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Movies I Might Love (But Probably Won’t)

August 22, 2010

When I used to blog awhile back I always did this as a regular segment, usually in the fall and sometimes in the summer. For the most part there are few films during the summer months that interest me and even fewer during the spring. It is in the fall and winter that films for adults actually are released and only then because the studios hope that an Oscar nomination will make them some money off of that film that got the green light despite the fact that it does not contain one explosion or fart joke. This is the only time of year that I really go to the movies so I make it a point to see what movies might actually be worth my time. This is a list of forty films that I might love but probably won’t.

The American (September 1th)
Plot: An assassin (George Clooney) has a job go wrong and decides to retire but finds it harder to get away from the life than expected.
Why I Might Love It: Clooney has a track record of doing smart grown up movies and may be the only current movie star not willing to do summer movie crap for a big paycheck. The film recalls some of the best thrillers of the 70s with its trailer and poster.
Why I Probably Won’t: Director Anton Corbijn has no feature experience and has been doing music videos since the 80s. This does not always translate into being a good feature director. Also Clooney has been in dogs like Leatherheads and Men Who Stare at Goats these past few years. His judgment, while good, is not perfect.

Machete (September 3rd)
Plot: A “renegade” Mexican federal agent gets mixed up with a plot over illegal immigration in the United States.
Why I Might Love It: Made in the style of a violent 1970s exploitation film this movie is loaded with kitsch while also possibly being a potent satire of the illegal immigration debate. The cast, including both Robert DeNiro and Stephen Seagal, is a brilliantly absurd collection of actors for one movie.
Why I Probably Won’t: Writer-Director Robert Rodriguez is great with style but bad with characters and plot. Of his films, only Sin City (co-directed with Frank Miller), was able to be more than a diverting B-movie. I have serious doubts about his ability to say anything of substance about the immigration debate.

A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop (September 3rd)
Plot: A cuckolded husband hires a private detective to kill his wife and her lover.
Why I Might Love It: A remake of The Coen Brothers Blood Simple by acclaimed Chinese director Zhang Yimou (House of Flying Daggers) this comedy-thriller looks to be the rare remake that is better than the original. The trailer is like nothing I have ever seen.
Why I Probably Won’t: Some critics who saw the film at the Berlin film festival have complained that the comedy doesn’t cross cultural boundaries very well but there are few who have outright hated the movie.

The Heartbreaker (September 10th)
Plot: A man whose job is to break up relationships is hired by an entrepreneur to break up the engagement of his daughter and her fiancé before the wedding.
Why I Might Love It: This is a great premise for this French romantic comedy and the film itself has done great business in France and been highly praised by critics.
Why I Probably Won’t: The American trailer seems to include every romantic comedy cliché known to man. This may just be bad marketing but these scenes still have to be in the movie. Hopefully, it is more clever than the marketing campaign implies.

I’m Still Here (September 10th)
Plot: A camera crew follows actor Joaquin Phoenix on his attempt to become a rapper.
Why I Might Love It: People thought that Phoenix had lost his mind when he announced that he wanted to be a rapper. Apparently it was all an act for this mockumentary directed by Casey Affleck. I have no idea what this movie will be like.
Why I Probably Won’t: The movie looks so weird that even if it is good it will probably only be a cult hit at best. It is far more likely to be an unwatchable mess.

Never Let Me Go (September 14th)
Plot: Three friends who came of age in the same English boarding school confront the real world as adults for the first time.
Why I Might Love It: The movie is based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro with a screenplay by Alex Garland. The cast includes Keira Knightly, Carey Milligan, Andrew Garfield and Sally Hawkins. There is a great deal of talent involved including director Mark Romanov who did the creepy One Hour Photo.
Why I Probably Won’t: This one looks really strong but great novels rarely turn into great movies.

The Town (September 17th)
Plot: A professional thief (Ben Affleck) falls for a bank manager (Rebecca Hall) after a dangerous heist.
Why I Might Love It: Affleck directed this as well and after doing well with Gone Baby Gone this movie looks much more ambitious. The Hurt Locker’s Jeremy Renner is also in the movie as part of the gang of bank robbers and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm is the FBI agent in pursuit. Nothing new but the trailer looks awesome.
Why I Probably Won’t: Affleck is still green as a director. Otherwise I can’t imagine why this won’t rock.

Catfish (September 17th)
Plot: A young man gets involved in a long distance internet relationship and then….
Why I Might Love It: This was the most buzzed about film at Sundance and is supposed to be a documentary but many have accused it of being staged. Others describe it as a thriller. All those who have seen it agree that you should see it knowing nothing about it and that watching the trailer might reveal too much.
Why I Probably Won’t: Something about this film reminds me of The Blair Witch Project. From what I have read and interviews with the filmmakers I’m pretty sure it is staged and not a documentary but whether the film holds up without its gimmicks remains to be seen.

Jack Goes Boating (September 17th)
Plot: A man whose life is going nowhere (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is set up with a woman by his married friends. As he starts to flourish in his new relationship he watches his friends’ marriage disintegrate.
Why I Might Love It: This one might have slipped past me but it is Hoffman’s directorial debut and was a play that he and most of the rest of the cast originally performed on Broadway. That alone is enough to make me interested.
Why I Probably Won’t: Play to film can be as difficult as novel to film sometimes and Hoffman has never directed before and has a personal history with the material. It is easy to see this going wrong.

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (September 22th)
Plot: This is the new Woody Allen movie so it is about what Woody Allen movies are usually about, neurotic people trying to find love.
Why I Might Love It: You never know when Allen will make another great film and as usual this one has a great cast including Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts and Josh Brolin.
Why I Probably Won’t: This looks like average Allen at best. His best recent films have all been more dark than comedic and this film seems like a return to light romantic comedy.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (September 24th)
Plot: Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) gets released from prison and attempts to patch things up with his daughter (Carey Milligan) and mentor her fiancé. (Shia Lebeouf)
Why I Might Love It: The first trailer was hilarious and director Oliver Stone seems to be embracing a lighter touch to his filmmaking of late. This should at least be as good as his surprisingly well made film W.
Why I Probably Won’t: This is Oliver Stone we’re talking about. Who knows what kind of movie he made. He is kind of a nutbar.

Buried (September 24th)
Plot: A truck driver (Ryan Reynolds) finds himself buried alive in a coffin with no memory of how he got there.
Why I Might Love It: Novice director Rodrigo Cortes wowed everyone at Sundance with this claustrophobic thriller. The gimmick is an enticing one.
Why I Probably Won’t: But it is still just a gimmick. I can’t wait to see how they sustain this premise but I don’t expect this movie to have much more than a gimmick to sustain it.

Enter the Void (September 24th)
Plot: A drug dealer in Tokyo dies and comes back as a ghost to protect his sister.
Why I Might Love It: This is the new off-the-wall film from off-the-wall French director Gasper Noe. Whatever it turns out to be there won’t be anything else like it out there.
Why I Probably Won’t: Reviews were very mixed when the film premiered in France and at Cannes last year. The UK and American versions of the film are going to be heavily cut down from the three hour running time and this might make the film better or worse.

Howl (September 24th)
Plot: The story of Allen Ginsberg (James Franco) and his obscenity trial after the publication of his poem Howl.
Why I Might Love It: Great subject for a movie and a cast that includes Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Mary Louis-Parker and Jeff Daniels. Franco looks surprisingly perfect as Ginsberg and could be Oscar bait.
Why I Probably Won’t: Many films have been made about the “Beat Movement” and most of them are pretty bad. Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffery Friedman have a background in documentaries. This means they might choose factual accuracy at the expense of storytelling in this fictional retelling.

Let Me In (October 1st)
Plot: A lonely, bullied boy befriends a girl in his apartment complex who turns out to be a vampire.
Why I Might Love It: This movie is based on the Swedish novel Let the Right One In which was brilliantly made into a movie in Sweden just a few years ago. The American version seems to have added more character development and has acclaimed child actress Chloe Moretz in the role as the vampire girl as well as an excellent supporting cast.
Why I Probably Won’t: Let the Right One In was one of the best horror movies ever and there is little chance this movie is going to top it. Director Matt Reeves is best known for Cloverfield and has promised to make this film more accessible to a wide audience than the Swedish version. So apparently everyone will like it except for Swedes and people with taste.

The Social Network (October 1st)
Plot: A college student (Jessie Eisenberg) turns an online yearbook into a billion dollar idea only to be accused of stealing the project from other students.
Why I Might Love It: This film has an A-list director in David Fincher, a script by Aaron Sorkin and a talented young cast. This looks like it could be a break-out role for Eisenberg.
Why I Probably Won’t: The fact that this movie is about the creation of Facebook makes many people regard it as silly. I don’t think that is the case but this kind of film is not exactly Fincher’s wheelhouse. That said this is one of the better bets to be a really good movie on this list.

Barry Munday (October 1st)
Plot: A habitual womanizer (Patrick Wilson) who loses his testicles finds out that he had impregnated one of his conquests. (Judy Greer)
Why I Might Love It: Both Wilson and Greer have been cast way against type and in the trailer seem to be pulling it off brilliantly. Plus the film has a great supporting cast.
Why I Probably Won’t: If it wasn’t for the cast I might not give this a second look. It seems like one of those movies desperate to prove how quirky and original it is. This movie could be either an unexpected gem or a complete dog.

Stone (October 8th)
Plot: A convicted arsonist (Edward Norton) tries to get out of prison by having his wife (Milla Jovovitch) seduce a parole officer. (Robert DeNiro)
Why I Might Love It: Director John Curran has two good films under his belt and the last one The Painted Veil starred Norton. Watching DeNiro and Norton together after The Score could be great and Norton looks as good as he has ever been in the trailer.
Why I Probably Won’t: The plot seems to be one of the most contrived and far-fetched that I have ever heard. If this is supposed to be a thriller it could accidently become a comedy if handled badly by Curran.

Red (October 15th)
Plot: When an assassin tries to kill him a retired CIA agent (Bruce Willis) assembles his old team (Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and John Malkovitch) to help him survive.
Why I Might Love It: Based on a graphic novel by Warren Ellis action movies don’t get more tongue- in- cheek than this. The cast alone would make it worth a look and we haven’t even gotten to the smaller roles yet.
Why I Probably Won’t: Director Robert Schwentke is a shameless hack but he might have lucked into material even he couldn’t screw up.

Conviction (October 15th)
Plot: A woman (Hilary Swank) goes to law school solely to help her brother (Sam Rockwell) who has been wrongly convicted of a crime.
Why I Might Love It: There is a reason Swank has two Oscars but Rockwell is the one who looks Oscar worthy in the trailer. In some scenes, that must take place later in the movie, he looks like a completely different actor.
Why I Probably Won’t: Director Tony Goldwyn is undistinguished behind the camera so far and this kind of TV movie plot needs a strong director to make it work. Still, I expect Rockwell to get Oscar buzz.

Hereafter (October 22nd)
Plot: Three stories about people dealing with death.
Why I Might Love It: While the plot description won’t get many excited this is a new film from Clint Eastwood and the script by Peter Morgan was written on spec, implying this is a very personal work to him. Matt Damon plays a character that is psychic in one segment.
Why I Probably Won’t: The film has heavy supernatural elements which makes it an odd choice for Eastwood. Not much is known about the film because Eastwood keeps his projects top secret until release.

The Company Men (October 22nd)
Plot: We follow three men (Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper) and learn the effects on corporate downsizing on their lives.
Why I Might Love It: This is a hugely relevant topics and first time writer director John Wells gathered an amazing cast.
Why I Probably Won’t: I think it is safe to say that even if this film is awesome nobody is going to see it. It is like last year’s Up in the Air but without the laughs and we can all use those laughs right now.

Due Date (November 5th)
Plot: A father to be (Robert Downey Jr.) must travel cross country with an eccentric (Zach Galifianakis) to be there for his child’s birth.
Why I Might Love It: The two leads are the best reason to see this.
Why I Probably Won’t: Does any other movie have a flimsier premise than this one? Director Todd Phillips is an okay director but not a comedic genius.

Fair Game (November 5th)
Plot: The story of Ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) and her outing by the Bush administration in retaliation to her husband (Sean Penn) criticizing the Iraq invasion.
Why I Might Love It: This is a story of vast corruption in our government that nobody really seemed to care at the time.
Why I Probably Won’t: This is heavy stuff for director Doug Liman whose films have never been very deep and whose last film, Jumper, was a huge failure.

The Next Three Days (November 19th)
Plot: A husband (Russell Crowe) attempts to break his wife (Elizabeth Banks) out of prison when she is charged with murder.
Why I Might Love It: While I didn’t care for Crash by director Paul Haggis I loved his follow up The Valley of Elah. This could be a good vehicle for Crowe.
Why I probably Won’t: This is the third movie on this list that involves a plot to get somebody out of prison. This movie is also yet another remake which shows more lack of originality.

Black Swan (December 1st)
Plot: A ballerina (Natalie Portman) begins to psychologically unravel when she gets a new rival. (Mila Kunis)
Why I Might Love It: With the exception of the incomprehensible The Fountain director Darren Aronofsky has never made a bad movie and even counting that one he hasn’t made a dull one. This seems like a great role for Portman who might win an Oscar if she is good enough.
Why I Probably Won’t: Actually I probably will. All of Aronofsky’s films are about people falling apart at the seams but this one looks interesting enough for one more trip.

The Warrior’s Way (December 3rd)
Plot: A Japanese samurai flees to the American West where he has to save his new town from a dastardly villain.
Why I Might Love It: The similarities between westerns and samurai movies are so obvious that it is amazing nobody has done this before. This movie looks certain to become a cult classic.
Why I Probably Won’t: But while it gets points for originality the trailer looks like a video game. It may be all style and no substance.

Miral (December 3rd)
Plot: A young Palestinian girl’s coming of age after the first Arab-Israel war.
Why I Might Love It: Few stories could have more potential to make you think and make you feel.
Why I Probably Won’t: I have always found director Juilian Schnabel’s movies to be pretentious and boring. Meanwhile they are usually highly praised by critics. Maybe he just has a style that I find impenetrable.

Night Catches Us (December 3rd)
Plot: A former black panther in 1976 returns home after the party has collapsed.
Why I Might Love It: Leading man Anthony Mackie is underrated and this is another chance for him to shine. It seems that few good films made by blacks find an audience and this one might deserve it more than most.
Why I Probably Won’t: I have a hard time finding a flaw with this one. The first time director Tanya Hamilton had nothing but praise at Sundance.

The Fighter (December 10th)
Plot: The true story of professional boxer Mickey Ward. (Mark Wahlberg)
Why I Might Love It: Director David O. Russell has gotten two of Wahlberg’s best performances out of him in Three Kings and I Heart Huckabee’s. With Wahlberg in the lead this time they might bring out the best in each other.
Why I Probably Won’t: Russell can be incredibly flakey. His last film Nailed never even got released.

How Do You Know (December 17th)
Plot: A love triangle between a professional soft ball player (Reese Witherspoon) a major league pitcher (Owen Wilson) and a corporate executive. (Paul Rudd)
Why I Might Love It: Director James L. Brooks is a master at balancing a tone between comedy and pathos. As well as his talented main cast Brook’s favorite actor Jack Nicholson appears in their fourth film together.
Why I Probably Won’t: The movie’s premise has little original going for it and the last film Brooks directed was the horrible Adam Sandler movie Spanglish.

Tron: Legacy (December 17th)
Plot: Sequel to the cult classic in which the son of the original film’s hero journeys into the game Tron to find his father.
Why I Might Love It: I probably saw the original Tron about twenty times as a kid. (It was on television constantly.) Anything with Jeff Bridges is usually worth a look.
Why I Probably Won’t: A sequel 28 years later? It is rarely a good idea to do a sequel to a beloved cult film. Add to that an inexperienced director and it could all go horribly wrong.

Somewhere (December 22nd)
Plot: An irresponsible Hollywood actor (Steven Dorff) has to change his ways when his 11 year old daughter comes to stay with him.
Why I Might Love It: From director Sofia Coppola this movie recalls her success with Lost in Translation.
Why I Probably Won’t: Coppola’s last film was the nearly unwatchable Marie Antoinette and whether she has real directorial chops remains to be seen.

True Grit (December 25th)
Plot: An alcoholic US Marshall (Jeff Bridges) agrees to help a young girl avenge her father’s death in the American West.
Why I Might Love It: The Coen Brothers remake of the John Wayne classic has been promised to go darker like the novel upon which it is based. Plus the Coens reunite with “The Dude”.
Why I Probably Won’t: The last remake the Coens did was the horrible The Ladykillers with Tom Hanks. That said, these guys have rarely made a bad film and this might end up one of their best.

The Debt (December 25th)
Plot: Three agents go on a secret mission to kill a Nazi war criminal in 1965.
Why I Might Love It: Directed by John Madden (Shakespeare in Love), written by Matthew Vaughan and Jane Goldman (Stardust, Kick-Ass) and starring Helen Mirren this has a good chance of being a great film.
Why I Probably Won’t: Madden has been in decline since his Oscar nomination. Most of the films he has directed have been bland.

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