15 Films to Catch This Fall

by David Lamble
Tuesday Sep 4, 2012

The chaotic, ever-shifting landscape of commercial film exhibition offers a few morsels for LGBT fans this fall, along with a smattering of art-house fare that bears good buzz. Here are 15 upcoming releases to look out for.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower For queer filmgoers, Stephen Chbosky's decision to translate his MTV-published cult novel into a movie where "the gay kid is the coolest kid," in effect the movie's Ferris Bueller, pays huge dividends, especially since that character becomes a breakout role for the sharp and sassy Ezra Miller.

"Why do I and everybody I love pick people who treat us like we're nothing?"

"We accept the love we think we deserve."

Miller's Patrick, who won't take no guff from either his school's redneck shop teacher or his closeted jock boyfriend, becomes a role model and cheerleader for his only two friends, Charlie (Logan Lerman), a severely depressed high school freshman, and Sam (Emma Watson), a graduating senior saddled with a faithless beau and a niche on the Penn State waiting list. Fueled by the year's hippest soundtrack, Perks turns the cruel roller-coaster ride of adolescent popularity into a life-affirming bell-ringer. (9/28)

Keep the Lights On Inevitably, this story about a doomed alliance between a documentary filmmaker (Thure Lindhart) and a literary lawyer plagued by substance abuse (Zachary Booth) will spark intense feelings among gay men who feel hopelessly at sea in a dating pool swamped by addiction issues. Ira Sachs wisely chooses to frame the nine-year affair from the point of view of the filmmaker Eric (Lindhart), although those in the recovery community may feel that this unfairly stacks the deck against those, like Paul, for whom recovery is a lifetime journey. (9/14)

How to Survive a Plague David France's documentary traces how the 1980s fight against AIDS turned the tide and produced today's treatment regimen. (9/21)

Little White Lies Guillaume Canet ("Tell No One") concocts a "Big Chill" spoof with dueling queer subplots to produce a nutty French folks-on-vacation romp. There's an intriguing scene where a man makes an embarrassing confession to another man that could have paid dividends if Canet had resisted a propensity for Adam Sandler-worthy, anything-for-a-cheap-laugh gags. (8/31)

War of the Buttons Christophe Barratier, whose queer-friendly feature The Chorus examined the fate of a group of war orphans in a badly run state school, here tackles another contentious slice of WWII French history by focusing on the feud between rival kid gangs in occupied France. The leader of one of the gangs, Lebbrac (Jean Texier, a young star in the making), falls for a young Jewish girl, subsequently seeking a truce with his rivals to prevent the girl from falling into the clutches of the Nazis. The material was co-written by Oscar winner Thomas Langmann (The Artist) based on a 1912 cult novel by Louis Pergaud. (10/12)

Liberal Arts "Nobody feels like an adult. It's the world's dirty secret." A decade out of school, Jesse (writer/director Josh Radnor) attends the retirement dinner for his favorite college professor (Richard Jenkins). His old campus (the movie was filmed at Radnor's actual alma mater, Kenyon College) looks deceptively familiar: there's the female professor he had a crush on (Allison Janney), who's rather mean after their night in the sack: "Put some armor around that gooey little heart of yours." There's the bi-polar lost boy (John Magaro) who's a little too devoted to the novels of David Foster Wallace. And there's Zippy the available coed (Elizabeth Olsen), who constantly challenges Jesse's 30-something "wisdom."

"So you're saying things suck, and I should prepare myself for suckiness?"

"No, a liberal arts education solves all your problems. It's worth every penny."

"Thank God!" (9/28)

Chicken with Plums The makers of the Iranian-based graphic novel animation Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, return with a time-bending romantic tale involving a sad musician and a love that got away. (9/7)

Red Hook Summer Spike Lee offers a passionate "home movie" made with his film students, about an aging black pastor and an ugly secret from his past. (8/31)

The Loneliest Planet Russian emigre director Julia Loktev places a couple soon to be married (Gael Garcia Bernal and Hani Furstenberg) on a pre-honeymoon hike through Georgia's Caucasus Mountains. Drama ensues when one of the pair slips up during a bizarre encounter with the natives. (11/2)

Sleepwalk with Me A wannabe comic, whose stage act is marred by feeble jokes indifferently delivered, gets more mileage from a heavily fictionalized spin on his private life with a long-suffering girlfriend. Mike Birbiglia adapts his stage play, employing the cultural tropes of "nonfiction" storytelling refined over the years by Ira Glass for his popular public radio show This American Life. (8/31)

Flight Denzel Washington stars as a hero pilot whose great moment unravels under closer examination. Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) helms a cast including Don Cheadle, John Goodman, and Melissa Leo. (11/2)

The Guilt Trip A mother/son road trip from hell puts Seth Rogen in the driver's seat, with Barbra Streisand riding shotgun. (12/25)

Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away Andrew Adamson delivers an original story employing the cast of this famous troupe. (12/21)

V/H/S A horror anthology with this premise: a gang of thugs arrives at a lonely rundown rural house seeking a mysterious piece of found footage. They discover a corpse, a collection of old TVs, and a huge pile of old horror tapes. This gives V/H/S' multiple directors the chance to slice and dice some great, gruesome moments from a variety of lost treasures. The film coincides with a new movement among horror fans to honor low-tech work produced before the digital era. (10/5)

Hands of Stone For all the lunatic passion devoted to soccer in Latin America, boxing still separates the men from the boys in a culture where macho remains a compliment. Venezuelan Jonathan Jakubowicz assembles an awesome international cast to examine the five-decade career of Panamanian legend Roberto Duran. Gael Garcia Bernal portrays the ring warrior who reportedly jumped in the ring at eight, turned pro at 16, and didn't hang up his gloves until turning 50. Robert De Niro plays Duran's famed trainer Ray Arcel, and pop star Rusher appears as Duran's most durable opponent, Sugar Ray Leonard. (2013) (Release dates are subject to change.)

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