Fall flick action 

After a summer of super heroes and sequels, now the blockbusters give way to more "serious" films, right?

Well, sort of. Hollywood's take on serious usually means costume-heavy period pieces and overwrought dramas, and plenty of those do show up in the autumn lineup. But the season also has a curious palette for action flicks, screwball comedies and some super-sized sequels that might make you think it's summertime all over again.

September kicks off with an odd turn from Macaulay Culkin, who plays homicidal alone in Party Monster. It's the true story of New York party boy Michael Alig, who kills his drug dealer (Wilson Cruz).

Later that month Lost in Translation gives us another peek at screenwriter Sofia Coppola's (The Virgin Suicides) unique cinematic aesthetic. She directs Bill Murray in an eccentric drama set in Tokyo.

The month wraps up with the first of Nicole Kidman's two fall efforts, The Human Stain. It's based on the Philip Roth novel and pairs her romantically with Anthony Hopkins (eww). She surfaces later in Cold Mountain, which it turns out actually isn't an autobiography of her marriage to Tom Cruise.

October arrives with Quentin Tarantino's much-anticipated Japanimation-inspired kung-fu flick Kill Bill, which the director is releasing in two separate 90-minute parts. Uma Thurman stars as an assassin bent on revenge, and a handful of other Tarantino alum also surface. But the month's oddest offering has to be Intolerable Cruelty. There's something a bit unsettling in that the Coen Brothers (O Brother Where Art Thou?, Fargo) are behind a movie billed as "a romantic comedy with bite." George Clooney faces Catherine Zeta-Jones in a battle of the sexes. You can say "bite" again.

Russell Crowe returns in November with another high-energy historical epic, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The nautical drama puts the action on board a battleship during the Napoleonic Wars. We'll go ahead and blame Pirates of the Caribbean for the ship-centric setting, even though it's probably unrelated.

Speaking of the sea, an insanely expensive cast (Will Smith, Renee Zellweger, Robert DeNiro) assembles for Sharkslayer, this year's second underwater animated movie.

November also serves up The Matrix: Revolutions, and we can only pray that the psycho-babble of the second film will make some granule of sense once this, the trilogy's concluding chapter, ends. It almost certainly won't stand up against the season's other grand finale flick, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, opening in December. The seemingly endless fantasy trilogy finally ends with Frodo (Elijah Wood) reaching Mt. Doom just moments before LOTR burnout kicks in.



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