Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

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

Top 5 Unexpected Performances

December 29, 2009

There is something special when a type-cast actor comes out of left field and drives a film in a role that they are not used to. Here is my top 5 list of these performances, plucked from my memory (somehow all landing between 2002 and 2006) in reverse order.

Will Ferrell as Harold Crick – Stranger Than Fiction (2006)

Not the best movie in the world, but it had its bright spots, one of them being Will Ferrell as Harold Crick. After outlandish comedies Old School (2003), Elf (2003) and Anchorman (2004) he turns in a somber performance here, creating a nervous introvert with an aching heart. Not the easiest of characters to pull off, especially after all of the loud and obnoxious characters he had played in the past. He did play a similar role in Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda (2004), but that was more comic, still worth checking out.

Jim Carey as Joel Barrish – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

The Truman Show (1998) showed us that there’s more to Carey than meets the eye, but the role still demanded him to be loud and wild in places (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The quiet, contained Joel Barrish gave Carey a chance to show off his full arsenal, and show off he did. A touching performance and a great film overall.

Robin Williams as Seymour Parrish – One Hour Photo (2002)

Williams had had some minor roles outside of comedy (you may have spotted him in Good Will Hunting (1997)) before his part in One Hour Photo. Of course he was an established actor, but the role, a stalker who spies on his customers’ through their photo’s, was a shock for anyone. Still, he does a great job; it creeped the fuck out of me.

Mos Def as Sgt. Lucas – The Woodsman (2004)

The transition from musician to actor is not a new thing, see: J-Lo, Madonna, Bowie, and is not always successful, see: those guys. Mos Def dabbled in a bit of television before hitting the big screen in The Woodsman, going head to head with Kevin Bacon (a daunting task for any man). He has to interrogate Bacon’s character and manages to orchestrate some real tension. He holds his own, delivering a bone-chilling performance and creating some truly memorable scenes with Bacon.

Adam Sandler as Barry Egan – Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

Alas we get to number one and I am not ashamed to say that I didn’t think Sandler could do it. His recent works had consisted of The Waterboy (1998), Big Daddy (1999), Little Nicky (2000) and The Animal (2001), so why Paul Thomas Anderson chose to take a punt on him is beyond me; but thank goodness he did. Sandler goes way beyond the boundaries that he had created for himself with his previous roles, seamlessly portraying one of the most complex characters in recent memory. Barry Egan is an introvert with several psychological issues who has to deal with all sorts of trials and tribulations throughout the movie. His groundbreaking performance may have had a great deal to do with PTA being behind the camera (the score was stunning too) but the achievement is still astonishing.