Autumn is a time of transition. Children make the shift from summer's sweet liberty to the structure of school, the weather moves - it is hoped - from sweltering to soft and cool, and, in Hollywood, movies leave big and loud behind in favor of smaller and theoretically smarter fare.
The reasoning behind this annual sea change is simple. Studios, which have spent months throwing money at the problem of attracting audiences, can't afford to keep producing high-dollar pictures.
There also is a little something called Oscar that comes into play. Most studios, believing that memories of academy voters are incredibly short, march out their high-profile pictures toward the end of the year, many of them in the fall.
Here's a look at a few of the notable releases scheduled before the end of November. Please note that the release dates might change.
• Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Before Chicken Run, there was Wallace & Gromit, an absent-minded inventor and his long-suffering dog. The pair make their feature-length debut in this tale of vegetable gardens under attack. Oct. 7.
• Elizabethtown. Cynics, beware: Nobody breaks out the bittersweet romance with as much verve as Cameron Crowe (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous). This time out, he casts Orlando Bloom as his flawed traveling hero and Kirsten Dunst as the stranger who just might save him. As in all of Mr. Crowe's movies, music will play an important role, so listen up. Oct. 14.
• Good Night, And Good Luck. David Strathhairn plays Edward R. Murrow, the pioneering television journalist who courageously stood up to Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s during the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Shot in austere black and white, the film features some real star power. George Clooney plays producer Fred Friendly and also directs the film. Oct. 14.
• Shopgirl. Ah, choices. Claire Danes plays a department store employee who must choose between a wealthy divorcee (Steve Martin) and a slacker musician (Jason Schwartzman). The screenplay was adapted by Mr. Martin from his novel. Oct. 21.
Also in October: The union drama North Country (Oct. 7), the swashbuckling sequel The Legend of Zorro (Oct. 28) and the psychiatric-romantic comedy Prime (Oct. 28).
• V for Vendetta. Sometimes movies just become topical. Shot before the terrorist attacks in London, this movie is an adaptation of a comic book about a masked freedom fighter (Hugo Weaving) leaving his explosive mark on an imagined London-as-a-fascist-state. Natalie Portman co-stars as his proteg. Nov. 4.
• Jarhead. Based on Anthony Swofford's account of his time as a Marine during Desert Storm, this film, directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) promises to be something much more that a rehashing of military history. Academy Award winners Jamie Foxx and Chris Cooper are part of the ensemble cast. Nov. 4.
• The New World. A costume epic by cinematic visionary Terrence Malick (Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven), The New World stars Colin Farrell as John Smith, the English explorer who made Pocahontas a household name. The cast also includes Christopher Plummer and newcomer Q'Orianka Kilcher, who plays the famous Powhatan princess. Nov. 9.
• Walk the Line. Rather than bring the entire scope of music legend Johnny Cash's career into focus, the makers of this Man in Black biopic concentrate on his tempestuous courtship of June Carter, whom he would eventually marry. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon, who play the late Cash and Carter, perform all their own music in the film. Nov. 18.
• Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Just as the Harry Potter novels seem to be growing in scope, so have the movies. This adaptation, the first of a "big" Potter book, faced the challenge of condensing more than 700 pages of prose into a 2-hour movie. Nov. 18.
Also in November: The Disney fable Chicken Little (Nov. 4), the musical adaptation of Rent (Nov. 11) and Pierce Brosnan's first post-Bond project, The Matador (Nov. 18).
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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