Surprises spring up in unexpected places and are frequently caused by the most unexpected people. That's why they're called surprises. Here's what I'm talking about: I expected Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine to be wonderful as a sweet undertaker and the sour miser he murders in "Bernie," and I was right. But I was surprised--make that shocked--by the splendid work done by Matthew McConaughey, a pretty boy I had dismissed as terminally bland, as the outraged lawyer determined to put the popular mortician behind bars. And now people who saw "Killer Joe" at the Cannes Festival are rhapsodizing over McConaughey's performance as a cop who performs murder on demand for customers who can pay his all-but-prohibitive price. Director William Friedkin, of "The French Connection" and "The Exorcist" fame and "Cruising" shame, is primed for a major comeback with this comic shocker written by Tracy Letts, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of "August: Orange County." Also in the cast: Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon. "Killer Joe" opens on 7/27/12. I can't believe how surprised I am to be looking forward to seeing this Matthew McConaughey movie. To view the trailer, click on
















You surely don’t need to be briefed on the track record of the critically acclaimed, rousingly lucrative Batman franchise. If you’re drawing a blank on this profoundly significant subject, however, you just may not feel motivated to sample this latest—and presumably last—chapter. Directed by devout “Dark Knight” vet Christopher Nolan and written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan, the movie’s big-bang cast is headed by Christian Bale and includes Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Liam Neeson, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Juno Temple, Matthew Modine and Ben Mendelsohn. Judging by the trailer, you can eagerly, perhaps nervously, prepare yourself for a blistering confrontation between heroic Batman (Bale) and his fiendish nemesis (Hardy) that is fated to climax in a blaze of gory. Opens on 6/20/12. To view the trailer, click on

















The odd couple played by Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in this romantic comedy were once passionate mates. But now, thirty years after saying "I do," they're saying "We don't." Which is fine by Tommy Lee, who is no longer the horny hombre he once was. But Meryl, never known as a quitter, has devised a game plan for turning up the bedroom heat, one that involves the particpation of a miracle-worker sex therapist played by Steve Carell. "Hope Springs" was directed by David Frankel, who certainly did well by Streep in "The Devil Wears Prada." It opens on 8/10/12. To view the trailer, copy and paste the link below into your google search option.






















The astonishingly popular musical based on Victor Hugo's massive 19th century social-protest novel may be matched at the box office by the movie version if it in fact delivers on the wildly emotional sweep of the melodramatic trailer. If it fails to sustain its nearly rabid intensity, it surely will not be for a lack of trying, at least not on the part of Anne Hathaway, who's cast as the long and calamitously suffering Fantine. It's hard to tell if Hathaway can consistently hit those high notes, but this much we do know: she certainly can emote! The key roles of runaway prisoner Jean Valjean and demonic police official Javert have been placed in the trustworthy hands of Hugh Jackman (we KNOW he can sing) and Russell Crowe, and Amanda Seyried plays Cosette, the habitually abused daughter of Fantine. Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Eddie Redmayne are also prominent in a cast that has been directed by Tom Hooper, the Brit who gave us "The King's Speech." Now wouldn't THAT make a helluva movie! "Les Miserables" opens on 12/14/12. To view the trailer, copy and paste the link below into your google search option.





















Over the years, celebrated, bankable stars--including Warner Baxter, Alan Ladd and Robert Redford--struggled in vain to breathe fire into the character of Jay Gatsby, the enigmatic, doomed protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece. Is there any actor working today who can get this role right? Actually, there's reason to believe that Leonardo DiCaprio, a charismatic actor capable of quicksilver force and fragility, is the man for the job. I'm betting that DiCaprio will BE Gatsby, with the help of Baz Luhrmann, the Australian auteur who made Leo BE a serious heartthrob in “Romeo + Juliet." I think you can expect fireworks this time around, especially in the scenes between DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy Buchanan, the dazzling but dangerous Jazz Era flower Gatsby was determined to pick. That chemistry has got to be hot. The 3D movie opens 12/25/12. To view the trailer, click on



















When you say James Bond, I think Sean Connery. A few of the wannabes who gave the 007 role a shot were pleasant enough, but they didn't come close to turning on the warmth and the cool, the wit and the sexiness, the boldness and bravery of Connery. Still, I think we can be grateful for the grace, humor and swift decision-making skills of Daniel Craig, who proved to be by far the second-best Bond of all in "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace." I'm looking forward to seeing him outsmart and outbrawn the baddies in "Skyfall" and to see how he handles the news that M--his long-time boss, played as usual by the superb Judi Dench--may not always have been the straight shooter she seemed to be. The always reliable Sam Mendes directed a first-rate cast that includes Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Albert Finney, Helen McCrory, Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw. "Skyfall" opens on 11/9/12. To view the trailer, copy and paste the link below into your google search option.



















As Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." So I guess that means there is no reason for us to fear that Bill Murray will be a disaster as the charismatic president in this offbeat biopic. Certainly, if one can believe what one sees in a trailer, Murray has nailed FDR's way with a cigarette holder, a cocktail shaker and a fluttery mistress--as demonstrated during a 1939 weekend visit by the King and Queen of England to the lush Roosevelt estate at Hyde Park on Hudson in upstate New York. Roger Michell directed Murray as the physically handicapped but sexually assertive Commander in Chief, Laura Linney as the submissive distant cousin with whom he forges a clandestine New Deal, and Olivia Williams as the indestructible Eleanor Roosevelt. "Hyde Park on Hudson" opens on 12/7/12, exactly 71 years after the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor. To view the trailer, copy and paste the link below into your google search option.




















Leo DiCaprio seems to be on an end-of-the-year spree, seeing as how this wham-bam, possibly over-the-top action melodrama from Quentin Tarantino, in which DiCaprio is featured, opens on 12/25/12, the same day as "The Great Gatsby." But this is obviously no Prohibition era saga. "Django Unchained" sweeps all the way back to the Civil War, focusing on a valiant attempt by a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) to rescue his lovely wife (Kerry Washington) from a plantation where she is being held captive and cruelly abused by the madman in charge. And who might that be? You guessed it--Leo the Lion, who is apparently intent on proving he can play the good, the bad and the ugly, all on the same opening day. Merry Christmas, everyone! To view the trailer, copy and paste the link below into your google search option.


Matt Damon was a perfect fit as courageous, tormented CIA agent Jason Bourne in a trio of psychological thrillers based on Robert Ludlam's novels, so you can't help wondering if there's another contemporary performer capable of working a similar miracle. We'll find out when we see Jeremy Renner, who proved he can be a riveting presence in "The Hurt Locker" and "The Town," play a daring young CIA agent who aspires to follow in the dangerous footsteps of Bourne. But, like his idol, he eventually learns that not every stalwart comrade is a true friend. Will he wake up soon enough to run for shelter in a safe, sane profession? Also conspicuous in director/screenwiter Tony Gilroy's colorful cast: Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Joan Allen, Albert Finney, David Strathairn, Scott Glenn and Stacy Keach. To view the trailer, copy and paste the link below into your google search option.



















Following last year's "Moneyball," which brought him an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Billy Beane, the difficult yet lovable general manager of the Oakland A's baseball team, Brad Pitt makes an audacious lunge at playing a totally badass criminal in this dark film based on “Cogan’s Trade,” the chilling thriller by the late George V. Higgins. There are no heroes in this noir tale set in Boston (but shot in New Orleans)--only a gallery of lethal schemers and thugs played by James Gandolfini, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy and Sam Shepard. And, in the role of stealthy, trigger-crazed professional assassin Jackie Cogan, the dependably adventurous Brad. More good, albeit scary, news: The writer-director is Andrew Dominik, the intense New Zealand filmmaker who ladled out the scorching “Chopper” in 2000, followed in 2007 by “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” a thinking-dude’s western that provided Brad Pitt with an opportunity to frisk and search the psyche of a mythic—some say heroic--American outlaw. "Killing Them Softly" opens on 10/19/12. To view the trailer, click on

















In the current housing market mess, it's no slam dunk to find decent, affordable digs. Yet the single mom played by Elisabeth Shue in Mark Tonderai's horror flick had no trouble cinching the deal. She was a stranger in town, though, and it does seem she might have checked out the neighborhood a wee bit before moving in, along with her sexy, exceedingly sociable teenage daughter (Jennifer Lawrence, just before she hit the mark with "Hunger Games"). Well, maybe living next door to a house where an agitated kid murdered her mom and pop is not the worst thing in the world. On the other hand, maybe it is the worst thing in the world. And, by the way, who is that weird young man moping around the house next door, and should the new girl on the block be getting quite so up close and personal with him? "House at the End of the Street" opens on 9/21/12. To view the trailer, click on