Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10 More For 2010: Part II

Continuing last weeks post, here are numbers 5 through 1 in my most anticipated for the rest of 2010...

#5: The King’s Speech

Trailer Here.

Check out this plot synopsis:

“Tells the story of the man who became King George VI, the father of Queen Elizabeth II. After his brother abdicates, George ('Bertie') reluctantly assumes the throne. Plagued by a dreaded stutter and considered unfit to be king, Bertie engages the help of an unorthodox speech therapist named Lionel Logue. Through a set of unexpected techniques, and as a result of an unlikely friendship, Bertie is able to find his voice and boldly lead the country through war.” (From IMDb)

Sounds like it should be some sort of boring BBC Miniseries, right?  Well, a few things: first, it has been getting rave reviews everywhere it has played so far.  As in, it is a frontrunner in the Best Picture race, Colin Firth is a lock for a nomination (if not a win); that type of talk/buzz is surrounding it.  Second of all, this was directed by Tom Hooper, and after seeing The Damned United this summer, I will watch anything he makes (FWIW, he also made the John Adams miniseries on HBO a couple years back).  So yeah, pretty excited about this one even though it doesn’t seem like anything that would ordinarily be right up my alley. 

#4:  Blue Valentine

Trailer Here.

An acting match made in heaven
Okay, now we’re moving from “excited about these movies because I’ve read about how good they are and I like the directors/actors involved” territory into “really excited about these movies because there is something particularly compelling to me personally about either a person involved in making it and/or the subject matter” territory.    Blue Valentine fits that description perfectly.  For one thing, it stars Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams, who, if pressed, I might say are the best under-30 actor/actress that we have out there right now, (although they won’t be 30 anymore when the film releases) and if you scoff at that statement then go watch Half Nelson and Lars and the Real Girl for Gosling and Wendy & Lucy for Williams, then come back to me.  For another thing, I’m really into the whole melodramatic quirky romance genre (i.e. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Lost in Translation).  To boot, the directorial-style demonstrated in the trailer just seems pretty awesome and fitting. 

#3:  Somewhere

Trailer Here.

Speaking of Lost in Translation, Sofia Coppola, the director of that film, returns to us in 2010 with this one here.  That one dealt with odd and unexpected things that can happen in our romantic lives, while this one seems to deal with unexpected things that can happen in our familial lives.  I really appreciate the way Sofia Coppola directs—the slow moving, focused, contemplative tendencies with her camerawork are very emotional and personal.  She is also great at bringing out the best in her actors, and by all accounts has resurrected Stephen Dorff’s career with his lead performance in this film. 

#2:  Black Swan

Trailer Here.

I am a total fanboy of Darren Aronovsky.  I am continually lambasted by some of my friends for my adoration of The Fountain, which I believe to be a misunderstood masterpiece.  The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream are also great films (even though you couldn’t pay me enough to watch the latter one a second time).  So of course I am excited about this thriller with Natalie Portman as the star.  Like all of his other films, obsession seems to play an important role thematically, and the dark nature of the material will fit perfectly with his style, perhaps even more so than with The Wrestler.  Also, Clint Mansell is doing the musical score, and if you’ve ever heard his work you know what a plus that is for the film.  (By the way, is that not the coolest movie poster you've ever seen? Check out some other cool ones for this movie here.)  

#1:  The Way Back

Trailer Here.

Weighing in as the champ in my most-anticipated list is this film that wasn’t even on my radar until a little over a month ago.  Peter Weir, director of Master & Commander, The Truman Show, Dead Poet Society and Witness makes his filmmaking return here after a seven-year hiatus.  Let me be the first to admit that the trailer was a little underwhelming.  However, I personally love the way Peter Weir tells stories in his movies.  Unlike numbers 2 and 3 on my list, whose directors rely heavily on style to tell their stories, Weir manages to get his message across simply through strong narrative and characterization.  Accordingly, the true story he is telling here seems very compelling, and the cast is superb.  Anyone who has seen Master & Commander knows that Weir is painstakingly detailed when it comes to authenticity of his sets, his locations, costumes, accents, etc. and this film looks to be no different.  It was announced last week that this film will be released in late December for a qualifying run in this year’s Oscar race.  Yay. 

Post your most anticipated movie in the comments below!!

Honorable Mentions that you should be looking out for:
Rabbit Hole
Love and Other Drugs
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part I
How Do You Know?
Made in Dagenham

Thursday, October 14, 2010

10 More For 2010

After having seen The Social Network, which as I stated last week, is my favorite movie so far this year, I thought I would make a list for my most anticipated films for the rest of the year and tell you why you should be anticipating them, too.  This blog isn’t really bloggie (bloggy?) enough sometimes, so I’m glad to offer something here other than my boring 1200-word reviews.   I’ll separate this into two parts and then toss in some honorable mentions at the end as well.  Also, if you’re reading this, then I demand that you COMMENT afterwards and tell me your most anticipated movie.  C'mon, I don't ask for much.  Heaven forbid we get an actual discussion going. 

#10:  Inside Job

Trailer Here.  (Random tip, sometimes I have to refresh my screen to get trailers to play on IMDb). 

Coming in at #10 on my list is this documentary that covers the global financial crisis (you know, that one we’re still in the middle of).  While I don’t expect this to be 100% “fair and balanced” (although it probably would qualify as that under certain networks’ apparent definitions of the phrase), I have heard that it is very informative and gives you a really great overview of how everything went down, literally.  Additionally, it is supposedly very well made. 

#9:  Another Year

Trailer Here.

This would be higher on my list, as it’s by an A-list director (Mike Leigh) with a great cast and has been dominating the festival circuit, except for the fact that the subject matter looks a little depressing.  I’m sort of inherently against movies with zero redeeming value, which seems like it could be the case here, but the combination of director + cast + scriptwriter should be good enough to give it a shot. 

#8:  TRON Legacy

Trailer Here

First of all, yes, I’m serious.  For some reason I have been ridiculously excited about this film ever since I saw the trailer back in the summer.  I don’t expect it to be a tour-de-force of acting or any sort of moving screenplay or plot, but the visual effects are stunning and unique, and looks like it will be a real dazzler in IMAX 3D.  Second of all, the music was scored by Daft Punk....I mean, how can this be anything short of awesome? 

#7:  127 Hours

Trailer Here.

Coming off of his success with Slumdog Millionaire, director Danny Boyle is sticking with Oscar-bait here.  James Franco stars in this true story as the Dude Who Cut His Own Arm Off when he got it stuck under a rock (oh, did I spoil it for you?).  I was a huge fan of Into The Wild, so if this has a similar naturalistic vibe to it, then I will like it.  I’m not quite ready for any solid Oscar predictions yet, but you can bet I will point back to this post in January when this movie is nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, because it will be. 

#6:  True Grit

Trailer Here.
The Dude wearing an eye patch has no chance of failure.

The Coen Brothers? Check.  Jeff Bridges wearing an eye patch?  Check.  Matt Damon?  Check.  Western?  Check.  Remake of a John Wayne Movie?  Check. 

Okay, I’m in.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Social Network (2010)

The proverbial bar for the year has been set. 

The Social Network is the best (new) movie I’ve seen in over two years.  Period. 

And before you read this, here’s the honest truth about this entry—I had originally planned out one of my “How to Make a Movie” posts and I was going to explore the three best aspects of the movie from a filmmaking standpoint.  But then I couldn’t come up with the three best aspects, because there are at least seven or eight that would have to be mentioned in a post like that. 

I mean, for starters, I would have discussed the screenplay by Aaron Sorkin, which starts from the very beginning firing bullets of genius dialogue, and you better keep up or get out of the way.   At the same time, it’s never imposing and the great dialogue fits perfectly within the flow of the plot development.  At least a third of the movie takes place inside a conference room during depositions.  Boring, right?  Wrong.  These are some of the most memorable scenes of the film.  Aaron Sorkin will undoubtedly have a room full of awards come March for his work on this script. 

And then I would have talked about the acting.  Jesse Eisenberg gives a career performance; and while I think he’s normally a good actor, many times I feel like he’s just playing Jesse Eisenberg, which is definitely NOT the case here.  He was totally immersed in the character of Mark Zuckerberg.  He was funny in a jerk-ish sort of way, and definitely captured the “idiot-savant” feel that he was going for—a mal-adjusted genius, sure of his intellect but not of himself.  The supporting cast is outstanding.  Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake and particularly Armie Hammer (who played the entertaining Winklevoss twins), all held up their end of the bargain. 

(By the way, Justin Timberlake has officially solidified himself as the most talented entertainer in the world.  There, I said it.  Dude is a multi-platinum recording artist both in a group and as a solo act, he can put on an amazingly electric concert, he’s in the conversation for one of the best SNL guest-hosts ever, he can dance, and now, he has proven that he can act, and will rack up some awards nominations for sure, and possibly an Oscar nom.  For those keeping track at home, that’s (1) Singer (2) Recording Artist (3) Dancer (4) Comedian (5) Serious Dramatic Actor.  Oh, and by the way, he’s only 29.  Case closed.  He will probably run for office some day, and God help me, I’d vote for him.)


And let’s not forget who directed this piece of work, the man himself, David Fincher.  This is a huge comeback for him IMO after Benjamin Button, which obviously a lot of people liked, but to me was a very technically well-produced movie that had about as much soul as a side salad from Wendy’s.  Here, he combines his brand of gritty, technically flawless production with Sorkin’s script and character development.  He’s definitely less present than in some of his films like Fight Club, but he does get a few chances to flash his brilliance—one scene in particular where the Winklevoss twins are at a rowing tournament (where they foreshadowingly place 2nd) is a little treat for Fincher fans who appreciate his pizzazz. 

I would also definitely have to mention the film's trailer, which I believe is a lost art in Hollywood.  This is absolutely one of my favorite trailers of all time.  Radiohead's "Creep" as sung by a children's choir in the background, the random facebook profiles displayed that seem weirdly ominous given the music, and then the tension builds more and more as the storyboard is revealed.  "Creep" is the perfect song to represent this movie and the character of Mark Zuckerberg, and in general it is representative of the facebook generation.  I obviously wouldn't even be mentioning the trailer if it hadn't been so pitch-perfect and amazing.  

And then I’d probably end by saying something about the zeitgeist of the whole thing.  It wonderfully captures the spirit of the times we live in.  I mean, I was in college when facebook was created, and I can tell you that the insanely fast way that facebook caught on like wildfire and was spread was accurately depicted in this movie.  Moreover, the characters were all representative of the millennial generation—the way the company started without much organization, Zuckerberg forcing students to take shots of liquor while writing code in order to “try out” for facebook, all of the males’ distorted viewpoints about women—it was all very “true,” for lack of a better word.  The wifey and I were commenting on how many twenty-somethings were in our theater with us on the opening night of the movie.  It was a good 80% of the people there.  The movie will play to older crowds, because of the great dialogue and the somewhat indicting nature of the film towards millennials, and it will play to the younger teens who are just now getting into facebook, but I can’t help but feeling that my generation will particularly “get” this film. 

But the thing I can’t help but mentioning is just what a well-rounded film this is.  People I normally chat about movies with often point out to me that it’s difficult for me to really enjoy films if they are not well-rounded.  Take Inception, for instance, a thoroughly enjoyable blockbuster that lacked character-development and above-average dialogue.  Was it a great piece of filmmaking?  Yes.  Was it a great piece of well-rounded filmmaking?  No.  And films in the latter category will always appeal way more to me, which is exactly why The Social Network is at the top of my list right now for 2010, and I will not be surprised if it remains there until the end. 

In my next couple of posts I’ll discuss some of my most-anticipated films for the rest of 2010, and why you should be anticipating them too.