Muppets, penguins, vampires lead fall film lineup

By David Germain

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 15 2011 12:12 p.m. MDT

In this image released by Summit Entertainment, Kristen Stewart, left, and Robert Pattinson are shown in a scene from "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1."

Summit Entertainment, Andrew Cooper, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Brad Pitt reinvents baseball, while Kristen Stewart acquires a taste for blood. George Clooney runs for president, while Meryl Streep impersonates Margaret Thatcher. Leonardo DiCaprio puts America under surveillance, while Robert Downey Jr. faces a criminal mastermind.

Variety abounds in Hollywood's fall and holiday seasons as studios pack the schedule with Oscar hopefuls, action flicks, comedy and music-themed tales, as well as a family lineup that brings the return of the Muppets, dancing penguins, Alvin and the Chipmunks, and Puss in Boots.

Downey's back in "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" as the great detective and his ally Watson (Jude Law) meet archenemy Professor Moriarty. Clooney directs and stars as a White House aspirant in "The Ides of March," with Ryan Gosling as an aide who stumbles onto disturbing campaign secrets. Stewart reunites with vampire lover Robert Pattinson and werewolf pal Taylor Lautner in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1," the next-to-last chapter in their supernatural saga.

Split into two movies, the final book in Stephenie Meyer's series holds major life changes for Stewart's Bella, which we won't divulge here for sake of the handful of fans who haven't read it. For those who have, director Bill Condon says the cliffhanger that concludes part one is a no-brainer.

"The clue lies in the book," Condon said. "I would say that if you know the book well, I think you'll have a good sense of where the first movie will end."

The season also brings two films directed by Steven Spielberg, the globe-trotting story "The Adventures of Tintin" and the World War I saga "War Horse"; Martin Scorsese's 3-D family film "Hugo," about an orphan boy who lives in the walls of a Paris train station; "Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol," with Tom Cruise's elite team going rogue after an attack on the Kremlin; the comedy "Jack and Jill," with Adam Sandler in dual roles as a family guy and his pesky sister; and "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," an adaptation of the Swedish best-seller starring Daniel Craig as a journalist aided on an investigation by a deeply troubled computer genius (Rooney Mara).

Real people provide intriguing stories as Streep seeks to add to her record 16 Oscar acting nominations, playing the British prime minister in "The Iron Lady"; Pitt takes over the Oakland A's front office as pioneering baseball strategist Billy Beane in "Moneyball"; and DiCaprio takes on the sweeping life of FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover in "J. Edgar," directed by Clint Eastwood.

The film spans decades, covering the bureau's successes taking down gangsters in the 1930s, Hoover's paranoia about communists and civil-rights leaders, and questions about his sexual preferences.

"He was surrounded in mystery. I'd always heard a lot about rumors of his sexuality, the cross-dressing, but more than that, the man had absolute power when it came to forming the bureau of investigation and its influence over the government," DiCaprio said. "He was pretty much a historical figure that wasn't to be messed with."

In "Moneyball," Pitt's Beane takes over the A's and builds one of baseball's most cost-effective teams through "sabermetrics," a statistical analysis that broke with conventional Major League scouting by identifying undervalued players.

"It's tough, tough material in a sense of how do you make a dramatic film out of sabermetrics? But there is a story of going up against a system," Pitt said. "If we hadn't been doing it this way for so long, is this the way we'd begin if we were starting today? Like our use of oil. You could ask the same question if the automobile was being invented today. Would we really be going oil?"

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