Fall Film


VERONICA GUERIN
October 17

Bruckheimer-Schumacher's Erin Brockovich, sort of. The true story of the titular journalist (Cate Blanchett), who exposed the Dublin organized-crime scene until her murder in 1996.

Marina de Van stars in one of the best films of the year, In My Skin.
photo: Wellspring Media
Marina de Van stars in one of the best films of the year, In My Skin.


IN THE CUT
October 22

Perhaps the only director capable of giving Meg Ryan her long-overdue career makeover, Jane Campion returns with a psychosexual thriller about a writer who becomes involved with a homicide detective. Rumor has it the rom-com queen gets very naked with Mark Ruffalo.


MORNING SUN
October 22

The Long Bow Group's Tiananmen Square chronicle, The Gate of Heavenly Peace, was one of the most important documentaries of the '90s; this time, the filmmakers take on the no less enduring trauma of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.


ELEPHANT
October 24

In his Columbine-inspired Palme d'Or winner, Gus Van Sant finds a clearer thematic use for the formal experimentation of Gerry: Shooting mostly in shallow focus, often in extended tracking shots, he expertly approximates the feel of walking through high school in an oblivious haze.


GOTHIKA
October 24

Mathieu Kassovitz's first English-language film features Halle Berry as a psychiatrist (!) who wakes up to find she's a patient in her own mental hospital. The last time a French director went this Hollywood, the result was Alien: Resurrection.


THE SINGING DETECTIVE
October 24

Compression (to under two hours) and relocation (to Eisenhower's America) do no favors for Dennis Potter's metafictional Möbius of a miniseries, but Robert Downey Jr. digs into his psoriatic role with typical relish.


GIRLHOOD
October 31

Documentary filmmaker Liz Garbus (The Farm: Angola, USA) returns to a detention-center setting, following two girls, inmates at Waxtler's Children Center in Maryland, over three years.


SHATTERED GLASS
October 31

The New Republic's fallen wunderkind Stephen Glass gets his biopic close-up, with Hayden Christensen as the fabricator par excellence. Next up, Derek Luke in Caught: The Jayson Blair Story.


THE MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS
November 5

Are we still in the game?


THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
November 5

Directors Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain set out to profile Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and ended up filming a coup.


IN MY SKIN
November 7

In Marina de Van's body-horror tour de force, self-mutilation is not (as in so many other movies) a self-esteem issue but an expression of existential panic and extreme corporeal alienation. Witty, beautiful, terrifying, heartbreaking, at times almost unwatchable, it's as gruesome and inspired a riff on the mind-body split as we've ever seen outside the Cronenberg oeuvre. One of the year's best films, and the most exciting debut feature in ages.


OFF THE MAP
November 7

Campbell Scott's Sundance-approved film is a coming-of-age story about a young girl in New Mexico (Valentina d'Angelis) learning how to live with her father's depression and her mother's eccentricities. Joan Allen and Sam Elliott play the parents.


MY ARCHITECT
November 12

Director Nathaniel Kahn undertakes a pilgrimage in search of the father he barely knew—renowned architect Louis Kahn, who died mysteriously some three decades ago, leaving behind three families.


MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD
November 14

Patrick O'Brian's all-consuming, habit-forming imperial sea saga runs 20 volumes, and here's the first movie, 34 years after the book's debut. With Russell Crowe as Aubrey, Paul Bettany as Maturin, and Peter Weir as possibly the best choice among Hollywood semi-hacks to capture the 1813 naval wars, the movie has a Swiss-cheese lifeboat's chance of emerging faithful to O'Brian in any sense. But we'll give it some rope.


21 GRAMS
November 14

"Of?" Alejandro González Iñárritu's American debut. Naturally, it involves a freak accident that conjoins a terminal Sean Penn, a woebegone Naomi Watts, and a paroled Benicio Del Toro. González Iñárritu might be developing into a satirist of happenstance. But then, he might not.


THE COOLER
November 19

William Macy plays a fortune-reversing loser in this old-Vegas anti-noir by writer-director Wayne Kramer (no, not the MC5 guitarist).


THE MISSING
November 19

Ron Howard's annual holiday-season bid for sainthood, in a genre he hasn't ruined yet: the western. As a grudge-bearing woman and her crotchety father searching the prairie for a kidnapped granddaughter, Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones will doubtless be asked to personify archetypes, and provide pretentious counterpoint to The Searchers. Big yawn.


THE BARBARIAN INVASIONS
November 21

Denys Arcand's crowd-pleaser follows up on the talky ensemble of his 1986 art fart, The Decline of the American Empire.


DR. SEUSS' THE CAT IN THE HAT
November 21

You knew it was coming, after the chintz radiation of Ron Howard's Grinch, and how in hell they will hyperextend this tiny toddler parable into a loud, garish, witless feature is, for now, a blessed mystery. Mike Myers stars, presumably under the personality-obscuring, foot-thick layer of makeup that helped reap the Grinch's deep-nine figures.


THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE
November 21

If Jacques Tati had made an animated feature, it would've looked something like this. Director Sylvain Chomet assembles a panoply of mute, anamorphically distended caricatures and sets them loose in the most impressive fantasy megalopolis since Babe: Pig in the City.


BAD SANTA
November 26

Terry Zwigoff, taking a break from sophisticated-underground-comic-ness, adapts another old Coen brothers script, about two bandits (Billy Bob Thornton and Bernie Mac) posing as a mall Santa and his elf, and the eight-year-old who teaches them the error of their ways. Hopefully, it's more original than it sounds.

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