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How'd you get so lucky?



When people stumble upon my not-so-secret identity as a movie critic, they often start chucking questions at me. Most believe that getting paid to give your unsolicited and subjective opinion sounds like a dream, and I do spend a great deal of time pinching myself. But when the clock strikes midnight and I'm trying to get enthusiastic about a film I had zero interest in seeing, it can seem a little nightmarish.

What follows are the questions I am asked most frequently, and the last two were posed to me less than an hour before I wrote this. Since it will be part of our Fall Guide, I'd say it was rather serendipitous.

How did you get a job reviewing films?

Allow me to share some advice: Don't make a brash statement like "This town could use a female movie critic" unless you're ready for someone to call your bluff.

But it's true: There aren't that many women reviewing movies in print, which is odd since statistics show that it's the fairer sex who traditionally decides where the moviegoing dollars will be squandered.

Why does it seem as though you like all the movies?

Actually, I don't review all the movies. Believe me, I see some dumb flicks, and it's way easier --- and far more fun --- to write a bad review than a favorable review. Each week I have to decide whether I want to turn readers on to a gem or warn them away from a stinker, and I usually opt to share the love.

What's your all-time favorite film?

I am completely head-over-heels for Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves, a brutal exploration of passion and faith with an ending that everyone but me thinks is silly.

Are there any good movies coming out?

I don't know yet if they're good, but these are the ones I want to see:

In Her Shoes: A chick flick by Curtis Hanson (8 Mile, L.A. Confidential) starring the tolerable Cameron Diaz and the amazing Toni Collette as very different sisters sounds just crazy enough to work. (10/7)

Elizabethtown: Cameron Crowe's (Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous) latest is a dramatic comedy starring Orlando Bloom as a guy who deals with professional and personal loss by revisiting his small-town past. (10/14)

Breakfast on Pluto: Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, Michael Collins) returns with this tale of an Irish lad (Cillian Murphy) who was fathered by a priest (Liam Neeson) and goes on to make a cross-dressing life for himself in London. (11/18)

Walk the Line: Joaquin Phoenix portrays Johnny Cash and Reese Witherspoon plays June Carter in this eagerly awaited biopic about the life and times of the Man in Black. (11/18)

What happened to Terrence Malick's Jamestown epic "The New World"?

It got moved to January, but I haven't heard why. I'm far too upset to discuss it.

Mark the calendar

The following are a selection of fall movie release dates. These are subject to change at the whim of production companies, and movies with a limited release (ltd) may take a while to reach Rochester. Patience is a virtue.

September 23

Dirty Love (ltd)
Dorian Blues (ltd)
Into The Fire (ltd)
Paradise Now (ltd)
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Roll Bounce (ltd)
Three Dancing Slaves (ltd)
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

September 26

Carlito's Way: Rise To Power (ltd)

September 30

Art School Confidential (ltd)
The Baxter
Capote (ltd)
The Greatest Game Ever Played (ltd)
A History of Violence (ltd)
Into the Blue
MirrorMask (ltd)
Oliver Twist (ltd)
The Thing About My Folks
The War Within (ltd)

October 7

Before the Fall (ltd)
In Her Shoes
Kinky Boots (ltd)
Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave (ltd)
Two for the Money
The Wallace & Gromit Movie: Curse of the Were Rabbit
ImageOut Film Festival opens, continues through October 16. www.imageout.org

October 14

The Fog
Nine Lives
North Country
Summer Storm Don't Come Knocking (ltd)

October 21

Goose! Kids in America (ltd)
Separate Lies

October 24

Bob the Butler (ltd)

October 26

Ballets Russes (ltd)

October 28

The Legend of Zorro
New York Doll (ltd)
The Passenger (ltd)
Saw II
The Weatherman
Three... Extremes (ltd)
November 4
Chicken Little
The Family Stone
Good Night, And Good Luck
Legend of Zorro
The Matador
National Lampoon's Pledge This!
Protocols of Zion
Where the Truth Lies
The White Countess (ltd)

November 9

Get Rich or Die Tryin'
High Falls Film Festival opens, continues through November 13. www.highfallsfilmfestival.com

November 11

Jesus Is Magic (ltd)

November 13

Polish Film Festival opens at the Little Theatre, continues through November 18.
November 18
Breakfast On Pluto (ltd)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Walk the Line
Pride and Prejudice

November 23

Dying for Dolly
The Ice Harvest
Paradise Now
Syriana (ltd)
Yours, Mine And Ours

December 2

Aeon Flux

December 9

Brokeback Mountain (ltd)
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Memoirs of a Geisha

In This Guide...

    Fall Guide 2005

    A big autumn embrace Jewel-bright leaves trapped between sheets of wax paper.

    Sounds good to me

    Here are music writer Frank De Blase's concert picks for the fall.
    Leon Redbone September 21

    What's so great about Mozart?

    Why, over two centuries after Mozart lived, is he still such a fixture in our cultural consciousness? Why, as we near the 250th anniversary of his birth, is a worldwide celebration mounting, with orchestras clamoring to produce concerts of his music, tourists tracing his footsteps in Austria, and Steinway and Sons giving away an all-expenses-paid trip to Salzburg, the city of his birth?

    Of particular note

    The opening of the concert season is a cause for celebration any time, but this year is particularly noteworthy. Resident musicians --- in the Rochester Philharmonic and smaller classical groups, from the Eastman School's outstanding faculty, and in churches and other venues --- will continue to provide exceptional performances.

    The best of all grapes

    Late this summer there were at least two terrific "Winemaker" dinners at Ravines Wine Cellars overlooking Keuka Lake --- Chasing Pinot: In Search of the Perfect Pinot Noir and Meritage: The Art of Blending. "Meritage"?

    Let them entertain you

    It's time for the local theatrics to gear up and people to start dancing. You will have your pick of performances to attend, from community theater shows in school gymnatoriums to visiting blockbusters --- along with a matching range in ticket price --- but here's what we're excited about.

    Turn on the reading light

    Well, the Rochester Arts and Lectures series is already sold out. If you don't have tickets, you may be able to get standing-room-only tickets to hear Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner)and Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, The Sunday Philosophy Club) --- both worth it.

    Satisfy your inner nerd

    The autumnal re-opening of school doors calls us back inside to the world of books. Summer paperbacks with sand trapped between the pages get shelved.

    Keep it on ice

    Not too many things have lasted for 50 years in Monroe County, but the Rochester Americans have. Since the Amerks were founded a half-century ago, the demographics of its hometown have completely changed, Kodak has withered away, and countless other American Hockey League teams have come and gone.

    They'll fight their hearts out

    There's a certain smell to freshly mowed grass on a high school football field, a mixture of chlorophyll and dew and mud that wafts into a player's nose and triggers a release of adrenaline and testosterone that carries him through the picturesque violence that will consume his mind and body and soul for a quartet of 12-minute quarters. Books and movies like Friday Night Lights can only go so far in relaying the passion and release that is a high school football game.

    It's the season for eating well

    "It is a time when every cook wishes time could stand still and the bounty of the fall last forever." So says Max chef-owner Tony Gullace, and you'll get no argument from the dozens of food-loving friends who jumped to say what they like best about food in the fall.

    The learning never stops

    School is great, but why stop there? There are plenty of museums offering kid-friendly exhibits and events to keep the structured (but fun!)

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