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.
Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Movie: Unstoppable (Tony Scott)
High-Concept Synopsis: Runaway train! Full of combustible chemicals! Headed for another train full of children! Denzel and Chris Pine have to stop it!
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of big, loud, brainless fun. Fans of the "Chris Pine does things and makes wisecracks and takes his shirt off every once in a while" genre. Airplane snobs.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anybody who saw the last two Denzel/Tony Scott collaborations, the limp Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 and the self-serious Man on Fire. Rosario Dawson fans who resent her being relegated to the "Control Room Lady" role. Amtrak employees.
Why I'd See It: When I reviewed the trailer, I said it looked like the absolute ideal for a fun-and-dumb movie, and while part of me wishes it would have opened in summer where it belongs, I'll be just as happy to watch it in the middle of Important Movie Season. November 12
Movie: Morning Glory (Roger Michell)
High-Concept Synopsis: Rachel McAdams is a Workaholic Girl producing a very thinly-veiled version of The Today Show with Diane Keaton as a Hoda/Kathie Lee hybrid. Her bright idea: bring in drunk has-been Harrison Ford to shake things up.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the three leads, who have all been known to be charismatic at one time or another. Morning-television junkies looking for some well-earned inside jokes. People holding on to the last threads of hope for a Harrison Ford Return to Relevance.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who are tired of the "working girl learns to not take so much pride in her job" genre. Audiences who are wary of how much time this one spent in development/on the shelf. People worried the bulk of the humor will be of the "HA HA HA, Diane Keaton is old and a lady!" variety.
Why I'd See It: Director Michell has a rather varied filmography (Notting Hill; Enduring Love; Mother), which makes me think this could end up not the cookie-cutter movie it might seem. I adored Keaton and McAdams as mother and daughter in The Family Stone, and seeing that chemistry turned around as they play producer/talent could be interesting. November 12
Movie: Skyline (Colin and Greg Strause)
High-Concept Synopsis: So apparently the aliens arrive Independence Day style and just start abducting people by the handful. Or beam-of-light-ful. Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, and Brittany Daniel star. (Yes, seriously.)
Who Will Be Seeing It: People happy to see that alien abduction stories are being brought out of the countryside and into the city. The visual FX community looking to support two of their own in the director's chair. Audiences looking for a cheap, dumb thrill (and who find that Unstoppable is sold out).
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Anybody who judges a film's quality by the caliber of its topline stars. Independence Day loyalists galled that a film can basically reverse the direction of the beams of light coming from the ships and call it a brand new movie. Apocalypse-phobics.
Why I'd See It: Doesn't it seem like this was a movie where the director and stars were all abducted leaving us with the VFX dudes and Eric Balfour to carry on with the movie? The trailer actually suggests sleek-looking thrill ride, but I can't shake the direct-to-video feel of it all. November 12
Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I (David Yates)
High-Concept Synopsis: Luna Lovegood's tragicomic search for acceptance begins its final chapter.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The same people who saw the first six movies, come on. Dan Radcliffe's ever-increasing legion of loyal pervo fans. (...I'm sorry, I don't know WHAT you're talking about...) People who have been waiting for Bill Nighy to show up so they can complete their Brit Actor Bingo card before seeing the movies.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: The same people who wouldn't see the first six movies, come on. Folks who will want to see both halves of the finale at the same time and will thus wait until next summer. People who spend so much time trying to remember what exactly the "Deathly Hallows" are that they miss the movie entirely.
Why I'd See It: I mean ... if you have to ask? You know? November 19
Movie: The Next Three Days (Paul Haggis)
High-Concept Synopsis: Russell Crowe must break his wife, Elizabeth Banks, out of prison, so he turns to previous escapee Liam Neeson to devise the perfect scheme.
Who Will Be Seeing It: People who flock to movies about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. People who look forward to watching Crowe growl through his latest movie effort. People who tend to enjoy Haggis when he isn't pondering about Big Questions.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: The sizeable chunk of movie fans who can't deal with Haggis and Crowe separately, much less together. Folks who object to an American remake of a French movie, like this is. People who mistake Elizabeth Banks for Chelsea Handler in the trailer.
Why I'd See It: I'm one of those aforementioned Crowe/Haggis haters, but the trailer, I have to admit, left me slightly intrigued. I'm upgrading it to "If someone I know wants to see it." November 19
Movie: Tangled (Nathan Greno, Byron Howard)
High-Concept Synopsis: The story of "Rapunzel" (voiced by Mandy Moore), reinterpreted for the Bratz generation.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The boy-type audiences who flock to Pixar movies, or so the Disney folk hope, if the boy-ification of this story is any indication. Fans of classic fairy tale material getting a Shrek-style irreverent makeover. Fans of voice talent like Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, and Donna Murphy.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Disney movie purists who were barely tolerating computer animation, much less this junior-high-ification of a perfectly nice princess tale. Chuck fans, whose usual paranoia will probably be directed at hoping Levi's film ventures don't do too well, lest he leave their beloved show. The Herbal Essences people, who were hoping to use this title for their foray into feature films about shampoo.
Why I'd See It: I'm not all that inclined towards animated fairy tales anyway, and the trailer for this one just looks obnoxious. November 26
Movie: Burlesque (Steven Antin)
High-Concept Synopsis: Cher is an old whore, Christina Aguilera is the young whore, and together, they're gonna make L.A. SPARKLE, baby! (Alternatively: Amadeus among Hollywood's stripper-and-failed-dancer set.)
Who Will Be Seeing It: Anybody who made it to the "Cher and Christina Aguilera" part of the film description and then passed out. Fans of dance movies and the ridiculous. The grand total of three people who will see it to ogle the women.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People worried about the state of Cher's lips and/or rustiness after not having any serious film work since 1999's Tea with Mussolini. People less than encouraged by the fact that Pussycat Dolls mastermind Robin Antin got her brother to direct this. Kristen Bell fans irate that their girl is playing second-fiddle to Xtina's film debut.
Why I'd See It: That trailer had me from the break, I'm totally in the tank for Cher AND Christina, we get to see a bunch of Cam Gigandet without a shirt on, and even (especially?) if it's bad, it's still going to be great. November 26
Movie: Love and Other Drugs (Edward Zwick)
High-Concept Synopsis: Viagara salesman and man-whore Jake Gyllenhaal meets consumptive free spirit Anne Hathaway, and only the sheer force of the two leads' sex appeal is keeping me from mentioning Sweet November in this synopsis ... oh, crap.
Who Will Be Seeing It: The army of delusional gay dudes known as Jake Gyllenhaal's fan base. Folks who've been waiting patiently for Zwick to transfer his sparkling TV work (My So-Called Life, Thirtysomething) to his heretofore self-important, serious film work. People following Hathaway's ephemeral "Oscar buzz" surrounding her performance.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: The hormone-deficient. People who see the same "tragic doomed girl" undertones that I do. People who have maybe had their fill of watching handsome, successful white dudes make an emotional journey from having sex with lots of girls to having lots of sex with one girl.
Why I'd See It: Have I ever wanted to see a movie solely because of the poster before? Because honestly, that's where I'm at here. The same trailer that's created this bizarre Oscar buzz made me think this is destined to be one giant ball of cliché. And yet Jake looks so goddamned sexy with that pillow in the poster ... I am but one man. November 24
Movie: The King's Speech (Tom Hooper)
High-Concept Synopsis: Stuttering British monarch (Colin Firth) can't lead his people unless he gets his speech together, so queen Helena Bonham Carter seeks out eccentric speech therapist Geoffrey Rush for help and friendship and Oscar nominations.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Audiences following the hap-hap-happy buzz out of the Toronto film festival, which bestowed its top honor (an audience-voted award besides) on this film. Fans of put-together, well-pedigreed tales of English royals. Folks happy to see Helena Bonham Carter break out of the freak rut Tim Burton's dug for her.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: People who have been traumatized by previous Toronto champs like Crash and Slumdog Millionaire. People who have seen Geoffrey Rush when he's in "Get Oscar" mode. People who gave up on Colin Firth after the awfulness that was Mamma Mia!. They missed out on some great stuff, including A Single Man, but it's tough to blame them.
Why I'd See It: I've heard people say it's better than the stuffy awards-bait it seems to be, and I like Firth and love HBC. I just worry when I hear these "a good story well told" reviews that in the same breath hype it for Best Picture. A Best Picture movie needs to be better than a good story well told. Sigh. November 26
Movie: Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky)
High-Concept Synopsis: Aronofsky leads Natalie Portman on a paranoid journey through a competitive ballet troupe, beset by intense mothers (Barbara Hershey) and predatory rivals (Mila Kunis). And then she goes crazy and masturbates and maybe turns into a swan. From the director of Pi and The Fountain, obvs.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of the remarkable Aronofsky and his mentally exhausting, physically demanding worlds. Portman fans eager to welcome her back with a movie that has people talk about how good of an actress she can be. Audiences following some pretty intense festival buzz out of Venice and such.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences nervous about reports of this being among the most out-there stuff Aronofsky has done. Portman haters, who exist and are wrong. Folks who want their dance movies to have more trampoline-floors in them.
Why I'd See It: Aronofsky is easily among my favorite directors -- I have straight-up loved every one of his features so far. And Portman has been, in fits and starts, among my very favorite actresses. I'm thrilled to see her back in a project that has this much potential (she's already getting ye olde Oscar buzz, after all). And that trailer blew my eyeballs out. Frankly, the only negative is how the hell I'm supposed to hold out til December 12th. December 1
Movie: The Tourist (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck)
High-Concept Synopsis: Johnny Depp is an American vacationing in Europe when he comes across Angelina Jolie, who is caught up in some kind of intrigue or another.
Who Will Be Seeing It: Fans of international romance and action. Fans of the ridiculously charismatic leads. Anyone going through Bourne or Bond withdrawal.
Who Won't Be Seeing It: Audiences turned off by the extreme WTF-ness of Johnny Depp's hair. People who worry that the plot of the movie seems awfully similar to that book their mom was reading on vacation that one time. Jennifer Aniston. (Yes. Still.)
Why I'd See It: I'll will see Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp in a lot of things that look way worse than this, which has the potential to be a fun, sexy diversion from holiday shopping. December 3