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2009: The year in film: Part Two

Fireworks.jpgThe celebration of films coming up in 2009 continues with the second part in the 2009 release review by Filmstalker, and I'm now looking at April to June.

Now we're still looking at some more intelligent releases during this period, but we're also into blockbuster and sequel territory too. While this isn't as big as last year, it's still looking to have some good films lined up for us, and the CGI epics aren't backing down.

Once again, just to set the scene, this list isn't every film released in every country, nor is it just the films I'd recommend, it's a mixture of what I recommend, want to see, and what you'll be clamouring to get tickets for.

So let's head into the list, and bear in mind I couldn't cover every territory so I've mixed UK and U.S. releases in one list. Unless stated it's the UK release date. Look for the Filmstalker hotdog for the films I'd recommend.

3rd April
Religulous : Trailer
Bill Maher looks into the state of religion in the world today by interviewing some of the strangest voices in organised, and disorganised, religion in the United States. Hopefully this will be a look at just how ridiculous organised religion is and how much of a negative impact it can have when used with anger, hatred and negativity, and yet keeping a firm smile on the face of the viewer. Will this be as an eye opener as documentaries before it, and will Maher build on his reputation?

Monsters vs Aliens : Trailer
Another strong animation from DreamWorks which would seem to deliver a decent amount of comedy that appeals to both adults and kids alike. This is the story of Susan who is hit by a meteorite one day and suddenly grows to the world's tallest girl at some sixty feet or so. The Army capture her and take her to a secret facility where she's put with all the other monsters they've captured, all okay so far, until aliens attack Earth and there's no defence, and so the Army roll out, the monsters!

Fast & Furious : Trailer
Hotdog-xsmall.gifThe much anticipated sequel in the Fast and the Furious franchise, but this one not only brings back the big names of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, but also the other favourites of the franchise - Michelle Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster and Tyrese Gibson. Could this be the best of the franchise and appeal to petrol/gear heads alike? I don't think so, but for those of us who loved cars and liked the other films, this could be a superb film to go and see. Yes, I am going to recommend it, for sheer entertainment value.

Gatchaman (U.S. release)
Remember Battle for the Planets, or G-Force - and I don't mean that stupid idiotic rubbish about secret agent gerbils that can talk - but that great Japanese cartoon series adapted for Western television that featured a transvestite/woman in disguise as the main bad guy and some genetically engineered heroes that screamed "transmute" and their watches changed them into something rather special. I loved that series. Well now we'll get it in CGI animation, and it might just be even better than the original.

10th April
Race to Witch Mountain : Trailer
Another remake, isn't everything these days? This one might be some fun though, or spell another downward step in Dwayne Johnson's career - more kids films for him, and less cool action ones for us! Alien children need to get to Witch Mountain and rendezvous with their spaceship, and to do so they enlist the help of a taxi driver who's life is enriched as a result. Oh, doesn't sound great does it?

Now I've read a little about this film a little in 2008, it's a Polish film that's promising a hell of a lot. The film looks at the the tragedy of the Katyn forests in 1940's Poland during World War II when Soviet troops murdered thousands of Polish officers and civilians. Something different, and if the write ups are anything to go by it might be worth seeing.

Dragonball Evolution : Trailer
I have to admit this doesn't interest me in the slightest, but I know that there will be a huge audience out there for the film since it's had such a strong following through the cartoon and anime outings. There's a strong young cast lined up for the film and James Wong in charge, the man who directed The One, which wasn't too bad, and Final Destination 1 and 3. However there are some who have expressed concern over the adaptation of their much loved series to the film format, but to me the early shots from the production look pretty slick.

17th April
Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In) : Trailer
Hotdog-xsmall.gifA film I really regret missing at the EIFF last year and it's been getting some great reviews since. The film tells the story of a young boy who is feeling a little outcast from the kids around him until he meets a young girl who he finds a particular connection with, strangely though she doesn't come out during the day and acts a little odd. They become friends and he soon discovers her secret, she's a vampire. The film looks powerful and gives a great slant on the idea of vampires in real life.

Good : Trailer
Hotdog-xsmall.gifBefore I even start talking about the content of the film let me just reel off a couple of names in the cast list - Viggo Mortensen, Jason Isaacs, Jodie Whittaker, Steven Mackintosh and Mark Strong. Wow, I'm in. The story is that of the rise of national socialism in Germany and how good and normal people became part of it all and realise all too late what they have become part of. We see a literary professor's book which examines compassionate euthanasia after events in his personal life, get picked up as a piece of propaganda to support the new Government's intentions. His career is fast tracked and he makes small, seemingly inconsequential decisions which he later discovers has a wider, much more devastating impact. Sounds a powerful film indeed.

Crank 2: High Voltage : Trailer
The sequel to Crank, against all odds they managed to create a sequel from that original ending. Jason Statham is back and this time he's been resurrected from that terrible fall in order to pass his supercharged heart over to a gangster. In the meantime his has been replaced with a mechanical heart, but he wants his back and goes on a rampage of violence and absurdity in order to retrieve it. This promises to be even more over the top and insane than the last one, which makes me want to see it more!

The Uninvited : Trailer
This is the remake of A Tale of Two Sisters, although here the story has been altered slightly so that only one of the sisters is returning from a stay in a mental hospital, to an abusive stepmother, an uncaring father, and a ghost in the house.

State of Play : Trailer
Hotdog-xsmall.gifThis is the big screen adaptation of the very successful BBC mini-series which gained a lot of praise. This version is directed by Kevin Macdonald of The Last King of Scotland (Filmstalker review) fame, and carries an exciting cast with Ben Affleck, Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright Penn, Helen Mirren and Jeff Daniels. The story transplanted to American politics sees a congressman's mistress murdered and both the police and an investigative reporter trying to get to the bottom of who is responsible and why, and uncovering much more than they bargained for. If this follows the BBC series then we're in for a great thriller, and with Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray on the script this could be really well adapted.

The Ugly Truth : Trailer
I had no real intention of seeing this film when I read the blurb - sorry Mr Butler, I really appreciate the personally signed poster I got on the morning of my wedding which is now on my cinema room wall, but I just couldn't bring myself to like the idea - Then I saw the trailer, and the writing and chemistry looked really strong, and I suddenly wondered if this could really be good, it certainly looks like a lot of fun.

24th April
Traitor : Trailer
Hotdog-xsmall.gifPeople keep forgetting this fact when talking about Traitor, but the story comes from Steve Martin as well as Jeffrey Nachmanoff who also wrote the screenplay and directed. Starring Don Cheadle as an ex-Special Operations officer who seems to have turned against the U.S. and is equipping and possibly training terrorists using his expertise in explosives. Guy Pearce plays an FBI agent who is chasing him down and determined to bring him to justice, while Neal McDonough is someone who aides him in his search. Good cast, strong story, this could be very exciting.

The Soloist (U.S. release)
Robert Downey Jr., Jamie Foxx and Catherine Keener would grab your attention on any film, but then there's an aspect to this film I'm really not so sure about, it's based on a true story and would seem to be ready to tug the heart strings at all the right points. I am hoping that Joe Wright doesn't play to the traditional emotional points and brings us a film that is much more about the truth of these two people and the issues that their story raises. Oh, and if you don't know the story it's about a reporter who finds a homeless man and a schizophrenic is actually a Julliard trained musician and he helps him start to get his life back on track and start playing again.

26th April
American: The Bill Hicks Story
I just saw this in the release list and the very name Bill Hicks caught me and I was drawn in. This is the story of Bill Hicks the hilarious comedian, but it's told in a photo-animated documentary and narrated by ten people who knew him the best, including the man himself. Sounds an interesting idea, but I'm just not sure how it'll turn out.

1st May
The Boat That Rocked
There's part of me that really does want this to work out but I'm very dubious of what Richard Curtis and British cinema can deliver in the way of films that even touch on the romantic comedy genre, which this does. Since Love Actually took the crown I just can't see anything beating it. However there's more to this than the trailer shows, for it's a story about an illegal radio station of the coast of the UK in the North Sea during the 1960's. Hopefully there is more to it than the trailer suggests, comedy, romance, failed relationships, etc. and more on the whole illegal radio station idea. The cast certainly looks strong and carries big British names such as Bill Nighy and Kenneth Branagh, as well as some U.S. actors such as Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The Informers (U.S. release) : Trailer
Bret Easton Ellis has written the screenplay from his novel along with Nicholas Jarecki and the direction of Gregor Jordan. It certainly carries some big names with Kim Bassinger, Mickey Rourke, Winona Ryder and Billy Bob Thornton heading up the talented cast. Set in Los Angeles in 1983 the original story followed allsorts of strange characters from movie executives to rock stars and even a vampire in all sorts of strange and connected tales.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine (U.S. release) : Trailer
Hotdog-xsmall.gifWolverine and a bunch of other characters from the X-Men comics get thrown into his origin story, and while we might want to see Sabretooth and Wolvie laying down, I don't know if the addition of Deadpool, Beak, Silver Fox, Agent Zero, Gambit, The Blob and Weapon XI might just be a little too much for one film and detract from what we want to see, Wolverine being created and struggling with who he is.

8th May
Star Trek : Trailer
Hotdog-xsmall.gifWell positive or not for this reboot of the Star Trek franchise you have to admit you're looking forward to this for some reason or other. Me, I hope it's a hit and I can hark on about how they should have given more time and respect to the scheduling of Enterprise so it could've worked - imagine they said that a Trek story going back in time couldn't have worked. This high profile, big name cast, and huge effects based story could just deliver the goods. The teaser, trailer and photos we've seen so far suggest it's going to look good anyway.

Fifty Dead Men Walking : Trailer
There's been a lot of controversy about this film, particularly about the man who inspired the film and wrote the book on which the film is based, Martin McGartland (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com). He wrote about his time as a British officer undercover in the IRA and the decisions he had to make and the things he had to do in order to remain undercover and give information to the British authorities in order to prevent terrorist acts of violence against innocent civilians. Controversy has appeared on this ever since Rose McGowan stated that she understood the cause and that she would have joined the IRA, and from there the stories came thick and fast. All good publicity, but I wonder if the film really does live up to it all.

15th May
The Descent: Part 2
I do hope that something good comes out of this sequel, but everything I've read about it just suggests that it's going to be more of the same. Women return to the cave system, come across cave dwellers, fight, people die…and so on. Of course more of the same isn't a bad thing considering that the editor from the first film is directing and the things he's been saying seem to marry with what made the original such a strong horror. I'm on the fence here, although leaning towards it being a poor film, but it's still worth watching out for.

The Brothers Bloom (U.S. release)
Rian Johnson comes back from Brick (Filmstalker review) with this film which seems to list about every genre possible on it's listing! Adrian Brody and Mark Ruffalo star as the Brothers Bloom, the best con men in the world who carry out complex and cons taking huge amounts of money from millionaires. This is, as always, their last job, and they are planning the biggest con they can possibly imagine. Rachel Weisz stars as the millionaire they have their sights set on.

Synecdoche, New York : Trailer
Charlie Kaufman's next film with a glittering cast led by Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener, which tells the strange tale of a theatre director who attempts to create a life-size replica of New York inside a warehouse for his new play. Not only that but he has the added pressure of dealing with the players and the women in his life. Sounds strange indeed, but that's Kaufman for you and he's been far from disappointment so far.

Coraline : Trailer
Henry Selick, who made A Nightmare Before Christmas, has adapted Coraline from the Neil Gaiman book, and from all accounts he's had a fair hand in the adaptation too. This is the animated tale of a young girl who is disillusioned with her own life and parents and finds a secret door in the wall of her new home, a door which leads to another world with another set of parents who treat her wonderfully. However there's something strange about them, and they are rather reluctant to let her return home. Strong cast again with Dakota Fanning as the girl, Teri Hatcher as her mother, and other great voices with Ian McShane, Keith David, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French.

Angels & Demons : Trailer
The sequel to The Da Vinci Code, although prequel if we're talking novels here and by far it's the better novel and so let's hope the better film. Robert Langdon returns to unravel a mystery concerning the Illuminati, the Pope, the Church, and another sexy woman comes along for the ride. I really do hope it's more than a page by page, and almost line by line, adaptation.

22nd May
Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian (U.S. release) : Trailer
You know Night at the Museum wasn't that bad really, and it did some pretty good things to get kids into museums in the UK, so perhaps the sequel could help this a little more. More of the same though, expect that and you won't be disappointed, and if you liked the first then you'll like this one too, of that I'm sure.

29th May
Drag Me To Hell
Sam Raimi has given Spidey a break as he co-writes this tale with his brother Ivan and directs too. Alison Lohman plays a loan officer who tries to evict an old woman from her home but finds that she's been cursed for her troubles, and properly cursed too, the old woman turns her life into a living hell. While her entire life falls apart and turns against her she turns to someone else with powers to try and save her. A Raimi classic? It'll be interesting to see as Sam Raimi makes a turn towards his roots.

Untitled Brüno Project
Not interested a jot, however I know that many will be. Sacha Baron Cohen takes his Brüno character to the big screen hoping to have as much success has he has with Ali G and Borat.

5th June
Terminator: Salvation : Trailer
Hotdog-xsmall.gifAt first I was afraid, I was petrified…no I'll stop with that! Seriously though, when I heard McG was directing a sequel in the Terminator franchise I thought that the destruction of the series was complete, what Jonathan Mostow had begun, McG was going to complete. Then he started talking about it, and then we saw some photos, the plot leaked out here and there (which you can discover through the Filmstalker analysis of it all) and then the trailer was seen. Now I'm anticipating this so much that it's going on the Filmstalker Recommended list for the year. Okay it could do with a clear out of the Transformer robots, but it might just deliver something special in the series, even if I have worked out what's happening already.

7th June
The Pool
Now there's little known about this project other than it's the fifth film (including two television films) to be directed by David Morrissey, the man who you probably recognise more from the recent Doctor Who Christmas special, various television dramas especially the original State of Play, The Reaping, Basic Instinct 2, and on and on. He's credited as being a writer on the project too, along with three other names all of whom The Pool is listed as their first writing credit. I'm intrigued merely for the fact that he's directing.

12th June
Looking for Eric
A drama based on the life of the famous footballer Eric Cantona written by the talented Paul Laverty, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Ae Fond Kiss, Sweet Sixteen, My Name is Joe, Carla's Song, and directed by Ken Loach, this promises a great deal indeed, and what could they possibly be coming up with about Cantona?

19th June
44 Inch Chest
Hotdog-xsmall.gifDavid Scinto and Louis Mellis wrote this film which stars Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Joanne Whalley, Steven Berkoff, Stephen Dillane and Melvil Poupaud. Why is that so important? Well they wrote Sexy Beast which is a superb film and also stars Winstone in a cracking role. Here we see the story of a jealous husband and his friends plotting to kidnap his wife's lover in order to teach him a lesson, however you know that things are going to go terribly wrong.

What a cast list, Beyoncé Knowles, Idris Elba and Ali Larter star in this film that bears a close resemblance to Fatal Attraction with something a little extra. A new temp played by Larter sets her sights on a high flier, played by Elba, at her new employers, and she just won't take no for an answer and starts stalking him and his wife, played by Knowles. It's the wife that provides that something a little extra, for she's a ferocious character who doesn't sit back and let things happen, oh no, she's going to fight for her man, and she does. Knowles versus Larter.

26th June
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Why am I not recommending this? Well I think we're up for more of the same. Zoomed in, fast cut, shaky-cam filming that you're going to miss most of the action and robot wonder on the big screen to the film-making. Then there's the silly aspect of the film, like the robots hiding around outside the house which was almost painful to watch. Still there will be some great moments visually, but like a lot of Michael Bay films it just doesn't gel into a complete film, cool scenes, sequences, and great CGI do not make a great film, they do however make for great box office takings. Definitely a hit, but not something I'm really looking forward to.

My Sister's Keeper
The new film from Nick Cassavetes adapted from the novel by Jodi Picoult which sees a thirteen year old girl taking her parents to court to try and be separated from them when she finds out the truth of why she's been born. Her parents conceived her as a genetic match for her sister and help prolong her life as she was suffering from cancer. Cameron Diaz leads with Abigail Breslin, Alec Baldwin, Joan Cusack and Jason Patric.

For January to March, have a look at the previous feature, but that is that for April to June.

Sure there are more films coming out, but that's the interesting list, plus it's likely to change between now and then, we all know what studios are like for scheduling, so there could be some going, some coming, and new ones added all the time. However from the start of the year this is what I think we'll be looking at for these three months.

Coming next, July through to September.



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