Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nerdlinger's Most Anticipated Films of Fall 2009 (2)

Earlier, I posted five films that I'm eagerly looking forward to this fall/winter season. Now we come to the final five, along with some alternative choices for of ones that have definitely piqued my interest, but fall just short of being must-sees.

on we go:

5 - The Lovely Bones (Dec. 11) - Any project that involves Peter Jackson is automatically anticipated. Here's the thing though; King Kong really hurt his reputation. Not that it was bad. Jack Black's miscasting aside, I actually think it was a pretty great movie. But it fell into the classic trap that many uber-successful directors fall into; it was monumentally excessive. There was simply too much. Too much story, too many huge set pieces, too much big-ness. It's really up to this film to see if Jackson can reign himself in or not. It's got a lot going for it, namely that it's based on a beloved novel, and appears to be an effective melding of his Lord of the Rings visual wizardry with a Heavenly Creatures-like small scale, but powerful, story. Here's hoping it all comes together, because if it does, it could be the best film of the year.

4 - The Informant! (Sept. 18) - Has anyone got a handle on Steven Soderbergh? It's like he's two people, almost. One person is a skilled craftsman of mainstream dramas and crowd-pleasers (Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Out of Sight, Ocean's Eleven and its sequels). The other is the iconoclastic indie filmmaker (sex, lies and videotape, The Limey, Solaris, Bubble, Che, The Girlfriend Experience). The odd thing is that both of these guys can direct some great films, albeit of totally differing styles and for totally different tastes. The Informant! is one directed by the first guy, but it seems to have a little flavour of the second. Also, Matt Damon looks to put in a great performance. Is it me, or is he underrated as an actor? Not as a movie star, but as an actor.

3 - Where the Wild Things Are (Oct. 16) - God, has it been seven years since Spike Jonze directed a film?!? How is that possible? He's only directed two full-length films (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) but both were stunningly good. Still, everyone works at their own speed, and I'm just happy Jonze is back. He's chosen a worth comeback, too, using the beloved children's book as source material. With his skewed viewpoint, this could be the most delightful film, capable of reaching the child in us all, but never sacrificing the endearing weirdness of his vision.

2 - Shutter Island (Oct. 2) - I read the Dennis Lehane novel on which this film was based, and I recall thinking at the time what a great movie it would make. The story takes place in 1954, as a pair of US Marshalls come to an isolated insane asylum looking for a homicidal patient that has disappeared and uncovering some sinister goings on, all as a hurricane bears down on them. It's a sort of hybrid story, beginning as a hard boiled mystery and quickly descending into a dark psychological thriller and finally into a kind of Gothic horror tale. It's the type of film that Martin Scorsese has never directed before, the closest equivalent being Cape Fear. The story is enough to get you in the door, and Marty's presence amps the anticipation to a huge degree. When you add in the cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michele Williams and Jackie Earle Haley, and you've got what could turn out to be an unforgettable thriller.....or a godawful mess. Still, if you love film, you're waiting for this one.

1 - The White Ribbon (Dec. 25) - There's no doubt that Michael Haneke is one of the most controversial directors around, being either revered or reviled depending on whom you talk to. Personally, I like directors like this, it means they're at least bold and possessed of some sort of clear vision. As for his films, I've liked what I've seen (Cache, The Piano Teacher) an awful lot, but I'm a little scared to dive into his other films (Funny Games, Code Unknown) after hearing negative reviews from people I trust. Still, his latest film, which won the Palme D'or at Cannes this year, sounds like an amazing experience. It tells the tale of a small German community in 1914 that begins to experience ever escalating moments of violence and brutality perpetrated by unknown parties. As more is reveled, the audience is shown a community that seems bucolic but is in fact stern, cruel and unyielding. Is the community being punished for something? Many people have noticed that the children the story focuses on would grow to form the backbone of Nazi Germany, but Haneke has said that the film is actually about the origin of every type of terrorism, be it of political or religious nature. It looks absolutely mesmerizing.

those are the ones I'm dying to see. But here's a selection of other films coming out that look pretty great in their own right: Pandorum, Bright Star, The Invention of Lying, A Serious Man, Zombieland, Amelia, Antichrist, The Men Who Stare at Goats, 9, Brothers.

Gonna be a big Fall!

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