Sunday, February 06, 2005

About 30 Films in 2005

I spend way too much of my limited free time browsing the web…that being said, I have decided to put some of my wasted time to the use of other people (or, the cynic might say, to waste other peoples time!). Nonetheless, here are films that I have heard or read about that are coming along in 2005 that have my interest. With any year, there are always about a dozen (or more) films that blind-side you completely and obviously they are not on this list. The list started as a thread on the twitchfilm.net forum, but has grown considerably in the last month, so here it is, but first an interesting trend:

If anything stands out of these expectations of 2005 is that it is truly the year of the animated film. All styles are represented. Traditional animated 2D film, Selick-style stop-motion animation, and claymation (although the Wallace & Gromit feature film is not on the list it is coming out in 2005). The Digital Back-lot style which was pioneered by Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and but also by French film Immortel and Japanese film Casshern (all in 2004, but the Star Wars films were pretty much there in 1999 and 2003) is really beginning to take off. And Richard Linklater is using the 'Rotoscope' technique used in Waking Life and The Polar Express to make a feature film. That is a lot of high-profile animated film to be released in a single year. And this doesn’t include the fast-growing number of 3D CGI animated films Madagascar (from DreamWorks), Chicken Little (from Disney), Robots (from Fox) or Cars (from Pixar) because I believe they will all be failures. Yes, even Cars which I’m sure will make a tonne of money, but will still be awful (being pushed back into 2006 is not a good sign either).

Feel free to give me crap in the comments section if I’ve missed something, but before you do, note that there are some major studio films I did omit for my own reasons (Batman Begins, Be Cool, The Fantastic Four, The Interpreter, The Island, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and the above mentioned CGI films).

Here is the list (in no particular order):




Sin City – The first thing that captures you is the look. The most graphic-novel-looking film made to date, it dazzles between black and whites and primary colours. The second thing that gets you is the odd cast: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Benecio Del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson and Jessica Alba. Personally, I don’t really imagine any two of these actors in a film together, let alone all of them. Directed by fast-and-loose director Robert Rodriguez -- this gives you an idea of how he makes movies -- (from the IMDb) After a poor Hollywood experience in the early-'90s, Frank Miller refused to relinquish the movie rights to any of his comic works, "Sin City" in particular. Robert Rodriguez, a longtime fan of the comic, filmed his own "audition" for the director's spot in secret. The footage, shot in early 2004, featured Josh Hartnett and Marley Shelton acting out the "Sin City" short-story "The Customer is Always Right". He presented the finished footage to Miller with the proclamation: "If you like this, this will be the opening to the movie. If not, you'll have your own short film to show your friends." Miller approved of the footage and the film was underway).
--


Mirror Mask – "The Wizard of Oz filtered through the looking glass a 21st century Cyberpunk lens doesn’t even begin to describe this Digital Back-lot film. Neil Gaiman and David McKean working with only $4M and Jim Henson Productions (The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth) have fashioned something that is definitely not for all tastes, but frighteningly original. Now if only the story-telling lives up to the sweet visuals.
--


Layer Cake / Revolver – Is the type of cheeky gangster picture in the same vein as Guy Ritchie (pre-Swept Away). This is not a surprise, as it is being directed by the producer (?!?) of Ritchie’s two gangster pictures, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Speaking of Ritchie, after being swept under the carpet with his last picture, he is going back to what he knows. Initial stills of the flick look very, very good. Ray Liotta is a good casting choice.
--


Ana-life – Is one of those asian explorations on reality and existance. It has a strange and unusual trailer that reminds me of 3-Iron (another film in the same genre) in a lot of ways. Considering how highly I regard 3-Iron, I’m there when this movie comes out.
--


The New WorldTerrance Malick is a director who puts out starkly lyrical pictures, usually at the rate of 1 every 15 years or so. So it is quite impressive that he is going to release The New World only 7 years after his WWII masterpiece, The Thin Red Line. This film seems to be a non-historical variant on the Pocahontas story.
--


Star Wars - Revenge of the Sith: Despite George Lucas crapping on his cash-cow franchise for several years now, there is still a spark of anticipation for the third (sixth?) and supposedly darkest entry into the Star Wars Universe. I really don't have to say more on this subject, as it is about to be rammed down your throat from massive merchanidising tie-ins.
--


Brick – A high school drama filmed in the style of 1940s noir, with the hard-boiled dialogue and narrative labyrinths?? Unusual to say the least. To boot, it had a fair bit of buzz coming out of the Sundance Film Fesival.
--


Unleashed (aka Danny the Dog) – Who would have ever figured we would get a movie starring Jet Li and Morgan Freeman? Delroy Lindo maybe, but not Morgan Freeman. And who would have figured it would be a French production using a Chinese, English and an American Star? Anyway, this looks like Li could finally live up to his promise from many of the great Chinese films he made in the 90s (and of course recently in Hero).
--


King Kong – Is it just me, or does Naomi Watts look a bit like Frances McDormand in that photo? Can this modern take on the Big Ape live up to either Jackson’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy or the original 1933 version? Many people think it can, and judging from the various production video-diaries on the kongisking.net website, it is going to look good. But will it have the narrative and story beyond the visuals? I'm not worried.
--


Howl’s Moving CastleHayao Miyazaki is the Godfather of modern animation, and a name that deserves to be as gigantic as Walt Disney. In Japan he has reached that status, but over here his great films have always received short shrift. What particularly smarts is the total indifference Disney released Spirited Away in North America despite it somehow managing to win the Oscar for best animation. Howl’s Moving Castle is about a young girl who is transformed into an old woman, and must find the secret to getting her youth back in a gigantic castle which walks on mechanical legs and spits steam and fire into the air. It's getting a mixed reaction over in Japan right now, but even mediocre Miyazaki is better than most films animated or otherwise.
--


Corpse BrideTim Burton delves into a project with Stop Motion Animation again without collaborating with Henry Selick (probably because he was busy doing The Life Aquatic and Coraline, but possibly due to a falling out after A Nightmare Before Christmas)…Using one of his regular actors, Johnny Depp in the lead role and Helena Bonham Carter as his bride from beyond the grave. Playfully creepy and darkly funny, this looks like it will rescue Burton from his string of lackluster films (Planet of the Apes, Big Fish) . I'm also looking (somewhat, reservedly) forward to his remake (arrrghhh!) of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
--


Mike Judge Untitled Project (aka 3001) – The IMDB has the plot summary of Mike Judge’s new film as follows: “Private Joe Bowers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program, set 1,000 years in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.” Can Judge outdo his own cult comedy, Office Space? With this great premise, I’m hoping so.
--


Brothers Grimm – After going several years without a Terry Gilliam film, we might possibly see two in 2005 (See also, Tideland on this list). With the luck Gilliam usually has, we will be lucky to see either. The Brothers Grimm is a fictional story about the two brothers who combed the German country side compiling faerie tales and old stories. In the movie, the brothers (Matt Damon and Heath Ledger) are traveling con-artists bilking villagers out of money with bogus exorcisms of the faerie. They are blindsided by the appearance of the real thing in a real enchanted forest. Will this be Sleepy Hollow meets The Frighteners with a Gilliam look and feel?
--


The Woods – A couple of years ago there was this great little quirky horror picture called May which had some genuinely disturbing images. Director Lucky McKee is back with his second film about a private girl’s school with strange things going on in the woods. With small roles from Patricia Clarkson and Bruce Campbell, it is definitely going to be worth a look.
--


Land of the Dead / Evil Dead 4George Romero adds a forth entry into his zombie anthology, the first of which gave birth to the modern zombie film. Each of the previous films were laden with commentary of their times – Night of the Living Dead on race, morality and social conscience, Dawn of the Dead on commercialism run rampant, Day of the Dead on the pressures of competing agendas leading to self destruction (i.e. during the early eighties cold-war spike). What territory will Land of the Dead cover. I’m hoping it is not being made just because Zombie films hot right now due to 28 Days Later and the remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. And what is up with casting Dennis Hopper? Interesting. At the other end of the spectrum, Sam Raimi may be taking a break from the Spiderman films and making a 4th entry into the classic screwball horror Evil Dead Series. There is a remake in the works which is a bad idea, but a 4th film starring “The Bruce” and directed by Raimi is enough to get almost any fan-boy salivating. Now do they continue from the “S-Mart Ending” or the “Alternate Future World Ending”?
--



Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy – A book that many consider un-filmable. The humour in it is so textual. Nevertheless, positive advance word and great casting (The Office’s Tim as Arthur, Stephen Fry as the Guide, Sam Rockwell as Zaphod and Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin) leave me hopeful that it will all come together.
--


A Scanner DarklyPhillip K. Dick (at his most paranoid) provides the source material for this Richard Linklater animated film. An undercover cop trying to get to the source of a drug distribution ring gets so addicted to the drug; he begins to narc on himself…while in the middle of a mental breakdown. Using the ‘Rotoscoping’ techniques (digital animation over top of footage of live actors) pioneered on the surreal Philosophy 101 film, Waking Life, Linklater and a small army of animators recreating a comic-book / anime look and feel over Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., and Wynona Ryder.
--



Romance & Cigarettes: A musical directed by legendary character actor John Turturro, the IMDB has this to say: This big-screen musical is being described as Pennies From Heaven meets The Honeymooners, as set in Bensonhurst, N.Y. In it, a two-timing husband must choose between his mistress and his beleaguered wife. James Gandolfini, Susan Sarandon, Eddie Izzard, Steve Buscemi, Kate Winslet, Christopher Walken and Kumar Pallana(from Wes Anderson's films). Wow. Great Cast!
--



Jarhead – After Ray and Collateral in 2004: Here comes Jamie Foxx into 2005. Sam Mendes (American Beauty) directs a script based on Anthony Swofford's Persian Gulf War memoir. Drawing on his own experiences as a Marine grunt in Vietnam, William Broyles wrote a script that studio and producers felt captured Swofford's voice and vivid descriptions of war.
--



Nobody Knows – A Japanese film about a woman who abandons her 4 children in the apartment where they live with only a few dollars. The children are not sure when she is coming back and eventually begin to fend for themselves. Friends who saw this film at last years Toronto International Film Festival loved it. Warning, this is not a happy story, and there were few dry eyes at the TIFF screening.
--



Coraline – The first full stop-motion animated feature from Henry Selick since Nightmare Before Christmas (his unique animated techniques were used for most of James and the Giant Peach and Monkey-Bone, but sparingly in The Life Aquatic). This is based on the Neil Gaiman creepy children’s novel, which I will have to read before seeing the film. I’ve got it earmarked as a 2005 film using the IMDb as a reference, but word around the internet is that it may be 2006 or later before the film is actually released.
--


The Kind Ms. Geomja (aka Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) – The conclusion to Chan Wook-Park's original and disturbing 'Vengeance Trilogy'. The trilogy is composed of three extreme films which are more connected by theme than story elements. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Oldboy (which just came in second for the Palm D'Or at Cannes, losing to the inferior Fahrenheit 911) are fantastic (if extremely disturbing) films putting Wook-Park in the elite of S. Korean directors working today.
--



Princess Raccoon - You have to see the trailer to really understand why I’m looking forward to this film. A Japanese film starring Chinese superstar Zhang Ziyi (the second japanese character she will be playing including her role in the film version of Memoirs of a Geisha) which is in the vein of Moulin Rouge, One From the Heart, or Tears of the Black Tiger…It wears it artificiality on its sleeve. I have a soft spot for films that pull this off. The director of the film, Seijun Suzuki is one of the prolific Japanese directors, with films stretching all the way back to the 1950s and he is a Criterion Collection favorite. I have not seen a single one of his many other films, unfortunatly.
--



Domino / Southland Tales - There are two new projects from Richard Kelly (the writer/director of the massive cult-hit Donnie Darko) coming out in 2005. Domino is directed by Tony Scott and I’m hoping it is more of a True Romance than a Top Gun. The cast is interesting, with cameos from Christopher Walken, Lucy Liu, Mickey Rourke, Jacqueline Bisset and Delroy Lindo. It stars very young actresses Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean) and Mena Suvari (American Beauty). This is very much Scott style material, as the IMDb plot summary goes: A recounting of Domino Harvey's life story. The daughter of actor Laurence Harvey turned away from her career as a Ford model to become a bounty hunter. Southland Tales is written and directed by Kelly and, according to the IMDb, is part musical, part comedy. It stars a host of young actors who have been making (good or bad) names for themselves. Don’t let the IMDb mislead you, the website is creepy as hell and while it sounds, in the description, quite a ways away from Donnie Darko material, it may not actually be too far of a divergence. Regardless, it will be interesting to see what Kelly does with his second kick at the can.
--



Thumbsucker - I'll let the 2005 Sundance Film Festival Catalogue do the talking here: Addiction can take many forms: drugs, gambling, sex, and food are common ones. But for Justin Cobb, it is thumb sucking. A bright but awkward high-school teen, he wants to quit, but nothing works. He tries everything from putting ink on his thumb (a tip from his woefully uncommunicative father) to hypnosis from his New Age orthodontist. He gets so desperate that when a school psychologist suggests using medication to help him focus, Justin leaps at the chance, despite his loving mother's concern. In a refreshingly original and humorous spin, the meds begin to work. But are they the answer or just a more acceptable form of pacification? Thumbsucker features a truly extraordinary cast that turn in magnificent performances captured by exquisite cinematography--creating an ethereal aesthetic to shape a modern-day fairy tale filled with humor, charm, and fragile love. Acclaimed graphic artist and music-video director Mike Mills returns to Sundance (his short, Architecture of Reassurance, played in 2000) with another beautifully rendered examination of suburban angst. With his feature debut, he delivers on his unlimited potential, displaying an amazing cinematic dexterity combined with an acute insight into the human condition to produce a visually stunning and thought-provoking portrait of addiction--rooted in suburbia, but relevant to everyone.Trevor Groth (SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL)
--



A History of Violence - A David Cronenberg film adapted from a graphic novel…An average family is thrust into the spotlight after the father commits a seemingly self-defense murder at his diner.
--


Banlieue 13 – After the martial arts action film was re-defined in 2003 with Thailand’s ONG BAK: Muay Thai Warrior (to be released, February 2005 in North America, but picked up by French Uber-producer Luc Besson in 2004), along comes a Besson production which may reach similar heights.
--

Wow, that took longer than expected to post, but I'm not finished yet...

Lastly, if you are not overwhelmed by the massive list here, I have seen the following films which are being released in 2005 and highly recommend them (links go to Blog entries in most cases):

Ong Bak - Muay Thai Warrior (February)
3-Iron (March)
Kung Fu Hustle (March)
Gunner Palace (March)
Clean (September)
Vital (hopefully sometime in 2005, maybe 2006)

1 Comments:

Blogger grace said...

i'm really looking forward to seeing charlie. i read an article on it in the LA Times this weekend... they trained REAL SQUIRRELS to crack walnuts and dump the meat on a conveyor belt! you can't beat that! :P

i am looking forward to ... maybe about a third of these... the others i've not heard of... so thanks for the heads up! :)

12:06 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home