Talk, Talk, Talk: The PopMatters Fall 2008 Movie Preview

Bill Gibron

PopMatters highlights 80 fall films all this week. Up today, December: Just like the end of an inspiring speech that may or may not succeed in making its point, these final four weeks before 2009 tend to define or defeat the entire awards season purpose.

If Summer is a convention with a keynote speaker every week, the Fall Movie season is the unruly floor show afterward. It's a metaphoric Tower of Babel, random voices shouting out of turn, each one hoping to carnival bark its way to a turnstile twist or two. Certainly there are individual efforts that stand out, films that announce their presence by the very force of their own motion picture personality, or the lineup they use to get their artistic or commercial point across. Others are clearly filmic lackeys however, skirting around the fringes of their more formidable cohorts, capable of raising a noise here and there while often a mere part of the overall din. Deciphering the signals and press kit pontification is tough, especially when everything seems poised towards maximizing revenues and/or end of the year awards consideration. What we need is a translator to tell us the important statements from the outright shilling, the facts behind the business model fiction.

That's why PopMatters offers its own paraphrasing of the often overwhelming cacophony. This year's Fall Preview will focus on the nearly 80 films that fill up your local Cineplex between now and the end of the year. Indeed, over the next 16 weeks, the studios will be bringing out their big entertainment guns, films hoping to win you over with their powers of persuasion and inherent aesthetic value. Yet this doesn't mean that, somewhere buried in the ballyhoo of another Oscar campaign pitch isn't an actual bit of cinematic classicism. This time of the year is funny that way. While there is always enough hyperbole to go around, it's the unsung or sleeper title that frequently forces its way into the movie marketplace of ideas. Before you know it, this heretofore unheralded work manages to wrestle away the interest level from the former kings of the media mountain (Little Miss Sunshine, for example), making its case more clearly and concisely than its A-list competitors.

Sadly, as we go to press, a few noted films are not set for certain distribution, among them: Darren Aronofsky's The Wrestler (receiving a Golden Lion at Venice and massive buzz at the Toronto Film Festival), Stephen Soderbergh's brazen biopic epic of Che Guevarra, as well as several foreign films made far outside the confines of the US that always seem to be marginalized by the mainstream movie establishment. Indeed, while preparing this material, a long set release (Rian Johnson's follow-up to Brick, The Brothers Bloom) has been swept away until January, and don't be surprised if a few more of these voices -- especially in an overcrowded October -- loose their place in the speaker's kiosk once the carnival circuit finishes doling out its opinions. Until then, enjoy the clamor and the commotion, the racket and the often ridiculous fuss utilizing that most elusive of tongues - the language of film. You may not always like what you see/hear, but the results more often than not truly speak for themselves.

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