'Beowulf': Robert Zemeckis's Heroic Undertaking
This one should be big and bad at once -- it's Robert Zemeckis's version of "Beowulf," with the great Brit thug Ray Winstone ("Sexy Beast") in the title role. Zemeckis is a magician, as witness such feats of prestidigitation as "Back to the Future" and "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." To see him turned loose on the ur-story at the heart of British literature with state-of-the-art F/X at his disposal looks like fun. And this makes it even better: Who is the voice of Grendel's horrible mother? Angelina Jolie! Who could ask for anything more?
"THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD"
Maybe there's a mini-boom for the classic genre of the western, what with "3:10 to Yuma" and "No Country for Old Men" on the fall release schedule. But for my money, the most promising is "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," starring Brad Pitt as Jesse James. A big-budget, R-rated oater about one of the most violent men the frontier produced, and with a major star and directed by the Aussie (Andrew Dominik) behind Eric Bana's break-out flick "Chopper"? Now that sounds like some old goat's idea of a party!
-- Stephen Hunter