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.





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.





Inception

20 07 2010

Inception has been one of my most anticipated movies for 2010, and the bar for my expectations was incredibly high.  I am exceedingly happy to say that director and writer Christopher Nolan (Dark Knight, The Prestige, Batman Begins, Memento) did not fail to deliver above and beyond what I expected.  From start to finish every aspect of Inception is remarkable and breathtaking, from the score, pacing, and effects to the acting, dialogue, and concept.  It joins together all the best aspects of almost every genre (suspense/thriller, action, romance, comedy, sci-fi/fantasy, and a touch of horror) but combines it with an ensemble of super bad-ass yet believable characters that take on incredibly unorthodox protagonist/antagonist roles to create a truly unique screenplay that can be enjoyed despite/because of its complexities by all.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Well, if you have any doubt in your mind it means you haven’t seen it yet.  And seriously: don’t miss this.

I think that if I allowed myself I could probably gush about every aspect of this film, but I will try to keep this short so I will attempt to only talk about up to three of the more important things about it I can think of: the relationship between Inception’s screenplay and the pacing of scenes, the acting, and the effects. 

Christopher Nolan’s screenplay is masterful, and the thing that impresses me most about it is the way in which he is able to weave together different plots in different settings while maintaining very believable characters who exist in all of them simultaneously.  And he manages to do this without compromising his strong concepts, especially when it came to the rate of time passing in each of the simultaneous scenarios.  He manages to do this especially via pacing, both with cuts and with real-time versus slo-mo.  I won’t say more than that; those who’ve seen it know what I mean, and those who haven’t simply must see it for themselves!

A screenplay is nothing though without those who would deliver its dialogue, and Inception is certainly not lacking in the cast department.  There is not one weak link in the film; everyone in it delivers nothing less than their best.  Cillian Murhpy plays arrogant perfectly, and has an incredibly tender and beautiful scene towards the end with Pete Postlethwaite.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Tom Hardy together have a great but subtle chemistry; I’m excited to keep on eye on the both of them and their future roles from here on out.  Ellen Page, who I’m not a particularly huge fan of in the first place, does remarkably well in this movie and (this was surprising to me) is not eclipsed by the action and high profiles surrounding her.  For me though, the two stand-out roles were Leonardo Dicaprio and Marion Cotillard.  Although Leonardo is a huge household name and is completely recognizable in Inception, the magic of his acting lies in the fact that he is a complete chameleon; Leo becomes Cobb through and through, and the caliber of his acting leaves no room for the audience to question this.  Cotillard is beautiful as always, but is above all powerful in her performance as she juggles the loneliness, madness, and furiousness of her character Mal. Together Marion and Leo are a force to be reckoned with.

Lastly, the effects.  The effects are present from start to finish of the movie, and sometimes they seem to permeate every scene.  But the thing that keeps the effects in Inception fresh, new, and so believable are their authenticity.  This authentic feel springs from the fact that so much of the movie is not done with a computer, but rather were done with actors playing out intricate fight scenes in real time in real sets; the overwhelming energy of each scene is easily translated because the actors were really slipping, sliding, banging and fighting most of the time.  For example, consider the hotel hallway scene (pictured below):

“To pull off the scenes, multiple hotel sets were constructed in a converted airship hanger north of London, most notably, a more than 100-foot hotel corridor that was able to rotate 360 degrees with the help of eight concentric rings, 30-feet in diameter, which surrounded the set. Capable of spinning up to eight revolutions per minute, the centripetal hallway was powered by two giant 225-kilowatt electric motors (the equivalent of two new Mercedes S350 V-6 engines). Working with stunt coordinator Tom Struthers, another “Dark Knight” veteran, Gordon-Levitt and the other stuntmen rehearsed within the rotating sets for over two weeks.

To create the effect of zero gravity, several other sets were constructed: vertical sets; horizontal sets; upside down sets; at the same time, the “weightless” actors were hung on wires, or supported by rigid poles like big Popsicle sticks, or even laid down in fiberglass molds built to fit their bodies.

One particular challenge for the sequence was a scene in which Arthur takes five weightless sleeping bodies, wraps a chord around them, and floats them down the hall into an elevator. “How did we do it?” Corbould asks. “Chris has sworn ourselves to secrecy on that one.””

And that’s just one particular set of action sequences in one of the simultaneously occurring plots!

Inception is simply the best new movie out there, and is officially a favorite of mine. 

My rating: 10/10

Evan’s review:

^More or less how I felt during the last 45 minutes of Inception.  Maryann pretty much covered everything, and I agree completely with her review, so for now I’ll just leave it at that.  I may add a write-up later, but needless to say I thought it was amazing.

10/10





Top 10 Director/Actor Duos

20 03 2010

Since Alice in Wonderland and Shutter Island were both released recently, it seemed like an appropriate time to put this list together.  Let me know what I missed in the comments section!

1) Werner Herzog & Kluas Kinski

Fitzcarraldo and Aguirre: The Wrath of God are two of my personal all-time favorites, and their Nosferatu remake is one of my favorite horror films.  Their two other projects, Woyzeck and Cobra Verde, are also great.  Their collaborations are all the more interesting considering how animosity-filled they were.  The two claimed to completely hate one another yet were also “best friends.”  Herzog actually pointed a loaded gun at Kinski once, and even considered taking a local tribe up on their offer to murder the crazy actor.  Kinski would often go on screaming rampages on set and even fired a gun in the direction of Herzog’s tent  in the middle of the night,  shooting the finger off an extra (See Herzog’s documentary My Best Friend for more details).  But despite how incompatible they may seem, the pair managed to create 5 amazing and innovative films that makes them, in my mind, the greatest director/actor duo.

2) Martin Scorsese & Robert DeNiro

Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, New York New York, Raging Bull, The King of Comedy, Goodfellas, Cape Fear, and Casino.  That list of films pretty much speaks for itself, as most of them are classics.  Taxi Driver will probably go down as the greatest film portrait of insanity, while Raging Bull will probably be remembered as one of the greatest “sports” films ever. 

3) Akira Kurosawa & Toshiro Mifune

– These two collaborated on a whopping 16 films together over a 17 year stretch.  Their most notable films are all masterpieces: Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo, and the Shakespeare adaptation Throne of Blood

4) Alfred Hitchcock & Jimmy Stewart

– Hitchcock went back and forth between Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.  Grant starred in a few greats like North By Northwest and Notorious, but Stewart starred in Rear Window, Rope (the original Russian Ark), and an all-time favorite: Vertigo.

5) Martin Scorsese & Leonardo DiCaprio

– They’re 4 for 4 so far.  Gangs of New York, The Aviator, and The Departed have all ended up on many best of the decade lists, and 2010’s Shutter Island was pretty damn good too.

6) Woody Allen & Diane Keaton

– Woody Allen’s had a few lasting relationships with great actresses, but his collaborations with Diane Keaton were by far the best.  They worked together on Play it Again Sam, Sleeper, Love and Death, Interiors, Radio Days, Manhattan Murder Mystery, and arguably Woody’s two best films: Annie Hall and Manhattan.

7) Wong Kar-Wai & Tony Leung

2046, In the Mood for Love, and Chungking Express are all incredible films.  The two also made Ashes of Time together, which was recently re-released.

8 ) Frederico Fellini & Giuletta Masina

– Fellini and his wife Giuletta Masina made some of the most charming and whimsical films together, such as La Strada, Nights of Cabiria, and Juliet of the Spirits.

9) George Roy Hill & Paul Newman

– Their 3 collaborations together are all classics: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, and of course, Slap Shot. 

10) Tim Burton & Johnny Depp

– Though much of their recent work has been tiresome and actually pretty annoying, there’s no way to ignore their wonderful early collaborations such as Ed Wood, Edward Scissorhands, and Sleepy Hollow.





Shutter Island

20 02 2010

From beginning to end, Scorsese’s style is infused with a combination of Kubrick and Hitchcock.  This infusion can be seen in the beautifully executed 1950’s presence from the war sequences to the costumes and attitude of the characters, the wonderfully attentive relationship Scorcese developes with light throughout the film, the strong acting delivered by the characters (especially Leonardo DiCaprio) that made each scene more sincere and honest, and its classic feeling in general.  Every scene in the movie could stand on its own in terms of compostition and strength and therefore altogether the movie was indeed hauntingly beautiful. 

The storyline of Shutter Island is based on the novel of the same name.  I have not yet read the book, but I can say that if it is anything like the screenplay for this film I will gladly go get it.  The mystery and thriller aspects in the movie accompanied by the borderline film noir quality keeps you on the edge of your seat as the tension and suspense builds.  Yes, the plot has its twists and turns but that classic feel along with Scorsese’s masterful handling kept it out of the realm of the impossible and cheesy.  This is definitely one of those movies that I would love to see again on the big screen, because of its aesthetic appeal and enjoyable plot, so I recommend it to everyone out there!

My rating: 8.5/10





My 20 Most Anticipated Movies of 2010

2 01 2010

20.  THE GHOST WRITER  (Roman Polanski)

-Had one of the most intriguing teaser trailers.  Plus, with all the controversy surrounding Roman Polanski it’ll be interesting to see how the public reacts to this.  It stars Ewan McGregor and Pierce Brosnan.

19.  MACHETE  (Robert Rodriguez)

-The fake trailer from Grindhouse is being made into a feature.  Should be fun, and it’s nice to see Danny Trejo get a starring role.

18.  DUE DATE  (Todd Phillips)

-I think Zach Galifianakis is one of the funniest people alive, so I can’t wait to finally see him in the lead role for a comedy like this.  Robert Downey Jr. also stars. 

17.  DAYBREAKERS  (Spierig brothers)

-This one comes out next week.  It’s getting good reviews, I like Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, and I thought the trailer looked great.  I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

16.  BIUTIFUL  (Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)

-It’s by the director of Amorres Perros and Babel and stars Javier Bardem.  With those names there’s no way this turns out bad.

15.  JACK GOES BOATING  (Philip Seymour Hoffman)

-I know nothing about this except that it’s Hoffman’s directorial debut.  He’s one of my favorite actors so it’ll be interesting to see how he fares as a director. 

14.  THE AMERICAN  (Anton Corbijn)

-From the director of Control and starring George Clooney.  Sounds like a promising duo.

13.  THE RUM DIARY  (Bruce Robinson)

-The director of Withnail and I hasn’t made a film in almost 20 years, so it’s great to see him back and directing again.  This stars Johnny Depp playing a Hunter S. Thompson type journalist just like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so I’m predicting this to be wild and fun.

12.  YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER  (Woody Allen)

-I’m always excited for a new Woody Allen film.  This one’s got another great cast including Frieda Pinto (her first role since Slumdog), Josh Brolin, Naomi Watts, Anthony Hopkins, and Antonio Banderas.

11.  MY SON, MY SON, WHAT HAVE YE DONE?  (Werner Herzog)

-Starring one of my new favorite actors (Michael Shannon) directed by one of my all time favorites, and produced by David Lynch.  Should be thoroughly creepy.

10.  LIFE DURING WARTIME  (Todd Solondz)

-From the writer/director of Happiness and Welcome to the Dollhouse, both of which I consider masterpieces. 

9.  TRUE GRIT  (The Coen Brothers)

-Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, and Jeff Bridges star in the Coen brothers’ remake of the John Wayne classic.  At this point anything the Coens make I’ll see opening weekend.  They’re just so consistently brilliant.

8.  ENTER THE VOID  (Gasper Noe)

-The director of Irreversible is back with another mindfuck.  All I need to know.

7.  TOY STORY 3  (Lee Unkrich – PIXAR)

-It’s Pixar, I’d be shocked if this didn’t turn out to be great.

6.  HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1  (David Yates)

-Man I’ll be sad when this series comes to an end.

5.  MICMACS  (Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

-A new comedy from the director of Amelie.  All his films have been wonderful (with the exception of Alien: Resurrection), so I can’t wait for this one.  One of the best working directors.

4.  BLACK SWAN  (Darren Aronofsky)

-Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis star as rival ballerinas in what’s being described as a psychological thriller.  Aronofsky’s one of the most interesting directors right now, so I always look forward to what he’s doing next. 

3.  THE TREE OF LIFE  (Terrence Malick)

-This is only Terrence Malick’s 5th film in his almost 40 year career, so it’s kind of an event whenever a new film of his is released.  Plus, apparently this one’s got dinosaurs in it.  Yeah, dinosaurs.  Can’t wait.  He’s one of the most adventurous and beautiful filmmakers, and this has been his pet project which he’s been working on since the 70’s.  It stars Sean Penn and Brad Pitt.  Not to go overboard on the hype and give the film unrealistic expectations, but this could be one of the greatest films ever.  It has unlimited potential. 

2.  SHUTTER ISLAND  (Martin Scorsese)

-It’s so exciting to see Scorsese tackle the horror/thriller genre (I don’t really count Cape Fear).  Plus, I love the Hitchcock-esque mystery feel I get from the trailer.  This one just looks amazing.

1.  INCEPTION  (Christopher Nolan)

-OMG I CAN”T WAIT TO SEE THIS.

Notably absent:  Alice in Wonderland, or “The Mad Hatter in Wonderland” judging by the trailer which puts Johnny Depp front and center and barely even features Alice.  Honestly, I wish Tim Burton would stop remaking everything, and I wish he’d stop casting Depp and then covering him in white make-up everytime.  It also looks like he went completely nuts with the CGI.  Needless to say I’m skeptical about this one.





New “Inception” trailer

28 12 2009