Sneak peek at films this fall


Fall is the start of “good movie” season, often when the best in domestic and international films grace the movie theater screens. This is the time of year when Hollywood studios and international distributors offer the films they hope will be winners of year-end awards. While there are plenty of just-entertainment movies as well, the added award-hopefuls make for a whole lot of good choices at the movies.

Let’s take a look forward at some upcoming films that might be of special interest. There are films from Israel or with Jewish themes, or with Jewish directors or stars. There are films on Bob Dylan, and from the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Woody Allen and the Coen brothers.

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Here is a peek at some films in the coming months, in no particular order. Bear in mind that release schedules are subject to change, so some of these films may not appear this year after all and others may be added.

Due out this month, The Bubble is an Israeli film about three young, politically unsophisticated friends in Tel Aviv who try conceal one friend’s new gay boyfriend, who is Palestinian. Directed and co-written by Eytan Fox, who did the clever, entertaining, twist-filled Walk On Water, the film explores themes of youth who just want to concentrate on their own lives and loves, in their own bubble, and the realities of the situation around them. The Bubble is set to open at the Tivoli on Sept 28.

On the lighter side, Ira and Abby is the sophomore effort of writer Jennifer Westfeldt, whose Kissing Jessica Stein was a wonderful romantic comedy twist. Some writers have called Westfeldt a “female Woody Allen.” Ira and Abby features a couple who marries in haste (Jennifer Westfeldt and Chris Messina) and then repents in leisure with meddling parents, screwed-up therapists (including one played by Jason Alexander), and the general mess of life after the wedding. The film has won awards at film festivals and is set to open in late September or early October.

Another film from a Jewish comedian is Jeff Garlin’s I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With, about a chubby guy who lives in his mother’s basement but longs for romance. Garlin’s buddies, comedians Sarah Silverman and Amy Sedaris, also appear. Garlin may be familiar from Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm on TV. Larry David, of course, was one of the creators of Seinfeld, which leads us to…

Bee Movie is the pun-packed title of Jerry Seinfeld’s new movie, already a hit at Cannes. Bee Movie, debuting later this year, is an animated movie with Jerry as Barry B. Benson, a bee just out of college who falls in love with a florist (voiced by Renee Zellweger). Some of the folks from Shrek are involved, but no Larry David.

Again on the lighter side is the Natalie Portman vehicle, also starring Dustin Hoffman, called Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, a comic fantasy that looks to be in the style of Willie Wonka.

No Country For Old Men is the latest offering from filmmakers Ethan and Joel Coen, masters of quirky films and dark comedy. The film is being hailed as a return to style for the Coens, whose last few films have had less in common with the likes of Fargo or The Big Lewbowski than fans would have liked. In this film, when a man finds a bag of cash and a pile of bodies in a remote desert spot, he thinks he might just keep the money. The film teams the Coen brothers with actors Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin.

Plenty of comedians and filmmakers are compared to Woody Allen, but director Woody Allen himself has a new film this year, too. His new suspense drama Cassandra’s Dream is also being called a return to form. Like his last two films, this one is set in London and, as the title implies, is inspired by Greek mythology. Cassandra’s Dream stars Colin Farrell, Ewan McGregor and Hayley Atwell in a scheming love triangle with two brothers.

Writer/director Noah Baumbach made a big splash with his Squid and the Whale a look inside a New York family unraveling. Baumbach is back with another family drama Margot At The Wedding, starring Nicole Kidman and Jack Black. Successful Margot (Kidman) travels, with her son in tow, to attend her bohemian sister’s wedding to a slacker artist (Jack Black). The sisters’ relationship is explosively explored and family secrets surface.

Other films due out this year have subjects that may spark interest.

One of these is I’m Not There, a high-concept biography of Bob Dylan, directed by Todd Haynes, whose previous work includes Far From Heaven. The film reviews the life and career of Robert Zimmerman, the Minnesota-born folk musician who became the legend, and has several actors playing the musician at various points, including Cate Blanchett. Also playing Dylan are Richard Gere, Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, so it is an all-star cast. The film has lots of indie film buzz.

Francis Ford Coppola’s new film Youth Without Youth is a mystery set in Europe before WWII, starring Tim Roth, about a professor who may have discovered the secret of immortality and is being pursued by Nazi agents.

There are several films due out that grapple with the issues of the Middle East and the Iraq War. These include Grace Is Gone which features John Cusack as a widower who lost his soldier wife to the war in Iraq. The Weinstein Company studio is distributing this Sundance Film Festival winner. Rendition is another topical fiction film that some may find of interest, focusing on the handling of prisoners suspected of terrorism. Gavin Hood, who did the excellent South African film Tsotsi, directs the film. It stars Alan Arkin, Meryl Streep, Jake Gyllenhaal and Reese Witherspoon.

Darfur Now is a documentary about that on-going genocide narrated by actor Don Cheadle. Locally, many individuals and organizations are working to put an end to attacks by Arab Muslim militias on African non-Muslims in the western Sudan, so this timely topic is a must-see.

Two other films give a glimpse inside the Muslim world. One is The Kite Runner based on the best selling book about growing up in Afghanistan under the Soviet occupation and rise of the Taliban, and about two boys who chose different paths. Another film is Persepolis, which takes a look at the Iranian revolution through the eyes of an young Iranian girl.

No matter what your film tastes, serious to silly, there are movie choices coming before December’s end.