September 2005 is Going to be the Coolest Month Ever

So many exciting and long awaited entertainment events are happening in September that your head might explode from sheer joy and amazement. Neil Gaiman has a brand new book and a film (with the simply amazing Dave McKean) coming out, as well as a signing tour, Tim Burton's delightful Corpse Bride will be premiering, the Washington Book Festival will again be drawing literary luminaries from all over and the First Amendment Project author auctions will be in full swing starting on the first and running through the 25th. There are also a couple of really awful looking movies coming out that I am going to warn you against.

"God is dead. Meet the kids…" says the banner ad for Neil Gaiman's latest adult book, Anansi Boys. Fat Charlie is just an ordinary bloke, or so he thinks. When his father dies unexpectedly he learns that his father, Mr. Anansi, was a god and not just any god, a trickster god, the spider god. No, says Fat Charlie, that can't be right; if my dad were a god I'd have special powers. I'd be a god myself. No, no, is the reply, your brother got all that and Fat Charlie's life changes in ways he never imagined. An excerpt from the book is available at Neil's site as is the first track of the audio book read by the wonderful Lenny Henry. I've been part of a guinea pig audience for various bits of this book read aloud twice and I can't tell you how much fun you'll have when you read it. It's warm and funny and just plain fun and it comes out on the twentieth. W00t!

Mirrormask is an incredibly beautiful, lush, immensely creepy film from Dave McKean (who did amazing amounts of the film on his Mac with a tiny team of assistants), Neil Gaiman, and the Jim Henson Studios. It's about a fifteen year old girl called Helena who hates her circus life and wants nothing more than to just have a normal, non-embarrassing life. Instead she ends up in a mysterious and fantastic world where she sets off on a quest to restore the balance to a dark kingdom and a light. This film was released at this year's Sundance and has been at some other film festivals but the wide release has been pushed back and back in an attempt, I think, to make those of us who got to see part of it last November lose our minds with anticipation. Finally our wait is nearly over and the film will be unleashed on an unsuspecting audience on the thirtieth of September.

Another fantastic and fabulous film coming our way in September is Tim Burton's Corpse Bride, a quirky romantic extravaganza. Victor (Johnny Depp) is engaged to be married but he's kind of nervous and he somehow ends up in the Underworld instead, married to a sort of a zombie, the Corpse Bride (Helena Bonham-Carter). Poor Victor is now engaged and married. What's a man to do? The story is based on a 19th century Russian folktale and looks like tons of fun. It's stop motion animation done with puppets and for those interested in technical details it's filled with firsts. It's the first feature length stop motion film edited with Apple Final Cut Pro and it's the first to be shot with digital cameras instead of film because the digital images were of higher quality. For those who don't care about groundbreaking filming techniques just think about the fact that the film is done in the style of The Nightmare Before Christmas and it is the movie I am most looking forward to seeing. It debuts September 23rd.

The Washington Book Festival takes place on September 24th in Washington DC. This is a really fun event. Last year we got to see golden age legend Frederik Pohl speak about growing up at the same time a new art form, science fiction, was developing. His talk, which you can find here was one of my highlights of 2004. This year we have a wide variety of authors ranging from the literary (John Irving, E.L. Doctorow, Jonathan Safran Foer) to the much admired (Buzz Aldrin, the MBA (no, I don't know what that means), Lynne Cheney) and those who can't be categorized (Thomas Friedman). There will be readings, author signings, and giveaways. It's illuminating, fun and free, what more is there?

The First Amendment Project auction starts on the first. If you think you’d like to be a character in Michael Chabon's next book you should be planning now because the man has hordes of fans and you'll have to be on your game to out auction them and take home the prize.

Debuting on September 2nd we have a film describing itself as "The Most Dangerous Movie Ever Made!" I think they meant to say the most boring movie ever made. It's called Transporter 2 and it's about a guy who moves things around. I know, exciting right? The preview is filled with explosions and a couple of scantily clad women. Of course you can have a good movie with those elements as long as you include a little something I like to call a plot. They use a plot device instead; two small boys who have been injected with a deadly virus and our hero must what, blow up everything in sight in order to cure them? The director seems to have decided that 88 minutes of money shots is an adequate replacement for character development and suspense. The only way you could get me into the theater to see this thing is to inject me with a deadly virus and only give me the antidote after the credits roll.

It's been a long time since I saw a trailer that repulsed me. I might not be engaged or I might think something looks dull or inane but it takes a very special kind of film to actually disgust me. This Jennifer Aniston vehicle called Rumor Has It is about a girl who is about to get married when she figures out that The Graduate is based on her family. So what does she do? She has sex with the man who has already had sex with her mother and her grandmother. This film doesn't come out until December but I wanted to mention it and then pretend it doesn't exist because all I can say about it is yuck, blech, ewwwwww. Did I mention Corpse Bride looks really good? Let's just concentrate on that shall we?