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Faces to watch

Beirut ‘The Flying Club Cup’
Oct. 9

“The Flying Club Cup” is the second full-length from Beirut, which is essentially the brainchild of Zach Condon, and expect it to be the indie hit of the fall. Each song unfolds with its own mini-orchestra, where brass instruments intertwine with a gorgeously subtle accordion, and Condon’s vocals parade somewhere between wavering and elegant. It may not win over classical music purists, but like the best of the Decemberists, Beirut is rock ’n’ roll that’s fit for the chamber hall. Todd Martens (
Office ‘A Night at the Ritz’
Sept. 25

After toiling in near obscurity for the past few years, Chicago-based quintet Office has found a proper home on New Line-linked Scratchie Records to release the dance-pop delight that is “A Night at the Ritz.” The act’s keyboard-laced power-pop has a cosmopolitan vibe and a peppy groove, and the band’s moniker often works its way into its subject matter. Check the vibrant “Company Calls” in which the narrator plays second fiddle to his lover’s job. T.M. (
Rogue Wave
Rogue Wave ‘Asleep at Heaven’s Gate’
Sept. 18

After recording one album from indie Sub Pop, these Bay Area-bred indie-rockers linked with Jack Johnson’s Universal-distributed Brushfire Records. The jump has created larger expectations for the band, and they seemed to have responded by creating an adventurously atmospheric and low-key affair. There’s plenty of tension in the band’s sharp guitars and spacey keyboards, and time will tell if they become this fall’s Death Cab for Cutie. T.M. (
Omar Metwally ‘Rendition’
Oct. 19

Omar Metwally auditioned for his role in the CIA thriller by taping himself doing the script in his Brooklyn apartment. “I sent the tape, and that’s apparently what got me the job.”

As Anwar, an Egyptian-born chemical engineer who lives in Chicago with his pregnant American wife (Reese Witherspoon), their young son and his mother, Metwally gives a heartbreaking performance. On his way home from a business trip, Anwar is arrested at the airport because the CIA believes he is a terrorist involved in a recent bombing in North Africa. After denying any connection, Anwar undergoes a series of torture sessions.

An actor of Egyptian and Dutch heritage, Metwally was rarely ever cast as an Arab character, but that all changed with Sept. 11. “Since then, the number of [Arab] roles has increased,” he says.

But Metwally, who has appeared in such films as Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” doesn’t mind playing Arabs as long as they are not stereotypes. “It always comes down to the character,” he says. “Is the character interesting and can I bring life to it?”

He’ll soon appear in James Ivory’s “City of Your Final Destination,” in which he plays an American of Iranian heritage. Susan King (Ken Hively / LAT)
Alexa Davalos ‘Feast of Love’ Sep. 28

Alexa Davalos hails from sturdy thespian stock. Her grandfather, Richard Davalos, played James Dean’s brother in 1955’s “East of Eden.” And mother Elyssa Davalos is a veteran of TV, theater and films.

Davalos says she couldn’t resist joining the family profession, even though that may not have been her family’s desire. “I kept it very quiet until it was actually happening,” says the 25-year-old actress, who stars as the free-spirited Chloe in Robert Benton’s romantic drama.

The role is her highest profile yet and also marks her first nude scene. “There is a stigma about it and fears -- am I going to be protected?”

She and Benton talked about it during the audition process “and just speaking with him put my mind at ease, enough to say, ‘If I am going to do this, he is the right person.’ ”

Since completing “Feast of Love,” Davalos has made “The Mist,” a Stephen King chiller directed by Frank Darabont (“The Green Mile”), due out this year. And she’s now in Lithuania filming the World War II drama “Defiance,” starring Daniel Craig and directed by Edward Zwick. S.K. (Gina Ferazzi / LAT)
Chris Messina ‘Ira and Abby’
Sep. 14

Chris Messina first caught a taste of recognition as Ted on HBO’s dearly departed series “Six Feet Under.” In the show’s last six episodes, his Republican lawyer character proved a surprisingly good match for Claire Fisher (Lauren Ambrose). “I remember walking outside my door, and the UPS guy was like ‘Hey, Ted!’.” said Messina, relaxing on the patio of a West Hollywood cafe. “It was cool. Then it got odd. I’d walk down Larchmont and I’d be fixing my hair more. Then it went away. It was in the span of a week.”

He may need to check his hair again. In the romantic comedy “Ira and Abby,” due out Friday, Sept. 14, Messina stars opposite writer-star Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”). He also has roles of various sizes in the upcoming releases “Brief Conversations With Hideous Men,” an as-yet untitled Alan Ball film, and the HBO pilot “Anatomy of Hope,” a drama about cancer patients and their doctors from creator J.J. Abrams (“Lost”). Another feature, “Humboldt County,” is about to make the festival rounds. Then there’s that ultimate sign of arrival for an actor, a role in the next Untitled Woody Allen Film.

Just back from shooting Allen’s film in Barcelona, Spain, Messina reflected on the past year. No matter how all of the movies are received, or whether the pilot gets picked up, he said, “nobody can take those experiences away from me. It’s corny, but that’s the biggest lesson, to enjoy it while it’s happening — and then try to get better on the next one.” Lisa Rosen (Myung J. Chun, Los Angeles Times)