It's a remake kind of fall. Red Dragon reinvents Michael Mann's Manhunter, adapting the first of Thomas Harris's novels to feature Hannibal Lecter, though he's a minor character in this story. Edward Norton plays FBI profiler Will Graham, who seeks Lecter's help in tracking down a serial killer (Ralph Fiennes). The cast includes Anthony Hopkins, of course, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harvey Keitel and Emily Watson in the role originally played by Joan Allen. From Brett Ratner, the director of the Rush Hour movies, so there may be car chases. Look for it around October 4.
Speaking of Emily Watson, in Punch-Drunk Love, she plays the object of Adam Sandler's affections, which might be even scarier than being leched on by Ralph Fiennes's serial killer in Red Dragon. Director Paul Thomas Anderson's expressed a fascination with Sandler's rage, and has given us a film about a mild-mannered, browbeaten guy with severe anger issues. This is one of the year's most perverse collisions of star and director: the monster of commercial comedy versus the angsty auteur of the San Fernando Valley. Winner of the directing prize at the Cannes Festival, it opens October 11.
In a loaded fall season -- retrospectives for Andrei Tarkovsky, Chris Marker and Aleksandr Dovzhenko are on Cinematheque's schedule -- Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune are also very much on the menu. Criterion is planning a boxed-set DVD reissue of the actor-director team's samurai films (Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, Sanjuro and Hidden Fortress). The true high points of the Cinematheque program, however, are a set of much rarer films, notably the riveting ransom melodrama High And Low (October 23 and November 12), the noir-ish crime drama Stray Dog (October 24) and their final collaboration, Red Beard (October 19), with Mifune as a doctor in a small clinic. Cinematheque Ontario, October 18 to November 12.
lord of the ring
DreamWorks bought the insanely creepy Japanese horror movie The Ring not to distribute it, but to remake it. (If you have a region-2-compatible DVD or multi-format VHS player, the original is available from England, and worth it.) The story: there's this videotape, and if you watch it you'll die within a week. A reporter (Naomi Watts from Mulholland Drive) decides to check out what she believes is an urban myth. On the one hand, the trailer (www.ring-themovie.com/main.html) looks as if they've tried to maintain the tone of the original. On the other hand, director Gore Verbinski made Mouse Hunt and The Mexican. Opens October 18.
From the director of Poison and Velvet Goldmine comes Far From Heaven, a stunningly perverse exercise in style, an unofficial remake of Douglas Sirk's classic of forbidden romance, All That Heaven Allows. Todd Haynes wallows in the autumnal New England colours, the chilly distance of Sirkian camera set-ups, the perfect 50s art direction. Heaven only knows who, aside from rabid film geeks, will want to see this fly in amber, even allowing for the magnificence of Julianne Moore's performance as a suburban housewife who falls in love with her gardener. It hits screens sometime in November.
A new adaptation of Solaris, Stanislaw Lem's novel about a space station, is Steven Soderbergh's fifth film in three years, and marks the first time he's directed his own script since Schizopolis. Despite its reputation, Andrei Tarkovsky's film of the same title (playing October 31 at Cinematheque Ontario) is desperately slow and incomprehensible. Given Soderbergh's record with star George Clooney (Out Of Sight, Ocean's Eleven), this has to be one of the more highly anticipated films of the fall season, especially when we throw producer James Cameron's name into the mix. The teaser trailer (http://www.solaristhemovie.com/) makes the film look like The Shining In Space. Release date: November 27.