Big Idi, little Idi

Pub date August 29, 2006
WriterCheryl Eddy

Most of 2006’s blockbusters (wannabe and otherwise) have already blown by in a sugary cloud of Sour Patch Kids dust. Poseidon’s already on DVD; The Da Vinci Code was totally boring; X-Men: The Last Stand killed off Professor X (or did it?); Superman Returns was stomped on by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest; and Snakes on a Plane did only so-so business despite widespread prerelease hyperventilation. Frankly, my teeth hurt and I’m ready for some meatier cinematic fare — especially the 10 picks that follow. As always, release dates are subject to change.
The Black Dahlia Serial homage artist Brian DePalma has been in a rut lately. His recent efforts include the underwhelming Femme Fatale, Mission to Mars, and Snake Eyes. But lest we forget, he’s also the guy who brought us Scarface and The Untouchables — and Phantom of the Paradise, though that may be my own personal bias speaking. His latest noir draws from a James Ellroy novel, itself based on Hollywood’s most famously unsolved murder case (pre-O.J., that is). The Black Dahlia stars Josh Hartnett, Hilary Swank, and Elizabeth Short look-alike Mia Kirshner as the starry-eyed dame headed for sliced-in-half doom. (Sept. 15)
Mutual Appreciation Just because a movie isn’t opening at the Metreon doesn’t mean you can’t count down the minutes until it arrives. Writer-director Andrew Bujalski’s Funny Ha Ha was the most honest film about postcollege malaise in aeons; his latest, Mutual Appreciation, about a musician adrift in New York City, has earned excellent festival reviews and looks to extend this talented young filmmaker’s winning streak. (Sept. 29, Red Vic)
The Last King of Scotland In a stroke of genius casting, Forest Whitaker stars as the bloodthirsty yet oddly charming Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. James McAvoy (Mr. Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia) plays his personal physician. This based-on-true-events drama can’t possibly surpass Barbet Schroeder’s creepy 1974 doc Idi Amin Dada — but it’ll probably best 1977’s made-for-TV Raid on Entebbe (with Yaphet Kotto as Amin). In any case, a new Amin movie is reason enough to fire up the Revolutionary Suicide Mechanized Regiment Band. (Sept. 27)
Jesus Camp Yep, it’s all about a summer camp for right-wing, conservative, evolution-hating, antiabortion, born-again Christian kids. I doubt there will be many Meatballs moments. However, this doc from Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (The Boys of Baraka) has earned praise for its unbiased filmmaking — this kind of subject matter speaks for itself, as demonstrated by 2001’s Hell House. (Oct. 6)
The Departed Martin Scorsese shifts Infernal Affairs’ cops ’n’ crooks action from Hong Kong to Boston, with Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio as deep-cover operatives working opposite sides of the law. It’s a killer premise based on a proven hit, with a stellar team behind it — plus, Jack Nicholson plays gangster number one. How can The Departed miss? (Oct. 6)
American Hardcore Black Flag, Minor Threat, and other 1980s hardcore punkers have their say in this doc by Paul Rachman (a onetime music video director), based on Steven Blush’s exceedingly detailed 2001 book American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Rachman and Blush conducted 100-plus interviews over five years and strove to keep the filmmaking process as appropriately DIY as they could. Also, the trailer fucking rocks. (Oct. 13)
Marie Antoinette Speaking of rocking trailers, by now we’ve all patted our dainty, Marc Jacobs–clad feet to New Order every time the clip for Sofia Coppola’s latest unspools during the coming attractions. If not, perhaps you’ve hefted the 25-pound Vogue featuring Kirsten Dunst and her period-appropriate Bride of Frankenstein ’do on the cover. No? OK, well, it’s the director’s follow-up to her Oscar-winning Lost in Translation, and even if the French pooh-poohed Marie Antoinette at Cannes, a new Coppola movie is an indisputable must-see for fans and haters alike. (Oct. 20)
Fast Food Nation You can’t accuse Richard Linklater of being in a filmmaking rut. His last three releases? The wildly diverse Before Sunset, Bad News Bears, and A Scanner Darkly. Following Scanner, his second film of 2006 offers a narrative take on Eric Schlosser’s nonfiction best-seller about the dark side of the fast food industry. Helping you never look at Happy Meals the same way again (if Super Size Me didn’t already do the trick) is an ensemble cast that includes Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Greg Kinnear, Catalina Sandino Moreno, and Bruce Willis. (Nov. 17)
For Your Consideration A new Christopher Guest mock doc (this one’s about Hollywood awards shows and features all the usual suspects) is one more reason to give thanks to the movie gods — especially since it’s getting a Thanksgiving week release. Tofurky leftovers fit so nicely in a Remains of the Day lunch box. (Nov. 22)
The Fountain Six years is too long to wait for a new Darren Aronofsky film (after his 1998 breakthrough, Pi, and 2000’s unforgettable Requiem for a Dream). But wait we have, and The Fountain — starring Hugh Jackman and Aronofsky ladylove Rachel Weisz as trippy, time-spanning sweethearts — has finally arrived. His upcoming slate includes an adaptation of Lone Wolf and Cub due in 2008. Promise? (Nov. 22) SFBG