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Fall Movie Preview

Tidings Correspondent

It's pretty well established that as fall eases into winter, Hollywood begins to pitch those movies that it hopes will be contenders for the Oscars. These films, usually dramas, are sprinkled among a bevy of other movies from horror to action/thriller to animation and more. Alas, because Ashland is a small town (still), not all of the Oscar offerings will arrive before the New Year. Some will open in major markets only, such as New York and Los Angeles &

just in time to slip under the qualifying wire of Dec. 31. But for local filmgoers, for those who relish movies, some promiscuously, this fall will delight: between October — and the last day of 2006, some 57 movies will come to Ashland. Below find all the coming attractions by category and date (or TBA if not yet booked). Let the games begin.

Drama

"The Departed" (10/6) starring Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon. Set in South Boston, where the state police are waging a war against organized crime. An undercover cop is assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate. However, the bad guys have infiltrated the police and it's only a question of time until one of them is exposed.

"Factotum" (10/6) starring Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor and Fisher Stevens. Focuses on Henry Chinaski, who considers himself a writer and actually writes; however, in the main, he's in the hunt for booze and women. When he meets a woman he cares for, the question is posed: will he give up his self-destructive ways and find redemption? Does art life imitate art?

"Flags of Our Fathers" (10/20), directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, Adam Beech and Barry Pepper, it tells the story of the men whose image was captured as they raised the flag at Iwo Jima, on Mount Suribachi. The six soldiers became instant heroes and were sent stateside to sell war bonds. They wanted only to stay and fight with their units.

"Prestige" (10/20) starring Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie, examines the tense relationship between two turn-of-the-century, London-based magicians. Both are blessed with spectacular powers of deception and an abiding envy of one another, an envy which turns deadly.

"Marie Antoinette" (10/20), directed by Sofia Coppola, and starring Kirsten Dunst, Judy Davis, Rip Torn and Steve Coogan, this imaginative interpretation of the life of France's legendary teenage queen. Isolated, newly married, the naive queen rebels against the intrigue and scandal of Versailles.

"Babel" (10/27) details the lives of four separate families on three different continents who paths cross in the most improbable way. Staring Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael Garcia Bernal, Koju Yakusho, and Elle Fanning. Directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inaritu it completes his trilogy.

"Nativity Story" (12/01) chronicles the arduous journey of Mary and Joseph, a miraculous pregnancy and the world-changing birth of Jesus.

"The Queen" (TBA), starring Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, and Tim McMullan, tells of how Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II retreats behind the walls of her castle, unable it seems to understand the public's reaction to the tragic death of Diana. She is finally forced to come forth and reconnect with her subjects.

"Volver" (TBA) starring Penelope Cruz, Yohana Cobo and Lola Dueas, examines three generations of women who survive fire, insanity, and even death by means of goodness, lies, and boundless vitality.

"Bobby" (TBA), starring Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, William H. Macy, Helen Hunt, Lindsay Lohan and Elijah Wood, revisits the night that Robert F. Kennedy was gunned down at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968. The ensemble cast portray fictionalized characters impacted by the event.

"Apocalypto" (12/8), directed by Mel Gibson, is a mythic action-adventure film set against the turbulent end times of the Mayan civilization.

"The Good German" (TBA), starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchette, Toby McGuire, Tony Curran and Beau Bridges, takes place in the post WW II ruins of Berlin where a manhunt is underway for a missing by both the Americans and the Russians. High risk, high gain events, as the circles begins to close.

"Blood Diamond" (12/15), starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou, James Purefoy, and Stephen Collins, is set against a backdrop of civil war and chaos in Sierra Leone, contrasting the history of two men, both Africans, but both vastly different, and both searching for a rare pink diamond.

"We Are Marshall" (12/22) starring Matthew McConaughey, Matthew Fox, David Strathairn, and Ian McShane, chronicles how one small town responds to the death in an airplane crash of 75 of its beloved team members.

"Heading South" (TBA) starring Charlotte Rampling, Karen Young, and Lys Ambroise. Tells the tale of middle-aged women who look south for more than sunshine, traveling to Haiti where they are romanced by teenage boys.

"Half Nelson" (TBA), starring Ryan Gosling as a liberal history teacher at an inner city school who drinks, does drugs and is on a spiraling trajectory downward until he meets a strong-willed 13-year-old who in effect rescues him against all odds.

"Fast Food Nation" (TBA) is a feature length film based on the best seller which examined the dark side of the All-American meal. The film looks at Mickey's Fast Food Restaurant chain and its employee Richard Linklater, who learns more about the chain's food preparation than he wants to know. Starring Greg Kinnear, Patricia Arquette, and Luis Guzman.

Documentaries

"The U.S. vs John Lennon" (TBA) looks at the efforts of the government's efforts to silence John Lennon, singer and antiwar activist. It was a struggle between the Nixon administration and this iconic figure, a man who voiced the protest of so many during this chaotic time.

"Shut Up and Sing" (TBA) follows the Dixie Chicks from the peak of their popularity through the now famous Bush comment made by the group's leader, Natalie Maines in 2003.

"This Film Is Not Yet Rated" (TBA) is from Academy Award-nominated director Kirby Dick and investigates the MPAA rating system and its effect on American culture.

"For Your Consideration" (11/22) examines the making of independent movies in Hollywood."

Youngsters, Tweens and Teens

"Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker" (10/06) is based on the best selling young adult adventure series by Anthony Howrowitz. At the center is Alex Rider, orphan, who has been trained all of his life by his uncle in the skills of a secret agent. When his uncle is killed, Alex is on the case.

"Flicka" (10/20) stars Alison Lohan as a young woman who pins her hopes and dreams on a maverick horse. Based on the classic novel by Mary O'Hara. Also stars Tim McGraw, Maria Bello and Dey Young.

"Flushed Away" (11/3) is animated by the makers of "Shrek" and "Wallace Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit." This computer animated film involves Roddy, a pampered house mouse who ends up below the streets of London and trying to survive. With the voices of Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet.

"Happy Feet" (11/17) animated comedy set deep in Antarctica where Emperor Penguins need a special song to attract their mates. Voices of Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Hugo Weaving and Anthony LaPaglia.

"Unaccompanied Minors" (12/08) has five kids snowed in at the airport on Christmas Eve, without their parents. While they search for their parents they try and stay one step ahead of a disgruntled airport official. Starring Dylan Christopher, Gina Mantegna, Quinn Shephard, Tyler James Williams, and Brett Kelly.

"Charlotte's Web" (12/20) is a live-action adaptation of this children's classic starring Dakota Fanning.

Action/Thriller/Horror/Sci-Fi

"Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning" (10/6) stars people you've never heard of, and is a prequel to the original 1974 movie that shocked everyone's sensibilities and was wildly popular. Consider it an expose of the psychotic roots of the Hewitt clan that loves to get together for an evening meal, cutlery being chain saws and long knives.

"Grudge 2" (10/13) is a sequel to the first "Grudge" which was about a house filled with some very scary people that torment those that visit. It's not a bed and breakfast to be sure. Directed by Takashi Shimizu. Set in Japan.

"The Marine" (10/13) stars WWE wrestling champ John Cena making his motion picture debut. What dialogue? Explosions, car chases, more explosions, as Cena searches for his kidnapped wife. He's the Marine and he's not happy.

"Saw 3" (10/27) once again reinforces that old adage: measure twice, saw once, even if it's a limb. The puppet-master returns with his assistant to once again terrify.

"Catch a Fire" (TBA) is a political thriller from director Phillip Noyce that takes place during the country's turbulent 80's. Set in South Africa during a time of apartheid and upheaval. Stars Tim Robbins and Derek Luke.

"The Return" (11/10) stars Sarah Michelle Gellar, aka Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is haunted by terrifying supernatural visions and is determined to find out the cause.

"Harsh Times" (11/10) stars Christian Bale, an ex-Army Ranger who gets a job offer from the LAPD then loses it. He soon slips back into his previous life of petty crime.

"Casino Royale" (11/17) stars Daniel Craig as the new James Bond. This is based on the first book in Ian Fleming's successful series and gives lots of backstory. The question is: will the role be a good fit for Craig, or is he too, well, not the tux and dry martini type.

"Deja Vu" (11/22) examines the common experience of having lived a moment before. The question here is: what if it were a warning of sorts? A foreshadowing? And what is real and what is not blends. Stars Denzel Washington, Val Kilmer, Paula Patton and Jim Caviezel.

"The Fountain" (11/22) stars Ellen Burstyn, Rachel Weisz, and Hugh Jackman in a time spanning adventure in which a man struggles to save the woman he loves. Begins in the 16th century in Spain.

"Bug" (TBA) is directed by the Oscar-winning director William Friedkin, this film blurs the line between paranoia and reality when the bugs begin to show up. This film is billed as an intense, mind-bending thriller staring Ashley Judd, Harry Connick, Jr., and Michael Shannon.

"Renaissance" (TBA) takes place in Paris; the year is 2054, and the city is run by a conglomerate, Avalon, which insinuates itself into all aspects of life selling its product &

eternal youth and beauty. Stars Daniel Craig.

"Eragon" (12/15) is based on the best selling novel and is an epic fantasy-adventure of a young man named Eragon whose destiny is revealed by a dragon. He becomes known as a Dragon Rider. There's magic in this film.

"Rocky Balboa" (12/22) stars Sly Stallone who believes that he can squeeze one more round of Rocky, despite the fact that he's getting social security. Of course Rocky has to reach way down, way down deep, has to go for the juice, for that one last punch. Yo!

"Black Christmas" (12/25) is all about a sorority house being terrorized by a killer who makes crank calls before murdering the next sorority girl. If this film doesn't get you in the spirit...

Family Fare/Comedy

"Employee of the Month" (10/06) is a wacky comedy about two rivals at Super Club who vie for "employee of the month." They end up competing for the attention of Jessica Simpson, a knockout new cashier who only dates winners of the competition. Man's got to do what a man's got to do.

"Man of the Year" (10/13) wonders what would happen if Robin Williams, portraying a comic, actually becomes president after an upset win that shocks the political establishment. The electorate thought it was a good idea at the time. Also stars Laura Linney and Christopher Walken.

"Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" (11/03) brings Tim Allen back because there's chaos at the North Pole and Jack Frost is trying to hijack the holidays. Lots of comedic banter and holiday cheer as Santa/Scot Calvin works overtime to restore harmony.

"A Good Year" (11/10) has Russell Crowe working with director Ridley Scott. Crowe, hard-nosed business type, heads down to Provence, France to sell a vineyard he has inherited from his uncle. He encounters unexpected resistance to the sale and a new chapter is begun that surprises those who know him and even himself. Also starring Albert Finney and Abbie Cornish.

"Science of Sleep" (TBA) is directed by Michel Gondry and tells the tale of a shy, withdrawn young man who is wildly creative and possesses an imagination that won't let him alone. He meets a young woman whose imagination equals his own. There's chemistry.

"Stranger than Fiction" (11/10) is an inventive comedy about a novelist struggling to complete her latest novel. Emma Thompson stars with Will Ferrell. The complication is that the novel, inexplicably, mirrors Ferrell's life and when it comes time for Thompson to kill off her main character, Ferrell fights to stop her.

"Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny" (11/17) stars Jack Black in this comedy about "The D" which is the self-proclaimed greatest band on earth. Also stars Will Ferrell.

"Let's Go to Prison" (11/22) is a comedic revenge movie that's set in prison where the tables are turned and then turned again.

"Deck the Halls" (11/22) is a family comedy about jealousy, clashing neighbors and holiday home decoration. Stars Matthew Broderick as a suburban dad arm wrestling with Danny DeVito to see how much cheer one house can sustain.

"Holiday" (12/08) has two women, from opposite sides of the globe, do a house exchange since both are eager for a change and learn that a new location, during Christmas, can change your life. Starring Cameron Diaz, Hugh Jackman, Jack Black, and Kate Winslett.

"Pursuit of Happyness" (12/15) has a bright, talented buy marginally employed salesman who finds himself and his young son evicted. He lands a job at a top drawer brokerage firm. Together they pursue a better life. Stars Will Smith and Thandie Newton.

"Night at the Museum" (12/22) is a comedy with Ben Stiller portraying a night watchman at a museum of natural history. As soon as the sun goes down the museum gets a bit creepy. Amazingly creepy in a good way. Also stars Robin Williams and Mickey Rooney.

"Dreamgirls" (12/25) is the Tony-award winning musical with Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, and Danny Glover.