Stone: The lives of convict Edward Norton and corrections officer Robert De Niro become dangerously connected in this thriller. (October)

Also opening: Winnebago Man (Sept. 3 in Vancouver, Oct. 28 in Toronto); Jack Goes Boating (Sept. 17); A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop (Sept. 24); Howl (Oct. 7); Tales from the Golden Age (Oct. 14); Nowhere Boy (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Oct. 15): Carlos (Oct. 21); Wild Target (Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal in October); Marwencol (Nov. 5 in Toronto, Nov. 12 in Vancouver); Somewhere (Dec. 22).

*Dates subject to change by studios

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