Screen Siege

Cinematic campaigning: This fall, filmmakers assault the status quo at a theater near you


GOING UPRIVER: THE LONG WAR OF JOHN KERRY
October 1

The Year of the Political Documentary continues with this profile of the Massachusetts senator from Pumping Iron co-director (!!) and longtime Kerry friend George Butler. We can only hope Kerry's career benefits as much as Arnold's did.

Lisa of Team America: World Police
photo: Melinda Sue Gordon
Lisa of Team America: World Police


I ♥ HUCKABEES
October 1

David O. Russell returns after a five-year absence with this "existential comedy" about a group of characters whose lives converge around the titular Wal-Mart–type store. The superlative cast includes Naomi Watts, Jude Law, Dustin Hoffman, Isabelle Huppert, and, uh, Shania Twain.


SHARK TALE
October 1

Sticking it to Disney once again, DreamWorks does its own Finding Nemo, with voices by (deep breath) Will Smith, Robert De Niro, Renée Zellweger, Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, and Martin Scorsese (!). As long as it's scarier than Open Water we will be happy.


TARNATION
October 6

Most of the hype surrounding Jonathan Caouette's homemade self-portrait has centered on its supposed budget, but it's more than able to stand on its merits. The film's quasi-experimental form includes documentary footage of Caouette's troubled childhood and the sound mix seeks to re-create his state of mind.


PRIMER
October 8

Two white-collar drones accidentally build a machine that provides them with the secret of the universe. After only one viewing, it's impossible to tell whether this Sundance prizewinner is a brattish stunt or a future cult phenomenon à la Donnie Darko, but its audacious temporal layering makes it a singular experience.


VERA DRAKE
October 10

Even though The Washington Post has already proclaimed gay marriage the new abortion, this tale of an abortionist in 1950s England is sure to still pack people in, if solely on director Mike Leigh's name value.


LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE
October 15

Antoine Fuqua directing a documentary about the blues? All the subtlety of producer Martin Scorsese's PBS examination of the genre has been replaced by showy camera shots and overediting. Bruckheimer house band Aerosmith is on the same bill as B.B. King; need we say more?


THE MACHINIST
October 15

Christian Bale stars as the NIN-ishly named Trevor Reznik in a thriller about an insomniac industrial worker losing his grip on reality. Directed by Brad Anderson (Session 9).


MOOLAADE
October 15

Widely regarded as a highlight of the recent Cannes festival, the latest film from legendary Senegalese director Ousmane Sembene tackles the subject of female circumcision.


P.S.
October 15

Laura Linney effectively plays her You Can Count on Me character in Dylan Kidd's follow-up to Rodger Dodger. Portraying a fussy middle-aged woman with a tepid sex life, she romances a young artist (Topher Grace) who eerily resembles her teenage crush.


SHALL WE DANCE?
October 15

Again? No.


TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE
October 15

Inspired by the "Supermarionation" techniques in the original Thunderbirds, South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone originally wanted to do an all-puppet remake of The Day After Tomorrow. When that didn't pan out, they settled for an only marginally less audacious alternative—a marionette show involving a terrorist-fighting, Bush-baiting international police force.


SEX IS COMEDY
October 20

The second Catherine Breillat film to arrive in New York theaters in as many months, this self-reflexive work about the difficulties of shooting a sex scene was actually made before the director's Anatomy of Hell. If the title can be trusted, any laughs should be of the intended variety this time around.


SIDEWAYS
October 20

Alexander Payne's follow-up to About Schmidt features Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church as best friends taking one last road trip before one's wedding. With one character a failed writer and the other a past-his-prime actor, we suspect that existential issues lurk.


THE GRUDGE
October 22

Having already completed four films in the Grudge series, Takashi Shimizu dilutes his elaborately nonsensical J-horror mythos once more—this time by directing an English-language remake. In the lead, Sarah Michelle Gellar attempts career resurrection.


RAY
October 29

After flexing his dramatic muscles opposite Tom Cruise in Collateral, Jamie Foxx goes it alone in this biopic of late soul-giant Ray Charles. The soundtrack is sure to be gold, but let's hope this PG-13 flick doesn't sugarcoat Brother Ray's life. Taylor Hackford (The Devil's Advocate, Proof of Life) directs.


UNDERTOW
October 29

David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls) tries to create a 1970s B-movie aesthetic out of a Southern Gothic story of brothers running from their homicidal uncle.


ALEXANDER
November 5

At long last. Oliver Stone makes his return with a project that took as long to realize as his Born on the Fourth of July (and was at one point slated to star that film's Tom Cruise). As the conqueror of the known world, Colin Farrell will get his chance to justify all the premature Brando comparisons.


BIRTH
November 5

In this sophomore feature by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast), Nicole Kidman believes that a 10-year-old boy is her dead husband reincarnated. The rumor mill has it that the two even take a bath together. (Ewww.) On the bright side, co-screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière is a former Buñuel collaborator, and Lauren Bacall plays Kidman's mom.


THE INCREDIBLES
November 5

Answering the requests of those who considered Toy Story 2 and The Iron Giant among the best films of 1999, Pixar and director Brad Bird join forces with an animated adventure about a family of superheroes living in suburbia.

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