Normally, autumn offers a respite from the remake- and sequel-heavy summertime fare, but times are lean: Be forewarned that Hollywood is still in a recycling mode. But first the good news -- fall is also festival time.
The first of the 'Burgh's two long-running festivals to return is the Pittsburgh International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival (www.plgfs.org), now in its 26th year. The fest runs Oct. 14-23, and will offer 16 full-length films. Opening night is a double-header, with The Night Watch, a drama set in London during World War II, and a new Caspar Andreas sex comedy, Going Down in La La Land. Also look for films from Germany, France and Australia, as well as a new doc, We Were Here, which recounts the early days of AIDS in San Francisco.
Soon after, the 30th annual Three Rivers Film Festival (www.3rff.com) kicks off. The Pittsburgh Filmmakers affair runs from Nov. 4-19, with screenings at the Harris, Regent Square and Melwood theaters. As always, variety is key, with short features, documentaries, indies and international cinema.
In conjunction with its fall exhibition Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross, The Andy Warhol Museum (www.warhol.org) will screen several thematically related films, including Flash Gordon (Oct. 7); The Toxic Avenger, with guest director Lloyd Kaufman (Oct. 21); and Escape From New York, with visiting actors Adrienne Barbeau and Tom Atkins (Nov. 4). Also screening, two more Unseen Treasures from the George Eastman House -- the restored silent films The Golden Bed (1925), on Sept. 30, and Jazzmania (1923), on Oct. 14.
Later this fall, Filmmakers opens The Hedgehog, a French dramedy about a suicidal little girl; the religious drama Higher Ground, starring and directed by Vera Farmiga; and Love Crime, a French thriller featuring a pair of competitive businesswomen. In October, the Sunday-night classic series at the Regent Square Theater will feature the ever-popular director Alfred Hitchcock.
The Oaks Theater, in Oakmont (www.theoakstheater.com), is reprising its Moonlit Matinee Horror Film Festival, screening classic shriekers on Friday and Saturday nights throughout October. In November, Phil Grabsky will present his film The Boy Mir, documenting 10 years in the life of a post-Taliban-era Afghani lad.
Among other less-mainstream fare: Over in Oakland, Amigos del Cine Latinoamericano hosts a once-a-month free screening of Latin American films at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium (amigosdelcinelatinoamericano.wordpress.com).
Back at the megaplex, it's a busy season for George Clooney: He directs and stars in The Ides of March (Oct. 7), a timely drama about a scandal during a presidential campaign; and later, in November, he plays a family man confronting a tragedy in Alexander Payne's The Descendants. In other dramas, two noted political ball-busters get the bio-pic treatment: Leonardo DiCaprio portrays the FBI's head honcho Hoover, in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar (Nov. 9), and Meryl Streep gets steely as Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, in The Iron Lady (December).
Funny times ahead: Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black take a life-reassessing road trip in The Big Year (Oct. 14), and Jonah Hill shames the fine art of babysitting in The Sitter (Dec. 9). Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy front Tower Heist (Nov. 4), a comedy caper about disgruntled workers stealing back their pilfered retirement funds. Matt Damon stars in Cameron Crowe's adaptation of We Bought a Zoo (Dec. 23), about -- well, buying a zoo. And we don't know who requested more Adam Sandler, but in the comedy Jack and Jill (Nov. 11), he plays twin brother and sister.
For the kiddies, the buzz is out for Hugo, Martin Scorsese's adaptation of Brian Selznick's steampunkish novel about an orphan boy living in a train station, and The Muppets, starring the popular puppets and Jason Segel. Both films open Nov. 23. A month later, the intrepid boy reporter from Belgium has his big-screen debut, in Steven Speilberg's The Adventures of Tin Tin. For the young-at-heart, but still tough-as-nails, Real Steel (Oct. 7) pits a father and son in a boxing match against a robot.
Remakes this season include: the terror-under-the-ice thriller The Thing (Oct. 10), the dance-o-rama Footloose (Oct. 17), swashbuckling The Three Musketeers (Oct. 21) and the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Dec. 21).
And the list of sequels (and spin-offs) is alarming: Paranormal Activity 3 (Oct. 21); Johnny English Reborn (Oct. 28); A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas (Nov. 4); Puss in Boots (from Shrek) (Nov. 4); Happy Feet Two (Nov. 18); The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (Nov. 18); Piranha 3D (Nov. 23); Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Dec. 16); Sherlock Homes: A Game of Shadows (Dec. 16); and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Dec. 21). This fall, it really does seem like old times.