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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age,’ ‘Lust, Caution,’ ‘Trade,’ ‘Silk,’ ‘December Boys’

There are so many movies opening this autumn, it exhausts me just thinking about it. Thirteen movies open this weekend, eight on each of the following weekends. Thirty-nine movies are opening in October. This is insane. It’s almost as if the studios are setting up at least some of these movies to fail.

And it means I’m having to triage movies. Even if I were doing this full-time– scratch that: I am doing this for the equivalent of full-time hours, but I also need to do other work at the equivalent of full-time hours, too, in order to get the bills paid. (Yes, that exhausts me, too.) But even if this were all I were doing, I’d still never get to see everything opening, or even everything I want to see. So it becomes a matter of trying to guess which movies are going to have any kind of impact comes awards time; which movies you, dear readers, will want to hear about and will be in a position to see (the movies opening in one or two theaters are, alas, getting the short shrift from me at the moment, which sucks); and which movies I simply can’t miss because they’re from a director or star that I love.

So there could have been many more movies in this roundup — and there could be many more in the roundups of weeks to come — except I’ve gotta sleep sometime.

One I can’t miss: Elizabeth: The Golden Age [opens wide October 12], the sequel to the 1998 film, which I loved, that follows the virgin queen’s adventures in monarchy. Cate Blanchett reprises her Oscar-nominated role, and Clive Owen joins the cast as Sir Walter Raleigh. He can explore my antipodes any time he wants.

Ang Lee’s got a new film: Lust, Caution [opens limited on September 28], notorious for earning an NC-17 rating for sex, sex, sex, and for winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. It’s another WWII-era batch of intrigue about traitors and collaborators — we had The Black Book earlier this year, too — and how could that not be awesome in the hands of Ang Lee?

Kevin Kline stars in Trade [opens limited on September 21], the title of which refers to global sex trafficking. So, not a comedy, then.

It’s Keira Knightley and the so-far underappreciated Michael Pitt in the historical romance Silk [opens limited September 14]. It’s about the romance of the fabric, I’m guessing, as much as the romance of the, you know, romance, so it’s a good thing they didn’t call it Worm.

I had originally planned to see December Boys [opens limited September 14] a few weeks ago, but I had to cancel that screening. I’ll catch up with it this week. This is the Australian coming-of-age flick starring Daniel Radcliffe, though I’ve heard this was shot before the most recent Harry Potter movies, so while I’d been hoping to see him in a more mature role, it sounds as if his spectacular — and mature — performance in this summer’s Order of the Phoenix is the best indication we have so far of what kind of actor he’s shaping up as.

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