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You’ve had your summer fling with superheroes in form-fitting pants and 3D explosions that made your eyeballs spin. Time to settle in for the serious season, from P.T. Anderson’s possible masterpiece The Master to the Wachowski siblings’ visually stunning triumph or disaster (depends on who you ask) Cloud Atlas, to Peter Jackson’s “Why make one film when you can make three?” approach to The Hobbit. But no worries: If you can’t quit the summer mindset, James Bond is just around the corner.
FINDING NEMO 3D – The first rule of Pixar: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (9/14)
ARBITRAGE – After a bad investment and a car accident, a Wall Street fat cat (Richard Gere) cooks his mistress and kills the books. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Sorry, I don’t understand finance. (Or murder.) Brit Marling and Tim Roth co-star. (9/14)
RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION – This franchise is still happening? Paul W.S. Anderson is worse than a zombie apocalypse. (9/14)
THE MASTER – Five years after There Will Be Blood, P.T. Anderson returns with a brutal post-World War II epic – loosely sketched around the life of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard – starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. As with all of Anderson’s work, its abrasive brilliance will make you squirm. (9/21)
HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE – A heartbreaking, brilliant documentary about civil rights activism at the height of the AIDS crisis. Award-winning journalist David France, who makes his directorial debut, masterfully tells this difficult, important chapter of queer history. Everyone should see this film. (9/21)
DREDD 3D – Whoever is responsible for this Judge Dredd remake deserves punishment so much worse than our criminal justice system can offer. (9/21)
END OF WATCH – Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña play Los Angeles cops marked for death by a drug cartel. One reason to be excited about this movie: The director wrote Training Day. One reason not to be: The director wrote S.W.A.T. (9/21)
LIBERAL ARTS – How I Met Your Mother drip Josh Radnor directs, writes and stars in a romantic comedy about a college girl (Elizabeth Olsen) who crushes on a thirtysomething visiting his alma mater. (The ladies just love dead-end guys who have midlife crises a decade too early!) Fortunately, character actors extraordinaire Allison Janney and Richard Jenkins are lurking around campus to prevent Liberal Arts from being a bore. (9/21)
TROUBLE WITH THE CURVE – Justin Timberlake is a worse co-star than Clint Eastwood’s empty chair. (9/21)
HEAD GAMES – Director Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) investigates the consequences of head-related injuries in American sports in this incisive documentary. James has a knack for storytelling, so it’ll be fascinating to see how he handles a science-based narrative. (9/21)
HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET – Why is Jennifer Lawrence turning up in so many cheap horror movies? You’re so much better than this, honey. (9/21)
LOOPER – A mafia hit man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tasked with killing people from the future has to hunt down an unlikely target – himself. Directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), this will be the best sci-fi film of the season. (9/28)
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER – Stephen Chbosky’s twee coming-of-age story about a sexually confused Pittsburgh teen finally gets the Hollywood treatment. Sucks to be you, Holden Caulfield! Logan Lerman and Emma Watson star. (9/28)
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA – I was ready to write off this animated children’s movie about a five-star monster resort — and then I learned that Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack) directed it. Tartakovsky has a flair for the weird and wacky, so this might not be entirely dreadful. Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez star. (9/28)
WON’T BACK DOWN – Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a poor mother who fights to fix her child’s broken inner-city school. Viola Davis co-stars. (9/28)
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