Critics' Corner: So Long, Summer...Welcome, Art-House Autumn

Critics' Corner: So Long, Summer...Welcome, Art-House Autumn

Aug 29, 2011

Dave: You and I are saddled with a reputation.

Grae: Those bathroom walls are LYING! I'm not just a good time, I'm a GREAT time.

Dave: Settle down, Courtney Love. What I am referring to is this: Recently, someone who pays no attention to anything I say or write about films told me that he knew I wasn't "so much into the arty movies."

Grae: WHAT?! I know for a fact that you like the cinematic equivalent of drinking tea out of a fancy china cup with your pinkie in the air.

Dave: Yes, I do. I was sort of speechless. I told him to go to Movies.com and read all the reviews of movies he'd never heard of. I don’t know if he did or not.

Grae: For the record, I would like to point out that critics usually get slammed for ONLY liking highbrow art-house movies. I feel like you and I enjoy both sides of the coin. I only get offended when the film seems lazy.

Dave: So yeah, here's the point: Today we are here to talk about the upcoming autumn films that are good and good for you, the ones we are excited about seeing even though we haven't seen them yet-- the ones that will make you feel like the filmmakers are snooty elitists.

Grae: Yes, and in honor of these fancy schmancy art-house movies, I am wearing my powdered wig and a beret while chain smoking. I also just put on an ascot.

Dave: So, as much as I’m stoked for Piranha 3DD, the two highest profile serious-minded movies I want to see in September are Moneyball and Drive. They have big stars--Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling--but they're also about serious stuff.

Grae: In the first one, Brad Pitt plays a real-life guy who’s going to get canned if his grand scheme fails.

Dave: And this is a baseball movie, for the record. Which often leads to something I hate: fake uplift. Stories of perseverance and whatnot. And this isn’t going to be that kind of sports movie.

Grae: It looks like it will have a triumphant ending, but not the “we won the World Series” kind. It was written by Aaron Sorkin, but the director Bennett Miller has fewer credits.

Dave: I have high hopes. Also, I'm a huge fan of Drive’s director Nicolas Winding Refn, a man whose name I have no idea how to pronounce.

Grae: THAT’S how you know it’s highbrow—he’s from Copenhagen. I loved his film Bronson.

Dave: He also made Valhalla Rising. This guy makes demanding, visceral movies.

Grae: He told me that at Comic-Con that his wife thought Bronson was boring. I am still shocked.

Dave: His wife is suddenly weirdly interesting to me.

Grae: I would love to meet her and find out what kind of lady thinks Tom Hardy wrestling naked coated in oil is boring. I like watching Refn’s movies because they’re an artistically intelligent depiction of guys punching things.

Dave: Right, he makes masculine violence a subject worth actually thinking about, and as much as I appreciate movies where guys with guns are committing random mayhem, every once in a while you find yourself stopping to ask "Why?” And Refn tries to explain why.

Grae: He has a way with music, too. That one should be great.

Dave: I can't wait for September’s new Gus Van Sant movie Restless, a sort of Harold & Maude-ish film where Mia Wasikowska is terminally ill and begins a relationship with this moody boy.

Grae: I loved her in Jane Eyre. She is so sassy in floor-length nightgowns. But Gus Van Sant movies are always a mixed bag for me—it seems like they all have kids in flannel moping around and talking about their feelings. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Dave: And in the same month we get Weekend. Now, normally gay movies drive me insane. They're way too often the gay equivalent of Tyler Perry movies. Too much crowd-pleasing, too many sassy drag queens, too much dull rom-com whining. But apparently this movie is a smart, talky, almost-romance about two gay guys who are exactly the opposite of the broader cultural expectations.

Grae: You mean they’re not magical gays who accompany Sarah Jessica Parker shoe shopping?

Dave: Correct, they actually have their own lives to deal with; they’re not out taking their best gal pals for makeovers. It's been winning all kinds of film festival awards, so my curiosity is piqued.

Grae: I love it when we can see the change in society reflected in our art--- now gay characters can just be characters that happen to be gay.

Dave: Right. I mean, there are plenty of good gay-themed films out there. But like all other types of movies, you have sift through the idiot mess to get to them.

Grae: Well, they aren't gay, and this is bordering on a non-artistic choice, but there are two men in one of my "squee" worthy movies named TUCKER and DALE (vs. Evil).

Dave: I think that counts in this discussion because it's going to be a limited release.

Grae: It’s incredibly well-acted and written, and I am excited that more people might be paying attention to Alan Tudyk since Transformers 3 came out. I want everyone to see this movie.

Dave: Let’s steer away from people and pointy objects in the woods, shall we? How about The Ides of March? George Clooney directed it.

Grae: He is so talented.

Dave: And, because fall is both Philip Seymour Hoffman season and Paul Giamatti season, they are both in this movie.

Grae: And there’s more Ryan Gosling here too.

Dave: It’s like an actor solar eclipse or something.

Grae: That can only be viewed through one of those homemade shadow box things. One of the writers was Grant Heslov, and Good Night, and Good Luck. is one of my favs. I've heard great stuff about Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Dave: Me too. It stars Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen's younger sister Elizabeth. It’s about a young woman who gets out of a religious cult and finds that she can’t quite shake the experience.

Grae: Every time I say the title right I reward myself with a pedicure.

Dave: Nice. Elizabeth Olsen was the “It Girl of Sundance” because of this movie. Of course, being the It Girl of Sundance is usually the only fact I need to know to worry about how good your movie actually is, but people whose opinions and brains I trust really like this one.

Grae: The title indicates cutesie flick but it's not, so the buzz has got me interested. And we have a big one coming up for movie nerds everywhere--John Landis is back, with Simon Pegg in Burke and Hare.

Dave: I'm going to trust that brand for now—Pegg’s disappointed me before.

Grae: I have my fingers crossed. It’s a period piece about graverobbers! It has the right ingredients.

Dave: Hence my enthusiasm.

Grae: What about Michael Shannon, one of my fav actors, in Take Shelter?

Dave: See, that movie looks kind of dumb, but that's just my initial impression. I will publicly eat my words if it's not.

Grae: I will hold you to that. Michael Shannon is such a captivating performer.

Dave: That’s true—you saw him in Bug right?

Grae: Definitely.

Dave: If this one is as weird and deranged as Bug, then I’m in. And while we're on the subject of deranged, I’m probably most excited about Melancholia, the new Lars von Trier film where the world comes to an end and it sort of puts a damper on Kirsten Dunst’s wedding.

Grae: Oh, how he infuriates me. And since infuriating people seems to be the fuel that he exists on, THAT infuriates me too. I am falling victim to his Danish ploy. But man does he make beautiful movies.

Dave: My favorite thing so far about this film is that Kirsten Dunst is apparently the one female actress besides Charlotte Gainsbourg that von Trier hasn’t driven into a meltdown on a set. You see all these women who come off working with him and they say things like, "I may never act in films again."

Grae: That’s not surprising. Anyone who makes Hitler references at Cannes seems like they would be a tough cookie on set.

Dave: Well then, so is she I guess.

Grae: Who knew? The other bonus of that movie is Alexander Skarsgard. A movie is the same length as two episodes of True Blood!

Dave: I want to see Carnage, a comedy about brawling upper-class parents from Roman Polanski. I’m probably forgetting something, but I don’t know if he’s made an actual comedy since Fearless Vampire Killers.

Grae: I don’t know, Ghost Writer was pretty hilarious. But yeah, what a cast on this one--Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly. Do you think it will end with everyone having hallucinations in the apartment and judging each other?

Dave: God, I hope so. There’s also Pariah, about a teenage lesbian whose life becomes extremely difficult. I saw the trailer. It might cross the line into too much sentimentality, as these things often do, but I have hope.

Grae: Don’t forget about A Dangerous Method, where we get to see Viggo Mortensen dress up like Freud and have kinky sex onscreen.

Dave: Keep it together, lady. But yes, he and Michael Fassbender play Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and they… well, I’m not even sure what they do here. I’ve been avoiding knowing. But just like you--

Grae: --we love David Cronenberg’s movies. But I am also really intrigued by what Kevin Smith has coming up too.

Dave: Red State is a genre film, a straight-up horror movie, but Smith’s approach to getting it into theaters, doing it all himself, is really interesting to me, so while it doesn’t count as awards bait, I’m still interested in how this next chapter in his career and/or retirement will go. And I’m going to close this discussion with a wish that difficult Hungarian director Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse gets a 2011 stateside release. I hate waiting and I need at least one solid autumnal dose of extremely long takes and cinematic despair each year.

Grae: You will have to initiate me into that club. My only request is that we wear our ascots.

Dave: Can I borrow yours?

Grae: No, but I have another one you can use to strangle Lars von Trier.

Dave: Creepy, but all right. Bring it on, autumn.

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