Top films to look out for over the next few months

Indiana Jones

Michael Clayton
Having charmed the ladies with his third Danny Ocean caper, George Clooney makes another of his ‘mature movies’, and it’s nothing less than an existential thriller. The Cloonster plays the fix-it guy for a law firm’s dodgy rich clients who’s targeted for elimination by a ruthless corporate executive (Tilda Swinton) and begins increasingly to wonder what the heck his life’s all about. A proper grown-up film, but George still looks gorgeous.
Fri 28 Sep.

Eastern Promises
Canadian auteur David Cronenberg reunites with his History of Violence star Viggo Mortensen for this London-set thriller in which ‘the once and future king’ plays a ruthless Russian gangster who crosses paths with an innocent midwife (Naomi Watts) and thereafter sets in motion one of those pesky chain reactions of murder and revenge and more murder. Expect some nasty violence and mutilation from the master of ‘body horror’.
Fri 26 Oct.

Mister Lonely
Wee weirdo Harmony Korine follows up his oddball Dogme movie Julien Donkey-Boy with this cultish comedy in which Diego Luna’s Michael Jackson look-a-like is befriended by Samantha Morton’s Marilyn Monroe doppleganger and dragged off to a commune in Scotland where everyone is pretending to be someone dead famous. Anita Pallenberg, Werner Herzog and – eh? – David Blaine are among the motley ensemble. Some call Korine a genius, others . . .
Fri 16 Nov.

My Blueberry Nights
Super cool Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai (In the Mood for Love) makes his English language debut with this road movie in which Norah Jones (yep, the singer) sets off across America to do some soul searching. En route to enlightenment the daughter of sitar playing legend Ravi Shankar meets all manner of offbeat characters, played variously by Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz, Tim Roth and David Strathairn.
Fri 28 Dec.

No Country For Old Men
The Coen brothers return to form after the ill-advised Ladykillers remake with this adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s hardboiled crime novel. The film involves Tommy Lee Jones’ ageing cop, Josh Brolin’s foolish thief and Javier Bardem’s ultra-evil killer, the Chigurh, whupping the bejesus out of one another over a load of heroin and two million bucks stashed near the Rio Grande. The book’s about as brutal as it gets, and the Coens have pulled no punches.
Fri 18 Jan.

Sweeney Todd
Having hung up his buccaneer boots, Johnny Depp steps into a white smock to play the demon barber of Fleet Street in his old pal Tim Burton’s adaptation of the blackly comic Broadway musical about a follicle cutter and his pie-maker neighbour’s diabolic business arrangement. Mrs Burton aka Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall are got up Gothic stylee in a typically lavish fantasy from the man who made Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Fri 25 Jan.

Margot at the Wedding
More hilarious but affecting eccentric family dysfunction from Noah Baumbach, who wrote the marvellous The Life Aquatic and directed the even more marvellous The Squid and the Whale. Nicole Kidman is the titular guest who makes herself unwelcome at her sister Jennifer Jason Leigh’s home after discovering she’s going to marry the deeply unimpressive Jack Black. Baumbach is next collaborating on an animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox, with Wes The Royal Tenenbaums Anderson. We think they’re the same person.
Fri 29 Feb.

10,000 BC
Sabretooth tigers and woolly mammoths feature in this dawn-of-time adventure from the team that made The Day After Tomorrow. It’s a loose reworking of the old Raquel Welch-in-a-furry-bikini Neanderthal male fantasy One Million Years BC, but without the dinosaurs (which never co-existed with humans). Historical accuracy in place then, we confidently expect Roland Independence Day Emmerich not to short-change us on eye-opening big animal action.
Fri 14 Mar.

Stop Loss
The warmongering Bush administration takes a battering in this topical drama about a Texan soldier who once back home from Iraq refuses to return to battle despite a government mandate requiring him to do so (hence the film’s title). Ryan Phillippe takes the lead in what’s sure to be a controversial film, and it’s directed by Kimberly Peirce, who made the superb cross-dressing crime drama Boys Don’t Cry.
Fri 25 Apr.

Indiana Jones 4
Everyone from M Knight Shyamalan to Tom Stoppard has turned in scripts for the acrobatic archaeologist’s new adventure, which was at one point subtitled City of the Gods. Now Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have accepted one (rumoured to be set in the cold war, UFO-obsessed 1950s), 65-year-old Harrison Ford has picked up the whip once again, and he’s joined by Ray Winstone, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett and Karen Allen (Indy’s squeeze from the first film).
Fri 22 May.

As one of Hollywood’s bad boys, Robert Downey Jr has created as much controversy off screen as he has delivered onscreen gold. Next year he takes on his most commercial role to date, writes Miles Fielder
It says a lot about the critical and commercial ascendancy of the comic book adaptation that Hollywood’s serious actors are leapfrogging one another to get into a pair of spandex tights and play a superhero. In June Ed Norton will be bulging out of a pair of stretched purple pants in The Incredible Hulk, and July sees Christian Bale back in black in The Dark Knight. Before either of these films are released, however, Robert Downey Jr wields himself into a hi-tech armoured suit in Iron Man.

The contemporised adventures of the Marvel Comics character, who first appeared in 1963, focuses on billionaire weapons magnate Tony Stark, who is wounded in a landmine explosion during a business trip to Afghanistan, gets captured by the enemy and is forced to build a super-weapon. The resulting red and yellow suit of armour, which is invulnerable, super-strong, emits repulsion beams from its gloves and can fly faster than a jet fighter, is used by Stark to keep his now dodgy heart ticking, escape back to America and from there battle global injustice.

Distinct from X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four etc in that it showcases an adult superhero (Stark’s an alcoholic playboy), Iron Man also boasts an appropriately mature supporting cast: Jeff Bridges as Stark’s mentor/nemesis Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger, Gwyneth Paltrow as his sexy secretary Virginia ‘Pepper’ Potts, and Samuel L Jackson as super spy Nick Fury. Former Swinger Jon Favreau directs, pitching the film somewhere between Fantastic Four-light and Batman-dark, with one-time hell-raiser Downey Jr the perfect man to play the morally ambiguous protagonist.

Ironman is released on Wed 2 May.

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