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Fall films offer break from study doldrums


The two most lucrative periods for the movie industry happen, of course, during summer and the holiday season.

But there is a whole batch of movies released in the three-month span between those dates. Coincidentally, those films also surface during the first few months of the new school year.

Here is a weekly list of cinematic highlights to distract collegians from their studies:


“The Invasion”


“The X-Files” meets “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” in this tale of a puzzling pandemic infecting the world. A Washington, D.C., psychiatrist (Nicole Kidman) discovers that its origins are extraterrestrial, and must help find a cure before it claims the life of her son.

AUG. 24

“Last Legion”

Former storyboard artist Doug Lefler helms his first picture, which centers on a 12-year-old Roman emperor whose rule lasts but a day before the empire collapses. After escaping imprisonment on the isle of Capri, he travels to Britannia to find the fabled last legion who will help him make a final stand for Rome.

AUG. 31



Former White Zombie frontman Rob Zombie (whose band was named after the 1932 Bela Lugosi flick) resurrects one of the masterpieces of the genre, promising to amp up the humor and graphic violence. Scout Taylor-Compton takes over Jamie Lee Curtis’ uber-victim role, while Malcolm McDowell fills in for the late Donald Pleasance as the psychiatrist who knows what the “eyes of evil” look like.


“Shoot ‘Em Up”

“It’s a better investment than a crib” trumpets this action movie’s tagline. A loner named Mr. Smith (Clive Owen) joins with a fetish specialist prostitute (Monica Belluci) to protect a newborn baby from a contingent of gunmen led by Paul Giamatti.

SEPT. 14

“The Brave One”

A radio host (Jodie Foster) is almost fatally wounded during a vicious attack. She then goes on a “Death Wish”-style mission of revenge, lashing out at whatever thug gets in her way – but possibly losing her morality in the process.

SEPT. 21

“Good Luck Chuck”

Comedian Dane Cook again plays to his fraternity following as a man charmed/cursed with an unusual power: Any woman who sleeps with him will immediately get married to the next guy she dates. When Chuck finds his own true love (played by Jessica Alba), he must find a way to avert intimacy or she’ll leave him for Mr. Right.

SEPT. 28

“The Kingdom”

An FBI agent (Jamie Foxx) and his elite team are sent to a remote Middle Eastern kingdom to locate those behind a bombing of American workers in this prestige picture from “Friday Night Lights” director Peter Berg.

OCT. 5

“The Heartbreak Kid”

The Farrelly Brothers reteam with “There’s Something About Mary” star Ben Stiller to bring a fresh spin to the beloved 1972 comedy about a newlywed who meets the girl of his dreams (Michelle Monaghan) on his honeymoon.

OCT. 12

“The Golden Age”

Nearly 10 years after “Elizabeth” introduced the world to Cate Blanchett, she again partners with director Shekhar Kapur to check in on the 16th-century queen as she thwarts conspirators and canoodles with Sir Walter Raleigh (Clive Owen).

OCT. 19

“30 Days of Night”

While a “Tales from the Crypt” episode once explored this idea, it’s the first time a feature-length vampire flick has been set in Alaska to capitalize on the sun never setting. A husband and wife cop team (Josh Hartnett and Melissa George) take up the challenge to save their town of Barrow, Ala.

OCT. 26

“Martian Child”

Does the title telegraph the ending in this romantic drama? John Cusack stars as a widowed sci-fi writer who adopts a 6-year-old boy (Bobby Coleman) who believes himself to be from Mars.

NOV. 2

“American Gangster”

In this true-life tale, Denzel Washington portrays a 1970s drug kingpin who smuggles heroin into Harlem in the caskets of soldiers returning from the Vietnam War. Russell Crowe is the detective who brings the criminal down, then recruits him as an informant.

NOV. 9

“Fred Claus”

Vince Vaughn reunites with his “Wedding Crashers” director David Dobkin to spin this “Elf” meets “Bad Santa” comedy. Paul Giamatti stars as Santa, who must contend with his bitter little brother, Fred (Vaughn), after he relocates to the North Pole.