‘Shortbus’ and ‘Marie Antoinette’ Previewed

Photo: Courtesy of THINKFilm

Live Sex Show
• Shortbus, Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, THINKFilm; opens October 6 (NR).
Lately, art-house sex films like The Brown Bunny and 9 Songs have given onscreen erotica a bad rep—when has sex ever been such a turnoff? But Hedwig creator John Cameron Mitchell and his fun, freewheeling Shortbus could reverse the trend. In Manhattan’s lovingly idealized bohemian arts scene, a gay couple experiments with new lovers, a dominatrix broods in her mini-storage-unit apartment, and a “pre-orgasmic” sex therapist (“I’m an idiot savant,” she deadpans) tries to break her dry spell. Explicit and optimistic, it’s the fall’s ultimate date film—if you don’t mind some full-frontal with your popcorn.

Frankincense and Mel
This December, The Passion of the Christ’s unofficial prequel finally arrives: The Nativity Story, directed by strange choice Catherine Hardwicke (of the not-so-immaculate teen flick Thirteen). Meanwhile, Mel Gibson’s Mayan epic, Apocalypto, is slated for December 8. Will Disney bump it? Or hype it with a Gibson confessional?

Photo: Leigh Johnson/Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

The Aristocrats
• Marie Antoinette, Directed by Sofia Coppola, Sony Pictures; opens October 20 (PG-13).
• The Queen, Directed by Stephen Frears, Miramax; opens September 29 (PG-13).
This fall, art houses will deal a pair of controversial queens: Marie Antoinette, Sofia Coppola’s follow-up to Lost in Translation, split critics at Cannes by reimagining the notorious matriarch (Kirsten Dunst) as a girlie (some said American) teenager. Meanwhile, Stephen Frears’s fictionalized exposé The Queen opens the New York Film Festival, purporting to capture how Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) and Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) feuded behind the scenes about how to spin—or honor—Princess Di’s death. Next: De Palma Does the Black Dahlia

‘Shortbus’ and ‘Marie Antoinette’ Previewed