Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: I hope you like Potter, because it's the only wide-release game in town this weekend. I'll be there, fulfilling my nerdly duties, but I'm still trying to puzzle out how this darker-looking installment got back the PG rating after a couple of PG-13 affairs — or, conversely, how the angle on so many Potter reviews can still be "this one gets really dark and adult!" People have said that about every single Potter book and film since the third one of each.
If the books and movies really had such exponential, repeated spikes in darkness as their reviews have implied, Deathly Hallows would end in a double-rape-suicide pact. Or is this like how most career artists get reviews calling their latest record their best in a decade, creating the false impression that most musical careers are essentially on a neverending upswing? Yeah, I think it's a little like that. It's kind of a shame that everyone seems pretty much resigned that no remaining Potter movies will challenge the Cuaron installment a few movies back for the best-of-franchise title. Prisoner of Azkaban gave the rest of the series permission to evolve past the book-on-tape Chris Columbus approach, but there seems to be a tacit agreement within the production that Azkaban's series-low gross (by a slim margin, but still) meant that exceeding Cuaron's level of personality and wit was ill-advised. Still, he raised the bar for the rest of the series, and maybe the more introspective (and less bloated) story of Half-Blood Prince will prove a more flexible, idiosyncratic movie, at least as far as these things go.
(500) Days of Summer: Similar to Harry Potter's dominance over wide releases, I guess indieland is buckling down for the inevitable tidal wave of support for the miniature equivalent of Reese Witherspoon smooching Johnny Depp (is that a movie star mainstream moviegoers would like to see in a romantic movie? I don't even know): Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel team up for a misery-n-whimsy double act, aiming to revitalize the indie romantic comedy. This movie, with its moony Deschanel eyes and JGL-intensity and Smiths references and possible musical number, is even more obviously direct-marketed to me than Garden State was, but you know what, I liked Garden State, it was funny and pretty, so if this one is that good, I'll be fine. Although: what's with whimsical-but-human indie movies indulging in one-or-two-off musical scenes? Doesn't anyone want to make a fun-but-grounded actual musical for this demo? Starring Zooey Deschanel? You're telling me that wouldn't make twentysomething bank?!