It's tempting to say that in Mystic River, Clint Eastwood's complex, heartbreaking adaptation of Dennis Lehane's terrific murder mystery, Sean Penn gives the most nuanced approximation of grief to be found anywhere in modern movies.
As a lifelong fan of Woody Allen's cinematic oeuvre, the last five years have been rather painful. Sure, Small Time Crooks was a lot of fun and Sean Penn delivered a truly inspired performance in Sweet & Lowdown, but The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, though intermittently amusing, felt pretty stale, and Celebrity and last year's Hollywood Ending were just plain awful. (Part of being a true fan includes admitting when your heroes fail, and feeling somewhat heartbroken when they do.)
Before our cineplexes, and this column, become completely inundated with family-oriented holiday fare such as Treasure Planet, the latest Harry Potter, and The Santa Clause 2 (which is already in release ... how is it that holiday movies, like Christmas decorations at the mall, now routinely arrive the day after Halloween?), let's take a brief look at some of autumn's more adult works, a couple of which - unsurprisingly - have already left a theatre near you.
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