With Halloween coming up at the end of October, it is perhaps no coincidence that scary movies dominate this month’s movie calendar.
From the Pang Brothers, back with another Eyemovie, to a new offering from Hideo Nakata, of The Ring and Dark Water fame, to the sequel to last year’s sleeper sensation, Paranormal Activity, there will be scares aplenty at a cinema near you.
Asian fare is also prominent on the slate, as John Woo brings a sword-fighting film with Michelle Yeoh, and there are plenty of Japanese and Korean hits on tap, including the gripping Korean War blockbuster, 71: Into the Fire.
From Hollywood, the latest Julia Roberts vehicle arrives, alongside another film that adds to George Clooney’s leading-man reputation. But the film that may resonate most with audiences could well be David Fincher’s film about the founding of Facebook.
Week of 7 October
The Stars: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Richard Jenkins, James Franco, Billy Crudup
The Story: Following a painful divorce, a thirtysomething woman feels that her life isn’t what she expected and goes on the trip of a lifetime – Italy, India and Indonesia – to find herself.
The Buzz: Author Elizabeth Gilbert lived the experience portrayed in this memoir, smartly paying for her trip with an advance from her publisher. This has become arguably her best-known work and attracted the attention of Columbia Pictures.
Four years down the road, the book has become a movie. With Julia Roberts the most bankable female star in Hollywood, and a seemingly good fit for the role, it’s little wonder that she was matched with this plump part. Ryan Murphy, creator of the hit musical TV show Glee, directs.
inSing.com says: Feel-good films like this tend to focus too much on the ‘feel-good’ rather than more sombre explorations. Will enough of the substance of the book make it to the two-hour-plus running time on screen? That is the big question.
Also opening: Legendary Hong Kong action director John Woo’s take on the wuxiapian genre, Reign of Assassins; the claustrophobic Ryan Reynolds thriller Buried; the Steve Carell-Paul Rudd comedy Dinner for Schmucks, an American remake of the 1998 French farce, The Dinner Game; and the visually stunning Italian drama I Am Love, starring Tilda Swinton.
Week of 14 October
The Stars: George Clooney, Thekla Reuten, Violante Placido, Johan Leysen, Paulo Bonacelli
The Story: An American assassin (Clooney) vows that his next job in the Italian countryside will be his last, only to strike up an unlikely friendship, and a possible romance, to further endanger himself.
The Buzz: Based on a 1990 Martin Booth novel, the film has Clooney as sort of a lone ranger – in more ways than one. He is arguably the only recognisable star in the cast, supported by a number of lesser known European actors (if you watched 2008’s In Bruges, perhaps you’ll recognise Reuten).
Unlike his more widely acclaimed last film, Up in the Air, Clooney’s latest has polarised reviewers so far.
Incidentally, Dutch director Anton Corbijn, known for his music video work with top acts such as U2 and Depeche Mode, also directed Control, the 2007 biopic on former Joy Division singer Ian Curtis.
inSing.com says: There are few bona fide leading men in the world today with the star power and acting chops of Clooney. There are signs that this film is a mood piece that is more European in style than Hollywood, so temper your expectations.
Also opening: Two 3D films: the Pang Brother’s latest horror flick The Child’s Eye and the monster movie Piranha; the romantic comedy Life As We Know It, with Josh Duhamel and Katherine Heigl brought together by their best friends’ deaths; the ensemble crime thriller Takers, headlined by Matt Dillon, Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen; and the Korean mystery thriller, Bestseller.
Week of 21 October
The Stars: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively
The Story: Four friends on the wrong side of the law attempt to dodge a dogged FBI agent, who is hot on their trail after they stage a daring bank robbery. Meanwhile, one of the robbers (Affleck) surveils then strikes up a friendship with a manager (Hall) from that bank.
The Buzz: Since the demise of Bennifer – the media moniker for his relationship with Jennifer Lopez – Affleck’s career has had an upswing. He has performed well in good, if not spectacular, roles and garnered a reputation as a director with first Gone Baby Gone (2007) and now this, an adaptation of a Chuck Hogan novel.
One of the best-reviewed US films of 2010, The Town has a notable cast, including Mad Men’s Hamm, The Hurt Locker’s Renner and British actress Hall (The Prestige and Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Veterans Pete Postlethwaite and Chris Cooper, and Gossip Girl Lively, are also among the acting ensemble.
inSing.com says: The return of Renner after his much ballyhooed breakout role is enough reason to watch this film. Rave reviews only make it that much easier to go out and see this.
Also opening: The thrilling Korean war movie 71: Into the Fire, set during the Korean War; part three of the adapted Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest; the horror sequel Paranormal Activity 2; the Kristen Bell comedy You Again; and I Give My First Love to You, a Japanese drama about a pair of childhood sweethearts and their star-crossed romance.
Week of 28 October
The Stars: Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas, Carla Buono
The Story: A meek young boy (Smit-McPhee), who has trouble with bullies, befriends a strange new girl (Moretz) in his neighbourhood who turns out to be a child vampire.
The Buzz: A remake of the excellent 2008 Swedish film, Let the Right One In, this feature was written and directed by Matt Reeves, whose last film was the sci-fi monster flick Cloverfield. Since the remake was announced, many doubters, including original film’s director, have expressed unease about the decision.
Reeves subsequently reassured that he was not remaking the film, but rather adapting the bestselling John Ajvide Lindqvist novel it was based on his way. He also called his leading actors Moretz (Hit Girl from Kick-Ass), Smit-McPhee (The Road) and former Oscar nominee Jenkins (The Visitor) his ‘dream cast’.
inSing.com says: The Swedish film was truly outstanding, and early notices for Reeves’ film have thankfully been positive. If nothing else, you should watch both versions, so as to better understand the differences in the filmmaking and the audiences they cater to.
Also opening: Benjamin Button director David Fincher’s The Social Network, about the founding of Facebook; The Incite Mill, another horror flick from Hideo Nakata; the animated fantasy film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, directed by Zack Snyder (300 and Watchmen); and Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha’s supernatural comedy It’s a Wonderful Afterlife.
The 26th French Film Festival begins on 30 September and concludes 10 October, so don’t miss it. If, however, you fail to make it, there is one consolation: you can watch the festival closing film Little Nicolas at The Picturehouse, at the Cathay Cineplex, starting from 14 October.
Meanwhile, the National Museum of Singapore’s Cinematheque presents a retrospective of works from the Indian cinematic great Satyajit Ray, starting with Pather Penchalion 2 October. The retrospective, which features a number of free events, concludes 24 October.
At the end of October comes the annual Sun Festival, which this year features a handful of classic films screened outdoors at the Botanic Gardens. If you’re a classic film fan, watch out for Hitchcock’s North by Northwestand Dial M for Murder on 30 and 31 October respectively.
(Note: All release dates are subject to change; all information correct as of press time.)