Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Winter Movie Preview

I plan to revisit the movies I advocated you go see this summer in a later post but in anticipation of that I first offer you a selection of movies that look promising for the Autumn and Winter to come. I know now from compiling my list of summer movies that release dates vary too much to put any order to the list, chronological or otherwise but I will go as far as offering that they will be released in what remains of 2006. I also include some movies to avoid.

1. 'Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby'
In a plot line remniscient of 'Cars', Will Ferrell and 'Anchorman' director Adam McKay reunite for a story of Ferrell playing a stuck-up racing star who learns the value of humility after hitting the skids in a big way. It's good to have a break from the usual brat pack suspects filling out the supporting characters, instead we get the likes of Gary Cole, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Clarke Duncan, Leslie Bibb, and John C. Reilly. The buzz is good and at the time of writing 'Talladega Nights' has just toppled 'Miami Vice' from the top spot in the States.

2. 'Snakes on a Plane'

This movie will never meet the internet fueled anticipation surrounding it but for the title alone it deserves a place in any discussion of movies of 2006. The premise is simple: Bad guys have unleashed dozens of deadly snakes aboard on airborne plane, and only one man can save the day: Sam Jackson. In the last few months there has been reshoots, re-edits and more CGI to add more gore and violence. For film students I think this will be the classic case study of a movie so bad its good!

3. 'Black Dalhia'

Although Brian De Palma has been behind such drivel as 'Mission to Mars' and 'Snake Eyes', we can only hope his high calibre source material, a 40s based hard-boiled detective novel by James Ellroy, will see him return to his glory days of 'Carrie' and 'Carlitos Way'. Josh Hartnett and Aaron Eckhart play a pair of detectives assigned to the Black Dahlia murder case, a real-life unsolved mystery involving the vicious murder of an aspiring actress in 1947. Scarlett Johansson and Hilary Swank are on hand, as a loyal wife and a high society femme fatale, respectively.

Avoid: 'JackAss No.2'

4. 'The Departed'
I could understand how a movie goer might be sceptical of a remake of a Japanese movie, disregarding it as yet another one of a string of movies (ala 'The Grudge' or 'The Ring') and stories Hollywood has leeched off. Let me tell you though, whatever the end result, on paper this is the zenith of filmmaking: the story of an undercover cop who invades the mob and a mafia-employed mole who infiltrates the police department, sees Martin Scorcese direct Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Mark Wahlberg, Ray Winstone, and Vera Farmiga. Jack Nicholson said following 9/11 he would not do anymore serious roles, lets hope that what he saw in this script that changed his mind will translate onto screen.

5. 'Hollywoodland'
Yes I am advocating you check the cinema schedules for a Ben affleck movie. Originally titled 'Truth, Justice and the American Way' until copyright intervened, Affleck stars in a biopic of George Reeves, the actor who portrayed Superman in a TV serial in the 1950s and whose death, an alleged suicide, is still considered a mystery. Adrien Brody also stars as a Pivate-eye investigating the death on the wishes of Reeves' mother and Diane Lane plays a movie executives wife with whom Reeves had an affair.

6. 'KillShot'

Here, Director John Madden ("Shakespeare in Love") adapts an Elmore Leonard ("Out of Sight," "Get Shorty") about a husband (Thomas Jane) and wife (Diane Lane) who get mixed up with a con man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt of 'Brick') and an assassin (Mickey Rourke). Rosario Dawson and Johnny Knoxville fill out the cast. Certainly one to watch out for.

7. 'Marie Antoinette'
Sofia Coppola's follow-up to "Lost in Translation" will surely be discussed as a contender for next years Oscars and of course was the talk of the town at Cannes on how it portrayed the infamous French monarch. If however you want a less pretentious reason to go see this movie, Steve Coogan is in it with Kirsten Dunst playing the titular role.

Avoid: 'Saw III'

8. 'Flushed Away'
The people behind "Chicken Run" and "Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," work their claymation magic on the story of an upper-crust rat who's flushed down the loo, to undergo the inevitable journey of learning and growing as a rat, finding his way home. The Brit-heavy cast features Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Andy Serkis, Jean Reno, Bill Nighy, and Ian McKellen.

9. 'Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny'
Jack Black continues his warped journey to world domination with a story that sees Black and partner Kyle Gass setting off on a 300-mile journey to steal a legendary guitar pick from a museum. I feel there's a chance this movie will feature some rockin' and hopefully some laughin'. The cast list includes Ben Stiller, Will Ferrell and Tim Robbins.

Avoid: (It hurts me to type this) Hilary and Haylie Duff star in 'Material Girls', a movie about wealthy sisters who loose their fortune.
10. 'Casino Royale'
More than a year after Pierce Brosnan left the series, with a film title, script and director attached (Casino Royale will be an adaptation of Ian Flemings first James Bond novel of the same name) no Bond was yet cast. With Daniel Craig being confirmed there was uproar and his suitability for the role will no doubt be discussed to no end until November. One of the official blurbs is that producers are taking Bond back to his roots ala Batman Begins and giving him a grittier tone in light of the success of the Bourne series and also see an end to the over reliance on gadgets and effects after the disastrous use of CGI in Die Another Day. Casino Royale abandons continuity so that Judi Dench returns as 'M' despite the fact the film is set when he first earns his '00' status (in Goldeneye Dench had just succeeded to the role). Not returning to the series are John Cleese ('Q') and Samantha Bond (Miss Moneypenney), neither character will in fact appear, though there is an op-tec character in the novel so it remains to be seen whether he will be introduced. The movie will be directed by Martin Campbell, who also directed Goldeneye as well as both Zorro movies and the script was brushed up by Million Dollar Baby and Crash writer, Paul Haggis. Craig impressed in Munich and Layer Cake but he has a heavy burden on his shoulders to carry off an event movie as Bond movies are. The trailer is very promising, the only thing that irks me is how the marketers movies missed out on the opportunity of releasing the new 007 in 2007.

11. 'The Fountain'
Darren Aronofsky's long-awaited follow-up to "Requiem for a Dream" comes in the form of a 1000 year odyssey, science fiction story of star -crossed romance. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz star as three pairs of lovers in three different time zones. And by time zones, I mean the years 1500, 2000, and 2500. Brad Pitt abandoned this project just months before shooting was to commence to go an make 'Troy' in 2001 bringing production to a halt. It remains to be seen whether he will regret his decision?