Autumn reels

Fall Arts Preview: 10 big-screen release dates to remember — for better and worse
Sean Penn is Harvey Milk

As summer dwindles into, well, Indian summer (this is San Francisco, after all), film fans are all asking the same thing: will The Dark Knight be nominated for Best Picture, or what? Like, what other 2008 release has even come close? As the temperature tries to make up its mind between freezing fog and freaky heat, the only thing to do is haul ass to the movieplex and let Hollywood deplete your brain cells as painlessly as possible. Who knows, there might be some awards-season contenders in the following list of fall movie picks. There's at least one talking chihuahua, anyway. All dates subject to change.

Sept. 26: Seems like just yesterday that Shia LaBeouf was giving interviews about how he wasn't going to be a show biz cliché — you know, keeping his head down, concentrating on his career, and avoiding scandalous run-ins with the law. Maybe Eagle Eye, in which the erstwhile spawn of Indy Jones plays a ne'er-do-well mysteriously targeted by terrorists, will make it into theaters before he has his first tabloid-fodder romance. Tick-tock, Us Weekly!

Oct. 3: Weirdly, there aren't many horror flicks primed for October releases this year. Guess Beverly Hills Chihuahua, which stars the voices of nearly every known Latino actor in Hollywood (Edward James Olmos, how could you?), is gonna have to fit the bill. Director Raja Gosnell also helmed both Scooby-Doo movies. Far more promising is Ed Harris' Appaloosa, a Western about two lawmen (Harris and Viggo Mortensen) whose friendship is tested by, natch, a dame (Renée Zellweger). Those of us for whom "Viggo on a horse" is box-office draw enough can work around the Zellweger.

Oct. 10: Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, and William Monahan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Departed, join forces for Body of Lies, a political thriller worth seeing based on the above pedigree alone. So what if Leo has a weird Southern accent in the trailer, and Ridley and Russell's last collaboration birthed the 2006 bomb A Good Year?

Oct. 17: Do we really need to see Oliver Stone's George W. Bush biopic, W., having just suffered through eight years of the worst president ever to take office? Is it too soon to point and laugh? Judging from the hilarious (and scary-because-it-might-actually-be-true) trailer, the performances of Josh Brolin and others cast as real-life newsmakers will make W. well worth it. Thandie Newton as Condoleezza Rice may be a stretch, but Toby Jones as Karl Rove is particularly inspired.

Oct. 24: Two cunning linguists, Brick writer-director Rian Johnson and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind writer Charlie Kaufman, have new flicks out today. Johnson's The Brothers Bloom follows the entanglements of con men played by Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo; Kaufman makes his directorial debut with Synecdoche, New York, in which a dying theater director played by Philip Seymour Hoffman aims to create one last great work of art.

Nov. 14: James Bond (extra-buff Daniel Craig version) returns in Quantum of Solace. In Australia, Baz Luhrmann, Nicole Kidman, and Hugh Jackman combine their home-country superpowers for a sweeping epic set you-know-where.

Nov. 21: I realize I already foamed over Viggo Mortensen above, but The Road — directed by The Proposition's John Hillcoat and adapted from the postapocalyptic Cormac McCarthy novel — absolutely gets my vote for most-anticipated 2008 release.

Nov. 26: The Castro Theatre gets a two-day exclusive on Milk before it opens wide Nov. 28. Don't know what Milk is? What kind of a San Franciscan are you?

Dec 12: Keanu Reeves stars in The Day the Earth Stood Still remake. Insert your own Klaatu/Keanu joke here.


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