Fall movie season is upon us! What goodies await? What kind of an impact will they make? How many leading questions will I ask before I just get on with it? Three. The answer is three.
Movie: The American (Anton Corbjin)
High-Concept Synopsis: George Clooney plays the titular American, an assassin hiding out in an Italian village. He eludes captors! He prepares for a job! He talks metaphysics with a local priest! He romances an Italian brunette of the sort you'd expect him to date in real life.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Clooney, and especially the amorous ones, as there are more than a few shots of shirtless assassin-training. Fans of director Corbjin, whose 2007 film Control was received quite well. American fans of European cinema.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: American fans of American cinema and only American cinema. American actresses taking umbrage at Clooney taking his leading man charms to Italy on this one. Concerned Citizens for Detail-Oriented Film Titles.
Why I'd See It: I'm a fan of Clooney, but this role seems to be a combination of his characters in Syriana and Up in the Air, two roles I find to be Lesser Clooney, Oscar love be damned. Also, I know a lot of people loved Control, but I found it snoozy, and the trailer for this movie projects a similar drowsiness. Not entirely sold. September 1
Movie: Machete (Robert Rodriguez, Ethan Maniquis)
High-Concept Synopsis: Danny Trejo plays the titular betrayed tough guy who embarks upon a bloody campaign of revenge, yada yada Mexico, guns, grindhouse.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Robert Rodriguez's orgiastic celebrations of grimy, violent genre filmmaking. Audiences happy to see all-star character actor Trejo finally get his moment in the sun. Lost fans eager for the long-denied meeting of Frank Lapidus and Ana-Lucia.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who would roll at their eyes at the self-indulgence of Rodriguez making a feature film based on one of his fake trailers from Grindhouse. People who would refuse to see any movie that leads its trailer off with Jessica Alba. People who would be so busy trying to determine whether Robert DeNiro is or isn't slumming it in this movie that they miss its theater run entirely.
Why I'd See It: I was completely ready and willing to ignore this movie -- I'm hit and miss with Rodriguez, and his half of Grindhouse wasn't remotely my thing -- until I saw the trailer in front of Piranha 3D. It reminded me quite a bit of From Dusk 'Til Dawn, perhaps my favorite Rodriguez movie and certainly a classic of modern junk cinema. Plus I kind of have a soft spot for Michelle Rodriguez, and she got fairly prominent placement in the trailer. September 1
Movie: Going the Distance (Nanette Burstein)
High-Concept Synopsis: Drew Barrymore and Justin Long are cute and in love and must navigate a long-distance relationship.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Romantic comedy fans who find Barrymore and Long appealing. Fans of the supporting cast which is brimming with talent, from Christina Applegate to Jason Sudekis to Charlie Day to Kelli Garner to Jim Gaffigan. The entire staff at Us Weekly.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who hate Barrymore's sunny cheerfulness and Long's shrug-ful cuteness. People who didn't dig director Burstein's teen docu-soap American Teen (those people are wrong). PC users.
Why I'd See It: I've already talked about how much I'm looking forward to this one -- it's my great romantic comedy hope as the summer checks out. And I love Drew Barrymore and Justin Long so there. September 3
Movie: The Tillman Story (Amir Bar-Lev)
High-Concept Synopsis: The family of former NFL player turned post-9/11 Army enlistee turned friendly-fire victim Pat Tillman search for the truth of Pat's death amid lies and obstructions from the military and government.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Documentary fans encouraged by the waves of great buzz coming out of the film festivals, including Sundance. Anti-war types looking for a movie to stick it to the war machine. Folks with less militant (heh) views on the war who nonetheless have found Tillman's story compelling.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who feel like they've gotten the whole Tillman story from the thousands of news reports and magazine articles they've read about it. People who don't want to hear about the icky war, still. Philadelphia Eagles fans (...right? I kind if couldn't think of who the Cardinals' major rival was. But Philly fans are a-holes in general, right?).
Why I'd See It: To be honest, I thought I was Tillman-ed out, but the buzz out of Sundance was pretty spectacular, and the trailer makes this looks like a compelling and illuminating documentary. It'll be interesting to see if Tillman's newsworthiness gives this some box-office presence. September 3
Movie: Resident Evil: Afterlife (Paul W.S. Anderson)
High-Concept Synopsis: Once more into the I-think-it's-zombies breach with Milla Jovovich. This time, she's got Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller along for the ride. So...yeah, fuck with that.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who have seen and somehow enjoyed the first three (four? seven?) RE flicks. People who have merely seen the earlier RE movies and want to play out the string out of a sense of completion. Milla Jovovich fans who have decided to forgive her for The Fourth Kind.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anyone who might refer to him- or herself as a "cineaste." Everyone who mistook the director for Paul Thomas Anderson and have vowed NEVER AGAIN. People who have seen Ali Larter or Wentworth Miller in things.
Why I'd See It: I haven't seen the first three (nine? eleven?) Resident Evil, so why start now? It's funny, the premise always intrigues me. Every time the first one is on TV, I intend to watch it, but I'm always out by the 15-minute mark. Still, if this is your thing, I hope Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller, like, do it onscreen or something redeeming like that. September 10
Movie: Never Let Me Go (Mark Romanek)
High-Concept Synopsis: Kind of a futuristic Brit period drama, Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, and Andrew Garfield star as a trio of prep school alums whose intense friendship and romantic entanglements are set against the backdrop of the shocking truth of their shared past. (Come on, Fox Searchlight, give me a job!)
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Kazuo Ishiguro's extravagantly acclaimed novel upon which this is based. Fans of the cast, a who's who of underrated Brit talent, including Sally Hawkins, Andrea Riseborough, and Charlotte Rampling. The folks behind the Spider-Man reboot hoping to give their star Andrew Garfield a head start.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Skeptical fans who aren't sure how the guy who made the pretty-terrible One Hour Photo got a crack at such prized source material. People who got the central conceit of the story ruined for them by careless synopses (IMDb, for shame). Folks opposed to pale, skinny British chicks and their inherent ghostly creepiness.
Why I'd See It: I've enthused about the trailer clip enough around these parts, so I'll just hit my major bullet points: I hated One Hour Photo, but Romanek's music video output keeps hope alive, I'm wild about the cast, and the premise feels like the best of Merchant-Ivory combined with some choice Phillip K. Dick. And by the author of The Remains of the Day? So very sold. September 15
Movie: Easy A (Will Gluck)
High-Concept Synopsis: Emma Stone plays a high-school nonentity whose notoriety skyrockets -- while her reputation plummets -- when she pretends to bed a neverending parade of nerds and gay dudes.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Emma Stone, who proved her comedy chops in Superbad and Zombieland. Fans of any member of the truly impressive supporting cast, including Dan Byrd, Penn Badgley, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Lisa Kudrow, and Cam Gigandet's abs. Fans of nerdy-guy fantasies where a hot, smart, funny girl will want to have sex with them for her own good.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Non-fans of the tired concept of wrangling a literary classic (in this case, The Scarlet Letter) into a teen comedy (they can't all be Clueless). Certain obsessive chroniclers of Penn Badgley's chest hair situation who would object to the wax factor of this movie. Amanda Bynes fans blaming her participation in this movie (as a poor man's Mandy Moore in Saved!) for their girl's retirement from acting.
Why I'd See It: I wrote about totally digging the trailer a while back, and my opinions remain unchanged: funny girl, cute boys, Dan Byrd, and don't tell anybody but I kind of liked director Will Gluck's Fired Up. September 17
Movie: The Town (Ben Affleck)
High-Concept Synopsis: Director Affleck is a blue collar Boston bank robbah who falls in love with a victim of one of his heists (Rebecca Hall). Jon Hamm plays the Fed intent on busting him. Many shades of Heat, Dennis Lehane, and Boston-era Martin Scorsese to follow.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of Affleck's Gone Baby Gone, a promising directorial debut. Fans of star-studded crime drama -- the supporting cast includes Jeremy Renner, Chris Cooper, Blake Lively, and Pete Postlethwaite. Boston yahoos who respond to the movie being set in rough-and-tumble Charlestown, pissah, Yankees suck, et cetera.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Persistent Affleck-haters. Mad Men fans who want to forestall Jon Hamm's eventual jump to movies for as long as possible. Audiences burned out on stories of the poetry of the Massachusetts working class white dude.
Why I'd See It: I liked Gone Baby Gone, and I really like the cast that's been assembled here (though obviously I wish Renner had the Affleck role). But I wonder how high this movie's aspirations are. If you're not bringing anything new to the heist movie, your execution really needs to be perfect. September 17
Movie: Devil (John Erick and Drew Dowdle)
High-Concept Synopsis: A small group of people are trapped in an elevator. One of them is the devil. Simple enough. M. Night Shyamalan wrote the story. That's the scary part. Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas, and Logan Marshall-Green co-star.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of high-concept, low-fuss atmospheric horror. Fans of the Dowdles' last well-received horror project, Quarantine. Wonderfalls fans who are contractually obligated to follow Dhavernas wherever she goes.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Shyamalan-phobics, who have good reason to be wary. Your more skittish and restrictive Christian denominations. Claustrophobics, who have enough problems with elevators to begin with.
Why I'd See It: You guys, maybe I'm just a glutton for Shyamalan-style punishment, but this looks like it might be a fun, scary time at the movies. September 17
Movie: Catfish (Henry Joost, Ariel Schulman)
High-Concept Synopsis: Documentary about an NYC photographer who takes a road trip to meet a MySpace friend in person.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Trusting filmgoers, since everybody who has seen the movie has been recommending to see it while knowing as little about it as possible.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who won't see a low-profile documentary on faith alone.
Why I'd See It: I read about the hoopla about this movie coming out of Sundance -- didn't Movieline raise the question of whether or not it was a hoax? -- and am willing to forego the trailers and synopses of the movie. But I'm in the distinct minority on that, I'm sure. And even my willpower is not guaranteed to hold out. September 17
Movie: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (Woody Allen)
High-Concept Synopsis: Woody Allen returns to England and to stories of married old men who fall for young prostitutes, comparatively younger married men who fall for even younger women, and either Anthony Hopkins or Josh Brolin doing a neurotic Woody Allen impersonation.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Woody fans eager to see him work with new talent like Hopkins, Brolin, Naomi Watts, Lucy Punch, Antonio Banderas, and Freida Pinto. Moviegoers who have faith that Woody's return to Europe will return him to Vicky Christina Barcelona form and make us all forget Whatever Works. Those weird freaks who started fetishizing Freida Pinto after seeing Slumdog Millionaire (included in that group: Woody Allen).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who see Woody, Anthony Hopkins, and a hooker with a heart of gold, realize we haven't somehow time-warped to the early 1990s, and this will take a pass.
Why I'd See It: It seems like an arbitrary distinction, but I really like Euro Woody Allen, and while this cast isn't as packed with actors I love as Vicky Christina Barcelona or Match Point, I'm more than willing to give it a look. September 22