Harry Potter returns, Russell Crowe breaks his wife out of prison, and Sally Hawkins goes on strike. Who gets your ticket money?
Director: David Yates
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Richard Griffiths, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter
If, like most Americans, you've seen and enjoyed the first six Harry Potter movies, there's probably nothing I can say that would convince you to see anything this weekend other than the seventh one. But since I can't simply end this column after two sentences, I guess I'll have to give it the old college try. After all, I can't be the only one who just isn't that into wizards, Muggles, Quidditch, Hogwarts, Horcruxes — seriously, what the hell is a Horcrux? — and the whole J.K. Rowling bag of tricks. Or maybe you're a casual Ron Weasley fan, but you're waiting until the entire series is finished before catching up with it in one marathon binge when the inevitable complete DVD boxed set is released. Heck, it's even possible a few of you are so offended by the calculated, money-grubbing decision by Warner Bros. to split the final installment into two separate blockbusters (Part 2 is due next summer) that you're willing to boycott Part 1. But for our purposes, let's just assume that all of this weekend's showtimes are already sold out, and we're all forced to see something else instead.
Director: Paul Haggis
Cast: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde
Who's in the mood for a little Haggis? No, not a savory organ pudding served in a sheep's stomach — I mean Paul Haggis, the man behind the terminally overrated Crash, who returns with this thriller in which Russell Crowe attempts to break his wife Elizabeth Banks out of prison. If that sounds like an intriguing premise to you, then do everything in your power to avoid the theatrical trailer, which gives away virtually every single plot twist the movie has to offer. (You may also want to steer clear of the 2007 French film Pour Elle, of which this is a remake.) Honestly, I was actually interested (despite having already seen enough vengeance-mode Russell Crowe to last a lifetime) until I watched the preview; now the movie itself just seems redundant.
Director: Nigel Cole
Cast: Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins
Sally Hawkins either won your heart or annoyed the crap out of you with her Golden Globe-winning performance in Happy-Go-Lucky. Now she goes all Norma Rae in this true story of a 1968 auto-plant strike by female workers protesting sexual discrimination, directed by British indie stalwart Nigel Cole (Saving Grace, Calendar Girls). Cole's natural tendencies for the cloying and cutesy (Old people growing pot! Old people getting naked!) may be kept in check by the somewhat more serious subject matter here, and since I'm one of those who was charmed by Hawkins' relentlessly cheerful Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky, I'm willing to take a chance on this one. Especially since I'm a Muggle.
The One Movie You Should See This Week: Made in Dagenham