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Fall Guys

What gives, Hollywood? This season is a veritable bro-fest on the big screen, with nearly all the big films featuring dude-on-dude action. Below, a guide to the highlights of the estrogen-free A-list matchups.

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The Male Duo
Sean Penn and James Franco

The Film
Thank you, Brokeback Mountain: Gus Van Sant’s Milk (November 26) is a biopic of the late Harvey Milk, mayor of Castro Street. Sean Penn stars (in his fourth political-assassination film).

The Relationship
Milk was a closeted New York banker before he met his partner, Scott Smith (Franco). In San Francisco, they ran a camera shop together—and then a historic campaign.

Why We’re Excited
Gus Van Sant is sensibly playing to his base by littering the film with hotties like Diego Luna, Emile Hirsch, and Lewis Grabeel (from High School Musical).

Why We’re Worried
Remember how the Brokeback guys had to describe their kiss on every single talk show? Franco is already implanting comments about his giant prosthetic into every interview.



The Male Duo
Robert De Niro and Al Pacino

The Film
Pacino and De Niro, together for only the second time, play grizzled New York cops on the trail of a serial killer in Righteous Kill (September 12).

The Relationship
As cynical NYPD officer-vigilantes, soul-mate cops De Niro and Pacino share bottles of scotch and cynical asides. In the trailer, they are virtually indistinguishable.

Why We’re Excited
Pacino hasn’t had a memorable role since 2003’s Angels in America; De Niro’s last strong turn was in their prior film together, Heat. We’d love to see a tandem return to form.

Why We’re Worried
Director Jon Avnet’s last film with Pacino, 88 Minutes, was forgettable. The generic trailer is scored with a Rolling Stones track, in the hopes, perhaps, that it will be mistaken for a Scorsese film.



The Male Duo
Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris

The Film
Eight years after Pollock, Ed Harris directs his second film, Appaloosa (October 3), an old-fashioned Western about guns-for-hire.

The Relationship
Mortensen and Harris are dapper killers with a sticky mentor-student (pardner-pardner) relationship. They’re hired to get rid of local bad guy Jeremy Irons.

Why We’re Excited
Have there ever been so many chiseled features on one big screen? You could sharpen knives with their stony cheekbones.

Why We’re Worried
Harris can overindulge in old-school machismo (see Pollock). And we’ve noticed that the quality of Mortensen’s films rises with the greasiness of his hair. It’s pretty clean here.



The Male Duo
Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe

The Film
Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies (October 10) is based on Washington Post reporter David Ignatius’s well-reviewed wish-fulfillment thriller about a secretive hunt for an Al Qaeda leader.

The Relationship
Crowe is an anti terrorism mastermind who conjures up a convoluted plan and persuades an injured, idealistic soldier (DiCaprio) to execute it. Tension ensues.

Why We’re Excited
We’re excited to see DiCaprio play tough again after great work in Blood Diamond and Departed—and even more excited that Scott and Crowe are back to tough dramas after the loathsome A Good Year.

Why We’re Worried
Someday, Hollywood is going to make a great war-on-terror thriller. So far only United 93 has clicked.



The Male Duo
Brad Pitt and George Clooney

The Film
Riding high on the grim success of No Country for Old Men, the Coen brothers zag back to comedy with Burn After Reading (September 12)a zany farce about leaked CIA secrets and the fools who find them.

The Relationship
Dumb and dumber: George Clooney has said his federal agent completes his “idiot trilogy” for the Coens. He hunts down Brad Pitt, playing an even dopier blackmailer.

Why We’re Excited
Silly us, hoping that Angelina and Brad would be our generation’s Bogie and Bacall. Onscreen, film’s hottest, most glamorous couple is Clooney and Pitt.

Why We’re Worried
No Country for Old Men was brilliant, but the Coens’ two recent forays into comedy (Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers) were not.



The Male Duo
Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.

The Film
With The Soloist (November 21), Joe Wright (Atonement) turns from WWII to the true tale of a schizophrenic homeless cellist who gets discovered by a newspaper reporter.

The Relationship
Foxx, famous for his turn as a blind pianist (Ray Charles), ups the ante as the mentally challenged musician who, with Downey’s help, plays L.A.’s Disney concert hall.

Why We’re Excited
Robert Downey Jr. is on a ridiculous roll, and he has a preternatural talent for making even the most conventional part seem fascinating and weird.

Why We’re Worried
Hey, wait a minute: Isn’t Foxx’s character exactly the same kind of mentally ill, uplifting, awards-craving, melodramatic hero that Downey skewers in Tropic Thunder?


Related:

Fall Preview 2008

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