September has long been known as Hollywood's dumping grounds, where not-so-good films go to die. But if this coming weekend is to be believed, perhaps September should now be known as the month of the tweener, as in "could be an awards-season favorite, could be a piece of junk." It's an in-between kind of week for movie fans with a disparate slate of flicks lined up — from crass comedies, to Oscar contenders, to movies that, well yeah, just weren't welcome anywhere else.
One movie that certainly is welcome anytime is "The Brave One" — uncannily similar vengeance flicks were welcomed in 1974 ("Death Wish") and just two weeks ago ("Death Sentence"). But, oh, what a difference a star makes. This one stars two-time Oscar winner Jodie Foster as a New York radio host who, after being violently victimized, sets out on a quest for murderous revenge. And just because we notice these types of things, here are Foster's leading roles since "Anna and the King" in 1999: "Panic Room," "Flightplan," "Inside Man" and "The Brave One." A lot of actors have children and start making family films (look at Johnny Depp). She had a kid in 1998 and started making R-rated thrillers. "The Brave One" co-stars Terrence Howard.
Howard also stars in "The Hunting Party," a flick based on the true story of a group of journalists who head to Bosnia in order to find Dr. Radovan Karadzic, one of the architects of the region's genocide (see "Terrence Howard Gearing Up For 'Iron Man' — But Goes 'Hunting' First"). Also starring Richard Gere and Jesse Eisenberg, the Richard Shepard-directed flick expands into 600 theaters this weekend.
Expanding his range isn't a problem for the great Billy Bob Thornton, even if it seems he hasn't done so lately. The acerbic Thornton is back with "Mr. Woodcock," where he plays a disgruntled, mean-spirited gym teacher (see "Things Get Physical On The Set Of 'Mr. Woodcock' "). The flick comes on the heels of similar characters in "Bad Santa," "Bad News Bears" and "School for Scoundrels." Then again, few actors do it better. The comedy co-stars the artist formerly known as Stifler, Seann William Scott.
It's man versus lizard in "Dragon Wars," but the biggest battle of the weekend — nay, of all time! — is surely the one that will take place between Harry Potter (son of James) and Aragorn (son of Arathorn). The Boy Who Lived or the Man Who Would Be King? Master of Death or "Lord of the Rings"? Elf friend or, er, elf friend? We'll find out Monday as Viggo Mortensen, star of David Cronenberg's latest masterpiece "Eastern Promises" (see "Viggo Mortensen Fights Nude In 'Eastern Promises' — But Could He Take Borat?"), faces Daniel Radcliffe, star of "December Boys" (see "Daniel Radcliffe Loses It In 'December Boys' Before Getting Back To Harry Potter"). The former flick opens in 11 theaters while the latter opens in only four.
The Predictions: Will mankind ever be the same when two of the 20th century's latest fantasy characters go head to head? Will they both get beaten by Clarice Starling? We asked our experts.
What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "The Brave One" ($15 million)
"Yeah, I guess I really have to accept that summer is long gone when the best we can muster for a weekend is a long-delayed Seann William Scott flick and a dragon movie (don't get me wrong, I'm a big crappy-dragon-movie fan but still ... ). And yeah, there is the latest from Jodie Foster. But something tells me this grim vigilante story isn't going to do boffo business. Still, I think Jodie's name will be enough to muster a win. Nothing to make you forget 'Silence of the Lambs' (or even 'Flightplan'), but enough to beat those pesky dragons."
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "The Brave One" ($19 million)
"Daniel Radcliffe doesn't touch a wand in 'December Boys,' 'Eastern Promises' is too brilliant for mainstream audiences and 'Woodcock' has 'School for Scoundrels 2' written all over it. The winner by default seems to be 'The Brave One,' although two competing factors are in play here: Fellow vet Kevin Bacon just bombed with his 'Death Wish'-wannabe flick, but Jodie Foster's last starring movie, 'Flightplan,' opened to a solid $25 million. So, I'm predicting that the box office will be home to the 'Brave' this weekend, but it'll only take in $19 million."
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