With Halloween coming next week and the fall chill in the air, this is the perfect weekend to curl up with a good scary movie. The Shining or The Nightmare on Elm Street make for good rentals but if you must see a new release, the third installment in the psycho serial trickster movies, Saw III is out. This time ailing Jigsaw kidnaps a doctor and forces her to tend to him while also trying to outwit one of his diabolical traps. Could be good for a few cheap goose bumps. Australian director of Rabbit Proof Fence, Philip Noyce's newest is Catch A Fire, starring Tim Robbins and Derek Luke. Set in South Africa during apartheid, Luke plays a family man politicized by the injustice in his country and Robbins is a police officer on the other side.

If you like your movies with a side of political controversy, this week you have two new features to choose from: the Canadian faux-cumentary Death of a President and the Dixie Chicks documentary, Shut Up and Sing. Of course, President Bush is the inadvertent star of both, as Death depicts his fictional assassination with a documentary style, and Shut Up follows the flack from the Dixie Chicks' critical comments on a London stage. Both movies should be good for a hearty, politically charged discussion afterwards.

For Halloween, Anthology Film Archives is featuring the work of artist collective Dearraindrop from Virginia Beach in a program called, "College Effect On Fast Forward." They'll be premiering a new HD short shot last year on Halloween as well as videos featuring "skeletons swimming in a pool at night." The screening is on Friday at 7:30 pm and you can read more about Dearraindrop in this interview.

The spooky programming for the month of October at Two Boots' Pioneer Theater continues this weekend with a cornucopia of Halloween fun. Saturday night is an all nighter of scary flicks, we're talking $25 for 10 hours of movie mayhem which is quite a deal. There will also be a costume contest and a promise of free popcorn for anyone who "summons a demon." On tap is a seance movie as well as documentary on witchcraft and Bell, Book, and Candle a romantic comedy starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak as a witch who woos him.

Director Katharina Otto-Bernstein's documentary about the avant garde theater legend Robert Wilson, Absolute Wilson begins its run at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas. Featuring interviews with folks like David Byrne, Susan Sontag and Philip Glass, the film offers new insights into this American director, designer, architect and sculptor.

Gothamist Pick:
2006_10_arts_babel.jpgOne of fall's most anticipated new films, Alejañdro González Iñárritu's Babel opens in theaters this weekend. Starring a spectacular international cast, Babel uses interlocking stories to show how language in our modern world can both connect and separate us. Brad Pitt gives one of his strongest performances yet as an American traveling in Morocco with his wife (Cate Blanchett) who is mysteriously shot while riding in a tour bus. Bring a box of Kleenex to the theater, this movie is a real gut-wrenching viewing experience. The only minor complaint would be that the movie couldn't give even more screen time to the always excellent Gael García Bernal, as a Mexican wedding attendee and Kôji Yakusho as a grieving Japanese businessman. Like his previous films, 21 Grams and Amores Perros, Babel is sure to generate some serious Oscar buzz for Iñárritu.

[Production Still of Pitt and Blanchett from Babel.]