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Autumn peeves

By PETER KEOUGH  |  September 11, 2008

Compared with those problems, being a sexually and politically provocative female member of the British aristocracy in the 18th century seems a walk in the park. Saul Dibb’s THE DUCHESS (September 26) stars Keira Knightley as the Duchess of Devonshire, the Lady Di of her day and then some. Ralph Fiennes and Charlotte Rampling arch their eyebrows.

But back to the trenches. In THE LUCKY ONES (September 26), three soldiers on leave from the war in Iraq share a cross-country trip; Neil Burger (The Illusionist) directs and Rachel McAdams, Tim Robbins, and Michael Peña report for duty. And since that war hasn’t proved very popular with filmgoers, maybe Spike Lee’s World War II drama MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA (September 26) will fare better. Here Derek Luke, Michael Ealy, and Laz Alonso play African-American soldiers trapped in a Tuscan village.

Need a little escapism? How about a thriller about a political assassination? Having despoiled Hitchcock’s Rear Window with his Disturbia, D.J. Caruso lays claim to North by Northwest with EAGLE EYE (September 26). Shia LaBeouf reteams with him as a slacker entangled in a conspiracy perhaps involving Michelle Monaghan and Billy Bob Thornton.

Where to shelter from the storm? Maybe with a Nicholas Sparks potboiler — or an adaptation of one, like George C. Wolfe’s NIGHTS IN RODANTHE (September 26), in which two lost souls meet during a storm-tossed night on the title island. Richard Gere, Diane Lane, and Scott Glenn star.


VIDEO: The trailer for W.

OCTOBER
Every presidential-election year, the Republicans are expected to come up with an October surprise to clinch the contest. So who knows, maybe the bombs are falling on Iran as we speak. Lately, though, the Democrats have done a pretty good job screwing things up on their own. Much like the inhabitants of the idyllic underground city in CITY OF EMBER (October 3), an adaptation of Jeanne Duprau’s children’s book by Gil Kenan (Monster House), they’ll be wondering why all the lights are going out. Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, and Tim Robbins are among those fumbling in the dark looking for answers.

Who’s to blame? Maybe the media. It doesn’t get any more venal than the press in Robert B. Weide’s adaptation of Brit journalist Toby Young’s HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS AND ALIENATEPEOPLE (October 3), a memoir about his failed attempt to take US glossy journalism by storm. Simon Pegg, Gillian Anderson, Kirsten Dunst, and Jeff Bridges star.

Maybe it’s the economy, stupid, and the corporations that thrive on our misfortunes. FLASH OF GENIUS (October 3) tells the true story of some poor schmuck who takes on Detroit to get credit for his invention of the intermittent windshield wiper. Good luck, buddy — take a tip from Francis Coppola’s Tucker and cut your losses. First-timer Marc Abraham directs; Greg Kinnear and Dermot Mulroney star.

Or maybe it’s those godless secular humanists. In Larry David’s RELIGULOUS (October 3), popular curmudgeon and comic Bill Maher takes on organized religion. I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes when the Rapture comes.

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