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Fall Film Guide

Now that summer's marauding robots, badly behaving groomsmen and ill-tempered aliens are heading into the megaplex sunset, it's time to buckle down for fall. This season generally offers more substantial fare -- from festivals packed with meatier, less-seen features to the release of early Oscar contenders. However, if you're among those who can't get enough dreck, you should still find the season fulfilling, with two series of schlocky films.

Fall Film Guide
Training Rules

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 24th year. The fest runs Oct. 16-25, at SouthSide Works (with one screening at CMU), and will offer 17 full-length films, with an emphasis on gay issues and relationships. Program highlights include: a campy musical comedy from Casper Andreas (Slutty Summer); romances aplenty; and Training Rules, a documentary about breaking down exclusionary policies that kept lesbians off the Penn State women's basketball team.

Soon after, the 28th annual Three Rivers Film Festival (www.3rff.com) kicks off. The Pittsburgh Filmmakers affair runs from Nov. 6-21, with films screening at the Harris, Regent Square and Melwood theaters. As always, variety is key, with short features, documentaries, indies, international cinema and the ever-popular restored silent classic presented with live musical accompaniment. This year, it's a new print of Vertov's 1929 Soviet-cinema classic, Man With a Movie Camera. 

Not to be outdone, The Andy Warhol Museum (www.warhol.org) gets trashy in a big way with Super Trash Film Fest, a bi-monthly series of classic double-features noted for being exploitive, outrageous, offensive or just amusingly bad. From avengers (Massacre at Central High) and swingers (Abigail Leslie Is Back in Town) to Christmas (Silent Night, Deadly Night) and the Village People (Can't Stop the Music) ... there is something for all. The festival, which runs Oct. 17 through Jan. 29, is in conjunction with an exhibit of similarly themed movie posters.

Fall Film Guide
Phantom of the Paradise

Need more horror? The Oaks Theater in Oakmont (www.theoakstheater.com) is screening classic shriekers on Friday and Saturday nights throughout October. On the slate: the original Frankenstein; the cult Texas vampire flick Near Dark; a demented Joan Crawford in Strait-Jacket; and the horrifyingly bad rock-opera Phantom of the Paradise.

Over in Oakland, Amigos del Cine Latinoamericano hosts a weekly Thursday night screening at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium with a focus on Latin American films (amigosdelcinelatinoamericano.blogspot.com). This season's theme is Clowns, Robots, Killers and Wrestlers: the Latin American Film Genres. The ongoing free program runs through Dec. 10.

It's still more genre film and killers at Pittsburgh Filmmakers' Sunday-night classic-film series at Regent Square -- though perhaps the mayhem is slightly more genteel. October's theme is "Menace Behind the Manners: British Noir," and includes The Third Man, Fallen Idol, It Always Rains on Sunday and Brighton Rock

Fall Film Guide
The Road

Last fall, everybody 'round these parts was waiting for The Road to hit theaters; after a delay of a year, the wait will be over Nov. 25. Significant portions of this adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic downer were shot in the Pittsburgh area. Also that day: Pittsburgh's own Rob Marshall takes the helm for Nine, an adaptation of the Broadway musical inspired by Fellini's classic film .

Fall Film Guide
Where The Wild Things Are

Oct. 16 sees Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are, a live-action adaptation of Maurice Sendak's 10-sentence children's book. Later in the month, it's the final days of the recently deceased pop star, in Michael Jackson: This Is It!, which includes footage from last summer's concert rehearsals (Oct. 28).

Fall Film Guide
Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire

November owns the worst title of the season -- Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire. But this tale about a Harlem teen-ager struggling with obesity, unwanted pregnancy and an abusive mother has Oprah's imprimatur and great buzz from Sundance. More lighthearted "serious" entertainment is also on deck for the month. 2012 is an effects-laden actioner, featuring the planet self-destructing when the Mayan calendar ends in three years. And can't vampires, werewolves and teens just get along? The second installment of the Twilight series, New Moon, lands Nov. 20.

Fall Film Guide
New Moon

The big holiday movies in December include: Guy Ritchie's irreverent Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr.; James Cameron's much-anticipated Avatar; and The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson's adaptation of Alice Sebold's best-seller.

The very concept of Saw VI (Oct. 23) may signal the dearth of creativity in Tinsel Town, but even that film hasn't been remade as many times as Dickens' holiday chestnut. A new 3-D animated version -- now called Disney's A Christmas Carol –-- opens Nov. 6, and features Jim Carrey in eight roles. Now, if only Jigsaw could pop up in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel ...

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By Mars Johnson