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Filmstalker films for November 2011

Diary.jpgHave you seen the date? We're fast approaching the festive period already, where did the year go? Well we're not quite at that speech yet, there's another two months of cinema ahead, and this month is surprisingly diverse with film.

There's plenty of adult drama for us, and I don't mean boobies and bums, I mean complex relationships and not toned down for teenage audiences, although saying that there's a new Twilight film for the Twilfs out there.

However there are plenty of films for us, from science fiction to African children to Greek gods, there's murder, rape, hostage taking, drinking, but then there's culture, family, love, romance and Santa. November has it all, read on for the Filmstalker recommendations for the month.

In Time
Seriously, no more "Just in Time" jokes, honest. The advertising has ramped up and the trailers have been looking good, even if they are giving away an early reveal of the story. That aside it does look like an intriguing science fiction story where Justin Timberlake is turning into a little bit of an action hero. I'm looking forward to this as it is written and directed by Andrew Niccol and it suggests we could be in for an interesting story which carries comparisons to the distribution of wealth and power, and perhaps has a few surprises in store, other than the trailer revealed one of course.

Machine Gun Preacher (Filmstalker review)
Having just seen the film I can recommend it, and you can read my review right here. Let me cut to the chase and offer you the quick summary. It's good. Gerard Butler is really good, there's a strong, clever story that could do with more weight in the first half to develop the characters more, but the second half really does deliver with the closing of the story offering some surprises and a strong ending. Make no mistake, it's tough to watch, but it's one of those films that is worth watching, needs to be watched.

Tower Heist
I'm really uncertain about how this is going to turn out but I really am hopeful that this is going to be a good comedy that will deliver a few surprise performances, particularly from Eddie Murphy. Could this see the actor turn around and take a step towards his former glory? Could it be more than bad kids films in Murphy's destiny? More than that is Brett Ratner going to deliver something more than the normal comedy? He's got the good foundations with the cast anyway.

Straw Dogs
Now this is one I've been waiting for, the remake or re-imagining, or whatever the hell you want Hollywood, of Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs. The original was a controversial film and this one puts a lighter cast in the film, but one that has the potential to deliver along with the newly adapted film. I don't believe that this could be as controversial as the first, especially as the rating hasn't caused any major fuss about the film, however I don't think this one is about the controversy but more about the characters and the situations - what happens to people with power and how they wield it, and where is someone's breaking point. At least that's what I'm getting from the marketing. For all of those of us who are fed up with teenage friendly adult films, here's one for us.

Joel Schumacher and Nicolas Cage, that's one side of the film for you, here's the other, Nicole Kidman, Ben Mendelsohn and the marketing to date. It's a tough one to call but from what we've seen so far this could be a good film in Cage's and Schumacher's careers. A thriller about a family held for ransom with everyone knowing that the ransom is in the house, and amongst it all there are betrayals and deceptions galore, amongst everyone. It has the grounds to be an interesting thriller, but will it deliver? Schumacher and Cage?

The Rum Diary
Johnny Depp gets drunk a lot again in a Hunter S. Thompson novel. Woohoo. He's not wearing a pirate's outfit in this though is he? There's a strong cast in there too though, I just wonder if it's enough to attract the audiences, from what I've heard it's not done so well in America. I have to say I'm bored of the character so I'm not interested, and I'm now wondering why I put this in the list as this is my list of recommendations. Well, let me steer you clear of it instead.

I know you're all thinking "from the producers of 300" is all over the marketing and that's just a poor connection. Yes it does look somewhat like 300 (Filmstalker review) stylistically, but that's not a bad thing for 300 was superb and the style there was perfectly apt. However there's a change here with Immortals and this is the important part to listen to, Tarsem Singh. He's a visionary director whose films look and feel fantastic and have a strong emotional core to them as well, we're talking The Cell and The Fall (Filmstalker review), he's the reason I'm visiting the film. There are more of course, the huge cast from John Hurt to Stephen McHattie.

Arthur Christmas
It's Aardman, and while you might be like me and missing Wallace and Gromit, it doesn't mean that the team can't produce something worthwhile in their place, and while we await Pirates, here comes a talent voiced film in time for Christmas, well in time for Christmas. The film has a huge cast and a fun looking trailer that takes Santa into the 21st Century and his youngest son looking to go traditional to uphold the traditions of Christmas. It'll be shameless fun and some mixed ages jokes throughout I'm sure.

The Awakening
Now here's a film that's not been heard much of and here's why that's a shame, Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton. The comments so far are mixed, but from the trailer I've seen it does look like it could be a strong return to the old style scary horror we remember from British cinema some time back. Perhaps this is to compliment or to ride behind The Woman in Black, but then the cast suggest something a little more than that. A woman who reveals ghost hoaxes, and is actually looking for some evidence rather than trying to destroy the idea from everyone's minds, heads to a haunted school and finds what she's looking for. The cast have me.

Wuthering Heights
This is Andrea Arnold's version of Emily Brontë's classic story, and you can guarantee there'll be no Kate Bush singing in the background here. The trailer looked very light on costume and location and really went to the characters and so I'm intrigued as to where the film will take us. It's Andrea Arnold after all, coming from Fish Tank and Red Road this has to be something way more relevant and powerful.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1
Ach, this is the end of the series and it's just down here by popular choice, although not mine. More half hearted chest bearing werewolves and sexy dead vampires, ripping apart horror in the name of teen romance. The saddest thing is that there's another part to this pulp.

Nicolas Cage again in another thriller, this time with his trademark action in there and Roger Donaldson directing, so this could be one to watch out for and is the better choice for a Cage back to strength film. He's appearing with some good names - January Jones, Jennifer Carpenter, Guy Pearce, Xander Berkeley and Harold Perrineau, and a good plot idea. A man whose wife is attacked is approached by organisation offering vigilante services to get his revenge. The cost? In return, at some point in the future, he'll be asked to do something for them, for someone else wanting their revenge. That time has come.

Welcome to the Rileys
Kristen Stewart has been trying to break the Twilight mould as she gets closer to the end of the series, and she's been doing it well, last I saw her she was playing a character smoking ten to the dozen and taking drugs, no not a young Hollywood star! Now she's doing a similar role, playing a down and out runaway, but the more interesting part is that she's a substitute daughter for a middle class family whose daughter has died and try and take the runaway under their wing to help her. James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo star as the parents, and Ally Sheedy's in the film too. This could be a really interesting story and one to get a hold of your emotions.

I've been staying away from this film deliberately, a film that is equally drama and comedy that looks at the true story of a young man who discovers he has cancer and sets about to fight it? With cancer having hit my family so hard and still hurting, and my extended family just last month, I really don't see it as a film that I'm going to do anything but fall apart in. That said, these are my emotions and not the general audience, and from what I've heard this does a really good job of mixing the comedy and the serious together and delivering a powerful film with a strong message. It also has a strong mix of names involved - Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston and Matt Frewer!

Baseball? This is the United Kingdom, we play football, rugby, and race cars round bendy circuits here, and up in Scotland we play Shinty, why would we be interested in baseball? Well there's a lot more to be had from this film than just something about baseball, even if it does mainly appeal to the fan. It's about the Oakland A team who were struggling with a small team and a small budget, but the manager took on a new approach using computer analysis to select players and while it started off poorly, it picked up and we have our success story. Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright...oh, I'm in.

Dream House
There has not been a lot of positivity about this film with the rumour of the director wanting to be removed from the film but when he received reshoots he wanted he allowed his name to continue with it, he just doesn't do any publicity for the film apparently. I'm not sure how it will turn out, although the ratings so far aren't that good, but the cast looks good with Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, Rachel Weisz, Elias Koteas and Marton Csokas, mind you this could be the same kind of psychological thriller as Invasion, and we all know how that turned out.

My Week with Marilyn
Firstly, I'm not sold on Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. The more I look at her publicity shot the less I see the icon, but the story of the behind the scenes of Monroe visiting England during the shooting of The Prince and the Showgirl with Sir Laurence Olivier does sound interesting. More that it's seen through the eyes of the young man assigned to be her assistant and what it could tell us about the real life character. There's a fantastic cast too with Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, Emma Watson not being Hermione, Dominic Cooper, Toby Jones, Judi Dench, Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh, Derek Jacobi, Geraldine Somerville, Jim Carter, Geraldine Somerville and Zoë Wanamaker. Simon Curtis directs from his television career to date, and there are so many alluring aspects to the film I think it definitely is a must see.

Take Shelter
Jeff Nichols wrote and directs Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain in this film about a man who begins to be haunted by a series of visions of an apocalyptic type storm. The trailers looked interesting and see Shannon taking a typically quirky role where he's going to be put in a lone position and start acting really strangely. Is he really having visions and should he protect his family, or is it him that they need protection from? It's another great role for him and a curious one for us.

The Deep Blue Sea
I didn't know about this film until very recently, an adaptation of the Terence Rattigan play by Terence Davies who is also directing. He was responsible for the mind numbing House of Mirth so he's not immediately high on my list, but then his films do look really good and we have Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale here. This is interesting enough to go and watch because the trailer does look stylish and promises strong performances in the story of a British Judge caught in a self destructive affair with an RAF pilot, it's something meaty and adult to get our hands around.

So what are you heading out to see this month? Have I missed anything you think should be on there, or have you seen something on the list and think it's rubbish? Tell us. Warn us!



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