With a couple days of school under our collective belt thus far, there are already those trying to figure out how to divert themselves from schoolwork and find effective ways to procrastinate. I say to you, look no further: It’s movie time! Yes, now that the season of giant robots and various other toy-based franchise-starters is behind us, it’s time for movie theaters to start getting serious; but that doesn’t mean there still isn’t crap to sift through. Here are the cant miss films of fall ’09.
“Where the Wild Things Are”
There’s hype, and then there’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” The return of wunderkind director Spike Jonze, compounded with the adaptation of a beloved children’s book, a feud with studio Warner Bros. over the film’s tone and content and arguably the best trailer of the year, has resulted in one of the most anticipated releases in recent memory. Throughout his career, Jonze has made his name synonymous with quality, and with an estimated $80 million budget, expect indie quirk on an unprecedented scale.
Danish auteur and Dogme 95 founder Lars von Trier’s newest film looks like it will have no trouble claiming the “creepiest fucking movie of the year” award. Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg (who picked up Best Actress at Cannes earlier this year) play characters referred to as He and She, respectively, a couple that retreats to a cabin in the woods in an attempt to salvage their marriage. It’s safe to assume that von Trier doesn’t make things easy for his protagonists, who notice there seems to be more to these woods than trees and woodland creatures.
“A Serious Man”
The Coen Brothers are a hard pair to categorize: Sometimes their films are light, funny and crowd-pleasing; other times, they’re dark, moody and unconventional; oftentimes, they’re both. It’s hard from the trailer to tell exactly what kind of film “A Serious Man” is going to be, but the preview’s rhythmic beating and battering of Michael Stuhlbarg, who prior to this film has played nothing close to a lead off the stage, implies that everyone’s favorite Jewish film-making fraternity still has a few tricks up its sleeve.
“Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans”
Abel Ferrara’s gritty 1992-set drama moves the action to the Big Easy and substitutes Nicolas Cage for Harvey Keitel in Werner Herzog’s first fiction film since 2007’s “Rescue Dawn,” that film itself a dramatization of Herzog’s (stellar) documentary, “Little Dieter Needs to Fly.” In the years since his move to L.A., there is evidence that Herzog is lacking inspiration for original stories, but there’s no excuse not to see the newest work by one of the world’s best living directors. And Xzibit’s in it!
Foreign Prison Movies
This year’s festival circuit has been dominated by stories of incarceration from around the globe. “Mother” comes to us from Korean director Joon-ho Bong, whose work you may have seen in the compilation film “Tokyo!” alongside Michel Gondry, and tells the story of a woman who takes it upon herself to find the murderer who framed her son. “A Prophet” has already racked up a bunch of awards, including Cannes Grand Prix and BAFTA’s Best Non-English-Language Film, and tells the story of an illiterate 19-year-old sentenced to six years who turns the prison gang system to his advantage. Finally, the man who brought us the “Pusher” trilogy returns with a film about a man who spends 30 years in solitary confinement, making him adopt the persona of Charles Bronson.