This weekend we’ll be treated to a blessed break from the heavy-duty Oscar-hopeful onslaught of late. If, like us, you have barely been able to breathe under the weight of recent movies (see Reservation Road, Rendition, Things We Lost in the Fire—ouch! It hurts!), Halloween torture flicks might actually feel like relief. The folks at Lions Gate are hoping that Saw IV (we know, we know … do you need to go back and watch Saw I, II, and III before seeing this one? We’re guessing not!), a series of disturbing prolific-ness, will have the kind of box office that Alaskan vampire flick, 30 Days of Night, had last weekend. Saw IV can’t boast the same amount of star wattage (no hottie Hartnett in this one!), but when aren’t people in the mood for random orifice blood-spurting? Seriously.
Meanwhile, a feel-good movie opens (with suspiciously very little fanfare): Dan in Real Life. On paper this widower-with-three-daughters-falls-in-love-with-brother’s-girlfriend plot seems kinda snoozy, but it’s from writer-director Peter Hedges, who penned Pieces of April (a.k.a., the best Katie Holmes movie ever), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and About a Boy, which means we know he can take a maudlin family drama and actually do something with it. Plus, it stars Steve Carell, one of those sincerely funny people (and shockingly non-Canadian) who makes every-thing kinda goofy. We wish we could say the same of Dane Cook, who plays the rival brother, but the rest of the supporting cast is excellent, including Dianne Wiest, John Mahoney, Emily Blunt, Alison Pill and Juliette Binoche, who it will be nice to see in a lighthearted role.
Also this weekend: Rails & Ties, the directorial debut from Clint Eastwood spawn Alison Eastwood. Judging from the trailer, it looks like Kevin Bacon runs some kid’s mom over with a train. Really? And is it believable casting to have Marcia Gay Harden playing la Bacon’s wife? Where the heck is Lori Singer when we need her? Other notables this week includes Music Within, which stars the universally loved Ron Livingston in what appears to be his very own Born on the Fourth of July: the—real! life!—story of Richard Pimentel, who came back from Vietnam deaf, but changes his life to take up the cause of Americans struggling with disabilities. No more Post-Its or TPS reports for that guy!