Filmstalker's Films for January 2011
Like the previous years, I was going to write a huge preview of all the films coming in the year as at this point, the very beginning of January, and two things struck me. One is that by the time I've reached the middle of the year dates are vague and there are so many film releases not listed yet. The other is that dates change so much that the article would get inaccurate in three to four months.
So I've decided to break it down month by month, and as each month approaches I'll fire off a new article so that you're prepared for the month ahead. It also stops me from writing pages! So here's Filmstalker's recommended, and sometimes just suggested, films for January 2011.
See what you think of them as you see them, and let me know if I've missed any that you think should be on the list.
As always with these lists I have to stick with one countries release dates, so I've stuck with my own, the UK, and the first one I've already seen:
The Next Three Days (Filmstalker Review)
Paul Haggis is bringing us this remake of a French film, so the remake part might scare me off considering the original isn't that old, but then Haggis can deliver a strong thriller of that there's no doubt and he adapted and directed the film. Good cast too with Russell Crowe playing the everyday husband who decides to put together a plan to break his innocent wife out of prison, she's played by Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson and Olivia Wilde. The trailer looks high tension and the film does seem to promise that too.
The King's Speech
I haven't been attracted by the idea of this story at all and the marketing has been selling it as a comedy, but there's Colin Firth in the lead gaining a lot of praise and Geoffrey Rush and Derek Jacobi are two names that pop up and grab my attention in the supporting cast. I'm hopeful that whatever I think about the idea of a film about speech therapy for a King and the marketing it will all be kicked into touch by the performances.
A Danny Boyle is one to go and see no matter what, and that's what I'll be doing. However some of the trailers have turned me off to the idea, one was more like a music video than anything, but the following one brought through some more drama. If you know the true story behind the film, about the climber who is trapped for the titular length of time under a rock and the lengths he goes to in order to save himself, then you'll forgive everything behind that first trailer as I have. This looks really interesting.
Season of the Witch
There's something about Nicolas Cage that you do feel you have to watch no matter how bad the idea or the film, and here we're looking at a film that could turn out to be as bad as some of his poorest performances, or as good as some of his best. With Dominic Sena directing and names like Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Stephen Graham, Ulrich Thomsen and Claire Foy, you might be hoping for the latter, however the story we've heard so far does suggest the former. This one's a real uncertainty.
Forget the furore over the American MPAA knee jerk rating idiocy and look to what the BBFC have done, for they are the more mature, actual audience member, non-book burning type of people. They passed the film as a 15 with no cuts made.
The film was classified '15' for strong sex, strong language and one use of very strong language...
...The film includes strong language throughout and there is one use of very strong language. It is directed by the female lead at her husband during the course of an altercation and, although aggressively delivered, its use was sufficiently justified by context to be permitted at '15'...
... The film includes three sex scenes of note - two portrayals of sexual intercourse and one of cunnilingus. In terms of sexual mechanics, each scene is strong and approaches the upper limits of what is permitted at '15'. However, nudity is limited and the scenes are otherwise sufficiently lacking in detail to be allowed at that category.
Why the MPAA can't behave more like the BBFC I don't know, but I have to say I am very glad that the BBFC have the views that they do and I wouldn't want them to change.
Anyway, the film looks very interesting, showing a declining relationship between two people and mixing timelines of their relationship together, but it's Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling that grab my attention here and the talk of their strong performances.
The Green Hornet
Okay, this is going in because I feel I should mention it. Personally I'm still sore over Stephen Chow not taking the director's chair in this film or playing Kato, I really would have liked to have seen his film. From the trailers it looks like more Seth Rogen, and that's not a good thing for me, not in this film anyway. Too much comedy and not enough Hornet? Perhaps, although with Cameron Diaz, Tom Wilkinson, Christoph Waltz and Edward James Olmos, there could be a little more to it. Hollywood entertainment is what I expect.
I'm really not convinced that this is something I'll go see, but there's Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver and Melissa Leo. Could this more dramatic Erin Brockovich type story do well enough to win over audiences? The names might pull people in but I'm not convinced the story will do so well.
What more is there really to say about Black Swan? It's a must see. Darren Aronofsky directing a film where we will get to see a more edgy Natalie Portman, a more dramatic Mila Kunis with Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder in the supporting cast? All that sounds fantastic doesn't it? Then the story itself sounds like it could pull in the audience alone. This has to be a must see this year, how could you not?
Ach, if you must. It seems like more of the same American comedy to me, unintelligent and base, and yet there's Ron Howard directing an Allan Loeb script with Winona Ryder and Jennifer Connelly up there in leading roles. Perhaps I'm not giving it enough credit? Maybe there is a chance that this film could turn out to be a bit of a corker? The trailers haven't been winning me over, should I give it a chance?
I have no allusions as to what this film is going to offer, but there's Harrison Ford playing a different character to normal and that has to be a draw in itself, plus Rachel McAdams, Diane Keaton, Patrick Wilson and Jeff Goldblum directed by Roger Michell from a script by Aline Brosh McKenna. That says a lot more than you might think from the trailers, this could be funny and genuinely touching.
My Soul to Take
Wes Craven is back writing and directing this teenage horror film which doesn't sound like it's really doing that well. I don't think I'd recommend it to be honest, but for horror and Craven fans it's one to have a look at I guess. In fact now I'm writing about it and re-reading the plot of a serial killer returning to his hometown to stalk seven kids who were born on the date he was allegedly killed, it doesn't sound that original or exciting. It's running a low rating onlne too.
Breakfast at Tiffany's
The remake. No, just kidding, it's the original, and it's a film you really should go and see. Fantastic story, wonderful cast and a film that George Peppard should be remembered more for than The A-Team, and Blake Edwards directing, something a lot of people forget. Wonderful.
I Spit on Your Grave
The remake, and that really is true. I'm not expecting this to be any good and the shock element will just not be there as it was with the original. Any hint of empowerment and an unusually strong female character will be out the window for a horror-fest such as Hostel or Saw, set pieces of torture and murder, and I suspect lacking some of the better aspects of Hostel.
While the return of Wes Craven doesn't sound to be as strong, maybe you should give the return of John Carpenter a go with The Ward which is performing far better. Amber Heard takes the lead in this horror-thriller which sounds far more interesting than the stock tale Craven is touting. Here a young woman who has been institutionalised is haunted by a ghost, nay even terrorised. I think Heard is going to get better and better and she certainly looks good on screen, and Carpenter really is a horror director worth a return.
Peter Mullan delivers what is described as a tense and claustrophobic drama from the period of his own youth in 1970's Glasgow following a pupil who arrives in the secondary school and tries to make something of himself despite the pressures from home and school to stay a Ned. It's getting some good praise, and it's a home-grown film, go see it.
How Do You Know
Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, Jack Nicholson, the trailers had me interested, and they actually made me laugh despite the story seeming to be well trodden ground. Could it actually be fun? I think it might and it could well lift itself from the dredge of American comedy to be something funnier and perhaps a little more identifiable with. Romantic comedy from Hollywood doesn't always inspire, but perhaps there's a glimmer here.
Alejandro González Iñárritu directing Javier Bardem, shall I stop now? The trailer is confusing and doesn't tell much of a story, but it does look beautifully filmed that's for sure. I'm not even going to try explaining, here's the blurb:
This is a story of a man in free fall. On the road to redemption, darkness lights his way. Connected with the afterlife, Uxbal is a tragic hero and father of two who's sensing the danger of death. He struggles with a tainted reality and a fate that works against him in order to forgive, for love, and forever.
Here's another film that only needs the barest of reasons to go and see it, Clint Eastwood. Not enough that he's directing? Well it's written by Peter Morgan and stars Matt Damon, Cécile De France and Thierry Neuvic. It's a film that looks at three characters who are all touched by death in different ways, a blue-collar American, a French journalist and a London school boy, and on their search for answers their lives cross over each others. Definitely on my must see list.
Simon West can do action, and he's remaking the Charles Bronson film with an action star and a strong actor, Jason Statham and Ben Foster, and in the supporting cast there's Donald Sutherland. Statham plays a well respected hitman, who is a complete professional and meticulous in what he does. He's always detached, that is until he goes all out for revenge when his friend and mentor is murdered. To complicate the mission his mentor's son wants to join as an apprentice and seek his own revenge. However nothing is going to go to plan. Action all the way I suspect and a pretty strong basis for the script. I'm in.