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No More Superheros

Fall offers many movie options outside the multiplexes

It’s that time of year again, when film critics get on their high horses to complain that we’ve just suffered through the worst summer in Hollywood history (true enough, though it didn’t hurt the box office any) and to assure readers that the months to come will be much better.

If the summer calendar of big-budget sequels and remakes is predictable, fall is anything but: It will be a rare week when you won’t have a few strong alternatives to going to the multiplex.

The first weekend in October brings the seventh edition of the Buffalo International Film Festival, although you can get a jump-start on it on September 20 with a special screening of Company, starring Stephen Colbert, Neil Patrick Harris, Christina Hendricks, and Patti LuPone in a revival of the Stephen Sondheim show.

The Godfather Part II
Double Indemnity
Chico and Rita
A Man Called Adam

The festival proper opens on October 3 with the animated French film Les aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec. Other likely favorites include Dear Mr. Watterson, a documentary about the creator of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, and Buffalo Boys, one of several locally made films in the festival. Most screenings will be held at the Screening Room in Amherst. For a complete schedule and ticket information visit Don’t wait—some screenings are already nearly sold out.

The Screening Room continues to run its own series of independent premieres and classic film revivals. Among the movies you can look forward to see at this cozy venue through the fall months: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sunset Boulevard, The Godfather II (with a full Italian dinner available before the show), Rear Window, Rosemary’s Baby, Young Frankenstein, and for the holidays White Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Carol. Too mainstream for you? There are also cult nights with Plan 9 from Outer Space, Night of the Living Dead, House on Haunted Hill, and the premieres of two new local horror films: Dry Bones and Legend of Six Fingers. You can get more information at

Seeking to expand its range beyond horror films, the Buffalo Screams festival has been reborn as the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival. Founder Greg Lamberson defines its mission thusly: ”To bring the best independent short, medium length and feature length genre films from around the world to Buffalo, and to shine a spotlight on local filmmakers whose work merits attention.” Genres included will cover science fiction, fantasy, horror, action, thriller, animation, cult and fan films. As of this writing Lamberson is still viewing submissions, but has booked for opening night Road to Hell, an unauthorized sequel to the 1984 cult movie Streets of Fire, with Michael Pare reprising his starring role. Buffalo Dreams runs from November 8-14 at the Amherst Theater. You can get more information at

The Amherst Theater has been Buffalo’s center for foreign, independent and art films for 30 years. Recently it has been taking advantage of digital capabilities with programs of opera and ballet performances. Those continue this fall with scheduled broadcasts of Carmen from the Handa Opera in Sydney, Rigoletto from Teatro Antico in Taormina, a Chrismas presentation of Sleeping Beauty from the Bloshoi Ballet, and others. Visit

As it has for most of the millennium, Tuesday night belongs to the Buffalo Film Seminars at the Market Arcade Film and Arts Center. Begun as an opportunity for the public to participate in the film class offered by UB professors Bruce Jackson and Diane Christian the Buffalo Film Seminars remain an invaluable opportunity to experience classic films (including many you may never have heard of) in a proper theatrical setting. Among this season’s highlights: Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity (1944), the archetypal film noir; Kon Ichikawa’s grueling war film, Fires on the Plain (1959); Jim Jarmusch’s underrated Dead Man (1995); and Charlie Kaufman’s dreamlike debut film, Synecdoche, New York (2008). All films include an introduction by the hosts and an open post-screening discussion. You can get more information at

Now in its eighth year, the Polish Film Showcase will run November 14-17 at the Montante Cultural Center, 2001 Main Street. Sponsored by the Permanent Chair of Polish Culture at Canisius College, the series regularly features some of the best of recent Polish cinema.

Canisius will also host a new series devoted to Ibero-American films, with screenings every Thursday in October. The series begins on October 3 with the Oscar nominated animated film Chico and Rita, directed by Fernando Trueba (Belle Epoque).

After the success this spring of Jazz Noir, their series of films featuring scores composed and performed (often on camera) by notable jazz musicians, Hallwalls has booked a second batch to begin this month. Like its predecessor, this series features several films newly available or restored, including A Man Called Adam (1966, with Sammy Davis Jr. as a cornetist whose sols are performed by Nat “Cannonball” Adderly), the 1960 Les Liaisons Dangereuses featuring Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey, and others, and John Cassavetes’s directorial debut, Shadows (1959), with music by Charles Mingus and Shafi Hadi. Jazz Noir 2 unspools on Wednesday evenings, September 18-November 6. You can read programmer Ed Cardoni’s informative notes on each film at

And for those of you back in town who have a yen to catch any of the summer movies you might have missed, the drive-ins (of which Western New York has a larger number than most anyplace north of the Mason-Dixon line) are still open. All have been digitally upgraded, so if you haven’t been to the cine al fresco in some years you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much better both the image and sound are.

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