The third in a four-part preview of the Noah-worthy flood of movies the next two months and change have to offer.
Movie: The Ice Harvest (Harold Ramis)
High-Concept Synopsis: John Cusack and Billy Bob Thornton do the quirky, darkly-comic heist flick. With the law of averages being what it is, this was inevitable.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Cusack fans who haven't given up the ghost yet. Fans of The Ice Storm who will mistakenly think this is the sequel where Elijah Wood comes back from the dead to "harvest" his oblivious parents. People with no imagination whatsoever.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People who see Oliver Platt and Randy Quaid's names in the credits and run away in fear of being eaten. People who already saw this movie the previous seven hundred times it's been made. Those of us who still find Billy Bob Thornton, while a good actor, endlessly creepy.
Why I'd See It: I probably won't. But if I did, it would be to see just how far Cusack has fallen.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: Freeze to death while in the company of Billy Bob Thornton, Oliver Platt, and Randy Quaid.
Movie: The Libertine (Laurence Dunmore)
High-Concept Synopsis: Well, I can't do much better than the IMDb capsule: "The story of John Wilmot (Johnny Depp), a.k.a. the Earl of Rochester, a 17th century poet who famously drank and debauched his way to an early grave, only to earn posthumous critical acclaim for his life's work."
Who Will Be Seeing It: Drank and debauched! Who won't want to see this? There's Depp's fans, who cross age, gender, and sexual preference lines. There's highfalutin' costume-drama fans who like a little kink in their corsets. And I'm sure there's some folks out there who will get a kick out of the syphilis.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Okay, most people will be repulsed by the syphilis. And I'm sure Depp isn't loved by everyone. And it's not like Geoffrey Rush's Quills - the last costume drama that married debauchery with powdered wigs – lit the box office on fire.
Why I'd See It: Depp :Rush :: Winning the lottery : Finding a quarter.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: Find a quarter. Or get syphilis.
Movie: Rent (Chris Columbus)
High-Concept Synopsis: Living the boho life in AIDS-ravaged New York, there are songs to be sung, lessons to be learned, and pretty people to get sick and die. Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Adam Pascal, and Idina Menzel star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fundamentally sound cynics who will see it and scoff. Self-hating faux-cynics who will see it, be affected by it, and hate themselves. The jazz-hands crowd.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Folks with an aversion to all musicals. Folks with an aversion to this musical. The national association of landlords, who anticipate some sass in the tone of the title.
Why I'd See It: It both attracts and repulses me. Even with my doubts about Columbus as a director, I'll be there, ready to embarrass myself.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: Pay ten times as much for the play.
Movie: Syriana (Stephen Gaghan)
High-Concept Synopsis: Middle Eastern oil politics has never been this entertaining! George Clooney is the CIA agent, Matt Damon is the oil broker, Jeffrey Wright is the lawyer, and this will all make sense in the end.
Who Will Be Seeing It: TV news junkies. A certain Texas family with ties to oil looking for a few hints (and no, not the Ewings). People who hope Gaghan can bring that Traffic magic to another hot-button issue.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Those who would rather look at Middle Eastern oil politics with a "la la la, I'm not listening!" attitude. People who are a little sick of Clooney's "let me tell you something about America" smugness. People terrified of Jeffrey Wright's awesomeness.
Why I'd See It: I loved Traffic, and if this is anything close to that kind of quality, I'm in.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: Listen to Clooney tell me why it's important that I do see it.
Movie: Aeon Flux (Karyn Kusama)
High-Concept Synopsis: Charlize Theron steps into the thigh-highs of the Liquid Television animated assassin. The futuristic actioner co-stars Frances McDormand, Sophie Okonedo, and Jonny Lee Miller.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Old school Liquid TV fans. Horndog anime fans anxious to slobber over Charlize in spandex. Audiences sick and damn tired of all these serious year-end movies.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Anime purists who can't accept a live-action adaptation. Folks who were scared off the trailer by McDormand's "little orphan Aniie after an electrical socket mishap" hair. Sifl and Olly, who are royally pissed that they didn't get to ride their MTV nostalgia trip to a movie.
Why I'd See It: Looks like a cool, fun action diversion.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: A big-screen version of Dead at 21. No, wait, that's a complete lie. I would LOVE a big-screen version of Dead at 21.
Movie: Transamerica (Duncan Tucker)
High-Concept Synopsis: Felicity Huffman plays a pre-op transsexual who is shocked to discover she had fathered a son, who is now a teenage hustler in New York. Ahh, only in December.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The prettiest ladies with adam's apples you ever did see. Desperate Housewives fans with NO idea what they're getting into. Audiences curious to see what Huffman's pre-lauded performance will be like.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Anyone in between the coasts. Folks who think Cillian Murphy makes for a prettier gender bender. People who live in cities where this won't even appear on a screen. Damn you, New York and L.A.!
Why I'd See It: Huffman's performance is supposed to be something special, and I've always been a fan of hers anyway. Plus, co-stars Finoula Flanagan and Elizabeth Peña are both excellent.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: See Eva Longoria take on a similar role.
Movie: Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)
High-Concept Synopsis: Gaaaayyyyyy cowboys in looooove! It's probably the easiest film concept to summarize all year.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anyone eager to see Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal make with the bucking bronco already. Audiences eager to see what's shaping up to be the film of the year. Ang Lee fans wondering "is there anything he can't do?"
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Oh, the usual "it offends my family values" crowd, naturally. But I'll also leave room for good, open-minded people who still don't have much patience for wide-open-spaces prairie romance.
Why I'd See It: The buzz, she is deafening. This movie came out of Toronto with a wave a superlative reviews. Ledger, particularly, is supposed to be great, something I'd have found hard to believe if he didn't make lemonade out of his Brothers Grimm role. The Annie Proulx story upon which this is based is heartbreakingly beautiful.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: Almost any movie this season.
Movie: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Andrew Adamson)
High-Concept Synopsis: Four children travel through a wardrobe, and find a lion and a witch on the other side. Damn, no wonder I did so well on the SAT reading comprehension!
Who Will Be Seeing It: Any of the hordes of people, young and old, who grew up reading C.S. Lewis's books. Folks looking for the natural successor to the Lord of the Rings fantasy epic throne. People who made their decision on what movie to see by looking up directors in the phone book, starting with "A".
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Defensive LotR fans who don't cotton well to usurpers. People potentially turned off by the heavy Christian overtones in the story. Fraidy-cat children who can't deal with lions and witches. Wussies!
Why I'd See It: I didn't think I'd want to. I never read the books, and I've largely outgrown movies about children having mythical adventures. But the trailer looks wicked cool, and everyone I know who has read the books raves about them. And . . . everyone else will be. Why feel left out?
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: Feel left out. Oh, so sad and lonely.
Movie: Memoirs of a Geisha (Rob Marshall)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ziyi Zhang goes from poor rural child to the most famous Geisha in Japan. Ask your mom. I guarantee she read the book along with everyone else back in 1996.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Costume drama aficionados. Japanophiles positively giddy over such a high-profile adaptation. Fans of the kick-ass cast, which includes Zhang, Ken Watanabe, Gong Li, and Michelle Yeoh.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People put off by the "Japanese characters speaking English for no reason" thing that we've seen in the trailer. People put off by the fact that this very Japanese story got cast with Chinese actors. People too confounded by the "is it Ziyi Zhang or Zhang Ziyi" thing to even leave the house.
Why I'd See It: It looks purty. Really, really purty. The cast is excellent. And I thought Rob Marshall didn't get the credit he deserved for marshalling (see what I did there?) Chicago to that Best Picture win.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: Work in a public library during the Memoirs of a Geisha / Angela's Ashes craze. Again.
Movie: King Kong (Peter Jackson)
High-Concept Synopsis: He's a big, giant fucking ape. She's a tiny blonde. Can these two crazy kids make it work? Not with all these dinosaurs around! Naomi Watts, Jack Black, and Adrien Brody star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who thought Jackson's last films – these tiny arthouse flicks by the name of The Lord of the Rings -- were pretty okay. Fans of the cast – Watts, Brody, and Black tend to rock. People who just love apes. I mean love apes.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People who were grossed out by that last sentence. Kong purists who like their monsters stop-motion animated, consarnit! "Dinosaurs? Come on!"
Why I'd See It: There's a fascination to see just what Jackson will do to try and top LotR.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: Try to live up to the expectations Jackson has in front of him.
Movie: The Three Burials of Meliquades Estrada (Tommy Lee Jones)
High-Concept Synopsis: Joes both directs and stars in a tale of a ranch hand who buries his friend. A lot. Barry Pepper co-stars.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of sepia-toned Mexican meditations on death. Fans who cannot get enough of Tommy Lee Jones – I'm talking the people who paid to see Space Cowboys. Fans of screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga (Amores Perros; 21 Grams).
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People who found Amores Perros and 21 Grams to be soul-suckingly depressing and self-consciously tricksy. People intimidated by Barry Pepper's confident good looks. All the poor souls forever lost in the crevasses of Tommy Lee Jones's face.
Why I'd See It: Jones is supposed to be superb, and I'm interested to see if Arriaga's work strays from its past tendencies with a new director.
I'd Rather See This Movie Than: Get buried. Three times.
Coming this weekend: Southern politicians, Israeli assassins, and here's to a new Mrs. Robinson.