After the burly ho-hummery of summer blockbusters, the autumn arts season is supposed to offer innovation, cerebration, the thrill of threat. Not so much this year. From heroes (James Bond) to villains (the murderous Dr. Crippen), everything new is old again. The first single from the fall CD by Beyoncé says it all: Deja Vu. Seen this, heard that. And, if it's any good, happy to feel it again.
Any changes are baby steps. Best-selling sportsman Michael Lewis (Moneyball) shifts from baseball to college football. In The Departed, Martin Scorsese moves from the gangs of New York to the Boston mob. Care for a series based on the backstage agita at a sketch-comedy show? NBC has two of them. And, yes, there's a new Bond--craggy Daniel Craig--but Casino Royale follows the recent formula of using a prequel to extend a franchise.
We've broken the coming season down in three ways: events you won't be able to avoid, smaller treats you won't want to miss and the new faces of the season. Those are people who, by the time winter cracks its knuckles, we expect to be full-fledged members of the pop-culture A team. Some, like Craig, you may already vaguely know, and others, like America Ferrera on the ABC soap-com Ugly Betty, are brand-new and promising faces. Maybe fall is going to get hot after all.
A Soft Comedy With a Hard Core UNMISSABLE
Here's a nice relationship comedy to warm the cooler months. Half a dozen young folks meet in a salon to watch the cabaret, talk out their troubles and, as the mood strikes them, have sex--hard core and up close. Shortbus could be called the first middle-class porno movie, but that description wouldn't be fair to this engaging study of love and lust from John Cameron Mitchell, star and author of the off-Broadway hit Hedwig and the Angry Inch. At the film's center is Sofia (Sook-Yin Lee), a sex therapist who gets no kick from sex. She and her friends illustrate, amusingly and quite graphically, the way the artist class of post-9/11 urbanites gropes toward intimacy. Not weird enough for you? O.K., it's also a musical.
Investing in Bond Futures UNCOVERED
They are the three most powerful numbers in show business, capable of transforming mortal men into movie gods. So when Daniel Craig was offered the role of 007 in Casino Royale, the 21st James Bond film, he was torn. Should he decline and keep building a steady career of small parts in big films (such as Angelina Jolie's lover-rival in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a Mossad agent in Munich) and big parts in small films (Layer Cake's nice-guy coke dealer, Ted Hughes in Sylvia)? Or should he accept and become forever the man who was Bond? He turned to Pierce Brosnan, four-time veteran of Her Majesty's Secret Service, for advice. "Go for it," Brosnan told him. "It's a blast."