Thought-Provoking Dramas, Thrillers Hit Fall Box Office


Author: Cordelia Kenney

For silver screen enthusiasts, September marks the beginning of dramatic and cerebral cinema. Motion pictures with preliminary Oscar nods and endorsements from critics have begun to hit theaters.

Following a summer of explosions, aliens and superheroes, Hollywood’s crop of fall films offer a more introspective approach to cinematic storytelling. From complex tales of deceit and mystery to intricate plots of murder and missing persons, this season of movie-going offers intrigue, the supernatural and real-life stories of triumph and failure.

While it is nothing new to see multiple biographical dramas during the fall movie season, several biopics are among the most critically acclaimed films to debut in the upcoming months.

“The Iron Lady” recounts former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s tumultuous acquisition of authority with Meryl Streep in the title role. “J. Edgar,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover and with Clint Eastwood directing, also depicts the personal drama behind a powerful historical figure. “My Week with Marilyn,” starring Michelle Williams, portrays notoriously iconic Marilyn Monroe’s edgy relationship with director Laurence Olivier on the set of “The Prince and the Showgirl.” All three films attempt to critically capture the more controversial elements of three prominent individuals’ lives of the twentieth century.

Several other films premiering in the coming months subtly indicate a nostalgic yearning for earlier and perhaps easier times. Themes of foreboding, betrayal and corruption are apparent, as well. “The Ides of March,” with Ryan Gosling and George Clooney, dramatizes a young political staffer’s exposure to political corruption and the subsequent ethical dilemmas he faces. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Boy” takes a look at Cold War espionage and has garnered much praise from critics, with Colin Firth and Gary Oldman leading the cast. Both films play heavily on themes of dishonesty and showiness, making for a potentially heated commentary on contemporary political dynamics.

French director Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” more directly recalls earlier elements of cinematic technique by readily making use of 20s-era stylistic shots and lighting and creates an ambiance of glamour and over-the-top romance.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, “Like Crazy” offers a respite from the formulaic romantic comedies while taking a purportedly more realistic look at long distance love. Like “(500) Days of Summer” and more recently “Crazy Stupid Love” before it, “Like Crazy” is apt to be this year’s hit among the romantically inclined.

“In Time,” starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, portrays a future in which people must buy their time after hitting the age of 25. Director Andrew Niccol’s imaginative vision of the future is sure to lead this year’s list of sci-fi thrillers to watch.

Perhaps the most blogged about and anticipated fall movie with dark and mildly esoteric overtones, however, is director David Fincher’s adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Although director Niels Arden Oplev’s 2009 version received notable acclaim, Fincher’s edgier, sexier and more action-packed adaptation may attract greater swarms of American audiences.

Multiple films coming out this fall also play on mystical and otherworldly themes. Aside from notoriously popular Twilight’s third installment, “Breaking Dawn: Part 1,” Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” starring Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, explores the impending threat of a planet crashing into Earth.

Director Jim Sheridan’s “Dream House” promises similar themes of peril in the form of the season’s most discussed horror film. Although the film follows a familiar script of a happy family moving into a haunted house, Sheridan’s multitude of plot twists promises to employ these already played out elements in surprising new ways.

Following a summer season of sequels, prequels and otherwise recycled plot lines in addition to a slew of comic book icons come to life, this fall’s movie line-up is sure to take its audiences into the darker corners of the human mind and away from the fantastical representations of life. Instead, anticipate foreboding depictions of humanity, reality and the future in the form of biopics, adaptations and otherwise refreshingly real cinema.

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