A few years back, when he was still doing the TV show, I saw a downright joyous Roger Ebert, thrilled over how many movies they were able to recommend that week. "It's the time of the year," he explained. "It's good movie season!" He's right. We've suffered through the mindless "tentpole" bullshit of the summer, the Transformers 2s and the G.I. Joes and the Wolverines (okay, maybe I didn't suffer through them personally, but, you know...), and now we get to the part of the year where, with an eye on those little golden statues, Hollywood starts releasing movies for grown-ups and pretends like that's what they do all year long. (As Ebert himself wrote in a recent blog entry: "Last July as I was watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, I knew this season would come. After that film was over, I was 150 minutes closer to it.")
For many, the official started pistol for "good movie season" is the Toronto Film Festival, where many of the fall's most promising pictures attempt to make a big splash. Among those I'm looking forward to:
-I posted the trailer last month for the Coen Brothers' latest movie, A Serious Man, which sounds stranger and more intriguing the more I hear about it. I've seen that trailer a few more times now, in theaters; like the best trailers, it piques your interest and arouses your curiosity without telling you much of any damn thing about the movie iteself.
- Speaking of that: if you haven't watched this trailer for Up in the Air, the latest from Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You For Smoking), clear two minutes of your life and do just that. It's stunningly good, and the movie is getting remarkable, emotional responses at Toronto.
- Clooney is pretty much the MVP of Toronto; his other new movie there is The Men Who Stare at Goats, directed by his long-time collaborator Grant Henslov. It looks funny, weird, and great (and, at long last, promises the Jeff Bridges-Kevin Spacey reunion that you K-PAX fans have been clamoring for).
- Willem Dafoe is also all over the festival; he co-stars in Antichrist, the new film from Lars von Trier (Breaking the Waves, Dogville), and to the surprise of absolutely no one, it is reportedly batshit crazy. Take a peek!
Other intriguing items at the ol' TFF include Almodovar's latest Penelope Cruz collaboration, Broken Embraces; Lee Daniels' Precious, which has been getting rave reviews since Sundance; Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, with Nicolas Cage going insane in some kind of a "reimagining" of Abel Ferrera's 1992 film; the long-awaited The Road, directed by John Hillcoat (who helmed the brutal Australian western The Proposal) from Cormac McCarthy's novel; Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, featuring Heath Ledger's final screen performance; and Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story.
If you'd like to keep up with the dozens of films unspooling up north, you can be like me and read Ebert's journal and the excellent coverage at Movieline and the Onion AV Club.