The fall schedule looks grim from my vantage point. The Fountain is reportedly a flop. Little Children is apparently not the masterpiece some were hoping for. There's still an Anthony Minghella film to look forward to, although this one has a greatly diminished budget, as punishment for Cold Mountain. If Scorsese's The Departed is a great film, it will be no thanks to the trailer, which seems to have no idea what the movie is about. That's usually a bad sign. And of course, we all have to sit through the do-over of Capote. Still, there are a handful of films I'm genuinely excited about. These three are on my shortlist:
Fur -- Director Steven Shainberg has gone on record saying that not only is Fur not a biography of Diane Arbus, it's not even really focused on her photography. So for Arbus devotees like me, this will probably go down either as some maniac work of genius or an Earth-melting catastrophe of the highest order. With that in mind, I wish I hadn't seen Shainberg's first major film, Secretary, because I found it plodding and visually uninteresting. He seems like a bad choice for a movie about an amazing photographer -- was David Fincher unavailable? In spite of all this, however, my hopes remain higher than my expectations on this one. Nicole Kidman is always on point with her acting, and I can at least be thankful the project was wrestled out of the hands of Mark Romanek.
Casino Royale -- They had some nerve getting rid of Pierce Brosnan -- over $100 million domestic, every film -- and there's a good chance Bond will now fall off the public's radar completely, particularly because Daniel Craig is such an oddball replacement. (I bet they'll wish they had gone with my choice, Dougray Scott.) Even more bizarre is allowing Judi Dench to play M alongside a different, younger Bond. In fact, why film Casino Royale at all? How about Icebreaker? Much better book. I can't explain why I'm so fascinated to see this potential trainwreck, but I know one thing: If Casino Royale makes less than $70 million, Sony will put Barbara Broccoli and her 60-page Bond "character bible" in the ejector seat of the Aston Martin DB5.