Prepare to see stars in your local arthouse as the summer turns to fall. Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Drew Barrymore will all grace celluloid in the coming months. There are new films from star directors — Tarantino! Campion! Soderbergh! Coen brothers! Even the new documentaries are driven by stars — Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story,” LeBron James’ “More Than a Game” and Anna Wintour’s “The September Issue.” And then, as Matt Singer will tell you, there are breakout stars who you should start catching up with now. In between, there’s epic animation (“Ponyo” and “9”), an astounding array of asskicking (“Ong Bak 2” and “Black Dynamite”) and Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist,” proving there’s there’s just about something for everyone this fall at the multiplex. (And if not there, make sure to check out what films you can catch in the comfort of your own home on demand, online, and on DVD and at your local repertory theater.)
The Cast: Charlyne Yi, Jake Johnson, Michael Cera
Director: Nicholas Jasenovec
Fest Cred: Sundance, Seattle, Los Angeles
The Gist: As hard as it is to define Yi’s unique brand of humor (which she deftly applied as the lone female in the “Knocked Up” animal house), it might be even harder to describe the romantic comedy in which she plays herself as a woman who doesn’t believe in love, featuring real woman-on-the-street interviews with successful couples while she starts a relationship with her (maybe) real-life boyfriend Michael Cera. The hybrid of woman-on-the street interviews, handmade dioramas and injections of narrative interludes earned Yi and co-writer/director Jasenovec the Waldo Salt screenwriting prize at this year’s Sundance.
The Cast: Maggie Hatcher, Tilly Hatcher, Alex Karpovsky, Katy O’Connor
Writer/Director: Andrew Bujalski
Fest Cred: Berlinale, SXSW, Buenos Aires
The Gist: “Mutual Appreciation” director Bujalski continues to make a personal travelogue of places he’s lived with this Austin-set story of twin sisters who find themselves simultaneously in a rut in their professional and personal lives.
The Cast: Talat Bulut, Özgü Namal, Murat Han, Mustafa Avkiran
Director: Abdullah Oguz
Fest Cred: Copenhagen, Vancouver, Cleveland
The Gist: Based on Zülfü Livaneli’s novel of the same name, this Turkish thriller stars Namal as a 17-year-old girl whose family approves an honor killing after fearing her chastity’s been taken and recruits a distant cousin to carry out the act during a long boat trip, only things get complicated when the cousin starts to have feelings for her.
“By the People: The Election of Barack Obama”
Directors: Amy Rice and Alicia Sams
The Gist: Rice and Sams started rolling their cameras on the then-Illinois senator in 2006 before he announced his candidacy for the presidency and subsequently got hundreds of hours of behind the scenes footage from the historic campaign. Bankrolled by Edward Norton, Sony and HBO are taking the doc out for a one-week awards qualifying run in Los Angeles before a full theatrical release later this fall.
The Cast: Ursula Werner, Horst Rehberg, Horst Westphal
Director: Andreas Dresen
Fest Cred: Cannes, Munich, Karlovy Vary, Toronto, Berlinale
The Gist: Fitting alongside nicely with Paul Cox’s 2000 sexually charged septuagenarian romance “Innocence,” Dresen’s drama stars Werner as a 67-year-old clothier who finds her passion reignited during a torrid affair with an 76-year-old widower. The film arrives in America after winning a slew of awards abroad, beginning with its Un Certain Regard Prize at Cannes in 2008 and German Film Awards for Werner as best actress and Dresen as best director.
The Cast: Paul Giamatti, Dina Korzun, Emily Watson, David Strathairn, Katheryn Winnick, Lauren Ambrose
Writer/Director: Sophie Barthes
Fest Cred: Sundance, Cannes, Seattle, Los Angeles, Sydney
The Gist: Don’t call it a Charlie Kaufman movie, but Sophie Barthes’ feature directorial debut enters into some similar metaphysical territory with Giamatti starring as a self-important version of himself who discovers a doctor (Straithairn) that can remove and store souls for safe keeping.
“El Tinte De La Fama”
The Cast: Elaiza Gil, Alberto Alifa, Mirtha Borges, Miguel Ferrari
Director: Alejandro Bellame Palacios
The Gist: Last year’s Venezuelan Oscar entry is Palacios’ feature debut, a surrealist plunge into the intoxicating waters of stardom, following a blond beauty who’s egged on by husband to enter a televised Marilyn Monroe look-a-like contest. Her fragile psyche begins to fracture as events in her life begin to oddly mirror those of the real Monroe.
“I Sell the Dead”
The Cast: Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Larry Fessenden, Angus Scrimm
Writer/Director: Glenn McQuaid
Fest Cred: Sitges, Slamdance, Glasgow, Rotterdam, Glasgow, Seattle
The Gist: A throwback to the Hammer films of the ’60s that opened this year’s Slamdance Film Festival, this black comedy stars Fessenden and Monaghan as a pair of grave robbers whose adventures with shovels are chronicled shortly before they get the axe.
“12 in a Box”
The Cast: Brian Mitchell, Anjella Mackintosh, Kenneth Collard, Katy Wix, Paul Williamson, Clare Welch
Writer/Director: John McKenzie
Fest Cred: Berlinale, Boston, Zurich
The Gist: Though it’s advertised as a comedy, this British import might seem more like a terrifying version of “Big Brother” where a dozen former classmates reunite for a weekend in the country and are propositioned to stay 96 hours without leaving the premises in order to win a million pounds. Enough hijinks ensue to make the guests think about changing their friends on Facebook.