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.

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“Humpday” (2009) review

19 03 2010

Unfortunately I missed Humpday (2009) when it played at the little independent theater.  Then when it played at the Regal, I wasn’t too worried about seeing it anymore — it did look interesting, but from all outside appearances, it was just another one of those films with an “indie” aesthetic that have become so popular (Napoleon Dynamite, Superbad, or basically anything with Seth Rogen or Michael Cera). I had heard good things, but nothing amazing, then when I heard it referenced as a mumblecore film, I became very skeptical.

While I haven’t seen too many mumblecore films, and I will use the word to talk about films that I thoroughly enjoy (for example, Jimmy Marble’s bagel’s/snafu. Check him out on his blog, he’s pretty awesome.), it has some negative connotations.  When someone says mumblecore, I think: plot-less, a lot of unnecessary dialog, pretentious philosophy, and moody/lonely/depressed twenty-somethings in awkward situations.  I get enough of that in my life already.  I don’t go out of my way to watch it in the theater.  (A good example of a mumblecore film would be The Puffy Chair (2005). Sorry for the tangent, back to the Humpday.)

Watching Humpday I was impressed.  There was a lot of unnecessary dialog.  There was philosophizing.  There was moody-ness amongst twenty/thirty-somethings trying to figure out their lives.  There were a lot of awkward situations.  But it was all done very well.  The philosophical conversations didn’t come off as pretentious.  The dialog actually allowed me to connect better with the characters, because — the goal of a lot of mumblecore — they seemed more like real people.  There wasn’t a dramatic plot, but the movie kept moving forward, and it didn’t become boring at any point.  The characters actions were realistic, and the situations, while a little weird, were plausible.  Especially living in the Seattle area, I feel like I could know these people.  There were some bits that could have handled a little editing down, but the improvisation made the interactions seem a lot more authentic.  By creating connections with the audience through character development and prolonging certain scenes and exchanges, the filmmaker really made the audience involved in the awkwardness.

Rating: 8/10