Archive for January, 2010

2010 Preview: First Half

January 8, 2010

A new decade and a new year for movies with some tough acts to follow. Avatar has just raised the FX bar to astronomical heights but it looks like Hollywood is not rolling over without a fight. Blockbusters are ruling the roost in the first half of this year with blue screen being ladled on our plates in unhealthy portions.

Up in the Air

Summary – Up in the Air stars George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a downsizing expert who spends all his time flying around the States firing people from their jobs whilst enjoying every minute of his. Bingham begins to see the flaws in his lifestyle when he is partnered with a trainee and meets the high flying woman of his dreams.

What to Expect – Clooney on witty quick-fire dialogue mode and a great support cast bolstered by the wonderful J.K. Simmons.

Why Watch – From Jason Reitman, writer-director of Juno and Thank You for Smoking. Also the characters who are fired within the film are not actually actors but recently laid off people asked to treat the camera like the person who fired them.

When – January 15th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_m-Da8Tz4_E

The Book of Eli

Summary – Denzel Washington must traverse a sandy post-apocalyptic United States to protect a book which holds the secrets to saving mankind (despite the fact the Apocalypse has already occurred. ahem.)

What to Expect – Machete wielding Denzel slicing multiple henchmen thrown at him by Gary Oldman in point and click villain mode.

Why Watch – The cinematography and deserted landscapes look impressively bleak.

When – January 15th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKfZrbS79To

The Wolfman

Summary – A Nobleman returns home after the grizzly death of his brother only to discover a side of himself that enjoys a monthly frolic in the lunar light.

What to Expect – The unlikely coupling of Anthony Hopkins and Benicio Del Toro as father and son may be the least of your concerns as it seems like this one might turn out to be another dose of Hollywood fever rather than the visceral character driven horror we were all hoping for.

Why Watch – Del Toro is always worth a couple of hours.

When – February 12th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VS02xaTIdRI

Shutter Island

Summary – Scorsese is back and he is sending his head boy Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a murderess from Shutter Island; home to an Institution for the Criminally Insane which is mismanaged by the ever sinister duo of Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow

What to Expect – A tense mix of thriller, horror and the supernatural, plus what looks like great performances from all involved.

Why Watch – Leo and Scorsese working together- when has it failed us?

When – February 19th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYVrHkYoY80

Legion

Summary – God has finally given up on humanity and sent an Army of Angels to wipe us all out. Only Archangel Michael (Paul Bettany) can save us by protecting the unborn child of a truck stop waitress using the heavenly weapon of choice guns, lots of guns.

What to Expect – The trailer hints at some great The Thing-esque special effects but also predictably dumb action with one dimensional bad-guys.

Why watch – If only for a very toothy old lady receiving the business end of both barrels.

When – March 5th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8lGCjd9W8U

Alice In Wonderland

Summary – The long awaited adaptation from Tim Burton finally hits our screens with dancing partner Johnny Depp on top form as the Mad Hatter. Alice, now in her late teens, revisits the world of her childhood adventure and discovers her true fate as she must end the Red Queen’s Stranglehold over Wonderland.

What to Expect – A full world of Burton providing a 3-course feast for the eyes.

Why watch – The alternative Scorsese and Leo duo together for the seventh time making the film we all know Burton was born to direct.

When – March 5th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9POCgSRVvf0

Green Zone

Summary – U.S Army officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) must go rogue to uncover mysterious goings on within military and political circles surrounding post 9/11 Iraq in this Paul Greengrass Thriller.

What to Expect – Superbly shot action sequences and a politics lesson in the film that Black Hawk Down wanted to be.

Why Watch – Greengrass is the undisputed king of action thrillers and who wants to wait for Bourne 4?

When – March 12th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F20ovcLI29s

Clash of the Titans


Summary – A Greek mythology adaptation, as Perseus (man of the moment Sam Worthington) battles Hades (Ralph Finnes) and his underworld army in this 3D monster.

What to Expect – This film has been kicking around in pre-production for the best part of 10 years and looks to have learnt from the mistakes of Kingdom of Heaven and Troy and taken a leaf out of the Guillermo Del Toro book of Creature Creation.

Why Watch – The film will enter the Oxford English Dictionary as the definition of the word Epic.

When – March 26th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q6CJenNMsb4

Iron Man 2

Summary – Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) faces off against brooding Russian badman Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) and Industrialist Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) with the help of re-cast James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) as the silver suited War Machine.

What to Expect – The film is sidelining the darker convention of comic book sequels and is keeping it’s lighter, wink to camera tone. Tony struggles to deal with his fame, responsibility and love life and hits the bottle hard.

Why Watch – The first one was so damn good and our boy Jr is perhaps one of the most charismatic actors on the big screen today.

When – April 30th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siQgD9qOhRs

Robin Hood

Summary – The film is set after the death of King Richard and follows the exploits of an expert Archer (Russell Crowe) and his band of not-so-merry men in their anti-establishment rise to infamy in 12th Century Nottingham.

What to Expect – Ridley Scott has very much grounded the film, telling the origin story of Robin Hood and his struggle against the Sheriff (Matthew Macfadyen) and the oppressive upper classes.

Why Watch – Crowe and Scott in full Gladiator gear bringing a sense of realism and genuine struggle to an often watered down story (we mean you Costner).

When – May 14th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSqL9ygBCck

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Summary – In medieval Persia a Prince (suitably buffed up and oiled Jake Gyllenhaal) and a Princess team up to stop an angry ruler unleashing a sandstorm which threatens the world by returning the Sands of Time to an hourglass and thus saving their ill-fated kingdoms.

What to Expect – With Mike ‘Harry Potter 4’ Newell behind the camera it might be worth a watch but the ratio of good to bad video game adaptations is akin to a field mouse and a lard eating buffalo.

Why Watch – If you’re a fan of the game then the movie looks faithful. If not then perhaps you might be better staying in with your Battlestar box-set. I will be.

When – May 28th 2010

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8EA7EbFX4k

I Love you Philip Morris

Summary – After a car crash happily married Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) realises he is gay and decides to live life to the fullest and to finance this he becomes a con-man. Before long he finds himself behind bars where he falls in love with Philip Morris (Ewan McGreggor) a sensitive sole whom he decides to build a life with and must free from jail using any con he can imagine.

What to Expect – Major studios wouldn’t barge pole this movie due to it’s gay-theme despite it’s great reception at Sundance. Expect a great turn from Carrey, being able to play both the joker and the persecuted whilst McGreggor offers an understated yet spot-on performance.

Why Watch – I love you Philip Morris looks to be a perfect mix of comedy and sensitive drama using a great subject matter which Hollywood alone seems not to be ready for.

When – TBA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhjNNI4rs4s

2009: A Year In Review

January 1, 2010

2009 was a great year for film with plenty of innovation, new blood and advances in technology. Here is a closer look at what 2009 consisted of.

Blockbusters. Hollywood continued churning them out despite the worries surrounding the economy, and they proved successful. Though the CGI-reliant 2012 flopped (with several 10’s of millions of dollars still left to recuperate to break-even), other Blockbusters proved that the industry was recession-proof. Michael Bay and McG went head-to-head with Tranformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Terminator Salvation (respectively), vying for the number one grossing film of 2009, but were ultimately beat out by a bunch of kids, with Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. J. J. Abrams showed us that the Star Trek franchise still has plenty of life in it with his reboot, going by the name of… Star Trek.

Fresh faces emerged with overwhelming critical success with hits such as District 9; directed by rookie Neill Blomkamp, starring rookie Sharlto Copley. Along with Duncan Jones’ Moon and Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer, District 9 showed Hollywood that big budgets and household names aren’t nearly as important as talent, artistic vision and solid storytelling. Christoph Waltz burst on to the scene playing Colonel Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, as did Michael Stuhlbarg playing Larry Gopnik in A Serious Man.

Change of pace was on the cards for various established directors, with QT directing Inglorious Basterds, which had a different setting, period and language than his previous films as well as a uniquely structured screenplay. Danny Boyle took Bollywood by storm with Slumdog Millionaire a story about a boy from the slums of India rising to fame and fortune; once again told in a unique way. The Coen brothers returned to focussing on their main characters inner turmoil with A Serious Man and Spike Jonze returned to his childhood with Where the Wild Things Are.

Vampires dominated the screen, with many different takes on the sub-genre being showcased. New Moon, Thirst, Lesbian Vampire Killers, The Vampire’s Assistant and, my personal favourite, Let the Right One In are but a few of the dozens of vampire movies released in 2009.

3D Revolution. The dawn of 3D cinema was upon us and it was up to films like Up and Avatar to prove to us that 3D was here to stay. They succeeded, at least in my eyes, using the technology to create a subtle layering and managing to cure the headaches (as long as you sit in the right part of the cinema) that caused such problem in 3D’s early days.

Anvil! It didn’t fit in to any of the aforementioned categories but Anvil! The Story of Anvil brought joy to many people. Whilst on the surface this looks like a chance to laugh at stupid wanna-be rock-stars (which it certainly is), the tested bond between lead singer Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner, which is pushed to its limits throughout, makes for truly memorable cinema.

Top 10 films – Just quickly since these lists end up pretty much being the same for everyone. 10. Moon 9. Star Trek 8. Inglorious Basterds 7. Drag Me To Hell 6. Where the Wild Things Are 5. The Hurt Locker 4. Up 3. District 9 2. Slumdog Millionaire 1. (500) Days of Summer.

Top 5 scenes5. Opening battle scene – Star Trek 4. Eli steps in to Oskar’s house uninvited – Let The Right One In 3. SSgt. William James attempts to break off a bomb padlocked to a civilian – The Hurt Locker 2. Expectations vs Reality – (500) Days of Summer 1. Colonel Hans Landa bargains with a French farmer – Inglorious Basterds