Fall movies: Downbeat is in

Critic David Edelstein previews the latest offerings from Hollywood, and finds even the comedies are grim:

Glum though I am about the end of summer, with fall comes ... no superhero movies!

And no 3-D! Well, a lot less, which means fewer headaches, so sell your Tylenol stock.

Fall opened strong last Friday with "Moneyball," and next Friday brings another bright comedy called "50/50," after hero Joseph Gordon-Levitt's odds of surviving his spinal cancer. Yes, it's grim, too, obviously. But the film is less about his illness than other peoples' dumb behavior in the face of it.

And in the case of Anna Kendrick as his novice therapist, she's so lovably dumb you're almost happy a horrific disease helped 'em meet cute.

More downbeat than the cancer movie is "Take Shelter," from brilliant young director Jeff Nichols, about a man played by Michael Shannon ravaged by visions of apocalypse. It's arty and creepy and as barmy as its hero in the end. But it might just capture the national mood.

The downbeat goes on in George Clooney's latest as director and actor, a political melodrama called "The Ides of March," starring Ryan Gosling as a campaign aide to lefty presidential candidate Clooney whose high ideals plummet to Earth, don't cha know, when it's time to win. I like the first half, before all that smug cynicism.

Hollywood's money is in proven properties they already own, which is why in the space of seven days you can see three, count 'em, remakes: "Footloose," "The Thing," and the 89th version of "The Three Musketeers." I don't need any of these, though if the dancing in "Footloose" isn't chopped up like a chicken at Benihana, I'll give it a spin.

"Anonymous" says Shakespeare didn't write his plays, and since he's been dead for 400 years he can't sue.

He could have, though, if he'd been a character in the Justin Timberlake paranoid futuristic thriller, "In Time," about rich people living centuries longer than poor ones. (Which means they could theoretically see, like, 230 versions of "The Three Musketeers.")

The non-remake, non-sequel, non-franchise darling of the fall comes in late October.

"Like Crazy" stars Anton Yelchin and Brit Felicity Jones as two young people who come together, and break up, and come together, and ... yeah, you've seen it, but the camera is so close and these two are so raw, it hurts just to look at them. It made me remember my first break-up, when I stayed for a week in the fetal position.

And we've come to November, which is another season - "holiday-movie" season, when you start hearing that word again.

The "O" word. No, I won't say it, too soon. Let's wait until the decorations go up.