BIG RELEASE: Prisoners (Sept. 20)
BIG PICTURE: When I first heard the title of this movie, I thought it was a biopic about the MTV Video Music Awards' crowd, tragically trapped in their seats during Miley Cyrus's twerking routine. No one needs to see that again (except for, apparently, millions of people on YouTube). Prisoners is actually a thriller that has a lot going for it. Toronto and Venice film festival darling? Check. Disturbing themes (child kidnapping and torture)? Check. Oscar pedigree (Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Melissa Leo, Viola Davis, Paul Dano)? Check. Jackman is the film's focal point as Keller, the increasingly unstable father of one of two missing six-year-olds. When police are forced to release a suspect due to lack of evidence, Keller takes matters into his own hands -- kidnapping the alleged perpetrator to get answers by any means. Then the game of moral ambiguity begins. Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) may give you chills as a potentially disturbed young man, but Jackman's dark daddy will leave you truly haunted.
FORECAST: Canadian director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) could find himself at awards podiums early next year. Prisoners is one of the first must-sees of the fall season -- but highly improbable. After all, what kind of idiot would ever steal Wolverine's daughter?
BIG EVENT: Sleepy Hollow (Fox, Global, Sept. 16, 9 p.m.)
BIG PICTURE: It's Back to the Future meets National Treasure meets the Headless Horseman. This series reimagines Ichabod Crane as a Civil War veteran who beheads a mysterious, masked figure on the battlefield -- only to be inexplicably transported to the 21st century American town of Sleepy Hollow. Dear Ichabod soon finds himself locked in an apocalyptic battle with the demonic Horseman, who I presume must thoroughly enjoy modern murder and mayhem. Think about how much easier it is to sneak up on someone on a galloping horse -- and cut off their head -- when 90 per cent of the population is chronically listening to their smartphones while texting? Plus, this Horseman quickly learns how to use semi-automatic weapons. Seriously.
FORECAST: This is network television's answer to HBO's untimely departed Carnivale, which was also about mysterious forces battling for the fate of humanity. Ichabod creating his otherworldly nemesis (on the secret order of George Washington no less) and the time travel elements offer a fresh twist on the classic Sleepy Hollow tale. Apparently, the headless Horseman has a much bigger agenda than haunting a small town. He is one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The secret to stopping the Horseman -- and preventing the end of days -- may be found in Washington's Bible. First Abraham Lincoln was a vampire hunter, and now we find out Washington was battling the forces of Armageddon? What's next? I hope we find out President Obama is secretly solving crimes in a van with a team of weed-smoking teenagers and their mischievous dog. (Wouldn't blame him. Way more fun than his current day job.)
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox, Citytv, Sep. 17, 8:30 p.m.), Dads (Fox, Citytv, Sept. 17, 8 p.m.) The pilot for police sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine has bullet-sized holes in the comedy department. Saddled with a mediocre script, Andy Samberg's take on a juvenile cop is almost enough to make you forget the brilliance of his SNL Digital Shorts. Andre Braughner's (House, Last Resort) presence as Samberg's hardnosed captain is reason enough for a return visit to Brooklyn -- plus the fact new series often find themselves in their second act. Meanwhile, in Dads, Seth MacFarlane's first attempt at a live-action sitcom has faced charges of politically incorrect humour. Really!? Shocking. If you like Family Guy and the movie Ted, you'll like this sitcom. It stars Seth Green and Giovanni Ribisi as two childhood friends who receive unlikely new roommates: their degenerate fathers. If you wish the Headless Horseman had made a.
BIG RELEASES ON SEPT. 17: Elvis Costello & The Roots (Wise Up Ghost)
BIG PICTURE: It's the musical equivalent of brunch -- the best of two delicious musical meals in one. Elvis Costello and The Roots team up for a brilliant new album -- the result of a year's worth of experimental jam sessions on the set of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, where The Roots are the house band. Couple this with news David Bowie has guest vocals on a new Arcade Fire song, and one can only hope this marks the beginning of other unlikely musical collaborations: Frank Black and Weezer, Tom Waits and Mumford & Sons, Snoop Dogg and Coldplay, Bob Dylan and the Backstreet Boys. Miley Cyrus and the Rolling Stones (if only to see the outrage sparked by Cyrus twerking Mick Jagger).
FORECAST: This collaboration -- a literary rocker and the world's best live hip-hop band -- has resulted in the best album for either Costello or The Roots in a long time. Wise up and give it a listen.
HONOURABLE MENTION: The Sadies (Internal Sounds); Islands (Ski Mask). Two of Canada's finer groups have new albums. The first are alt-country elder statesmen. The second are indie pop rockers led by talented songwriter Nicholas Thorburn (thankfully, his lyrics are far better than the album title might suggest).
DISHONOURABLE MENTION: Yoko Ono (Take Me To The Land of Hell). Speaking of album titles, isn't it ironic Ono's album title is exactly the fate many Beatles fans once wished upon her?