Cinema’s Fall Classic

With the end of the summer blockbuster season, moviegoers can now turn their attention to the film world’s Fall Classic – the steady stream of Hollywood’s Oscar-bound babies and arthouse cinema underdogs. The big-name films now scheduled for release are all noticeable in their own right, but some have generated more buzz than others, garnering a plethora of pre-season awards and savaging critic prediction lists.

The following is a closer look at some of these upcoming award-chasers.

Starting last weekend, cinema officially began the Oscars push with George Clooney’s timely political thriller, “The Ides of March.” The film, which follows a young, naive campaign staffer as he’s suddenly confronted by the dark side of American politics, has received middling to positive reviews. The country’s current climate, amidst election season, has certainly contributed to the talk surrounding this film. But timely or not, never underestimate a political movie in the Oscars race, especially if Clooney plays one of the major roles.

He also has “The Descendants” on the release block. Due out in November, this comedy-drama appears to suffer from the same tropes that have afflicted Oscar nominations for years: an aging rich man reconnects with his family, this time set to the beautiful Hawaiian backdrop. But you can always bet that an Alexander Payne-directed picture will grab a nomination. (I’m strictly acknowledging his work on “Sideways” and “About Schmidt” for the purposes of this generalization. Let’s forget that “Jurassic Park III” ever happened.)

But the film world has much more in store for us than Clooney and Payne – there are biopics galore!

“J. Edgar,” centered on the life of the FBI’s most infamous leader, will surely earn nominations on the basis of its director’s and lead actor’s names alone (Clint Eastwood and Leonardo DiCaprio, respectively). Or if you want an older subject, you can try Roland Emmerich’s “Anonymous,” which imaginatively (to put it lightly) examines the Shakespeare authorship question. (It’s earned a few decent reviews, but in all honesty, Yale Professor David Kastan’s verbal boycott of the film is probably more Oscar-worthy than the actual movie itself.) And there’s also Viggo Mortenson as Sigmund Freud in “A Dangerous Method,” a film that traces the rocky relationship between the father of psychoanalysis and Carl Jung.

Filmgoers are also due for a healthy dose of war and international conflict in their possible Oscar contenders.

Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” a film about a young man’s quest to retrieve his beloved horses from the trenches of World War I, promises to be a particular heart-wringer. And “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” has especially ravaged critics’ lists. Based on the bestselling Jonathan Safran Foer novel, this Stephen Daldry-directed picture traces a 10-year-old’s poignant journey across post-9/11 New York to find a lockbox his deceased father has left him.

And, as per usual, the international features have done some serious Oscar-work. Accolades and praise have followed “The Artist,” a French silent film about a silent film star, from Cannes to Toronto to the States. The same is true of Britain’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” a movie about the search for a Soviet double agent at the top of the British secret service.

There are, of course, many other titles due out in the next couple of months that people seem to have forgotten about as well. For instance, Lars von Trier’s “Melancholia,” starring Kirsten Dunst of all people (Yeah. I forgot about her too!), was considered a likely Cannes winner before the director’s poorly-received Hitler joke on the red carpet. And don’t be surprised if David Fincher’s adaptation of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” gets a nomination. (Fincher has secretly evolved into an Oscar groupie.)

As such, this year’s Oscar pull appears to involve the same ingredients that have enticed voters for decades: gripping stories and stellar performances. Both are out in droves this time of season, and cinephiles everywhere are already rejoicing. But for everyone else?

Well, Piranha 3DD might be good.


  • JohnOrloff

    As the writer of ANONYMOUS, I wish I could see your professor’s Oscar worthy performance. Sadly, as your fine school (which my wife attended) declined our request to screen our film, or to host a debate including myself and the film’s director, I will not have that pleasure.

    Regardless if one agree with those who feel there **is** a Shakespeare Authorship Issue– people such as such as US Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, and Brennan, or historians such as David McCulluogh, or authors such as Henry James, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, or Shakespearean actors such as Sir John Gielgud, Sir Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance (who for 10 years was Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe in London)– or not, I am saddened that there is no room for discussion or debate in such a great institution as Yale.

    Boycotting an idea that makes one uncomfortable, or challenges deeply held beliefs seems antithetical to the very concept of a University. If a place such as Yale loses the free exchange of ideas, we are in dark days indeed.

    Though if we’re discussing our fall film choices and the desire to avoid people whose ideas we are uncomfortable with, I would recommend your readers avoid the fine film “A Dangerous Method” made by David Cronenberg.

    Sigmund Freud was, after all, a committed Oxfordian. That is to say, Freud was of the opinion that Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford was the author of the plays attributed to the actor William Shakespeare.


    John Orloff

  • pstreitz

    Mr. Orloff is very correct.

    For years students approached Harold Bloom of Yale with the idea that Oxford was the author “William Shakespeare.” He dismissed such notions as rubbish and jokingly said Lucy Negro (or some such was the author). Academics have stone-walled this issue for decades. But that is not unexpected as Neils Bohr said, “Old phyiscists physicists never change their theories; they die first.” The same is true of the Shakespeare authorship question. Somehow, people are supposed to believe that an illiterate grain dealer from Stratford named William Shakspere was the better candidate than a known poet, playwright and producer living within the Elizabethan Court. The only defense of the man from Stratford is known as the “aristocratic argument” that is, “you just cannot believe a commoner can be such a genius.” Well, I and others certainly can. Few princes or aristocrats ever produced any works of any merit, but given this, this does not preclude them.

    Mr. Orloff, however, might be a little more forthcoming himself. The first book that Oxford was Shakespeare was Shakespeare Identified by J. Thomas Looney (lohney) published in 1929 and there have been a series of books since then arguing that Oxford was Shakespeare.

    Where Mr. Orloff does not give full credit is sourcing his the more contemporary sources that he and Mr. Emmerich relied on, namely my Oxford: Son of Queen Elizabeth I and Hank Whittemore’s The Monument. My book first identified that Oxford was the son of Queen Elizabeth I and Mr. Whittemore’s book concentrates on the later years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign and the Oxford-Elizabeth-Southampton relationship.

    As reported by William Neiderkorn, “Marco Shepherd, an Anonymous spokesman, said Emmerich got the Prince Tudor story from reading Whittemore and Streitz.”

    All of us who have long supported Oxford as Shakespeare are overjoyed at Mr. Orloff’s and Mr. Emmerich’s telling the full story of Shakespeare and not simply parsing down to Oxford was Shakespeare. “It’s about illegitimate children; it’s about incest; it’s about all of these elements which Shakespeare plays have.” Roland Emmerich, The Daily Blam, May 4, 2011. They both exhibited intellectual courage beyond compare.

    To understand Shakespeare, you must rewrite Elizabethan history. Elizabeth was not the Virgin Queen; she had six children and her reign was a dynastic struggle between her sons, Oxford, Robert Cecil, Southampton and Essex.

    Paul Streitz
    Author, Oxford: Son of Queen Elizabeth I

    ps As I live in Darien, I would be happy to drive to Yale and enlighten you as to Oxford’s life and works.

  • AYK

    @John and pst
    for a reasoned and responsble respnse to Anonymous see:

  • sutherland4l

    I agree, John. Oxford must have been the Elizabethan Tupac — releasing plays long after his death.

    But there’s this weird thing going on behind the scenes where he attributes all of his shoddy work to his real name and the good stuff to his pen name. But, you know, based on his biography, he seems like the sort of modest guy to demur a rock solid reputation. Plus, with the backing of Freud — who also championed the idea that Lear was in lust with Cordelia — you’re all set.

    And, Paul, I think you’re really on to something with Elizabeth’s flock of children. It’s that kind of “elephant in the room for the entire reign and subsequent reigns and even the Interregnum” that no one really talked about. Thanks for shedding light on that.

    It seems so peculiar, though, that we should find the name of an illiterate man like Billy Shakespeare quite frequently in court files. Then again, as Herman Cain will tell you, those illiterates are always causing trouble. This one with a particularly good knowledge of the law. But maybe he just attended the bimonthly law readings in London.

    The only thing I have a problem with is the phrase “intellectual courage.” You spelled “nullification” incorrectly.

    If you’d like, please come to my suite and we can talk in person.

  • dsk100

    John Orloff above expresses his wish that he might see what he refers to as my “Oscar worthy
    performance.” That is certainly more than I would claim for it, but I am grateful for Michael
    Lomax’s praise. Nonetheless, he and his wife are more than welcome to come to the lecture
    at anytime. We meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2:30 in LC 101, and, as the class knows, I
    also would be happy to buy both of them a cup of coffee after.
    David Scott Kastan