Thursday, January 01, 2009

Forward Looking Statements

Looking at the films slated for release, 2009 is shaping up very well indeed. Whether all of the films mentioned herein jusify the expectation remains to be seen but, for the time being, I’m excited. Hollywood must be running low on comic books to adapt and sequels to commision because they are, once again, daring to make films based on (whisper it) original stories.

Oscar films tend to be some of the most highly anticipated of the year, largely because they play well to the critics who write the pieces that inflame or deflate our appetite for a given film. This year’s lot is no exception – with the Best Actor catagory looking particularly strong. First off, Brad Pitt has an outside chance for his performance gothic-romance, The Curious Case of Banjamin Button, based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, about a man who ages backwards. Arguable, just as strange, is the return of Mikey Rourke in Darren Aronovsky’s, The Wrestler. Both of which face strong competition from Academy favourites: Viggo Motenen (in Good), perenial awards-botherer, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (in Doubt), and Leonardo DiCaprio (in Revolutionary Road).

Portrayals of real-life characters always go down well with Academy voters. This year, Shaun Penn is Harvey Milk, the first openly gay official elected to major public office in the US. Benicio Del Toro is Argentine revolutinoary and counter-culture icon, Che Guevara, in Steven Soderberg’s five-hour epic (being shown as two films in most terratories). Then there is Frank Langella, bringing his Tony Award winning stage performance as Richard Milhous Nixon, 36th President of the United States, to the screen.

In the summer, Roland Emmerich is back to blow things up in near future fantasy, 2012. With a bit of luck, conventional superhero mythology will be willfully exploded by Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Alan Moore’s, highly revered, Watchmen. And, it just wouldn’t be Hollywood if there weren’t a couple of sequels (given that it’s the summer, I think we can let them off). This year we’ve got Terminator 4, which looks far better than it has a right to, and the darkest Harry Potter yet (suprise, suprise!). Along with JJ Abrams retro-revamp of Star Trek to look forward to.

Also expect high quality family fare from Pixar (Up!) and Tim Burton (9). Along with more off-beat visions from Spike Jonze and Wes Anderson, with Where The Wild Things Are and a claymation version of Roahl Dahl’s classic, Fantastic Mr Fox, respectively.

Fighting the British corner. The joker in the pack at this year’s Oscars is likely to be Danny Boyle’s Who Wants to be a Millionare inspired, Slumdog Millionare. Then there is The Damned United, with Michael Sheen (best known for playing Tony Blair in The Deal and The Queen) doing his best Brian Clough impression. And Telstar, a film about maverick music producr Joe Meek – a story I know next to nothing about, but one that I hope might prompt some 24 Hour Party people style pseudo-fictitious Gonzo madness.

Most intriguingly, 2009, appears to be the year that weirdo film god, David Lynch, turned producer extrordinare, helping Alejandro Jodorowsky make his first film in nearly 20 years – King Shot, a ‘metaphysical western with gansters’. As well as acting as produer on Alex Cox’ long mooted Repo Man sequel – Repo Chick, which Cox has said: “will unfold against the backdrop of the credit crunch and the subprime mortgage crisis in the US, where repossessions of homes, cars and other forms of property is at a new high. ‘The repo business has expanded to everything from boats, houses, aeroplanes, small nations...children.”

2009 also sees some of our favourite auterurs working again. Michael Mann is set to re-create Heat in a period setting, with Christian Bale and Johnny Depp, as cop and crim. Quentin Tarantino is set to thrill us with a Sergio Leone inspired vision of World War Two in Inglorious Basterds, and Terry Gilliam will invite us to enter the warped reality of The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.

At the end of the year we can look forward to 3D motion caputure madness from James Cameron and Robert Zemekis, with Avatar and A Christmas Carol, respectively. Along with Tim Burton, surely a perfect fit for, Alice in Wonderland. And here’s hoping that Guy Ritchie can shock us all and nail Sherlock Holmes

Have an awesome 2009!


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