I was letting it get down to the wire, but here's the next installment of the four-part preview of the films set to open in the first quarter of the year. This installment tells me that February holds a few potential diamonds in the rough, or at the very least a couple unregrettable Friday evenings out at the movies. And it all leads up to Fincher (!!) at the beginning of March.
Movie: Music and Lyrics (Marc Lawrence)
High-Concept Synopsis: Picture it: Hugh Grant plays Bill Nighy's character from Love, Actually, Drew Barrymore plays Drew Barrymore's character from The Wedding Singer, and they're both shoved into the worst Nick Hornby book never written about finding love in the unlikeliest of blah-blah-blah.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Washed-up musicians looking for love with their lyricists and/or plant-waterers. Lyricists and/or plant-waterers looking for love with washed-up musicians. Audiences who can't quite resist the cute overload of a Grant/Barrymore pairing.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Audiences whose teeth are set on edge at the thought of a Grant/Barrymore pairing. Audiences who think the whole premise seems rather sitcommy, an idea that isn't exactly refuted by the presence of co-stars Brad Garrett and Kristen Johnston. Anyone who somehow ascertains that this film is coming from the writer/director of Two Weeks Notice.
Why I'd See It: My dark shameful secret is that I really enjoy Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore. I think they're essentially every bit as cute and lovable as the major studios seem to. And, God help me, I thought they looked a little cute in the trailer. On the other hand, I very well may have thought the same thing about Two Weeks Notice, and I can safely say I will never watch the entirety of that movie.
Movie: Breach (Billy Ray)
High-Concept Synopsis: Ryan Phillippe is an FBI agent tasked with surveillance on fellow agent Chris Cooper, who is suspected of being a traitorous double agent. Laura Linney and Dennis Hayesbert co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of well-cast spy thrillers. Filmgoers who liked what Billy Ray did in 2003 with Shattered Glass. The teeming throngs of single women (and, let's face it, men) eager to scope out the newly-single Phillippe.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Secret double agents who won't want their circle of friends to learn how to look for the signs. Pissy cineastes upset that Phillippe keeps glomming onto cool projects with extremely talented artists. The piles and piles of vanquished women left in Linney's wake after the Actress Tournament.
Why I'd See It: Cooper's great, Linney's...well, Linney, and I'm excited to see how Billy Ray can progress from the underrated Shattered Glass. Plus, a movie about a secret double agent Russian spy! How many movies are about that?
Movie: Bridge To Terabithia (Gabor Csupo)
High-Concept Synopsis: The beloved children's book about friendship and the power of imagination makes it to the big screen so it can make a whole new generation of children cry.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The same kids who saw Tuck Everlasting, Charlotte's Web, and other children's book-to-movie adaptations. The same kids who saw The Chronicles of Narnia, an audience Walden Media clearly wants to see return for another helping of CGI fantasy. Adults who read the book as children and forgot how unrelentingly sad it gets.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Unimaginative children, too busy in their world of numbers and discipline to lose themselves in a film such as this. Child-hating adults who break out in hives just thinking about the noise and germs in the theatre with this crowd. People who have read the book but don't quite remember all the CGI woodsprites.
Why I'd See It: I don't know about this one. The original story was about creating a fantasy kingdom out of your own imagination, but the previews for this look like they're losing the kids among all the pricey CGI. As a child, only two books ever made me cry: this and Charlotte's Web. And I didn't see that movie either.
Movie: Ghost Rider (Mark Steven Johnson)
High-Concept Synopsis: He may have gotten too old to play Superman, but Nicolas Cage gets his big comic book movie, which sounds like a cross between Daredevil and Constantine. Top shelf stuff, to be sure. Eva Mendes plays the Mary Jane Watson. Sam Elliott plays the Kris-Kristofferson-in-Blade. And Peter Fonda plays the Peter-Stormare-in-Constantine.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Comic book completists, the staggeringly significant group of Nic Cage loyalists, and tattoo artists looking to find inspiration for their newest line of flaming skull ink.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People who have been burned by Cage before. People who have been burned by off-brand comic book movies before. People who see that a movie about a minion of Satan nabbed a PG-13 rating and concluded it couldn't possibly be worth it.
Why I'd See It: They may not be transcendant, but off-brand comic book movies are usually halfway decent, provided that they're not called Daredevil. Still, Nicolas Cage certainly ain't helping matters; his haircut even less so.
Movies: Starter For 10 (Tom Vaughn)
High-Concept Synopsis: James McAvoy plays a Brit starting out in a "posh" university in 1985. Dominic Cooper co-stars.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences who saw The Last King of Scotland and recognize McAvoy as one of the fastest rising stars of his generation. Audiences who saw The History Boys and saw an obscene amount of magnetism out of Cooper. American audiences who are really curious as to what "posh" means.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Brit-phobes. Sexy-Brit-actor-phobes. Adults who still have not gotten over the trauma suffered at their own posh British universities.
Why I'd See It: I'm going to be honest with you: this movie only made this list because of how much I love McAvoy and Cooper. I honestly don't expect this to make much of a ripple outside of England. In other words: I'll be eagerly awaiting the DVD.
Movie: Black Snake Moan (Craig Brewer)
High-Concept Synopsis: Christina Ricci is a trampy white girl. Samuel L. Jackson is a big, virile black man. Their paths cross, and any number of racial and sexual triggers are pulled. Justin Timberlake and S. Epatha Merkerson co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anyone who saw Brewer's Hustle and Flow and saw a budding directorial talent. Audiences eager to see Ricci and Jackson get themselves back on the map, acting-wise. Everyone who saw White Chicks and figure this movie should have more of that insight.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences who don't find a harsh exploration of gender and racial politics in the guise of a brutalizing sexploitation flick to be fun Friday night entertainment. Audiences who parted company with Jackson for good back when he was still yelling about the snakes on his motherfuckin' plane. Anyone who took one look at the title and the poster and ran screaming.
Why I'd See It: Dude, that poster was all I needed. Craig Brewer is serious about saying something with this movie, and I cannot wait to hear it. Plus, it looks like he's having some fun with it. Take that, Todd Solondz's Storytelling!
Movie: The Number 23 (Joel Schumacher)
High-Concept Synopsis: Jim Carrey reads a book of some sort that begins to seem like it's being written about him and also causes him to see bizarre reoccurrences of the number 23 in his life. Psychological thrills and thrilling psychology ensue. Virginia Madsen co-stars.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences who thought Stranger Than Fiction could use a little more creepy paranoia and numerology. Audiences who thought Pi could use a little of that Joel Schumacher magic. Smartass bloggers who think the trailer looks sufficiently spooky and will thus cut out the snide jokes.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Audiences burned by Schumacher one too many times. Audiences who find Carrey entertaining only in a very specific type of comedy. Folks who scoff at the idea that a number can do any harm (I am not one of those people -- ninety-one can fuck you up).
Why I'd See It: Every year or so, a movie comes out that vaguely reminds me of certain aspects of the book House of Leaves -- a novel so utterly unfilmable that I'm forced to look for shades of it in movies that have nothing to do with it. Let's hope this one works out much, much, MUCH better than Cold Creek Manor.
Movie: Lonely Hearts (Todd Robinson)
High-Concept Synopsis: Jared Leto and Salma Hayek are lovers on a killing spree, and John Travolta is the cop hot on their tail. James Gandolfini, Scott Caan, and Laura Dern co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of true-life crime drama. Fans of noir detectives in fedoras, swimming in femmes fatale. People who might not object to being killed so much if Hayek and/or Leto slept with them beforehand.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Folks not interested in a lead actor fat-off between Travolta and Gandolfini. Folks reticent about director Todd Robinson's utter lack of a track record. Audiences more than a little wary of a film getting a platform release in March. What's up with that?
Why I'd See It: That whole Leto/Hayak thing up there? Might not entirely fail to apply to me. Plus, there's been word of mouth here and there that it's a pretty good little thriller.
Movie: Wild Hogs (Walt Becker)
High-Concept Synopsis: Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy try to combat their mid-life crises by taking to the road in their badass motorcycles. Why, yes, it is City Slickers on motorcycles. Except instead of Bruno Kirby, we get Travolta and Martin Lawrence. Lucky us.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who have been waiting a looooong time for someone to capture that middle aged male angst lightning in a bottle again. Anyone lucky enough to make it to the screening room portion of the Scientology Celebrity Center tour. The three most fervent members of the William H. Macy fan club who apparently won't be deterred by anything.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: Anyone whose reading comprehension skills allow them to make it to the end of the sentence: "Tim Allen, John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, and William H. Macy in City Slickers on Harleys."
Why I'd See It: The delightful and award-winning Marissa Tomei has a supporting role. That's certainly worth $9.50.
Movie: Zodiac (David Fincher)
High-Concept Synopsis: The legendary Zodiac killer wreaks havoc on the San Fracisco Bay area in the late 1960s. Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, and Robert Downey Jr. are on the case.
Who Will Be Seeing It: First and foremost, the Fincher fans will be out in large number for this, his first movie since 2002's Panic Room. A close second: Jake Gyllenhaal's fans will be out in full force as well. In fact, anyone who's into true crime and/or visceral filmmaking and/or hotties should really be all kinds of psyched to see this.
Who Won’t Be Seeing It: People who really didn't care for Panic Room. Disappointed astrology buffs who are irate at being misled by the film's title. Kirsten Dunst, who reportedly says the film just doesn't look fun enough. (No, I don't plan on getting over that any time soon, thanks.)
Why I'd See It: Well, serial killer films are cool, and this has a great cast and all, and...oh yeah...it's fuckin Fincher, dude. And if you believe in patterns, you'll note that Fincher's films have, in order, alternated between decent-to-good potboilers (Alien3, The Game, Panic Room) and mindblowingly awesome (Seven, Fight Club), in this blogger's opinion. And it looks like he's due for some awesome.