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The fall movie season has been up for grabs since Warner Bros. abruptly postponed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from November to next summer, worried that its 2009 box office would otherwise look anemic compared to the combined take of a Batman/Rowling bonanza. (Makes sense to us; it's the reason we resolve to never get laid more than once in a year.) While the following guide doesn't touch on every potential successor to the Potter throne, it does handicap the remaining autumn releases that you as an Orlando Weekly reader are most likely interested in. Why should you trust our judgment? Go back and reread: steady pimpin'.


Blindness His attempt at following up City ; of God having met with limited success, Fernando Meirelles is back to working on the (ahem) world stage. In the bleakly dystopic Blindness, Julianne Moore plays the lone person unaffected by a citywide epidemic that renders human beings sightless. It's not as privileged a position as it sounds, given that she's therefore the only one who has to watch DVDs of herself in Freedomland. (Oct. 3; wide)


Religulous Bill Maher has long since established himself as unafraid to make roast-beef sandwiches out of sacred cows, no matter how distasteful the result might sometimes be. This documentary odyssey sees skeptic Maher investigating the influence of religion in and on America. A funny, middlebrow Christopher Hitchens might be what the moviegoing public needs right now. We thought it might take an act of God to get Religulous to play Orlando, but it didn't. (Oct. 3; limited)


Sex Drive From the Sex Drive set report shared in the Sept. 18 First Shot column, you might think that we're only behind the movie because its cast happens to number one (1) local actress: Michele Feren. Well, since that piece was written, reviews have continued to come in maintaining that the movie is the sort of quality teen comedy that only comes along once in a generation. Which lets us off the hook from acknowledging that, yeah, we are totally biased. (Oct. 17; wide)


W. The conventional wisdom has it that Oliver Stone's Bush biopic, arriving less than three weeks before the national elections, will give Fox commentators plenty of reason to dither about Democratic media manipulation. The problem is that Stone hasn't been a genuinely liberal filmmaker for years (if he ever was one). In fact, the handful of script reports we've seen have lauded W. for its sympathetic portrayal of the First Boob – as if that's a narrative choice to be proud of. Our prediction: epic fail artistically and philosophically; big win in terms of ink spilled and on-air minutes expended. ; (Oct. 17; wide)


Synecdoche, New York Eccentric scribe Charlie Kaufman hasn't written a film since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – and that was way back when John McCain was still in knee pants, whitewashing fences and trying to keep the Negroes out of the 4-H Club. Not only is Kaufman back in a big way, but this time, he's directing, too. Synecdoche concerns an ambitious auteur who elects to shoot his latest film on a life-sized New York City set. The lion's share of the makeup and wardrobe budget appears to have gone into making star Philip Seymour Hoffman look like an unkempt schlub. Oh, the magic of the movies. ; (Oct. 24; limited)


Zack and Miri Make a Porno In his keynote address to the recent Comic-Con International: San Diego, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog drove the final nail in Kevin Smith's PR coffin: "I saw Jersey Girl on Showtime the other night. It sucked so hard the sides of my TV caved in." When you're on the wrong side of Triumph, you're on the wrong side of history, but there's still that something about Smith that makes us go to the well over and over again – even when he's casting the patently useless Seth Rogen in a story about ordinary schmoes who attempt to shoot their own skin flick. The mitigating X-factor here might be Elizabeth Banks, the hottest, nicest chick in the big high-school cafeteria that is Hollywood film. (Oct. 31; wide)


Repo! The Genetic Opera Everybody who helped crash the server when Joss Whedon posted Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog will be lining up for this futuristic musical comedy about organ harvesting and retrieval. It's aimed straight at folks who are well-rounded enough to appreciate unchained melody and high- ; concept sci-fi in equal doses. Or, as Triumph might call us, dorks. (Nov. 7; limited)


Quantum of Solace The back-to-formula makeover Casino Royale was widely hailed as the best James Bond flick since Goldfinger. So how have the grateful guardians of the 007 brand capitalized on that success? By firing their director, natch! Martin Campbell is out and the hit-or-miss Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Stay) is in as helmer of Quantum, which is said to directly follow up on the conspiracy threads of the previous installment. Other than star Daniel Craig, the most visible holdover from last time is writer Paul Haggis (Crash), who was clearly responsible for Casino's few dramatic excesses. Some people never learn. (Nov. 14; wide)


Twilight The reader outrage that greeted Stephenie Meyer's final vampire-romance novel shouldn't even slightly dim the enthusiasm for seeing her Twilight series immortalized (and we do mean immortalized) on the big screen. When it comes to this first of several planned flicks concerning a human girl's courtship with a hunky bloodsucker, society may be witnessing a coming-above-ground moment as salient to the Hot Topic set as Sex and the City was to Bloomingdale's shoppers. No offense, but we're going to wait for the Tim Burton–Johnny Depp version of Dark Shadows, which is what Twilight was called when we ourselves were growing up pale and unpopular. (Nov. 21, wide)




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