Looking ahead to the rest of 2013

1 06 2013

With the year half over and Cannes behind us, here are the 10 films I’m most excited to see during the 2nd half of 2013.  Something I should address up front is that Man of Steel, the most anticipated film for many, is absent here. Though I don’t quite have superhero movie fatigue yet, I’ve just never been a fan of Zack Snyder, and so I’m skeptical of anything he’s behind.  This is his follow up to Sucker Punch, after all.

10) Only God Forgives

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Having loved 2011’s Drive, I can’t help but be excited for Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling’s follow-up.  While Drive was universally praised, Refn seems to be going back to his more divisive ways this time, even drawing comparisons to Valhalla Rising in that it’s visceral, violent, beautiful, but all with a bare bones script.

9) This is the End

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This could be the best “midnight movie” of the year.  This fits right into Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s wheelhouse, and with a great ensemble and an emphasis on improv, it has the potential to be a blast.

8) The Past

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Like Drive, Asghar Fahadi’s  A Separation was one of my favorites of 2011.  His new film is getting very strong reviews and he’s becoming one of the most exciting new writer/directors.

7) Blue is the Warmest Color

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This just won the palme d’Or at Cannes, and so it automatically gets a spot here.  Other than the story centering around a young French lesbian couple, I know nothing of this film or its director.  However, Cannes has a history of picking amazing films for its top honor, and so I can’t wait to see this.

6) Anchorman: The Legend Continues

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Long in the works, and I really just can’t wait to see Will Ferrell back in this role.  Should be a lot of fun.

5) The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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After seeing An Unexpected Journey, I’m no longer worried about The Hobbit being split into 3 films.  I didn’t feel it had any pacing issues, it set up a sequel well, and it felt wonderful to return to Middle Earth.  I’m sure Peter Jackson will work his magic once again.

4) Nymphomaniac

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Ever since Antichrist I feel there’s been a misconception among some that Lars Von Trier is a one-trick-pony only seeking shock value.  Though Nymphomaniac doesn’t look to change that view at all, I don’t think it could be further from the truth.  He’s always made wonderfully innovative films, from pioneering Dogme 95 to writing and directing Dogville, which Tarantino called “One of the best scripts ever written,” and that it “Would’ve won the Pulitzer had it been brought to the stage.”  He’s also been unpredictable, ranging from shock and horror to office comedy.  Nymphomaniac will at the very least be one of the most talked about movies of the year.

3) Twelve Years a Slave

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Steve McQueen might be the most exciting new director.  This is his 3rd film after Hunger and Shame.  This time he tackles slavery in NYC in the 1800’s, and he has maybe the best cast of the year led by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender.

2) The Wolf of Wall Street

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The 5th collaboration between Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, and with reportedly one of the wildest scripts around.  There are even rumors of an NC-17 rating, though I doubt a major studio would let a film such as this get that financial kiss of death. Regardless, Scorsese is an all time great, and I can’t wait to see him take on controversial and energetic material again.

1) Before Midnight

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Not usually one for romance, the first two films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset (which brilliantly plays out in real time), are two exceptions.  If Before Midnight reaches the same heights, this series will, in my opinion, be one of the all time best.  The three films were all made 9 years apart, with the actors aging naturally along with the characters. The two stars, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke, also had a big influence on the scripts of each film, so not only have the characters aged naturally, but they’ve matured naturally as well.  Before Midnight opens wide on June 14th, and so far it’s been getting nothing but rave reviews.  It looks to be a great end to a trilogy 18 years in the making.





Top 10 of 2011

23 08 2012

It’s late, but it took a long time to see everything on my list from last year.  After all, we’re not critics who get invited to screenings or have deadlines, so we took our sweet ass time.  2011 was an amazing year for movies, and there are quite a few that I loved but just couldn’t fit on the list.  Take a look and we encourage you to post your own top 10 in the comments.

10) Take Shelter

9) Shame

8) Midnight in Paris

7) Drive

6) HP and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2

5) Hugo

4) Melancholia

3) A Separation

2) 13 Assassins

1) The Skin I Live In

 

Almodovar’s probably one of very few who could make something so simultaneously bizarre, disturbing and thought-provoking.  I’ve loved Almodovar’s films for a long time, but with this I think he topped himself.  The Skin I Live In is a perfect mix of Almodovar with equal parts Hitchcock and Cronenberg.  It’s fantastic and my favorite film from an outstanding year.





Most Anticipated of 2011

25 01 2011

There’s a strong chance I haven’t even heard of most of the movies that will end up being my year-end favorites, but as of now, here’s what I can’t wait to see:

20) Source Code

Duncan Jones’ follow-up to Moon, one of my recent favorites.  Honestly, I didn’t care for the trailer much, but I’m excited for this based on Jones’ name alone and the fact that it’s another original sci-fi.

19) The Grandmasters

Wong Kar-Wai’s new film about Bruce Lee’s trainer.

18) J. Edgar

A Clint Eastwood directed biopic about J. Edgar Hoover starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  Not usually a biopic fan, but I can’t wait for anything Leo does at this point.

17) Tintin

Peter Jackson produces, Spielberg directs.  I’m honestly not very familiar with the source material, but I like the idea of Spielberg making an animated film, plus he and Peter Jackson should make a great combo.

16) The Hunter

An Indie thriller starring Willem Dafoe.  I can’t say exactly why I’m anticipating this one so much, just have a good feeling about it.

15) The Skin That I Inhabit

Pedro Almodovar’s latest.  That’s all I know about this one.

14) Hobo With a Shotgun

Like Machete, this was originally a fake trailer.  Should be another good 90 minutes of Grindhouse fun.

13) The Rum Diary

The first film from Withnail and I director Bruce Robinson in 19 years.  Johnny Depp stars in his 2nd Hunter S. Thompson adaptation.

12) Meek’s Cutoff

Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams are collaborating again after 2008’s Wendy and Lucy, which was great.  This is about settlers traveling through the Oregon desert in the 19th century.  Could be amazing.

11) Hanna

The trailer makes this look like a blast.  Good director, good cast, should be fun.  Check out the trailer here.

10) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

The Social Network was so good that I can’t wait to see this.  David Fincher’s next has some of the same cast and crew as Network, with Trent Reznor writing the score and Rooney Mara taking the lead role.  Even though I don’t like the idea of Hollywood remaking every recent successful foreign film, I’m on board with this one.

9) The Borrowers

The new Studio Ghibli film, written by Hayao Miyazaki.  Can’t wait.

8.) Wuthering Heights

Andrea Arnold’s follow-up to Fish Tank, one of my favorites from last year.  Classic source material, can’t wait to see what she’s able to do with it.

7) Shame

Director Steve McQueen and his leading man Michael Fassbender’s follow-up to their amazing 2009 film Hunger.  I can’t see this duo not going 2 for 2.

6) Drive

Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Valhalla Rising) is one of the most interesting up-and-coming directors around, and this is first big “Hollywood” film, starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, and Ron Perlman.  The film is about a stunt driver who discovers that he has a price on his head.  Can’t wait to see what Refn does with a more straightforward story like this.  My hopes are sky high.

5) A Dangerous Method

The third film from David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen, this time also starring Michael Fassbender (!) and Keira Knightley.  The film’s about Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, and it should be amazing.

4) Hugo Cabret

Martin Scorsese directing a kid’s film?  In 3D?  I’m happy to see Scorsese trying something so new, and the source material is great.  It’s also got a good looking ensemble with Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Jude Law, Emily Mortimer, Michael Pitt, Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone, and Sacha Baron Cohen.

3) Melancholia

Lars Von Trier’s follow-up to Antichrist.  I love anything Von Trier, and I love sci-fi, so my expectations are pretty much through the roof on this one.  Von Trier jokingly said that he’d have “no more happy endings!” before filming this one, and sure enough the plot deals with Earth’s imminent destruction.

2) The Tree of Life

I said the same thing last year, but I can’t remember a time when this wasn’t on my most anticipated list.  It looks like all the delays are finally over, especially since a beautiful trailer was released recently.  Terrence Malick movies are always an event, and this sounds like it could be one of his best.

1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

It’s been an incredible series, and the end is looking to be 2 hours of epic non-stop climax.  I thought part 1 was amazing, so this should basically be the best thing ever for big Potter fans.  I’ll be sad when it’s over.





Von Trier’s next: “No more happy endings!”

18 12 2009

 

Lars Von Trier is working on a sci-fi!  Honestly, this sounds like a dream come true.  The film is titled Melancholia, and it will supposedly be a low budget psychological disaster movie taking place on a planet nearing its own destruction.  Filming starts next summer.  No cast members have been announced, and it will be filmed in the English language, for those who were curious.  It seems that Von Trier has officially left his Dogma 95 roots in the dust, which is A-OK.





Antichrist review (a fitting first post)

29 09 2009

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Antichrist is a movie by Lars Von Trier.   The movie begins with an all black and white prologue that is simultaneously beautiful, sad, and disturbing.  It is a harbinger of the uncensored and discomforting nature of the rest of the movie; I was hooked within 5 minutes.  For those of you who do not know this, I have been amped to see this movie since it caused such a ruckus at its first screening at the Cannes Film Festival.  I heard that it was violent and distressing; the trailer told me it would be frightening and surreal.  None of that was enough to ease me into what transpired in the hour and 40 or so minutes that Antichrist lasts for.  It is not only an examination of grief and mourning but also of relationships (professional, medical, and romantic), fear and coping with fear, the nature of evil, women, and nature (and more specifically the invisible binding between those last three things, and that brings us to contemplate a word Von Trier uses in the movie: “gynocide”).  The strong themes are stirred by Von Trier via the alluring and haunting imagery he presents to us on screen, each frame striking in its own right.  Although altogether the plot’s pieces do not seem to perfectly fit (to some, at least) and it may seem that not all ends are tied, it is up to the viewer to read into those striking frames and come to their own conclusions not only about the nature of the couple in the story but also one’s own beliefs surrounding womanhood, the natural world, and evil.  I am walking away from Antichrist with certain images seared into my mind, and that is the way it should be.  But I am also walking away with a profound sense of poetry and a riled inner dialogue concering the ever-present conflict of gender and society. 

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**Spoiler warning!** 

 There has been a lot of flack given Von Trier about Antichrist.  Does the movie go too far?  Is it too disturbing?  Is it misogynistic?  These last questions are truths to many people who have viewed the film.  I, on the other hand, disagree.  I don’t at all believe that the movie goes too far in its gore or its theme.  Certainly there are parts of the movie that are hard to stomach.  The reason for its shocking and disturbing affects on the viewer is because it has no soundtrack, is filmed with a handheld camera, yes the content is severe and unpleasant, but most of all the context in which this gore is viewed hits close to home because it feels so real.  I want to call your attention to the fact that this is an art house film, not a Hollywood thriller that saturates the viewer with violence a la Hostel and the Saw flicks, nor is it an exploitation film.  That leads me to my next point regarding whether or not Antichrist is misogynistic. 

I have already said that the movie is up for interpretation, but I will clarify my point of view and say that I certainly do not believe it is a misogynistic film.  I believe that the plight of the couple in the film, played superbly by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, highlights an outstanding and long-lasting relationship between women and nature, and how together they are percieved as of or relating to evil according to Judeo-Christian mythology.  These things together are inherent in peoples’ perception of gender, and Von Trier is bringing that to light in this film.  Certainly the relationship between Gainsbourg and Dafoe can be considered the strereotypical female-male relationship in Western society to an extreme.  The women is hysterical, overcome with emotion, fear, guilt, and grief.  The man is logical, rational, and is stepping in to save the situation, be the hero.  The way in which Dafoe forces treatment upon Gainsbourg is  highly inappropriate, yes.  The way in which Gainsbourg acts is manic and  irrational, one might say so.  The metaphor is made that “nature is Satan’s church.”  Taken seprately these pieces might seem misogynistic, but one must look at the whole picture.  Von Trier, like any artist, is taking that which is a shocking and hard truth in our society and unveiling it, shining a light upon it, forcing us to examine that with which we live.  Finally, I would like to talk about the epilogue of the movie.  The last scene is Dafoe standing in a sort of clearing in the forest and from every direction faceless women in all manner of clothing are approaching him and passing by him.  All of them are faceless.  To me this is a reminder of all the victims of misogyny throughout history, anonymous women who have suffered gynocide. 

It is all about intention.  I do not believe Von Trier intended to make a movie that would uphold misogynistic values.  And even if he did, I intend to see past that and consider the issue at heart: gender and crimes against women in our society, and what can we do to internalize those wrongs and put an end to them.

Rating: 10/10