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Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Schloendorff Film OGRE
According to the Qur.an, Cain (Kabil) buried Abel (Habil), prompted to do so by a single raven scratching the ground, on God.s command. The Qur.an states that upon seeing the raven, Cain regretted his action [al-Ma.idah:27-31], and that rather than being cursed by God, since He hadn.t done so before, God chose to create a law against murder.
Tales from the Israelis
I watched Volker Schlöndorff.s The Ogre last night.
Schlöndorff is one of my favorite filmmakers. Perhaps because his work systematically zeroes in on the most preposterously successful disinformation campaigns of the 20th century and exposes them as such -- without trying to tell you what the "Truth" actually is.
Unfortunately, Schlöndorff has yet to record a Director.s Commentary for The Ogre. Perhaps he doesn.t know how much help the popular dialectic needs to understand even the most basic stuff -- so here I am, penning a draft to give him some idea of how clueless even some of his biggest fans are.
The Ogre is based on a French Novel entitled Le Roi des Aulnes, or The King of the Alder. I haven.t read it. I might. Maybe. If I win The Lottery (not Shirley.s, thank you very much).
Alder is a species of flowering plant found in the world.s temperate zones. In this case it refers to the temperate zone that runs through North East Europe -- specifically between 1940 and 1945 -- but arguably in general.
In Germany (Volcker is German) the film was released as der Unhold -- which means the Fiend
If the fiend in the German interpretation is the guy in a Nazi uniform aiming a gun at the head of an elderly gentleman who hasn.t quite had a chance to get dressed yet -- that guy is a Grocer.s Son, aka The Bourgeois. The elderly gentleman in his underwear is the Aristocrat.
And that.s John Malkovich -- as many of you will know -- playing the film.s hero/anti-hero . . . who.s name doesn.t just happen to be Abel. As in Cain and Abel, the world.s first murder victim, who happens -- for the occasion -- to also be an idiot savant, gazing -- in wonder -- from upper stage left. His lenses intact. (I wonder if Volker personally chose the three different renderings?)
The French version clearly thinks Abel.s the Ogre, even though they.re calling him The King of some flowering plant . . . belonging to the Birch family. Of all the things they could have zoomed in on, they chose the snarling Dobermans.
Since I.ve already almost ruined the film.s first surprise (although you may not realize it), I.ll go ahead and finish the job. The English version is recorded in English (d.oh), with the voice of John Malkovich, but the kid playing The Ogre as a kid has a very broad English accent -- as does everyone at the beginning of the North American release. So.
If you.re like moi and don.t wonder why everyone has a Limey accent from hell -- in a twilight zone Catholic orphanage -- you.ll get the shock of your life when the cops show up and they.re French! The author has been totally trashing The French -- their women in particular -- using English accents.
Whatever. I.ll have to think about that. Maybe. If I win the Lottery.
To the best of my recollection there are 3 Ogres named in the course of the film, the first one refers to the Malkovich character before 1940 (when Germany invaded France) and the third one refers to the Malkovich character after he starts herding children into a Nazi training camp for kids.
The Ogre in the middle of the movie, at the infamous turning point, is a giant blind moose!
See? That.s how come I love this Volker Schlöndorff guy. Even though the spin is in the original text for sure.
I just got this moose off the web. It doesn.t begin to do justice to the one Volcker found to pull off the tipping point of his film. Maybe that.s a big moose there but there.s no teeny tiny idiot savant John Malkovich right next to it to give you some idea of its size.
. . .
By now you may have gotten around to wondering, "Why is this a Tale from the Israelis?"
Because the hero of the story -- the guy pulled off by John Malkovich -- is named Abel. As in Cain and Abel of Genesis fame, first immortalized by the Israelis in the 6th century BC. They were, at that point, just writing down a story that developed, like Homer.s Iliad and Odyssey, over time and many years of wandering and chatting by the fire. But it.s generally acknowledged to be theirs. And I concur. And you.ll see why in a second.
In that version, Cain and Abel were Adam and Eve.s sons -- Cain being the first and, according to some people, actually really fathered by the Serpent.
Abel.s name as given in the Hebrew text (in consonants only) is thought to refer to the root word for "breath". Cain, by the same token, means Spear.
I had to look it up. Here it is: the story. Cain was a farmer and Abel was a shepherd. They both made an offering to God and God favored Abel the Shepherd.s offering. So Cain killed him. In a fit of jealous rage.
The story is thought to have come down from Ancient Iraq, where archaeological evidence suggests the Hebrews wandered sometime around the 2nd Millenium BC, arriving on the scene from somewhere in the Arabian Desert -- on their way to Ancient Turkey.
Hebrew is from the Ancient Semitic word Habiru.
Depending on the source and epoch, the Habiru are variously described as nomadic or semi-nomadic, rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, and bowmen, servants, slaves, migrant laborers, etc.
throughout the Near East, the Habiru are found mentioned in contexts ranging from unemployed agricultural workers and vagrants to mounted mercenary bowmen.
Ancient Iraq, as we know, is the world.s first civilization. Some people think the world.s first civilization was Egypt, but no. The Ancient Iraqis were busy growing stuff and using wheels and alphabets beginning some time in the middle of the 6th millennium BC. The Egyptians didn.t get that organized for another thousand years.
So that.s why we.re thinking the Hebrews got the story from the Iraqis.
And this is where the story gets interesting. Because clearly the Ancient Iraqis were the Cains and the Ancient Israelis were the Abels. That.s why the farmer got named after a spear. They didn.t want to give the migrants good jobs anymore than America.s Europeans want to give good jobs to Hispanics or Europe.s Europeans want to give them to Africans.
Do we all remember what the Mark of Cain is?
In Christianity and Judaism, the curse of Cain and the mark of Cain refer to the Biblical passages in the Book of Genesis chapter 4, where God declared that Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, was cursed, and placed a mark upon him to warn others that killing Cain would provoke the vengeance of God.
END OF QUOTE so that.s pretty mixed up. You have to read it a couple of times, I think, to believe it.s saying what it.s saying.
So but, loosely translated what IS that saying?
Don.t provoke the indigenous people.s of Mesopotamia or God will kick your sorry arse . . . because the indigenous peoples of Mesopotamia are cursed by God.
And but what.s the migrant shepherd Abel still doing?
They just can.t quit. After all these years, they still just can.t quit. Maybe because they can.t hear the no
Sometimes the answer to really big problems comes down to something ridiculously simple. For centuries people have been sitting around, shaking their heads, thinking that humans are naturally evil. Why, why, why, why, why? Whatever was "God" thinking? But.
As it turns out, the answer is ridiculously simple. The unconscious doesn.t process negatives. It.s as simple as that.
If I tell you, "don.t think of a lemon", what.s the first thing you.re going to do? Before you.ve had a chance to think about it, what are you going to do?
Why would it be any different if I go on and on, for centuries, about how thou shalt not kill?
We don.t know if there was a Moses, much less a Burning Bush etc etc. But. What we do know is that the legend of his alleged exploits was codified, for what turned out to be hundreds of millions of people for thousands of years, some time between 539 and 334 BCE.
Here.s what your brain on Mosaic Law looks like:
1. I am the LORD your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery. You shall have other gods before Me.
2. Make an image or any likeness of what is in the heavens above.
Interestin parasite behaviour changes in humans, allergies...
the strange interactions of our living world.....
Biological modifications of the host
The parasite itself can cause various effects on the host body, some of which are not fully understood. Reproductive changes
A recent study has indicated toxoplasmosis correlates strongly with an increase in boy births in humans. According to the researchers, "depending on the antibody concentration, the probability of the birth of a boy can increase up to a value of 0.72 ... which means that for every 260 boys born, 100 girls are born." The study also notes a mean rate of 0.608 (as opposed to the normal 0.51) for Toxoplasma-positive mothers. The study explains that this effect may not significantly influence the actual sex ratio of children born in countries with high rates of latent toxoplasmosis infection because "In high-prevalence countries, most women of reproductive age have already been infected for a long time and therefore have only low titres of anti-Toxoplasma antibodies. Our results suggest that low-titre women have similar sex ratios to Toxoplasma-negative women." Behavioral changes
It has been found that the parasite has the ability to change the behaviour of its host: infected rats and mice are less fearful of cats.in fact, some of the infected rats seek out cat-urine-marked areas. This effect is advantageous to the parasite, which will be able to proliferate as a cat could eat the infected rat and then reproduce.  The mechanism for this change is not completely understood, but there is evidence that toxoplasmosis infection raises dopamine levels and concentrates in the amygdala in infected mice.
The findings of behavioural alteration in rats and mice have led some scientists to speculate that Toxoplasma may have similar effects in humans, even in the latent phase that had previously been considered asymptomatic. Toxoplasma is one of a number of parasites that may alter their host's behaviour as a part of their life cycle. The behaviors observed, if caused by the parasite, are likely due to infection and low-grade encephalitis, which is marked by the presence of cysts in the human brain, which may produce or induce production of a neurotransmitter, possibly dopamine, therefore acting similarly to dopamine reuptake inhibitor type antidepressants and stimulants.
Correlations have been found between latent Toxoplasma infections and various characteristics:
* Decreased novelty-seeking behaviour * Slower reactions * Lower rule-consciousness and greater jealousy (in men) * Less frigidity and greater conscientiousness (in women)
The evidence for behavioral effects on humans is controversial (see a collection of research papers at http://natur.cuni.cz/flegr/publ.php). No prospective research has been done on the topic, e.g., testing people before and after infection to ensure that the proposed behavior arises only afterwards. Although some researchers have found potentially important associations with Toxoplasma, the causal relationship, if any, is unknown, i.e., it is possible that these associations merely reflect factors that predispose certain types of people to infection. However, many of the neurobehavioral symptoms that are postulated to be due to toxoplasmosis correlate to the general function of dopamine in the human brain, and the fact that toxoplasmosis upregulates the production of dopamine-stimulating tyrosine hydroxylase enzymes makes it likely that neurobehavioral symptoms can result from infection.
Studies have found that toxoplasmosis is associated with an increased car accident rate in people with Rh-negative blood. The chance of an accident relative to uninfected people is increased roughly 2.5 times.
This may be due to the slowed reaction times that are associated with infection. "If our data are true then about a million people a year die just because they are infected with Toxoplasma," the researcher Jaroslav Flegr told The Guardian. The data shows that the risk decreases with time after infection, but is not due to age. Ruth Gilbert, medical coordinator of the European Multicentre Study on Congenital Toxoplasmosis, told BBC News Online these findings could be due to chance, or due to social and cultural factors associated with Toxoplasma infection. However there is also evidence of a delayed effect which increases reaction times.
Other studies suggest that the parasite may influence personality. There are claims of Toxoplasma causing antisocial attitudes in men and promiscuity (or even "signs of higher intelligence" ) in women, and greater susceptibility to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in all infected persons. A 2004 study found that Toxoplasma "probably induce[s] a decrease of novelty seeking." 
According to Sydney University of Technology infectious disease researcher Nicky Boulter in an article that appeared in the January/February 2007 edition of Australasian Science magazine, Toxoplasma infections lead to changes depending on the sex of the infected person. 
The study suggests that male carriers have shorter attention spans, a greater likelihood of breaking rules and taking risks, and are more independent, anti-social, suspicious, jealous and morose. It also suggests that these men are deemed less attractive to women. Women carriers are suggested to be more outgoing, friendly, more promiscuous, and are considered more attractive to men compared with non-infected controls. The results are shown to be true when tested on mice, though it is still inconclusive. A few scientists have suggested that, if these effects are genuine, prevalence of toxoplasmosis could be a major determinant of cultural differences. Toxoplasma's role in schizophrenia
The possibility that toxoplasmosis is one cause of schizophrenia has been studied by scientists since at least 1953. These studies had attracted little attention from U.S. researchers until they were publicized through the work of prominent psychiatrist and advocate E. Fuller Torrey. In 2003, Torrey published a review of this literature, reporting that almost all the studies had found that schizophrenics have elevated rates of Toxoplasma infection. A 2006 paper has even suggested that prevalence of toxoplasmosis has large-scale effects on national culture. These types of studies are suggestive but cannot confirm a causal relationship (because of the possibility, for example, that schizophrenia increases the likelihood of Toxoplasma infection rather than the other way around).
* Acute Toxoplasma infection sometimes leads to psychotic symptoms not unlike schizophrenia. * Some anti-psychotic medications that are used to treat schizophrenia, such as haloperidol, also stop the growth of Toxoplasma in cell cultures. * Several studies have found significantly higher levels of Toxoplasma antibodies in schizophrenia patients compared to the general population. * Toxoplasma infection causes damage to astrocytes in the brain, and such damage is also seen in schizophrenia
Parasitic worms are usually bad news, but perhaps not if you have allergies. Matt Kaplan reports on a radical new therapy
HOOKWORMS, whipworms, pinworms, flukes: mere mention of the panoply of parasitic worms that plague humans is enough to make most of us shudder. Not John Turton. In the mid-1970s, while working at the UK.s Medical Research Council Laboratories in Surrey, he intentionally infected himself with hookworms in an attempt to relieve his chronic hay fever. It worked. For two summers while he harboured the parasites, his allergy abated, only to return when he was free of them (The Lancet, vol 308, p 686).
Turton.s grim experiment came at a time when it was emerging that people living in regions where parasitic worm infections are rife tend to have fewer allergies. Nevertheless, he might have thought twice. In 1913, W. Herrick, a doctor from Columbia University in New York, noticed a very different link between parasitic worms, or helminths, and allergy. Lab workers whose duties included dissecting the gut-dwelling roundworm Ascaris often developed tenderness and swelling in their fingers, and more severe allergies after longer exposure, especially asthma.
Since the 1970s, researchers have been trying to make sense of these conflicting findings in the hope of being able to harness the power of parasites to help relieve allergies without making things worse. They know they are playing with fire . after all, helminths are responsible for some truly horrible diseases and cause great suffering around the world. Yet, as the effects of helminths on the human body become clearer, it looks as though their healing potential may be unleashed.
Not surprisingly, few researchers have been willing to take the risk of deliberately infecting themselves as Turton did. Instead, most studies are based on populations in countries where people are already infected. This research tends to focus on the three most commonly diagnosed allergic conditions: asthma, eczema and hay fever. The results have been confusing, but now researchers are beginning to understand why.
One study conducted in Taiwan, for example, showed that people infected with Enterobius vermicularis, a pinworm that is one of the most common gut parasites in the world, were less likely to have hay fever than the general population (Clinical Experimental Allergy, vol 32, p 1029). However, results from Ecuador tell a different story. Noting that hay fever was significantly more common in children living in urban than rural settings, researchers looked for a correlation between the allergy and levels of infection with the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides. The parasite was equally common in both groups, so they concluded that something else must be responsible for the prevalence of hay fever (Clinical Experimental Allergy, vol 34, p 845).
The findings on eczema have proved just as difficult to interpret. For example, a study in Uganda found that eczema was less common among infants whose mothers had been infected with helminths while pregnant (JAMA, vol 294, p 2032). However, another study, this time in Ethiopia, discovered that children with Trichuris worms, whipworms that infest the large intestine, were more likely to have eczema than uninfected children (Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, vol 115, p 370).
.Hookworms potential to protect against asthma may be related to its lung migration phase.
As for asthma, Herrick.s finding that it can be triggered merely by contact with Ascaris was confirmed in the 1970s. However, hookworms reduced the severity of asthma in a group of Ethiopians (The Lancet, vol 358, p 1493) and similar benefits have been noted in Brazilian asthma sufferers infected with Schistosoma mansoni, the flatworm responsible for schistosomiasis, which damages internal organs.
What are we to make of all this? The crucial link between allergies and parasites is the human immune system. Allergies are triggered by an overactive immune response, and helminths have strategies to damp down our immune response to promote their survival; after all, they have evolved in lockstep with humans for millennia.
In people who don.t have allergies, foreign material entering the body prompts the release of cytokines, molecules that sound the alarm to get the attention of other immune cells. As immune cells rally to attack the intruder, a second set of molecules is released to prevent the immune response from overreacting. One of the key molecules responsible for keeping reactions in check is interleukin-10, which inhibits the release of certain cytokines. People with allergies tend to have lower than normal levels of interleukin-10, so immune responses frequently get out of hand. Conversely, people infected with helminths have above-average levels of the molecule, and research on schistosomiasis patients indicates that this is at least partially because the worms release chemicals that stimulate the production of interleukin-10 in their host.
The mystery, then, is not so much that helminthic infections can damp down hay fever and other allergies, but that in some cases parasites do not. Clearly, different helminths interact with the immune system in different ways. "Parasitic worms are often treated as having the same effect on the body, but they probably do not," says Carsten Flohr at the University of Nottingham, UK, who recently published an article on the subject (Clinical Experimental Allergy, vol 39, p 20). What is not clear is the mechanism that sends the immune response in either direction.
One possible explanation is the helminths. lifespan. A short-lived worm, such as E. vermicularis, will not have much of a chance to tinker with the immune system and is less likely to be able to suppress the response than a hookworm, for example, a parasite that.s in for the long haul. Worms responsible for chronic infections would be unlikely to survive without evolving mechanisms that allow them to strike up an immunological balance with their host.
In addition, different species may have specific effects on immunity depending on the areas of the body they inhabit. Trichuris, for example, is ingested and stays in the gut, escaping the intense immune response that schistosomes encounter as they burrow their way through the skin, which is heavily monitored by cytokines and highly reactive, explains Flohr. Hookworm larvae also enter through the skin and make their way through the bloodstream to the lungs, where they pass through the thin-walled blood vessels. They then travel up from the lungs into the trachea, only to be coughed up and swallowed, allowing them to reach the small intestine where they develop into adult worms. "The potential protective effects of hookworm infections on asthma may be related to these parasites. lung migration phase," Flohr says.
Hookworm.s potential to protect against asthma may be related to its lung migration phase
It is this specificity that makes parasitic worms attractive as a potential treatment for allergic conditions. "The nice thing about a worm is it does the work of entering the body and interacting with the immune system for you. It has evolved excellent techniques that allow it to get to where it wants to go and lower the ensuing immune response," says immunologist Klaus Erb from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Germany.
Could there really ever be a demand for worm therapy? With a growing understanding of which parasites have the most potential to alleviate allergies, some researchers are convinced worms have a future. That.s partly because allergies are a huge and increasing problem, particularly in the developed world where they affect around 1 in 5 children, and partly because there is no treatment that resolves the underlying problem of an overreactive immune system. The choice is antihistamine tablets, which only work as long as you keep taking them, or a painful and time-consuming course of injections to desensitise you to the materials that prompt the immune system to overreact.
.Benefits occur when individuals are excreting at least 50 hookworm eggs per gram of faeces.
In an attempt to bring helminthic therapy a step closer, researchers at the University of Nottingham are testing the suitability of hookworms as a treatment for asthma. First they infected healthy people with the worms and discovered that a dose of 10 larvae resulted in a high enough level of infection to confer immune benefits; studies in Ethiopia indicate that this occurs when infected individuals are excreting at least 50 hookworm eggs per gram of faeces. Side effects included itching and sometimes minor intestinal discomfort, but they were only mild. The researchers then recruited asthma sufferers to test the effectiveness of hookworm therapy. "We monitored airway responsiveness during the period when we knew the larvae were migrating through the airways to determine if the migration made respiratory disease worse," says Johanna Feary, a member of the Nottingham team. And, most recently, they have conducted a 16-week, placebo-controlled trial on 34 people with asthma.
Benefits occur when individuals are excreting at least 50 hookworm eggs per gram of faeces
The results of these ground-breaking studies have yet to be published. Even if the treatment proves highly effective, it may well be difficult to convince people that worm therapy is the way to go. Many doctors find the idea repellant. "These things are disgusting. People are never going to allow themselves to be infected with them," says clinical immunologist Asif Rafi at the University of California, Los Angeles. "You really don.t want to treat people with worms if you don.t have to," adds Erb.
Aside from the yuck factor, there is another problem: helminths could ultimately make patients more susceptible to other diseases. It is an oversimplification to suggest that worms just reduce the immune response, says Rafi. What they are doing is changing the type of activity the immune system engages in. When reacting to parasites, bacteria and viruses, the immune system must balance the release of molecules that sound the alarm and increase inflammation, against those that calm things down, reducing inflammation and repairing tissue. Parasitic worms are particularly adept at shifting the balance towards an anti-inflammatory state, as it.s the ability to control inflammation that allows them to survive for years in a human. That.s good for them, but may make their host vulnerable to other infectious diseases.
"There may well be a downside to worm infection," admits David Pritchard from the Nottingham team. "The great challenge we face is finding the correct balance between alleviating disease and propagating it."
There may be another way to exploit the healing powers of helminths, however. "What we really need, is to find useful compounds being produced by these worms, rather than trying to use the worms themselves," says Rafi.
That is exactly what William Harnett and colleagues are doing at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK. They have shown that a complex protein called ES-62 . produced by Acanthocheilonema viteae, a parasitic filarial nematode worm that infects rodents . dramatically reduces inflammation associated with allergic conditions in mice. Intriguingly, ES-62 affects multiple aspects of the immune system simultaneously. As well as inducing production of anti-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-10, it also inhibits production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and proliferation of lymphocytes . the immune system.s white blood cells . and blocks the activation of mast cells, which play a key role in promoting inflammation. Now Harnett and his team are attempting to create small drug-like molecules that mimic the effects of ES-62.
Treating allergies with "essence of parasite" might sound like an ambitious goal, but the ES-62 research could be just the start. Parasitologist Jan Bradley at the University of Nottingham points out that there is far more to helminths than just how they influence allergic reactions. For example, Murray Selkirk at Imperial College London has discovered that infection with parasitic worms gives animals some protection against pneumonia caused by influenza. "Things are going to get a whole lot more complicated when we start considering the effects generated by interactions between different parasites, and the interactions between parasites and certain viruses," says Bradley..
Who.s for worm therapy?
Some species of parasitic worm are better at suppressing allergies than others. Likewise, some people get greater benefits from worm infections than others. Researchers suspect that a person.s age, diet and the environment in which they became infected may make a difference. In rural settings in developing countries, for example, children are often repeatedly infected from an early age. "This leads to a degree of host immunity and is probably the reason why helminths such as hookworms can survive in the same host for years, often causing only mild symptoms," says Carsten Flohr of the University of Nottingham, UK. In this case, the parasites are more likely to help alleviate allergies. Where people are infected later in life, however, exposure to helminths can actually lead to allergies.
Another factor that seems to influence the link between parasites and allergies in different individuals is genes. "Genetics are known to play a role in whether people are susceptible to both allergies and parasites," says immunologist Padraic Fallon at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. "Both of these susceptibilities could be under common genetic control." It may be that people who are prone to allergies have immune systems that naturally respond more aggressively towards invading parasites. Such highly reactive immune systems would have been selected for in areas where infections from parasitic worms were high. In today.s developed world, where such infections are rare, these individuals will be more prone to allergies. However, they may also be more likely to respond to helminthic therapy.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by the protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite infects most genera of warm-blooded animals, including humans, but the primary host is the felid (cat) family. Animals are infected by eating infected meat, by ingestion of faeces of a cat that has itself recently been infected, or by transmission from mother to fetus. Cats have been shown as a major reservoir of this infection.
Up to one third of the world's human population is estimated to carry a Toxoplasma infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that overall seroprevalence in the United States as determined with specimens collected by the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2004 was found to be 10.8%, with seroprevalence among women of childbearing age (15 to 44 years) of 11%.
During the first few weeks, the infection typically causes a mild flu-like illness or no illness. After the first few weeks of infection have passed, the parasite rarely causes any symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. However, people with a weakened immune system, such as those infected with advanced HIV disease or those who are pregnant, may become seriously ill, and it can occasionally be fatal. The parasite can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and neurologic diseases and can affect the heart, liver, and eyes (chorioretinitis).
A study conducted in Vietnam has added further weight to the view that parasitic gut worms, such as hookworm, could help in the prevention and treatment of asthma and other allergies.
Led by Dr Carsten Flohr, a Clinical Scientist from The University of Nottingham, and Dr Luc Nguyen Tuyen from the Khanh Hoa Provincial Health Service in central Vietnam, the study is the largest double-blind placebo controlled clinical trial to date looking at the potential links between hookworm and other gut worm infections and allergic conditions such as asthma and eczema.
Thanks to improved hygiene practices parasitic worms have been mostly eradicated among human populations living in developed countries. However, experts believe that over millions of years of co-evolution worms have found methods to dampen down host immune responses to prolong their own survival inside humans. This relationship seems to have become so intertwined that without gut worms or other parasites, our immune system can become unbalanced, which in turn could contribute to the development of asthma and other allergies. At the same time, it is important to remember that gut parasites can cause severe disease and are a major cause of iron-deficiency anaemia in developing countries.
2012 - end of 2009 crap movies to watch surrogates willis pandorum daybreakers zombieland legion the road 2012 the informant soderberg
The 2012 phenomenon is a present-day cultural meme proposing that cataclysmic or transformative events will occur in the year 2012. The forecast is based primarily on what is claimed to be the end-date of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, which is presented as lasting 5,125 years and as terminating on December 21 or 23, 2012. Arguments supporting this dating are drawn from a mixture of amateur archaeoastronomy, alternative interpretations of mythology, numerological constructions, and alleged prophecies from extraterrestrial beings.
A New Age interpretation of this transition posits that, during this time, the planet and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era. Conversely, some believe that the 2012 date marks the beginning of an apocalypse. Both memes have been disseminated in numerous books and TV documentaries, and have spread around the world through websites and discussion groups. The idea of a global event occurring in 2012 based on any interpretation of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar is rejected as pseudoscience by the scientific community, and as misrepresentative of Maya history by Mayanist scholars.
December 2012 marks the ending of the current baktun cycle of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. The Long Count set its "time zero" at a point in the past marking the end of the previous world and the beginning of the current one, which corresponds to either 11 or 13 August 3114 BC in the Proleptic Gregorian calendar, depending on the formula used.
Unlike the 52-year calendar round still used today among the Maya, the Long Count was linear, rather than cyclical, and kept time roughly in units of 20, so 20 days made a uinal, 18 uinals, or 360 days, made a tun, 20 tuns made a katun, and 20 katuns, or 144,000 days, made up a baktun. So, for example, the Mayan date of 18.104.22.168.15 represents 8 baktuns, 3 katuns, 2 tuns, 10 uinals and 15 days since creation. Many Mayan inscriptions have the count shifting to a higher order after 13 baktuns. Today, the most widely accepted correlations of the end of the thirteenth baktun, or Mayan date 22.214.171.124.0, with the Western calendar are either December 21 or December 23, 2012. Even before the dating issue was settled, the early Mayanist and astronomer Maud Worcester Makemson had written in 1957 that "the completion of a Great Period of 13 baktuns would have been of the utmost significance to the Maya". After the correct date was determined, the anthropologist Munro S. Edmonson added that "there appears to be a strong likelihood that the eral calendar, like the year calendar, was motivated by a long-range astronomical prediction, one that made a correct solsticial forecast 2,367 years into the future in 355 B.C. [sic]".
In 1966, Michael D. Coe more ambitiously claimed in The Maya that "[t]here is a suggestion -- that Armageddon would overtake the degenerate peoples of the world and all creation on the final day of the thirteenth [baktun]. Thus […] our present universe [… would] be annihilated on December 23, 2012, when the Great Cycle of the Long Count reaches completion." These apocalyptic connotations were accepted by other scholars through the early 1990s. But more recent academic scholars have specifically disputed the apocalyptic interpretation of the Long Count calendar end-date, saying instead that it would be a cause for celebration but that the cycle would continue uninterrupted by any cataclysmic event.
These scholars argue that the Long Count does not end on 126.96.36.199.0. In their seminal work of 1990, the Maya scholars Linda Schele and David Freidel, who reference Edmonson, argue that the Maya "did not conceive this to be the end of creation, as many have suggested," citing Mayan predictions of events to occur after the end of the 13th baktun. The Maya, due to the cyclical nature of their calendar, also wrote the date of creation, their zero date, as 188.8.131.52.0. Schele and Freidel note that creation date was inscribed at Coba as 184.108.40.206.220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.126.96.36.199.0.0.0.0, with twenty units above the katun. According to Schele and Friedel, these 13s should be treated as 0s, so the Coba number would be read as if it were 0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0, with the units of each column beyond the second (counting from right to left) equal to 20 times those of the previous one. This number represented "the starting point of a huge odometer of time". Schele and Freidel calculate that the date at which this odometer would run out lies some 4.134105 × 1028 years in the future, or 3 quintillion times the scientifically accepted age of the universe.
The issue is complicated further by the fact that many different Maya city-states employed the Long Count in different ways. At Palenque, evidence suggests that the priest timekeepers believed the cycle would end after 20 baktuns, rather than 13. A monument commemorating the ascension of the king Pakal the Great connects his coronation with events as far as 4000 years in the future, indicating that those scribes did not believe the world would end on 188.8.131.52.0. Maya references to 2012
The present-day Maya, as a whole, do not attach much significance to 2012. Although the calendar round is still used by some Maya tribes in the Guatemalan highlands, the Long Count was strictly employed by the classic Maya, and was only recently rediscovered by archaeologists. Mayan elder Apolinario Chile Pixtun and Mexican archaeologist Guillermo Bernal both note that "apocalypse" is a Western concept that has little or nothing to do with Mayan beliefs. Bernal believes that such ideas have been foisted on the Maya by Westerners because their own myths are "exhausted". Mayan archaeologist Jose Huchm complains that, "If I went to some Mayan-speaking communities and asked people what is going to happen in 2012, they wouldn't have any idea. That the world is going to end? They wouldn't believe you. We have real concerns these days, like rain."
Most classic Maya inscriptions are strictly historical and do not make any prophetic declarations. Two items in the Maya classical corpus, however, mention the end of the 13th baktun: Tortuguero Monument 6 and the Chilam Balam. Tortuguero
The Tortuguero site dates from the 7th century AD and consists of a series of inscriptions in honor of the contemporary ruler. One inscription, known as Tortuguero Monument 6, is generally agreed among Mayanists to refer to the 2012 date. It has been partially defaced; Mayanist scholar Mark Van Stone has given the most complete translation:
Tzuhtz-(a)j-oom u(y)-uxlajuun pik
The Thirteenth [b'ak'tun] will end
(ta) Chan Ajaw ux(-te') Uniiw.
(on) 4 Ajaw, the 3rd of Uniiw [3 K'ank'in].
Black ... will occur.
Y-em(al) ... Bolon Yookte' K'uh ta-chak-ma...
(It will be) the descent(?) of Bolon Yookte' K'uh to the great (or red?)...
Very little is known about the god (or gods) Bolon Yookte' K'uh. Possible translations of his or their name include "nine support [gods]", "Many-Strides God", "Nine-Dog Tree", or "Many-Root Tree". He appears in other inscriptions as a god of war, conflict, and the underworld, though Markus Eberl and Christian Prager believe that the Tortuguero inscription parallels the typical Maya ruler's pronouncement of a future dedicatory celebration. The long count used at Tortuguero contains 20 b'ak'tuns in a cycle, so the end of the 13th b'ak'tun would not end the cycle according to Tortuguero astronomers. No illustrations of Bolon Yookte' exist, though dozens of other gods' images are known. Chilam Balam
The Chilam Balam of Tizimin has been translated twice: once by the archaeoastronomer Maud Worcester Makemson and once by the anthropologist Munro S. Edmonson. Makemson believed that one of the lines in the book (licutal oxlahun bak chem, ti u cenic u tzan a ceni ciac aba yum texe) refered to the "tremendously important event of the arrival of 184.108.40.206.0 4 Ahau 3 Kankin in the not too distant future", translating it as "Presently Baktun 13 shall come sailing, figuratively speaking, bringing the ornaments of which I have spoken from your ancestors." (Her version of the text continues, "Then the god will come to visit his little ones. Perhaps 'After Death' will be the subject of his discourse.") Makemson was still relying on her own dating of 220.127.116.11.0 to 1752 and therefore the "not too distant future" in her annotations meant a few years after the scribe in Tizimin recorded his Chilam Balam. Edmonson's translation does not support this reading; he considers the Long Count entirely absent from the book, with a 24-round may system used instead.
Other Chilam Balam books contain references to the 13th baktun, but it is unclear if these are in the past or future; for example, oxhun bakam u katunil (thirteen bakam of katuns) in the Chilam Balam of Chumayel. New Age theories
Many New Agers believe that the ending of this cycle will correspond to a global "consciousness shift". This theory is grounded in an apocalyptic vocabulary dating back to the 1950s and draws on many of the same sources and personalities of the 1987 Harmonic Convergence. Established themes found in 2012 literature include "suspicion towards mainstream Western culture", the idea of spiritual evolution, and the possibility of leading the world into the New Age, by individual example or by a group's joined consciousness. The general intent of this literature is not to warn of impending doom but "to foster counter-cultural sympathies and eventually socio-political and 'spiritual' activism".
The date became the subject of speculation by Frank Waters, who devotes two chapters to its interpretation, including discussion of an astrological chart for this date and its association with Hopi prophecies in Mexico Mystique: The Coming Sixth Age of Consciousness (1975). The significance of the year 2012 (but not a specific day) was mentioned briefly by José Argüelles in The Transformative Vision, (1975) and later in The Mayan Factor (1987). Author Terence McKenna independently arrived at a New Age prediction for 2012, which he later merged with the Mayan calendar end date after a discussion with Argüelles.
Author Daniel Pinchbeck popularized New Age concepts about this date, linking it to beliefs about crop circles, alien abduction, and personal revelations based on the use of entheogens and mediumship in his 2006 book 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl. Pinchbeck argues for a shift in consciousness rather than an apocalypse, suggesting that materialistic attitudes, rather than the material world, are in jeopardy. Semir Osmanagic', the author and metalworker responsible for promoting the Bosnian pyramids, referred to 2012 in the conclusion of his book The World of the Maya. He suggests that "Advancement of DNA may raise us to a higher level" and concludes, "When the 'heavens open' and cosmic energy is allowed to flow throughout our tiny Planet, will we be raised to a higher level by the vibrations". Galactic alignment
Frank Waters' book inspired further speculation by John Major Jenkins in the mid-1980s, noting the correspondence of the December 21 date with the winter solstice in 2012. This date was in line with an idea he terms the galactic alignment.
In the solar system, the planets and the Sun share roughly the same plane of orbit, known as the plane of the ecliptic. From our perspective on Earth, the Zodiacal constellations move along or near the ecliptic, and over time, appear to recede counterclockwise by one degree every 72 years. This movement is attributed to a slight wobble in the Earth's axis as it spins. As a result, approximately every 2160 years, the constellation visible on the early morning of the spring equinox changes. In Western astrological traditions, this signals the end of one astrological age (currently the Age of Pisces) and the beginning of another (Age of Aquarius). Over the course of 26,000 years, the precession of the equinoxes makes one full circuit around the ecliptic.
Just as the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere is currently in the constellation of Pisces, so the winter solstice is currently in the constellation of Sagittarius, which happens to be the constellation intersected by the galactic equator. Every year for the last 1000 years or so, on the winter solstice, the Earth, Sun and the galactic equator come into alignment, and every year, precession pushes the Sun's position a little way further through the Milky Way's band. The Milky Way near Cygnus showing the lane of the Dark Rift, which the Maya called the Xibalba be or "Black Road."
Jenkins suggests that the Maya based their calendar on observations of the Great Rift, a band of dark dust clouds in the Milky Way, which the Maya called the Xibalba be or "Black Road." Jenkins claims that the Maya were aware of where the ecliptic intersected the Black Road and gave this position in the sky a special significance in their cosmology. According to the hypothesis, the Sun precisely aligns with this intersection point at the winter solstice of 2012. Jenkins claimed that the classical Mayans anticipated this conjunction and celebrated it as the harbinger of a profound spiritual transition for mankind. New Age proponents of the galactic alignment hypothesis argue that, just as astrology uses the positions of stars and planets to make claims of future events, the Mayans plotted their calendars with the objective of preparing for significant world events.
The alignment in question is not exclusive to 2012 but takes place over a 36-year period, corresponding to the diameter of the Sun, with the most precise convergence having already occurred in 1998. Also, Jenkins himself notes that there is no concrete evidence that the Maya were aware of precession. While some Mayan scholars, such as Barbara MacLeod, have suggested that some Mayan holy dates were timed to precessional cycles, scholarly opinion on the subject is divided. There is also little evidence, archaeological or historical, that the Maya placed any importance on solstices or equinoxes. Timewave zero and the I Ching A screenshot of the Timewave Zero software.
"Timewave zero" is a pseudoscientific numerological formula that purports to calculate the ebb and flow of "novelty", defined as increase in the universe's interconnectedness, or organised complexity, over time. According to Terence McKenna, who conceived the idea over several years in the early-mid 1970s, the universe has a teleological attractor at the end of time that increases interconnectedness, eventually reaching a singularity of infinite complexity on December 21, 2012, at which point anything and everything imaginable will occur instantaneously.
McKenna expressed "novelty" in a computer program, which purportedly produces a waveform known as timewave zero or the timewave. Based on McKenna's interpretation of the King Wen sequence of the I Ching, the graph appears to show great periods of novelty corresponding with major shifts in humanity's biological and cultural evolution. He believed the events of any given time are recursively related to the events of other times, and chose the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as the basis for calculating his end date of November 2012. When he discovered this date's proximity to the end of the 13th baktun, he adjusted it so that the two dates matched.
The first edition of Invisible Landscapes refers to 2012 (as the year, not a specific day) only twice. McKenna originally considered it an incidental observation that the two dates matched, a sign of the end date "being programmed into our unconscious". It was only after he met Jose Argüelles in 1985 that he became convinced that December 21, 2012 had significant meaning and peppered this specific date throughout the second, 1993 edition of the same book. Doomsday theories
A far more apocalyptic view of the year 2012 has also spread in various media. This view has been promulgated by History Channel which, beginning in 2006, aired "Decoding the Past: Mayan Doomsday Prophecy", based loosely on John Major Jenkins' theories but with a tone he characterized as "45 minutes of unabashed doomsday hype and the worst kind of inane sensationalism". It was co-written by a science fiction author. This show proved popular and was followed by many sequels: 2012, End of Days (2006), The Last Days on Earth (2008) Seven Signs of the Apocalypse (2008) and Nostradamus 2012 (2008). Geomagnetic reversal
One idea proposed in these films involves a geomagnetic reversal (often incorrectly referred to as a polar shift by proponents of this hypothesis), which could be triggered by a massive solar flare, one with energy equal to 100 billion atomic bombs. This belief is supposedly supported by observations that the Earth's magnetic field is weakening, which indicates an impending reversal of the north and south magnetic poles. Scientists believe the Earth is overdue for a geomagnetic reversal, and has been for a long time, even since the time of the Mayans, because the last reversal was 780,000 years ago. Critics, however, claim geomagnetic reversals take up to 5,000 years to complete, and do not start on any particular date. Also, while NASA expects a particularly strong solar maximum sometime between 2010 and 2012, there is no scientific evidence linking a solar maximum to a geomagnetic reversal. A solar maximum would be mostly notable for its effects on satellite and cellular phone communications. Planet Nibiru
Proponents of a Nibiru collision claim that a planet called Nibiru will collide with or pass by Earth in that year. This idea, which has been circulating since 1995 in New Age circles and initially slated the event for 2003, is based on claims of channeling from alien species and has been widely ridiculed. Astronomers calculate that such an object so close to Earth would be visible to anyone looking up at the night sky.
Black hole alignment
An apocalyptic reading of Jenkins's hypothesis has that, when the galactic alignment occurs, it will somehow create a combined gravitational effect between the Sun and the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, (known as Sgr A*) creating havoc on Earth. Apart from the fact noted above that the "galactic alignment" predicted by Jenkins already happened in 1998, the Sun's apparent path through the zodiac as seen from Earth does not take it near the true galactic center, but rather several degrees above it. Even if this were not the case, Sgr A* is 30,000 light years from Earth, and would have to be more than 6 million times closer to cause any gravitational disruption to our Solar System.
Some versions of this idea elide the 2012 "galactic alignment" with the very different "galactic alignment" proposed by some scientists to explain a supposed periodicity in mass extinctions in the fossil record. The hypothesis supposes that vertical oscillations made by the Sun as it orbits the galactic center cause it to regularly pass through the galactic plane. When the Sun's orbit takes it outside the galactic disc, the influence of the galactic tide is weaker; as it re-enters the galactic disc, as it does every 20–25 million years, it comes under the influence of the far stronger "disc tides", which, according to mathematical models, increase the flux of Oort cloud comets into the Solar System by a factor of 4, leading to a massive increase in the likelihood of a devastating comet impact. However, this process takes place over tens of millions of years, and could never be assigned to a specific date. Many scientists now agree that this hypothesis is incorrect, as the Earth is currently close to the galactic plane, and the last extinction in the fossil record was only 15 million years ago. 2012 film
A movie called 2012, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring the actors John Cusack, Danny Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Amanda Peet, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt and Woody Harrelson is scheduled for release on November 13, 2009. A viral marketing campaign by Sony Pictures Digital Inc. for the film features a website from the fictitious "Institute for Human Continuity" describing the various doomsday scenarios me
Here a reasonable list of films to watch ... THANK YOU GALLAGHER
Labor Day weekend is coming up, and it's a holiday that marks the end of the summer movie season along with summer itself. All the kids are heading back to the classroom for another dreaded year of school and (for those in L.A. like myself) the weather starts to cool... hopefully. While fall usually isn't seen as a cinematic hotbed, with the blockbuster summer season over, there are still plenty of quality films to check out at the box office. This year we have Megan Fox's possessed body, a sensational animated film and a new zombie adventure. There's a lot more that I'm looking forward to this fall, so here is a comphrehensive look at what you can expect from this fall movie season.
Gamer - September 4th
Starring: Gerard Butler, Kyra Sedgwick, Michael C. Hall, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, John Leguizamo, Amber Valletta, Terry Crews, Logan Lerman, Johnny Whitworth, Zoe Bell Directed by: Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor
Gamer is a high-concept action thriller set in a near future when gaming and entertainment have evolved into a terrifying new hybrid. Humans control other humans in mass-scale, multi-player online games: people play people...for keeps. Mind-control technology is widespread, and at the heart of the controversial games is its creator, reclusive billionaire Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall). His latest brainchild, the first-person shooter game "Slayers," allows millions to act out their most savage fantasies online in front of a global audience, using real prisoners as avatars with whom they fight to the death.
Kable (300's Gerard Butler) is the superstar and cult hero of the ultraviolent "Slayers." Kable is controlled by Simon, a young gamer with rock star status who continues to defy all odds by guiding Kable to victory each week. Taken from his family, imprisoned and forced to fight against his will, the modern day gladiator must survive long enough to escape the game to free his family, regain his identity and to save mankind from Castle's ruthless technology.
Why You Should See It: High-octane filmmakers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor are bringing their unique flair for action to a story that has some actual societal context. We have a smashing rock-star cast here with Gerard Butler, Kyra Sedgwick, Michael C. Hall and even Ludacris! These games portrayed in the film could eerily become a reality, with the kind of technology prevalent today, and I'm curious to see how the balls-to-the-wall style of Neveldine/Taylor is infused with such a high-concept premise.
All About Steve - September 4th
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Thomas Haden Church, Bradley Cooper, Ken Jeong, DJ Qualls, Katy Mixon, Howard Hesseman Directed by: Phil Traill
The story centers on a brilliant crossword constructor (Bullock) who, after one short date, decides that a CNN cameraman (Church) is her true love. Because the cameraman's job takes him hither and yon, she crisscrosses the country, turning up at media events as she tries to convince him they are perfect for each other.
Why You Should See It: For the ladies, I should only need two words: Bradley Cooper. He sure is dreamy, ain't he? Anyway, for the dudes we get the awesomeness of Thomas Haden Church as a weathered TV reporter, Ken Jeong (isn't he in everything these days??) and Sandra Bullock looking good as ever as a quirky crossword puzzle creator. This should be a great fall date movie with something for the guys and gals alike... even though the gals will likely be drooling over Cooper the whole time.
Extract - September 4th
Starring: Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Clifton Collins Jr., Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Dustin Milligan, Beth Grant, J.K. Simmons, David Koechner Directed by: Mike Judge
Ben Affleck will play an ambulance-chasing lawyer in the film, which centers on a flower extract factory owner (Jason Bateman) who's dealing with workplace problems and a streak of bad luck, including his wife's affair with a gigolo. Clifton Collins Jr. is also joining the cast as a factory worker who loses a body part in a freak accident and is now due for a huge settlement. have already boarded the project.
Why You Should See It: This film marks Judge's return to the workplace comedy that Mike Judge practically invented with Office Space, but this film is the Office Space for blue-collar America. Having spent many years in a factory setting myself, Judge is absolutely spot-on with these characters and I know I've worked with versions of these characters throughout my factory days. It's a hilarious film (watch for my review soon) with an astounding cast (David Koechner gives Stephen Root's Milton a run for his money here as Bateman's super-annoying neighbor) and more than enough laughs throughout. This film is a wonderful way to spend a long holiday weekend.
9 - September 9th
Starring: the voices of Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer, John C. Reilly, Fred Tatasciore Directed by: Shane Acker
9 is a feature-length expansion of Shane Acker's short film of the same name. The action-packed tale takes place in a world parallel to our own, in which the very legacy of humanity is threatened. A community of fully mobile rag dolls living a post-apocalyptic existence find one of their own, 9 (Elijah Wood), displaying leadership qualities that may help them to survive. The conflicted but resilient community includes 1 (Christopher Plummer), a domineering war veteran; 2 (Martin Landau), an aged inventor; 5 (John C. Reilly), a stalwart mechanic; 6 (Crispin Glover), a visionary and artist; and 7 (Jennifer Connelly), a brave warrior.
Why You Should See It: I've already seen this film (watch for my review later this week), and I have to tell you, it's simply phenomenal. The film marks Shane Acker's feature directorial debut in an expanded version of his Oscar-nominated short film
and it's truly remarkable - both the short and the feature. While the talented voice cast brings these unique "stitchpunk" characters to life, the real star of this show is director Acker who, along with visionary producers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov, give us this lush visual world with stunning animation. In an animation world dominated by Pixar, this film manages to do something no other animated film has even come close to in the past decade: it out-Pixar's Pixar. Mark your calendars for 9/9/09, folks, and be ready to be blown away.
Whiteout - September 11th
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Gabriel Macht, Tom Skerritt, Columbus Short, Alex O'Loughlin Directed by: Dominic Sena
Carrie Stetko, the lone U.S. Marshal assigned to Antarctica, is investigating the continent's first murder, which draws her into a shocking mystery. Now, with only three days until winter, Carrie must solve the crime before Antarctica is plunged into darkness and she is stranded with the killer.
Why You Should See It: While it is fairly sad that the lovely Kate Beckinsale will be all bundled up in winter attire throughout the film, this sounds like a slick white-knuckle thriller set in Antarctica. I wonder if they filmed this in my home state of Minnesota... Anyway, we get a very diverse cast here and the return of director Dominic Sena, who hasn't made a film since 2001's Swordfish. It looks like it will be worth the wait, though, with this film.
Beyond a Reasonable Doubt - September 11th
Starring: Jesse Metcalfe, Amber Tamblyn, Michael Douglas, Orlando Jones, Joel David Moore Directed by: Peter Hyams
Fritz Lang's last American film is brought back to life thanks to writer/director Peter Hyams and stars Michael Douglas, Amber Tamblyn, and Jesse Metcalfe. Foresight Unlimited's remake follows a similar story of a novelist's investigation of a dirty district attorney that leads to a setup within the courtroom.
Why You Should See It: Of all the remakes being made now, perhaps none are more intriguing than this film, a remake of Fritz Lang's 1956 film because, well, we're so used to really new films being remade. We also get a nice blend of the old school and new school with this cast of Michael Douglas, Jesse Metcalfe and Amber Tamblyn. This fall seems rather light on legal drama's, so, with this cast in place, this could make a decent dent at the box office.
Sorority Row sees a group of sorority sisters try to cover up the death of their house-sister after a prank gone wrong, only to be stalked by a serial killer.
Why You Should See It: For me, the kicker is the poster. Damn. This remake of 1983's The House on Sorority Row looks to deliver the horror while delivering plenty of eye candy from this hottie-filled cast. Greek organizations should be lining up around the country to check out this latest sorority slaughter.
Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself - September 11th
Starring: Tyler Perry, Taraji P. Henson, Brian White, Hope Olaide Wilson, Adam Rodriguez, Kwesi Nii-Lante Boakye, Frederick Siglar Directed by: Tyler Perry
When Madea, America's favorite pistol-packing grandma, catches sixteen-year-old Jennifer and her two younger brothers looting her home, she decides to take matters into her own hands and delivers the young delinquents to the only relative they have: their aunt April. A heavy-drinking nightclub singer who lives off of Raymond, her married boyfriend, April wants nothing to do with the kids. But her attitude begins to change when Sandino, a handsome Mexican immigrant looking for work, moves into April's basement room. Making amends for his own troubled past, Sandino challenges April to open her heart. And April soon realizes she must make the biggest choice of her life: between her old ways with Raymond and the new possibilities of family, faith...and even true love.
Why You Should See It: I'm convinced that Tyler Perry is not of this world. Not only does he write, direct, produce, act and usually compose songs for all his films... he's been putting out two films per year, which is astonishing to me. This time around he has landed Taraji P. Henson, fresh off her wonderful Oscar-nominated performance in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It will be interesting to see how Henson fits in to the Perry fold here.
When a gorgeous cheerleader is possessed by a demon and starts feeding off the boys in a small Minnesota farming town, her "plain Jane" best friend must kill her, then escape from a correctional facility to go after the Satan-worshipping rock band responsible for the horrible transformation.
Why You Should See It: Even Megan Fox will tell you (and she already has) that her star-making turns in Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen aren't exactly "acting" pieces. Now she has her chance to show off her chops in Jennifer's Body, where she stars as a high school girl that becomes possessed by a demon and starts killing off the younger crowd. The big question here is simple: Can Megan Fox carry a movie by herself without Michael Bay and Shia LaBeouf at her side? I happen to think she can and it looks like she delivers a performance unlike what we've seen of her in the past. The real X-factor for me is the involvement of director Karyn Kusama, the female version of James Grey who puts out a film every five years... and has been hit or miss (See: Girlfight, Aeon Flux). If that pattern is to be followed, this could and should be a pretty good flick and I'm looking forward to seeing what Megan Fox can do here.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs - September 18th
Starring: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Tracy Morgan Directed by: Chris Miller
The timeless tale has been adapted from Ron and Judi Barrett's book, which illustrates a world where giant pancakes and pasta fall from the sky as a scientist tries to solve world hunger. However, things go terribly wrong when excess amounts of food overload cities and towns.
Why You Should See It: Apparently I had a deprived childhood because I'm seemingly one of the only people who had never heard of Ron and Judi Barrett's children's book. Still, there is a significant amount of buzz circling this animated flick and we have a stellar voice cast (James Caan and Bruce Campbell!) and a unique story about food falling from the sky. This film should bring out the kid in you this fall.
The Informant! - September 18
Starring: Matt Damon, Joel McHale, Scott Bakula, Mike O'Malley, Andrew Daly, Adam Paul, Melanie Lynskey, Tom Wilson, Rick Overton, Tom Papa, Candy Clark Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
What was Mark Whitacre thinking? A rising star at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Whitacre suddenly turns whistleblower. Even as he exposes his company's multi-national price-fixing conspiracy to the FBI, Whitacre envisions himself being hailed as a hero of the common man and handed a promotion. But before all that can happen, the FBI needs evidence, so Whitacre eagerly agrees to wear a wire and carry a hidden tape recorder in his briefcase, imagining himself as a kind of de facto secret agent. Unfortunately for the FBI, their lead witness hasn't been quite so forthcoming about helping himself to the corporate coffers. Whitacre's ever-changing account frustrates the agents and threatens the case against ADM as it becomes almost impossible to decipher what is real and what is the product of Whitacre's rambling imagination. The film is based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history.
Why You Should See It: Soderbergh hasn't had the best luck lately, with his last two films (The Girlfriend Experience and Che (Part 1)/ Che (Part 2)) both tanking at the box office, but this quirky little tale of a tattle-tale should get him back on the right track. This film, based off the true story of one of the biggest whistleblower cases ever, stars Matt Damon as the bizarre Mark Whitacre, who blows the whistle on his own company, Archer Daniels-Midland due to the delusions of grandeur he has about being the next James Bond. The Bourne Ultimatum scribe Scott Burns reunites with Damon here, adapting from Kurt Eichenwald's book, and this looks like a delightful tale of corporate high jinks.
The Burning Plain - September 18
Starring: Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger, Tessa Ia, Jennifer Lawrence, JD Pardo Directed by: Guillermo Arriaga
The Burning Plain weaves together two storylines taking place in the past and present. Basinger will play Gina, the mother of Charlize Theron's character as seen in childhood. Theron will play Sylvia, who tries to find common ground with her parents after a turbulent childhood. The two narratives eventually converge.
Why You Should See It: I've already seen this film as well, and it's quite an effective drama told through the visionary narrative style of Guillermo Arriaga. While you might not know that name, he's the man who has written the scripts for Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu's films Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel. Arriaga wrote this film and makes his directorial debut here with a stellar cast of those we know (Charlize Theron, Kim Basinger) and those we don't know (Jennifer Lawrence) and it's one of the more intriguing drama's I've seen this year.
Love Happens - September 18th
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart, Dan Fogler, Judy Greer, Martin Sheen, Joe Anderson, John Carroll Lynch Directed by: Brandon Camp
A romantic drama about a widower (Eckhart) whose book about coping with loss turns him into a best-selling self-help guru. On a business trip to Seattle, he falls for a woman (Aniston) who attends one of his seminars, only to learn that he hasn't yet truly confronted his wife's passing.
Why You Should See It: A romantic comedy set in Seattle? Well, I guess it's been awhile, hasn't it... We get a wonderfully diverse cast here with Jennifer Aniston, Aaron Eckhart, the hilarious Dan Fogler, Judy Greer (who needs to work more) and Martin Sheen. Brandon Camp co-writes and makes his directorial debut here, who wrote the underrated Dragonfly. Looks like I might have to get myself a date...
Capitalism: A Love Story - September 23rd
Starring: Michael Moore Directed by: Michael Moore
Capitalism: A Love Story" will explore the root causes of the global economic meltdown and take a comical look at the corporate and political shenanigans that culminated in what Moore described as "the biggest robbery in the history of this country" - the massive transfer of U.S. taxpayer money to private financial institutions. But as the political winds shifted in the months before the election -- and gusted after it - Moore subtly began reorienting his movie. Instead of foreign policy, the film's focus now is more on the global financial crisis and the U.S. economy. Capitalism: A Love Story will contain an end-of-the-empire tone, say those familiar with the project, and Moore no doubt hopes that this will give it a more general feel that will untether it from a specific political moment.
Why You Should See It: Controversial documentarian Michael Moore is back with probably his timliest film to date. This time around Moore is focusing on the economy, which I'm not sure how it translates into "a love story," but I'm guessing the masses will turn out in droves to find out. Moore's films and his tactics certainly do encourage debate - whether it be for or against his films - and that's all any good documentary should hope to accomplish anyway. We'll see what kinds of conversations arise from his latest in a few weeks.
Fame - September 25th
Starring: Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Thomas Dekker, Kristy Flores, Paul Iacono, Paul McGill, Naturi Naughton, Kay Panabaker, Kherington Payne, Collins Pennie, Walter Perez, Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, Asher Book Directed by: Kevin Tancharoen
Much like in the Oscar-winning original, directed by Alan Parker, the story will track the failures and fortunes of super-ambitious young performers and their teachers as they navigate a school year at the prestigious High School for the Performing Arts in New York.
Why You Should See It: I'm guessing the same crowd that turned out en masse for High School Musical 3: Senior Year last year will turn out for this new Fame reboot. We get a new crop of young actor/dancers plus veterans like Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, Bebe Neuwirth, Thomas Dekker, most of whom are no stranger to the stage themselves, which should lend itself nicely to this kind of musical. I'm not sure if it will "live forever," but this remake should give the original a run for its money.
Pandorum - September 25th
Starring: Dennis Quaid, Ben Foster, Antje Traue, Cung Le, Norman Reedus, Cam Gigandet Directed by: Christian Alvart
From the creators of the "Resident Evil" film franchise comes "Pandorum," a terrifying thriller in which two crew members wake up on an abandoned spacecraft with no idea who they are, how long they've been asleep, or what their mission is. The two soon discover they're actually not alone -- and the reality of their situation is more horrifying than they could have imagined.
Why You Should See It: I want to go simply to find out why that dude's arm has so many tubes in it... Seriously though, this could certainly be on of the fall's sleeper hits, as it's fairly under the radar at this time. However, the cast is wonderful, especially seeing Dennis Quaid appearing in a number of films you might not have expected to see him in, and, well Ben Foster is the MAN! We don't get a ton of details on the story here, so people might not be sure what to expect, but I have a funny little feeling about this scary little film.
Surrogates - September 25th
Starring: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, James Francis Ginty, Michael Cudlitz, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames Directed by: Jonathan Mostow
People are living their lives remotely from the safety of their own homes via robotic surrogates-sexy, physically perfect mechanical representations of themselves. It's an ideal world where crime, pain, fear and consequences don't exist. When the first murder in years jolts this utopia, FBI agent Greer (Bruce Willis) discovers a vast conspiracy behind the surrogate phenomenon and must abandon his own surrogate, risking his life to unravel the mystery.
Why You Should See It: I'm rather curious about this film, and my edit bay visit recently only piqued my curiosity even more. This isn't a film about robots gone bad, rather a society that lives through these robots, controlling these robotic versions of themselves in the real world from the "stim chairs" in the comfort of their own home. Director Jonathan Mostow reteams with his Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris, who have gone on to be two of the most highly sought-after writers in the biz. With all these elements in play, and a superb cast, this should round up some serious dough at the end of the month.
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell - September 25th
Starring: Matt Czuchry, Jesse Bradford, Geoff Stults, Keri Lynn Pratt, Denise Quinones Directed by: Bob Gosse
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, now No. 12 on the New York Times best-seller list after a three-year run, chronicles Max's alcohol-fueled true adventures. The film will follow his trip to a friend's bachelor party, where he ensnares the groom in a lie that threatens the wedding, then abandons him to pursue further carnal knowledge. After being banned from the nuptials, Max attempts to get back into his friend's good graces.
Why You Should See It: I'm curious to see how the response will be to this Tucker Max adaptation. While the book was enormously successful, a mainstay on college dude's bookshelves everywhere, it will be interesting to see how the book translates to a filmed form. The book's renegade author, Tucker Max, wrote the screenplay for the film, along with Nils Parker, and there really aren't a lot of "college" films around this year, so we'll have to see how high the demand is for this adaptation. After the book's phenomenal success though, I wouldn't be surprised if this takes in some decent coin.
Zombieland revolves around a mismatched pair of survivors who find friendship and redemption in a world overrun by zombies. Woody Harrelson plays one of the men, a zombie fighter named Albuquerque.
Why You Should See It: This movie already has a certain level of infamy after Woody Harrelson's unfortunate brush with a paparazzi photographer after just wrapping this film, but this looks to deliver in a big way. We have some inspired casting by the first-time director Fleischer with Harrelson along with the underappreciated Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin and workaholic Amber Heard. Eisenberg should get a really big bump from this film and it looks like quite an entertaining romp through the zombie genre, in the same vein as Shaun of the Dead, which was said to inspire Fleischer to make this movie. This is one of the films I'm most excited for this fall and it just looks like a ton of fun.
The Invention of Lying - October 2nd
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Garner, Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Louis C.K., John Hodgman, Tina Fey, Christopher Guest, Jeffrey Tambor, Nate Corddry, Patrick Stewart, Jason Bateman Directed by: Ricky Gervais, Matt Robinson
The Invention of Lying is set in a contemporary world where no one has ever lied. Gervais will play a performer who tells the first lie and harnesses its power for personal gain.
Why You Should See It: Leave it to comedic genius Ricky Gervais to make anyone who's ever had an idea for a movie look like a complete buffoon. Not only is this film incredibly unique and original - set in a modern, alternate time where no one has ever told a lie, and Gervais' character tells the first fib - but, dammit, this is an idea that is so brilliant and so incredibly simple that it's almost shocking this film didn't come out decades ago. Gervais is a triple-threat here, writing and directing (sharing both duties with Matt Robinson) and starring as well with an amazing cast of comedy heavyweights. Gervais' films haven't made a huge splash on this side of the pond yet, so hopefully this will give him the push he deserves.
A Serious Man - October 2nd
Starring: Michael Stuhlbarg, Fred Melamed, Richard Kind, Aaron Wolf, Sari Wagner, Jessica McManus, Adam Arkin Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
A Serious Man is the story of an ordinary man's search for clarity in a universe where Jefferson Airplane is on the radio and F-Troop is on TV. It is 1967, and Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor at a quiet Midwestern university, has just been informed by his wife Judith (Sari Lennick) that she is leaving him. She has fallen in love with one of his more pompous colleagues, Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed), who seems to her a more substantial person than the feckless Larry. Larry's unemployable brother Arthur (Richard Kind) is sleeping on the couch, his son Danny (Aaron Wolf) is a discipline problem and a shirker at Hebrew school, and his daughter Sarah (Jessica McManus) is filching money from his wallet in order to save up for a nose job. While his wife and Sy Ableman blithely make new domestic arrangements, and his brother becomes more and more of a burden, an anonymous hostile letter-writer is trying to sabotage Larry's chances for tenure at the university. Also, a graduate student seems to be trying to bribe him for a passing grade while at the same time threatening to sue him for defamation. Plus, the beautiful woman next door torments him by sunbathing nude. Struggling for equilibrium, Larry seeks advice from three different rabbis. Can anyone help him cope with his afflictions and become a righteous person - a mensch - a serious man?
Why You Should See It: You have to hand it to the Coen Brothers for continuing to cut across the filmmaking grain. This film seems to be a return to their roots, with the production taking place in their home state (and mine) of Minnesota, but employing some unconventional casting. The film stars the little-known Michael Stuhlbarg, best known for his Tony-nominated performances on Broadway, and comedic character actor Richard Kind as the two leads. It seems that the Coens, who made a star out of Frances McDormand in Fargo, could do the same for Stuhlbarg here and, with the lack of award-worthy buzz this year, this film could very well be Oscar fodder as well. I absolutely love the Coen Brothers' work, and it doesn't look like they will disappoint here either.
Whip It! - October 2nd
Starring: Drew Barrymore, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Zoe Bell, Ellen Page, Daniel Stern Directed by: Drew Barrymore
Harden plays an overbearing ex-beauty queen who would rather see her daughter, Bliss (Page), in pageants than skates. Wiig ("Saturday Night Live") plays Bliss' rowdy mentor, Malice in Wonderland. Lewis is Dinah Might, the star of Austin's top team. Bell plays a medical technician moonlighting as derby star Bloody Holly.
Why You Should See It: Drew Barrymore has joined the ranks of acting directors with her feature debut Whip It!, which looks like quite a promising debut. The film revolves around the crazy world of roller derby (the film is based off a book by Shanna Cross, a roller derby chick who also wrote the screenplay) and Ellen Page who discovers this phenomena and puts on some skates herself to "be her own hero." Drew also stars as one of the roller derby chicks and we get a rather stellar cast here with Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Zoe Bell and Daniel Stern. I have a bit of experience in this world, as I know a number of roller derby girls back home and these bouts are pretty damn fun to watch. Who wouldn't like to see chicks skating around in tiny skirts, beating the crap out of each other? Exactly. While this surely will tread into "chick flick" territory, it does seem like it could be a fun little flick.
Couples Retreat - October 9th
Starring: Kristen Bell, Kristin Davis, Malin Akerman, Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Jean Reno, Peter Serafinowicz, Kali Hawk, Tasha Smith Directed by: Peter Billingsley
The film is a comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. While one of the couples is there to work on the marriage, the others fail to realize that participation in the resort's therapy sessions is not optional.
Why You Should See It: There are a few interesting aspects about this film. One is the wonderfully diverse cast, two is Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn both wrote the film (along with Dana Fox) as well as starring in it, and three is the involvement of director Peter Billingsley, making his feature film directorial debut. If you think that name sounds familiar, you'd be right. Billingsley is best known for his classic portrayal of Ralphie Parker in the holiday classic A Christmas Story. Billingsley has been longtime friends of Favs and Vaughn (he produces some of their films as well) and it should be interesting to see how Billingsley handles his first feature with a bunch of his friends and the rest of this talented cast. The story sounds pretty slick to me - a four couples with failing marriages head to a resort for some unorthodox couples counseling - and this should do quite well at the box office, despite it being in a rather crowded weekend.
The Damned United - October 9th
Starring: Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Jim Broadbent, Stephen Graham, Peter McDonald Directed by: Tom Hooper
Set in 1960's and 1970's England, The Damned Unitedtells the confrontational and darkly humorous story of Brian Clough's doomed 44 day tenure as manager of the reigning champions of English football Leeds United.
Why You Should See It: Five words: Michael Sheen and Peter Morgan. This unique combo of actor and screenwriter has proven to be quite a combo to reckon with. Their last two films - The Queen and Frost/Nixon - were both nominated for the Best Picture Oscar and they even have another film in the works with The Special Relationship. This time Sheen and Morgan stray from the political world and venture into the sporting world with the bizarre tale of Leeds United coach Brian Clough (Sheen), who only lasted 44 days as the head coach of this popular British football (soccer to us Yanks) team. Morgan may just be the best screenwriter working in the biz and Sheen has almost been underrated in his turns as of late, despite his powerful performances. I can't wait to see their take on this unique soccer... er, football story.
Where the Wild Things Are - October 16th
Starring: Max Records, Catherine Keener, Benicio Del Toro, Forest Whitaker, Lauren Ambrose, Catherine O'Hara, Tom Noonan, Michael Berry, James Gandolfini Directed by: Spike Jonze
Maurice Sendak's classic book comes to the big screen in an adventure tale for every generation. Where the Wild Things Are follows the adventure of Max (Max Records), a mischievous young boy who is sent to his room after rebelling against his mother (Catherine Keener). Max's imagination is free to roam, and it soon transports him to a thriving forest bordering a vast sea. Delighted, he sets sail for the land of the Wild Things, where mischief reigns and Max rules. In bringing this imaginative fantasy to life, Jonze leads a team of filmmakers incorporating the most dynamic elements of voice performance, live-action puppetry and computer animation.
Why You Should See It: The interwebs have been flooded with excitement over this film ever since the first trailer debuted... well, probably a lot longer than that, actually. This certainly wasn't an easy road to the screen for this film, which started filming in 2005, with studio switches and release date shifts aplenty, but it will finally be here soon and it sure does look amazing. Director Spike Jonze is an absolutely perfect choice to helm this adaptation (he was actually hand-picked by the book's author, Maurice Sendak, himself to direct), and this certainly seems like his most accomplished work to date. There is such an overwhelming buzz circling this film that I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes one of the highest-grossing movies of the year... if the film lives up to all the hype.
New York, I Love You - October 16th
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Justin Bartha, Maggie Q, Orlando Bloom, James Caan, Hayden Christensen, Blake Lively, Julie Christie, Bradley Cooper, Chris Cooper, Drea de Matteo, Carla Gugino, Ethan Hawke, John Hurt, Irfan Khan, Shia LaBeouf, Cloris Leachman, Natalie Portman, Rachel Bilson, Christina Ricci, Olivia Thirlby, Goran Visnjic, Eli Wallach, Robin Wright Penn, Anton Yelchin, Burt Young Directed by: Jian Wen, Mira Nair, Shunji Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Shekhar Kapur, Natalie Portman, Faith Akin, Joshua Marston, Randy Balsmeyer
Following the successful feature film Paris, je t'aime that opened the 2006 'Un Certain Regard' section of the Cannes Film Festival and was distributed worldwide, we are thrilled to present 'New York, I Love You'. 12 filmmakers will direct a short film (5 minutes) illustrating the universal theme of encountering love within the five boroughs of New York City. Paris, je t'aime has proven to be a wonderfully creative experience for all the talents involved. Internationally acclaimed directors such as the Coen brothers, Alexander Payne, Gus Van Sant, Alfonso Cuaron, Wes Craven, Walter Salles, Tom Tykwer, and artists among which Elijah Wood, Juliette Binoche, Willem Dafoe, Natalie Portman, Nick Nolte, Gena Rowlands, Gérard Depardieu truly enjoyed this enjoyable and inspiring project. We now think Newyorkers need a little love before heading to China.
Why You Should See It: Emmanuel Benbihy and Tristan Carne, on the heels of their success with their previous anthology film, Paris, je t'aime, are taking this unique and creative film concept to the City That Never Sleeps with New York, I Love You. While the amazing cast will surely be a selling point, I'm most interested in a few of the actors working behind the camera, with Natalie Portman writing, directing and starring in her own segment and Scarlett Johansson writing her segment as well. She isn't listed in the cast, but since her segment is called "Scarlett Johansson" (most of the segments are named for the writers, directors or actors), I wouldn't be surprised to see her appear on screen either. They've created quite a little franchise here, and they even have another in the works with Shanghai, I Love You. It seems this might get a bigger push on this side of the pond, since it revolves around an American city, so it will be interesting to see how audiences respond to this unique anthology format.
The Stepfather - October 16th
Starring: Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward, Penn Badgley, Adrianne Palicki, Amber Heard, Paige Turco, Braeden LeMasters, Skyler Samuels, Jon Tenney Directed by: Nelson McCormick
Michael Harding (Penn Badgley) returns home from military school to find his mother (Sela Ward) happily in love and living with her new boyfriend, David (Dylan Walsh). As the two men get to know each other, Michael becomes more and more suspicious of the man who is always there with a helpful hand. Is he really the man of her dreams or could David be hiding a dark side?
Why You Should See It: Back in the day, when the remake was an occasional occurrence instead of an everyday reality, the rule of thumb seemed to be that the more obscure the original film was, the better the remake would be. If that pattern still holds true, I think it's safe to say that The Stepfather could be a rather successful remake. The cast is great here, particularly Dylan Walsh as the title character, who should have no trouble finding film work after Nip/Tuck ends its run, because he looks to give a stellar performance here. This film will be a great horror alternative to a long-running franchise that continues the week after this comes out, and doesn't seem to ever be ending anytime soon. Oh, and P.S., you Lost fans, don't expect a cameo from Terry O'Quinn (who was the title character in the 1987 original film), since we were told on my set visit that it didn't work out.
The Road - October 16
Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce, Kodi Smit-McPhee Directed by: John Hillcoat
A father transports his son to safety following a nuclear explosion and battles starving stragglers and marauding packs of cannibals in his way. Based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy.
Why You Should See It: There's been an odd trend developing lately with potential Oscar-fodder films being shuttered out of their Oscar-friendly release dates and into the next year. Last year it happened to The Soloist (a fine film but not really Oscar-worthy), when it was moved from last November to April 2009 and it just recently happened with Martin Scorcese's Shutter Island moving from an October release to February 2010. It also happened to The Road, but the move shows how confident the studio is in the film, as they delayed it 11 months, from last November to this current release date, which is still rather Oscar-friendly. We have a wonderful cast here with Viggo Mortensen, Robert Duvall, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce, who starred in director John Hillcoat's last film, The Proposition. The film is based off the Cormac McCarthy novel, and McCarthy is no stranger to the Oscar either, as 2007 Best Picture No Country for Old Men was adapted from McCarthy's book of the same name. Look for this film to be mentioned quite a bit during awards season.
Law Abiding Citizen - October 16th
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jamie Foxx, Viola Davis, Bruce McGill, Leslie Bibb, Colm Meaney, Regina Hall, Michael Irby Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Law Abiding Citizen follows a successful assistant D.A. (Butler) who finds himself at the center of a vigilante plot hatched by a traumatized victim of the legal system (Foxx). Foxx's character is devastated to learn that, because of a plea bargain, one of his wife and daughter's murderers will be set free. So he unleashes revenge on the killers and those who made the deal.
Why You Should See It: For a film with this big of a cast, I'm surprised there hasn't been much talk about this film quite yet. It's nice to see director F.Gary Gray back in the director's chair for the first time since 2005's Be Cool, which I quite enjoyed. It seems Gray switches off from comedy to action, and this one looks like quite the thriller. I'm curious, though, that since we just got the trailer for this film a few weeks ago, if this might be delayed, but this could be a great dose of escapist action in this drama-heavy month.
Astro Boy - October 23rd
Starring: the voices of Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Matt Lucas Directed by: David Bowers
Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist. Powered by positive "blue" energy, Astro Boy is endowed with super strength, x-ray vision, unbelievable speed and the ability to fly. Embarking on a journey in search of acceptance, Astro Boy learns the joys and emotions of being human, and gains the strength to embrace his destiny. Ultimately learning his friends and family are in danger, Astro Boy marshals his awesome super powers and returns to Metro City in a valiant effort to save everything he cares about and to understand what it takes to be a hero.
Why You Should See It: The fall season isn't short on animated films, but Astro Boy has been a highly-anticipated title for awhile now. I also find it ironic that the film is going head to head with the latest film in the gatekeeper franchise of this late-October weekend, Saw VI... and I bet this film will likely take the weekend. We get a great voice cast here and this animated adventure should likely bring families to theaters in a big way.
Saw VI - October 23rd
Starring: Costas Mandylor, Mark Rolston, Betsy Russell, Tobin Bell, Shawnee Smith, Peter Outerbridge Directed by: Kevin Greutert
Special Agent Strahm is dead, and Detective Hoffman has emerged as the unchallenged successor to Jigsaw's legacy. However, when the FBI draws closer to Hoffman, he is forced to set a game into motion, and Jigsaw's grand scheme is finally understood.
Why You Should See It: That horror juggernaut Jigsaw just won't stop. Longtime editor Kevin Greutert, who edited every film in the series up until now, takes over as director, and in this film we are apparently clued in on the entirety of Jigsaw's (Tobin Bell) "master plan." To be honest, I haven't seen Saw IV and Saw V, because I thought they capped off the series just fine with Saw III, but I have to admit I'm rather intrigued to what this "master plan" might entail, so I might have to catch up with the last two films on DVD before this one hits theaters.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant - October 23rd
Starring: John C. Reilly, Ken Watanabe, Chris Massoglia, Josh Hutcherson, Patrick Fugit, Ray Stevenson, Michael Cerveris, Frankie Faison, Jane Krakowski, Orlando Jones, Kristen Schaal, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe Directed by: Paul Weitz
Pulled into a fantastic life of misunderstood sideshow freaks and grotesque creatures of the night, one teen will vanish from the safety of a boring existence and fulfill his destiny in a place drawn from nightmares.
Why You Should See It: This one has been generating quite a big of buzz in the horror community, and I can totally see why. For a horror film, it's rather odd to see a cast full of Oscar nominees (John C. Reilly, Ken Wantanabe, Salma Hayek, Willem Dafoe) and the drama-centric Paul Weitz taking a stab at genre filmmaking here. It's also worth nothing that Brian Helgeland, a true master of adaptations, is adapting from Darren Shan's book series. When it comes to adaptations, there are few (if any) that are better than Helgeland and I think this should make a lot of noise this weekend, even with Jigsaw as his theatrical companion. This could really relate to many outside the genre as well, and give horror fans an alternative to Jigsaw and Co.
Amelia - October 23
Starring: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Mia Wasikowska Directed by: Mira Nair
Hilary Swank plays Earhart, a noted American aviation pioneer, author and women's rights advocate who disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean near Howland Island during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937.
Why You Should See It: Hillary Swank has one hell of a system down. Every 5 years she emerges with a Best Actress Oscar, first in 1999 for Boys Don't Cry, then again in 2004 with Million Dollar Baby and in 2009 it seems she's set to do it again with the biopic Amelia, where she stars as legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart. It's interesting to see the return of screenwriter Ron Bass, who was a juggernaut in the 80s and 90s and one of the masters of novel adaptations, but hasn't had anything too significant since the turn of the century. Swank's supporting cast looks wonderful as well, not to mention getting a sneak peek at the acting chops of Mia Wasikowska, who will star in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland next year as Alice. If this film is as good as I think it is, Swank might enter some very elite company with a third Best Actress Oscar in just 15 years.
Michael Jackson: This Is It - October 28th
Starring: Michael Jackson Directed by: Kenny Ortega
Beginning October 28th, the world will have a front-row seat for Michael Jackson's final concert, as Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Music Entertainment release Michael Jackson: This Is It.
Why You Should See It: I live in Hollywood and I saw first-hand how many people were affected by the tragic death of Michael Jackson. The throngs of fans was an incredible sight to behold, even though I'd have to walk on the other side of Hollywood Boulevard for a few weeks. This film is a fairly new endeavor as it was just announced a few weeks ago, and I'm not sure how much of a dent this will make at the box office, since it wasn't really clear how wide this would be released, but tickets will be going on sale a full month before this limited two-week theatrical engagement. Kenny Ortega is best known as the director of the lucrative High School Musical franchise, but he was a trusted confidant of Jackson's for the past 20 years, so it will be interesting to see his insight into directing this film. It will also be interesting to see how high the demand for this is after tickets go on sale, and I wouldn't be surprised if they extended this limited engagement. Regardless of how it does, this will be the definitive last look at the final performances of one of the biggest musical influences in music history.
Disney's a Christmas Carol - November 6th
Starring: Jim Carrey, Cary Elwes, Bob Hoskins, Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, Robin Wright Penn, Tom Hanks, Michael J. Fox
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Disney's a Christmas Carol a multi-sensory thrill ride re-envisioned by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, captures the fantastical essence of the classic Dickens tale in a groundbreaking 3-D motion picture event. Ebenezer Scrooge (Jim Carrey) begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk (Gary Oldman) and his cheery nephew (Colin Firth). But when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey revealing truths Old Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will before it's too late.
Why You Should See It: Well, Jim Carrey has already pulled successfully pulled off one Christmas villain, why not one more? Carrey stars as Ebenezer Scrooge in Robert Zemeckis' new 3-D/motion-capture film that is said to be rather innovative. It should be rather interesting to see this classic holiday story told through such cutting-edge technology and this holiday event should pack in the theaters, especially with nothing else that weekend likely to get a wide release, or at least as wide as this film will get. Zemeckis has outdone himself on the casting, with Carrey alongside top-notch actors like Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins (that guy rocks) and even his old buddy Tom Hanks and Michael J. Fox. Look for this to take in some serious bank over the holiday season.
The Box - November 6th
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella, James Marsden Directed by: Richard Kelly
What if someone gave you a box containing a button that, if pushed, would bring you a million dollars...but simultaneously take the life of someone you don't know? Would you do it? And what would be the consequences? The year is 1976. Norma Lewis is a teacher at a private high school and her husband, Arthur, is an engineer working at NASA. They are, by all accounts, an average couple living a normal life in the suburbs with their young son...until a mysterious man with a horribly disfigured face appears on their doorstep and presents Norma with a life-altering proposition: the box. With only 24 hours to make their choice, Norma and Arthur face an impossible moral dilemma. What they don't realize is that no matter what they decide, terrifying consequences will have already been set in motion. They soon discover that the ramifications of this decision are beyond their control and extend far beyond their own fortune and fate.
Why You Should See It: Is anybody else a little puzzled by Cameron Diaz starring here? It's not that I don't like Cameron Diaz, but the lead role in a Richard Kelly film just seems a bit out of her wheelhouse. I'm psyched that we get Frank Langella and James Marsden here, and Kelly's film should continue his rich legacy of dark cinematic confusion, and, for that, I'm rather pumped to see what Kelly has up those proverbial sleeves. And, about Diaz again, maybe she took this role to prove this sort of thing IS in her wheelhouse. For whatever reason, I'm definitely looking forward to seeing another dark and twisted Richard Kelly tale on the silver screen.
The Men Who Stare at Goats - November 6th
Starring: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Rebecca Mader, Terry Serpico Directed by: Grant Heslov
The film, based on true events described in Jon Ronson's 2004 book of the same title, "The Men Who Stare at Goats," involves a down-on-his-luck reporter (McGregor) who gets more than he bargains for when he meets a special forces agent (Clooney) who reveals the existence of a secret, psychic military unit whose goal is to use paranormal powers to end war as we know it.
Why You Should See It: This could be one of the year's biggest sleeper hits, despite its bizarre title. For one, we have a fantastic cast here and the film marks the directorial debut of Grant Heslov, Clooney's partner in Smokehouse Films and co-writer on Good Night, And Good Luck. This looks like one crazy tale, revolving around a shadowy government organization that is trying to use paranormal powers to put an end to all war. I'm really interesting to see what Heslov's directing style is like, and I just have a very good feeling about this film. I doubt it will do massive business, but it could be a dark-horse Oscar contender.
2012 - November 13th
Starring: John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Danny Glover, Thandie Newton, Oliver Platt, Thomas McCarthy, Woody Harrelson, Chin Han Directed by: Roland Emmerich
2012 revolves a family who goes on vacation in December 2012, just as the Mayan calendar is coming to a close. Over the decades, many have prophesized that the world will end when the ancient calendar ceases on Dec. 21, 2012.
Why You Should See It: I don't know if director Roland Emmerich is telling us not to make any sudden plans in December of 2012, but if it turns out like this when the Mayan calendar ends... that certainly wouldn't be good. Emmerich, who seems right at home with this film that, judging from the posters, will give us quite the visual spectacle of the apocalypse, with Mother Nature closing up this shop we call Earth by laying waste to the place. We have a stellar cast here with John Cusack and Amanda Peet starring as a husband and wife who go on vacation with their children, when all these cataclysmic events go down. I have to wonder if this might be Emmerich's stab at a Vacation film... Either way, get ready for some big CGI action on an epic scale with Emmerich's latest film.
The Fantastic Mr. Fox - November 25th
Starring: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky, Eric Anderson, Michael Gambon, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Jarvis Cocker Directed by: Wes Anderson
The Fantastic Mr. Fox is visionary director Wes Anderson's first animated film, utilizing classic handmade stop motion techniques to tell the story of the best selling children's book by Roald Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach). Mr. and Mrs. Fox (Clooney and Streep) live an idyllic home life with their son Ash (Schwartzman) and visiting young nephew Kristopherson (Eric Anderson). But after 12 years, the bucolic existence proves too much for Mr Fox's wild animal instincts. Soon he slips back into his old ways as a sneaky chicken thief and in doing so, endangers not only his beloved family, but the whole animal community. Trapped underground and with not enough food to go around, the animals band together to fight against the evil Farmers - Boggis, Bunce and Bean - who are determined to capture the audacious, fantastic Mr Fox at any cost.
Why You Should See It: Every now and then, you have to mix it up a little bit. After a decade of memorably quirky character-driven films like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson is directing not only his first adaptation, but his first animated film with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, an animated take on Roald Dahl's classic children's novel. We get a smashing voice cast here and it looks like Anderson took quite nicely to the world of animation, and with the push this is getting, it will no doubt be Anderson's highest grossing film to date, which should ensure he can make those delightful character-driven films for many more years to come.
Well, that's about all for my Fall Movie Preview, folks. I hope you enjoyed our big fat comprehensive look at all the notable fall films this year. Take care folks and happy fall movie-going! Peace in. Gallagher out!