Page 28 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • September 16, 2009 A look ahead to fall’s big screen highlights by Dennis Seuling The figures are in. The top five movie moneymakers of the summer were, in order of dollars earned at the box office, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” “Up,” “The Hangover,” and “Star Trek.” It is now time to look ahead. Animation, offbeat comedy, thrillers, musicals, and children’s films will all be on the big screen in October and November. Academy Award-winning writer/directors Joel and Ethan Coen bring their quirky view of life to the screen with “A Serious Man” (Oct. 2). Set in 1967, the film focuses on Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg), a physics professor at a small Midwestern university, who has just been told by wife Judith (Sari Lennick) that she is leaving him for one of his colleagues, pompous Sy Ableman (Fred Melamed). The Coens’ offbeat supporting characters include Larry’s unemployable brother Arthur (Richard Kind); Larry’s son Danny (Aaron Wolf), a discipline problem and shirker at Hebrew school; and his daughter Sarah (Jessica McManus), who steals money from his wallet to save up for a nose job. Meanwhile, an anonymous letter writer is trying to undermine Larry’s chances for tenure at the university, a graduate student tries to bribe him for a passing grade while threatening a defamation lawsuit, and the attractive woman next door torments him with her nude sunbathing. Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut and appears as skating ace Smashley Simpson in “Whip It! (Oct. 2), about an ex-beauty pageant contestant named Bliss (Ellen Page), who leaves her tiaras behind after joining a roller-derby team. Though her mother would prefer that she lose the skates and return to the world of pageants, the rebellious Bliss looks to the wisdom of rough-edged mentor Malice in Wonderland (Kristen Wiig) in learning the tricks of the derby circuit. The film costars Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Lewis, and Jimmy Fallon. Originally released by the Walt Disney company in 1995, “Toy Story” was the first feature film from Pixar Animation Studios. The film went on to receive Oscar nominations for Best Original Score, Best Original Song, and Best Original Screenplay. On Oct. 2, “Toy Story in 3D” will hit theater screens. The film provides a look at what happens among toys when humans are not around. Set in young Andy’s room, “Toy Story in 3-D” features Woody, a cowboy doll who enjoys his life as a toy. When Andy receives action figure Buzz Lightyear for his birthday, conflict comes to Andy’s room because Buzz does not believe he is a toy. Intensely jealous, Woody plots to get rid of Buzz. When both Woody and Buzz are lost, another level of conflict kicks in as they must find a way to get back to Andy before he and his family move. Voice talent is provided by Tom Hanks (Woody), Tim Allen (Buzz), and Don Rickles (Mr. Potato Head). Michael Stuhlbarg (foreground) stars in Joel and Ethan Coen’s ‘A Serious Man,’ set for early October release. “The Stepfather” (Oct. 16) is a remake of the 1987 thriller. Michael Harding (Penn Padgley) returns home from military school to find his mom (Sela Ward) happily in love and living with her new boyfriend, David (Dylan Walsh). Michael becomes increasingly suspicious of this man, who is always there with a helping hand or wellmeaning bit of advice. Could he be a notorious serial killer who preys on broken families? “Where the Wild Things Are” (Oct. 16) is an adaptation of the classic children’s picture book by Maurice Sendak. Max is sent to his room after rebelling against his mother (Catherine Keener). His imagination takes him to a thriving forest bordering a vast sea. Thrilled, he sets sail for the land of the Wild Things. He lands on an island where he encounters an assortment of mysterious and strange creatures whose emotions are as wild and unpredictable as their actions. The Wild Things are desperate to have a leader to guide them, just as Max longs to have a kingdom to rule. When crowned king, Max promises to create a place where everyone is happy, but soon learns about the responsibilities his role of leader entails. The film combines real actors, computer animation, and live puppeteering. “Pirate Radio” (Nov. 6) is about a band of rogue DJs in England who take to the sea to stand up against a government that prefers jazz, and captivate the British with the sounds of rock ‘n’ roll. Characters include the Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a big, brash, American icon of the airwaves; Quentin (Bill Nighy), the boss of Radio Rock, a pirate radio station in the middle of the North Sea that is populated by an eclectic crew of rock ’n’ roll DJs; Gavin (Rhys Ifans), the greatest DJ in Britain, who has just returned from America to reclaim his rightful position; Dave (Nick Frost), an ironic, intelligent, and cruelly funny co-broadcaster; and Sir Alistair Dormandy (Kenneth Branagh), a fearsome British government official out for blood against the drug takers and lawbreakers of a oncegreat nation. Robert Zemekis incorporates the same visual techniques he used in “Polar Express” in the newest adaptation of Charles Dickens’ perennial holiday classic, “Disney’s Christmas Carol” (Nov. 6). 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