Well here we are in 2012, barely days into it but we're here none the less and so far the fact that the Mayans didn't bother to write an extra couple of pages onto their calendar hasn't yet resulted in the end of the world. Phew. That does mean however that we get another year of good cinema, or maybe not a full year as since we didn't all die on the first those that believe in the Mayan prophecy (i.e. running out of tablet/ink or just deciding not to write any more years down as they'd gone too far already) are still predicting it'll happen this year.
Anyway, enough of that rubbish. We're here and so is cinema for another year. Let's start off looking at the films for January, and it's quite the surprise. There was a time that January was a slow month, however there's a fair number of strongly cast and interesting films being released in the UK this month covering politics to financials to sexual dysfunction and angry pack animals. Yes, this is looking like a good month.
I admit that I have no interest in ice hockey and I find it hard to understand a sport where there is a role for someone who fist fights, well apart from a sport that is all about fighting. For me the role of the two lead characters in Goon seems contrary to the sport and not the kind of morals you should be teaching in a sport. None the less the trailers for Goon have looked rather funny and might just offer us something more than the average comedy. Oh dear, I feel like I'm saying that about every American comedy that comes our way, but with good reason. I'm not holding out a lot of hope, but this might just be okay, and I know ice hockey fans will be all over it. For me though it has a long way to go to win me over the idea of a sport that requires a fist fighter as a player.
On the way to release there has been quite a mixed bag of comments about The Iron Lady, the first and hopefully not last film about the UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Some of those who served with her have been less than complimentary saying that it is far from factual, those who served against her or aren't Conservative voters saying that it portrays her in too nice a light, and those close to her, are Conservative voters or believe she did many good things for the country that it is perhaps a little too harsh at times. However for all of these comments there are those that like film who are saying that it is a very good film, that Meryl Streep has delivered a fantastic performance, and that the film is really rather good. Out of all of them I am leaning towards the positive comments for those that are giving them are from a real mix of all the above groups and they tend to make up the majority of comments coming for the film. Certainly the time Thatcher was in power had ups and downs galore for her, the party and the country, and some hugely dramatic times from the terrorism of the IRA to the Falklands War. There's a lot of promise for the film and for Meryl Streep's performance, and I'm really keen to see it.
Not heard of this? Well it stars Naomi Watts, Annette Bening and Kerry Washington, and that's a pretty strong cast of leading ladies, why isn't the film getting more press? Rodrigo Garcia wrote and directed the film, another reason to query why the film hasn't been more advertised, after all he directed Passengers, Albert Nobbs, wrote and directed In Treatment and wrote the upcoming Gravity. After reading all that you have to wonder why more people haven't heard of this film and it hasn't received more press. The flim is about a fifty year old woman, the daughter she gave up thirty-five years ago and the young woman looking to adopt a child of her own. The talent alone is screaming for us to notice this film.
The director, Chris Gorak, previously directed one film but it's a good one, Right at Your Door and if you haven't seen it I'd say you should for it features two strong performances and a powerful story. The writer, John Spaihts, is also now known for his writing on Prometheus, even though we haven't seen that film as yet. So behind it we're already seeing some strong talent, and that's being reflected in the trailers which are showing moments which look fantastic in terms of style, cinematography and effects. Oh yes it's a science fiction action adventure but the trailers are promising a little more than that. It feels a little darker, a little harder, and perhaps with a few surprises still to deliver. I am incredibly drawn to the idea of the alien creatures and their need for energy. Strange that this film is only scheduled for certain cities and not a full UK release.
This may not be a retelling of what happened in the real life financial crisis, but it is telling a story that has a lot of similar messages and morals to it. The story follows the events inside a financial institution on the cusp of a huge financial crisis and their role in its beginnings. There's a huge cast involved from Kevin Spacey to Demi Moore, Stanley Tucci to Mary McDonnell which really does excite, especially considering the material. This could turn out to be an excellent thriller that is a much more complex and adult story than many we see these days.
The title describes this film to a tee, it's a shame that this isn't what it could have been. There are many glimpses of what the film could offer, particularly at the beginning and with moments of Michael Fassbender's performance, but it just never pulls together and delves into the story and the characters, prefering to keep sitting on the outside watching events very slowly rather than attempting to find out what or why is happening and offering some depth or understanding to the story. Find out more on my review, but I wasn't taken with it.
To be honest I'm not that bothered about seeing the film, I know the story can be summed up on one line and can be broken down pretty easily to a standard, stock animal-human story. Mind you it is Steven Spielberg so you know it will look gorgeous and make you cry, a good deal too. Still the adaptation of the novel and stage play is one that will attract a lot of attention as Spielberg is behind the camera.
Steven Soderbergh carries on his real life casting with Gina Carano the mixed martial arts fighter being picked for the lead of his spy on the run looking for revenge film which could be a female Bourne story if it weren't for his direction and inspired casting. Alongside her there are a number of strong actors and it'll be interesting to see what Soderbergh and Carano can bring to the action sequences as we know that he'll bring a powerful thriller. This could prove to be quite hit.
A stonkingly good cast has been pulled together for the Ralph Fiennes directed and led Shakespearean adaptation that transports the story to a modern Eastern European country going through a civil war. The trailers have looked fantastic, filled with powerful performances from that excellent cast including Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Brian Cox, Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave and more. This will be one you definitely should see.
Another film with a fantastic line-up behind and in front of the camera with Clint Eastwood directing Dustin Lance Black's screenplay about the man who created and headed up the FBI longer than any President was in power, and some would say carrying far more power than any President he worked under through various methods, some legal and some perhaps not. The cast begins with Leonardo Di Caprio and carries on from there. It's another huge film not to be missed and promises a superb performance from Di Caprio.
I would have written this off if it weren't for the way the idea of the third film is portrayed in the trailer. The idea of the increased in size werewolves is poor, but the idea of humans being the stronger and more frightening enemy for both vampires and lycans and them having to band together is rather interesting and does give a progression for the series. I rather liked how it played out, other than the bigger and scarier werewolf, and there's the return of Kate Beckinsale. Come on, it could be good fun couldn't it?
Madonna co-wrote and directed it and Abbie Cornish, James D'arcy and Andrea Riseborough all star, and these are the only reasons to contemplate seeing the film for me from all accounts. The reviews haven't been great but the idea of looking at the story of Edward and Mrs Simpson from the point of view of Mrs Simpson herself is an interesting one. It's an intriguing idea that has me, well, intrigued. Can Madonna pull it off? Perhaps not.
Alexander Payne wrote and directed Sideways and wrote Jurassic Park III, oh yes he did, now he's co-written and directed The Descendants starring the superb George Clooney. The plot is simple, a man who has previously cared little for his children is forced to try and reconnect with them after his wife is involved in a boating accident. It looks a quirky and very funny film and performance, and according to the reviews it has been getting it lives up to that and more.
Yes there is great scope for this to turn into something a little silly and some will cite Joe Carnahan as director as a reason it might do just that. I disagree, and I hope I'm right, for leading with Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, James Badge Dale, Frank Grillo and Joe Anderson it would suggest something more than the idea of man against a pack of vindictive wolves. The last trailer we've seen looks really powerful and makes Neeson look even more the action star than he already is, but I really do hope it delivers a little more than action.
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is the director of 28 Weeks Later, something that makes most people really excited for his next film, not so much me but we all have our favourites. This film is a story about a child who thinks that there is a monster in her room, and it all gets a little more scary when the parents see something too. It's billed as a look at the fear of monsters that is born in childhoold and passed on through family and is stars Clive Owen, Daniel Bruhl, Carice van Houten and Kerry Fox. I'm not sure about this film, but again there are some great names in front of the camera so perhaps it will deliver some surprises and strong performances?