Movie: The Holiday (Nancy Myers)
High-Concept Synopsis: Lovelorn Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet swap locales in an effort to change their fortunes for the holidays. Jude Law and Jack Black co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Winslet fans attracted to the oddity of seeing their girl star in a "rom...antic co...me...dy". RomCom fans who think Nancy Myers (Somethings Gotta Give; What Women Want) does the genre pretty well. Aesthetes -- Diaz and Law ain't exactly a couple of sea hags out there.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Certain male filmgoers whose balls tend to shrivel at the thought of Something's Gotta Give and What Women Want. Cameron Diaz non-fans, who I don't blame one bit. Hardcore Tenacious D fans who are sick at seeing Jack Black "go soft."
Why I'd See It: Winslet does comedy! Come one, come all!
Movie: The Pursuit of Happyness (Gabriele Muccino)
High-Concept Synopsis: Will Smith plays a smart but struggling single father who pulls himself up by his bootstraps or something similar.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences looking to feel good and be inspired. Folks who loved Smith's video for "Just the Two of Us" back in the day and felt it deserved to be expanded into a feature-length movie. Currently unemployed film fans looking for a few good ideas.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Audiences to whom fare as overtly heartstrings-pulling as this sets their teeth on edge. People whose taste for father/son co-stars was forever soured by Kirk and Michael Douglas. Spelling sticklers who have been driven to incoherent angry babbling at the blatant typo in the title.
Why I'd See It: Eh. I probably will, just to be a completist, but to be honest, it's not holding a heck of a lot of appeal.
Movie: Dreamgirls (Bill Condon)
High-Concept Synopsis: A movie musical based on the acclaimed broadway play based on the story of Diana Ross and the Supremes. Beyoncé, Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Oscar-chasers, as this film is currently considered one of the frontrunners. Audiences who have grown to appreciate director Condon, who won raves for directing Gods and Monsters and adapting the Chicago screenplay. American Idol fans who are psyched to be able to voice their support for J-Hud again.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Filmgoers who are pants-wettingly afraid of musicals. People who have burned themselves out on Jamie Foxx's Traveling Self-Congratulation Show. Latoya London, who neither won AI nor got the Oscar-buzzed role in the big Hollywood musical, and you know girlfriend is holding a grudge.
Why I'd See It: Bill Condon is okay by me, and I'm curious to see what kind of performances this combination of actors and material will surface.
Movie: Apocalypto (Mel Gibson)
High-Concept Synopsis: The end times of the Mayan civilization is given the Mel Gibson treatment. Which translates, roughly, to lots of blood and subtitles. And we're pretty sure he defames the Aztecs.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The segment of Gibson's fan base who have taken in all the recent controversy and decided to stand by their man anyway. The segment of Gibson's fan base who don't have TVs, computers, or the ability to read. Mayans worldwide, who have been told its their sacred duty to see it and drive up its grosses. Hey, when a marketing plan works once...
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Jews, sugar-titted women, and those aforementioned Aztecs, who have resented what appears in preview screenings to be a portrayal of their people as greedy Christ-killers, particularly odd since Christ would not be introduced to those peoples for some six hundred more years.
Why I'd See It: What are you kidding? I won't be seeing this movie. I don't know how Mel's gonna get anyone to see it, without having the threat of Lenten damnation to hold over Catholics' heads like he did with a certain religio-horror blockbuster film I could mention.
Movies: Notes on a Scandal (Richard Eyre)
High-Concept Synopsis: Cate Blanchett is a teacher at a British high school whose affair with a student is discovered and preyed upon by lonely (and possibly lesbonic?) fellow teacher Judi Dench. Happy holidays!
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of stately British hard-core thespians getting their scandal on. Fans of scandalous lesbians getting their hard-core British actress on. Fans of note-taking, who we expect have been slightly misled by the title.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Audiences who are fine with lesbians and fine with Judi Dench, but perhaps not both at the same time. Filmgoers who might be fine with Blanchett, but does she have to make three movies every fall? The fine patriots who think an American holiday like Christmas should be celebrated by watching a film set in America, dammit.
Why I'd See It: Blanchett vs. Dench is a battle I'm more than willing to see. The trailer suggests something compelling.
Movie: The Good Shepherd (Robert DeNiro)
High-Concept Synopsis: The early and formative years of the CIA, with Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Alec Baldwin, Billy Crudup, John Turturro, Joe Pesci, and Michael Gambon.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Political intrigue junkies, history buffs, and the "We Realize You've Made a Dozen Movies This Year, But More, Please" society of Matt Damon fanatics.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: The folks at Gitmo, for starters. Lilio Brancato, star of DeNiro's only other directorial effort, A Bronx Tale, who is, we believe, in jail for shooting a cop. So...unless it's movie night in the cell block. Oh, and Jennifer Aniston is probably still holding a grudge against Angie and all, right?
Why I'd See It: The acting talent involved is pretty sick, and the trailer promises something all involved and twisty. Oh, and also sobering, with regard to our nation's checkered black ops past.
Movie: Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone)
High-Concept Synopsis: The bloated corpse of Rocky Balboa gets propped up in the ring to absorb some punches for America one more time.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Desperate nostalgics. Last-minute Christmas shoppers who need to take an hour or so off their feet. Severely punch-drunk people who don't know better.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Actual over-the-hill boxers who can't seem to steady their trembling hands long enough to reach into their pockets for the fare. Rocky fans adamant that the series ended with Dolph Lundgren. Anyone who reads the plot description and makes it to the rival boxer named "Mason Dixon."
Why I'd See It: The laughter.
Movie: Children of Men (Alfonso Cuarón)
High-Concept Synopsis: It's the future, and the human race has stopped being able to produce children. Clive Owen and Julianne Moore have to transport a miraculously pregnant young woman to sanctuary and the hope of a future. Now that's a logline.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Cuarón fans, who have seen him work wonders with Y Tu Mama Tambien and the Azkaban entry in the Harry Potter series. Fans of thinky, grounded sci-fi. Julianne Moore fans ecstatic to see that she's not the freaked-out and embattled mother for once.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Right-wing political types obviously turned off by the film's title. Major film and television actors driven to spitefulness by Clive Owen's awesome talent. Cuarón loyalists skeptical that he can get some of that customary homoerotic tension into the scenes between Owen and Michael Caine.
Why I'd See It: The trailer is one of the most exciting and intriguing of the year, and one that reminds me -- strangely and in all the best ways -- of 28 Days Later. Plus, Owen and Moore are stalwarts, and there's nothing in December that is remotely as compelling.
Movie: Factory Girl (George Hickenlooper)
High-Concept Synopsis: See, back in the '60s, idle rich celebutante princesses latched onto avant garde artists and folk singers rather than Brandon Davis. Sienna Miller is Edie Sedgwick -- who lived fast and died at 28. Guy Pearce co-stars as Andy Warhol, and Hayden Christensen is totally not Bob Dylan, they swear.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Leftover Warholian relics. Gossip mongers eager to see if Miller and Christensen have anything goin' on onscreen. Concerned citizens looking for ideas as to how to kill Paris Hilton by the time she's 28.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: The proud residents of Shittsburgh, PA -- there may not be anything to do there, Sienna, but I'm sure they'll figure out something the weekend your film opens.
Why I'd See It: It's a fun era, and who doesn't love a thinly-veiled Dylan portrait?
Movie: Pan's Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro)
High-Concept Synopsis: Del Toro once again delves into the world of children coping with war-torn Spain amid a fantastical/supernatural setting. This time it's a little girl who creates a fantasy world where she can escape.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Del Toro fans who see all the best elements of his The Devil's Backbone in this scary-yet-warm premise. Audiences who want to scare the hell out of their children as a way of getting the new year off to an obedient start.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Audiences looking for more traditional family fare in December. Audiences looking for more traditional horror fare in December. Audiences who are just fine with non-traditional family/horror, but who don't like to read subtitles. This won't be an easy sell, is what I'm saying.
Why I'd See It: I like the way Guillermo Del Toro approaches a film, and this movie looks to be different from anything available this winter.
Previously: Fall Movie Preview Part 1; Part 2; Part 3