Cover Story: Pick of the Pics

18 Cool Movies This Fall

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Tenacious D

All the King's Men

Robert Penn Warren's politically astute novel — which remains as relevant as ever — hits the big screen courtesy of acclaimed screenwriter Stephen Zaillion and a strong cast. While Sean Penn has the big, blustery role as a populist Louisiana governor, Jude Law is the film's saving grace. (Jason Gargano)


Will Babel mark the end of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's stunning tryptich format that gave us Amores Perros and 21 Grams? It's certainly his most elaborate undertaking, crisscrossing the globe to tell three interconnected fever dreams in no less than five languages. But with Brad Pitt and double-dipping co-stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Cate Blanchett, words are hardly necessary to communicate across this emotional spectrum. (tt clinkscales)


The latest creation from British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen (best known for his hilarious Ali G), Borat Sagdiyev is a TV journalist from Kazakhstan who documents his trip across the United States in an effort to educate his people about the customs of Americans. An avalanche of riotous, politically incorrect mayhem ensues. (JG)

The Departed

Let's put an end to the premature Oscar discussions involving Martin Scorsese and just be satisfied that he's back in a gritty, criminal-minded milieu again with this American remake of the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs. Why not relish the notion that this one could become part of the canon that includes Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and GoodFellas? (ttc)

Fast Food Nation

Director Richard Linklater follows his dizzying, wonderfully paranoid A Scanner Darkly with this semi-adaptation of Eric Schlosser's muckraking book.

Linklater has been critical of the American public's "absence of activism," and Fast Food Nation is his response. Will anyone listen? (JG)

Flags of Our Fathers

When you're riding as high as Clint Eastwood is in Tinseltown, you can do damn near anything. That's no doubt why he ambitiously chose a full-scale war movie as his next project. Knowing what the Pale Director can coax out of actors, coupled with likely gripping battle sequences, makes this film about the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima a can't-miss. Cool fact: Eastwood simultaneously filmed the story from the Japanese perspective for a follow-up movie, Letters from Iwo Jima. (Rodger Pille)

For Your Consideration

Arguably the most anticipated comedy of the season. Christopher Guest's pseudo-improv troupe, after taking on Folk music in A Mighty Wind and dog shows in Best in Show, tackles the world of indie film. The usual crew is back — Eugene Levy, Fred Willard, Parker Posey, etc. — with promising newcomers, including Ricky Gervais. (RP)

The Fountain

The Fountain of Youth stands as one of the last romantic myths to inspire men to embark on quests to attain and unlock its promised secrets. Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky attempts to capture the essence of that desire in this time-spanning ode to love and life everlasting starring his lovely Oscar-winning wife Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman. (ttc)

The Good German

There's lots of coolness to be found this fall, but Steven Soderbergh's black-and-white World War II period piece aims to take the prize as the best of the bunch. With Oscar winners George Clooney and Cate Blanchett on hand, supported by the buzz from Tobey Maguire's performance, this might be good enough to grab the gold. (ttc)

Inland Empire

Shot on digital video over the last two years in near complete secrecy, Inland Empire (starring Laura Dern as a Hollywood actress) reportedly finds David Lynch up to his typical games. Word out of the Venice Film Festival is that the three-hour, film-within-a-film narrative is so confounding that one is best left to forget logic and just succumb to its dreamy, womb-like experience. Where do I sign up? (JG)

Little Children

Here's everything you need to know: The last time actor Todd Field went behind the camera, he gave us In the Bedroom — as adult and deservedly praised a film as there's been this decade. This time, he mines equally dark places in everyday suburban life, including extramarital affairs and distrust of one's neighbors. With Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly. (RP)

Marie Antoinette

Word is writer/director Sophia Coppola was granted near full access in and around Versailles because local officials were such fans of Lost in Translation. Film fans should afford her the same leeway in this modern and potentially anachronistic take on the young and doomed Austrian princess, played by Kirsten Dunst. (RP)

The Prestige

Director Christopher Nolan gained his street cred with the uber-cool Memento and then solidified his marketability by rescuing a dying franchise with Batman Begins. So if he wants us to follow him into the world of turn-of-the-century magicians battling for pride and survival, I say why not? Especially when the cast includes Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Scarlett Johansson. (RP)

The Science of Sleep

Michel Gondry walks the intellectual high-wire without the Charlie Kaufman (Human Nature and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) net in his latest surreal romantic adventure with Gael Garcia Bernal. Expect to be bound by a spell of magic, music and the Gondry muse. (ttc)


John Cameron Mitchell follows his Hedwig and the Angry Inch with this hilarious, often touching and sexually liberated (including graphic, un-simulated sex) film about people who dare to be different in post-9/11, pre-blackout New York City. (JG)

Stranger Than Fiction

Who is Marc Forster? The director took Halle Berry to Monster's Ball and then danced with Johnny Depp in Finding Neverland. Now he dares a dramatic tango with Will Ferrell as a character in a novel-in-progress who attempts to save himself from the whims of his fickle creator (Emma Thompson). But there's the sense that this is a Charlie Kaufman literary knockoff. (ttc)

Tenacious D

Jack Black has been saying since he arrived in Hollywood that he desperately wanted to do a Tenacious D film, since it was this hybrid project (part actual Rock band, part HBO comedy) that really launched his ship. So this film — which re-teams Black with partner Kyle Gass — seeks to explain from where the self-dubbed "Greatest Band in the World" came. God help us. (RP)


Pedro Almodovar's latest continues his status as an auteur of rare talents. Few fuse style and content as cohesively. Volver, which stars Penelope Cruz as a working-class mom with myriad issues, should be no different. (JG)

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