Fall movies: Bruce vs. Bruce and more puzzles

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 10, 2012 - 11:44 AM
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Bruce Willis in "Looper."

Photo: Alan Markfield, Sony

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"Looper": This thriller gives us a time-travel story about a hit man hired to bump off his future self. (Him-future-self? Time-travel grammar paradoxes are confusing.) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (above) stars as Bruce Willis the Younger, with Bruce Willis (left) as Bruce Willis the Bald. Director Rian Johnson made an impressive debut with the high school noir "Brick," then stumbled with the mannered "The Brothers Bloom." Given a major-studio budget and top cast, he's doubtless going to bring his A game. (opens Sept. 28)

"The Master": From "Boogie Nights" to "There Will Be Blood," Paul Thomas Anderson has made unique, uncompromised, puzzling dramas that snag awards like electromagnets and kidnap one's imagination for days. Here he takes on a pseudo-religious movement (compared by some to Scientology) that sprouts in the wake of World War II. Philip Seymour Hoffman stars as the leader, with Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled acolyte. Amy Adams co-stars. (Sept. 21)

"Trouble With the Curve": Who knows whether Clint Eastwood's baseball story will be a great film? It's enough that at 82 he's back onscreen in all his irresistible grumpiness. The film is a father-daughter relationship drama with a sports background. Amy Adams co-stars, again. Big year for her. Also on deck are John Goodman, Justin Timberlake and Robert Patrick. Eastwood's longtime cinematographer Robert Lorenz directs. (Sept. 21)

"Seven Psychopaths": Now there's a title with a ring to it. Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson top-line a twisted new action-comedy from writer-director Martin McDonough, who achieved near-perfection in his crime farce "In Bruges." The wig-flipping plot features a blocked screenwriter swept into a dog-kidnapping scheme that grabs a mobster's pooch. If it lives up to its promise, this will be rocket-propelled lunacy. (Oct. 12)

"Cloud Atlas": Aiming for the rare art-house/sci-fi blockbuster status of "Inception," this talent-heavy adaptation of David Mitchell's novel clocks in at three hours of time-straddling story lines and a cast overflowing with Oscar winners. As the story leapfrogs centuries from the 19th to the fantastic future, Halle Berry, Tom Hanks, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent and Hugo Weaving reappear in assorted guises. It took three directors -- "The Matrix's" Wachowskis and "Run Lola Run's" Tom Tykwer -- to pull it off. (Oct. 26)

"The Man With the Iron Fists": The Wu-Tang Clan's chieftain RZA moves from hip-hop to chop-socky as writer, director and star of this period martial arts extravaganza. He plays a blacksmith in feudal China who fashions himself fearsome metal hands to defend his fellow villagers. The pastiche co-stars Russell Crowe as a gunslinger, Lucy Liu and Pam Grier. It's a Quentin Tarantino presentation, naturally. (Nov. 2)

"The Sessions": The unfailingly brilliant John Hawkes plays a self-assured, witty polio patient confined to an iron lung, with one burning desire: To lose his virginity. William H. Macy plays his bemused priest, and Oscar winner Helen Hunt returns to the screen as the sex surrogate who establishes a frank, sweet relationship with her client. (Nov. 9)

"Skyfall": The particulars of the 23rd James Bond adventure are as closely guarded as an MI6 dossier, but here are a few things we know from the trailers. Director Sam Mendes is matching brooding atmospherics with grand-scale action. Someone has Wiki-leaked the identities of every British spy. Javier Bardem sports an alarming blond hairdo as Bond's nemesis. Ralph Fiennes is on hand as a fellow British agent. And Dame Judi Dench may be making her final appearance as M, Bond's tough yet occasionally sympathetic boss M. (Nov. 9)

"Lincoln": With Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role and Steven Spielberg calling the shots, how can you not have high hopes? The long-gestating biopic is adapted from Doris Kearns Goodwin's bestselling "Team of Rivals," which highlights the clash between president and cabinet at the close of the Civil War. The screenplay is by Tony Kushner ("Angels in America"), who has a solid feeling for our national myths. (Nov. 9)

"Life of Pi": This adaptation of the bestselling 2001 book was risky from the word go. It's the story of a teenage boy shipwrecked on a life raft with only a hungry tiger for company. It stars unknown Indian actor Suraj Sharma, and depends heavily on computer imagery and 3-D to sell the story. Director Ang Lee can be dreadful ("Hulk") or sublime ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"). If it works it could be magical, so, fingers crossed. (Nov. 21)

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