Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

I saw seven previews before Dedication the other day, and thank God the fall movie season is upon us. Seven would be far too many if they were all for movies about Jamie Kennedy waking out of a coma to find that he's a fast food worker on Jupiter or Cuba Gooding Jr. teaching children how to run a kennel or whatever pain summer movies are inflicting these days. Instead, the future looks -- if not bright, not desolate. There were a few likely duds, including The Jane Austen Book Club, whose charming, leggy leads appear to take the work of arguably the greatest female writer of all time and reduce it to The Rules so that they can land commitment-phobic men. Pass.

But three teasers, all of which I've seen before, caught my attention:

I'm Not There is Todd Haynes' biopic about Bob Dylan, and it's gotten a lot of press for the fact that six different people, including Cate Blanchett and a young black actor named Marcus Carl Franklin, portray the singer at different stages of his life. There are a lot of potential potholes here -- the casting gimmick could be refreshing/brilliant, or it could be pointless/irritating; the Haynes movies I've seen haven't left much of an impression on me, except the laughable Safe, which left the impression that I shouldn't seek out any more Haynes movies; and the graphics that alternately flash in the preview that say "He is Everyone" and "He is No One" are just the kind of metaphysical gibberish that represents the worst of Dylanmania.

Still, Blanchett looks great in the clip, and it's an ambitious enough project to be high on my list of must-sees in the fall.

Reservation Road stars Mark Ruffalo and Joaquin Phoenix. On the plus side, it looks tense and dramatic, and the preview doesn't give away too much (if anything, it makes it tough to tell what exactly is going on). On the negative side, the preview includes characters earnestly saying the following: "I don't know how to get you back" and "Sometimes things happen that are out of your control, and those are the times when you just really gotta stand up and be a man." Oy. Still, to repeat, it stars Ruffalo and Phoenix, for my money two of the very best movie actors currently working.

Lastly, there's Wes Anderson's latest, The Darjeeling Limited. This past weekend, I tried desperately to overpay for the privilege of getting tickets to see it on the opening night of the New York Film Festival, but like so many cultural offerings in this city, the lines and hassle made it both annoying and eventually impossible to do.

While Anderson's features, for me, have each represented a step down from the previous one, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore would both make a pretty short list of my favorite movies, and only The Life Aquatic was a real mess (and even that had its moments). Darjeeling has a great cast, and looks like a potential return to funny/absurd/poignant form. Here's hoping. And here's the preview:


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