Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Preview Extraordinaire

Wow I cannot believe that Winter is right around the corner. This Fall I was able to catch some amazing films including a two week stretch at the New York Film Festival. There are still a few screening left for this season and I have a few write ups that I've been slacking on, but aside from that it's time to look forward to the Winter season. For the purposes of this article Winter will include movies from the months of December through February. You astute readers out there will notice that the majority of the releases are in December. January and February are typically considered dump months, filled with wide releases of Oscar contenders that were already released in LA and New York or films the studios have been sitting on. There's always one or two amazing releases so there's no reason to completely write them off. This one was even tougher than the Fall Preview, with studios bringing out some heavy hitters I had to leave some big films offmy list. Here we go.

10. Outrage - Takeshi Kitano
Kitano returns to the crime genre for the first time since Fireworks. That alone should be enough to get you excited. Kitano approaches the violences in his films with a restrained camera often letting it unfold as the camera moves at a snails pace around the screen. This makes every bullet a devastating and beautiful occurrence. The story is simple enough crime lord wants his lieutenant to take care of some young drug runners. It's the talent involved here that is more exciting than anything.

9. Carnage - Roman Polanski
This is an adaptation from a stage play of two couples getting together for dinner in New York and the verbal acrobats that occur. This played at the NYFF but I was unable to get tickets. Polanski is simply one of the best directors of all time and anytime he releases a new movie is an exciting time. This film seems to be splitting people, with many saying it was kept too theatrical and not cinematic enough. Rosemary's Baby took place mostly in a New York apartment and that's a frakking brilliant film. Either way I can't wait to finally see this. The idea of Christophe Waltz working with Polanski who is known for getting amazing performances from his actors is simply too much to handle. Hoping this delivers.

8. War Horse - Steven Spielberg
Yah I struggled a bit with having both of his films on here this winter season, but to say I wasn't looking forward to this film would be wrong. Spielberg takes us to World War 1 to tell us the story of a boy and his horse. Word is the horse steals the show in this, which may sound funny but for a movie called War Horse I don't think it could be any other way. Loving the idea if Spielberg doing a movie set during a war as opposed to a straight forward war film. I mentioned earlier that Spielberg is great but not since Jurassic Park has he made something sublimely perfect. I doubt this will be the one to change that, but new Spielberg is always exciting.

7. Flowers of War - Zhang Yimou
Hero is the popular movie to like of his, but I prefer House of Flying Daggers if we're looking at his martial arts epics. This is another beast altogether. This time we have Christian Bale in a film about sex workers who volunteer to be escorts for Japanese soldiers. Again I love movies that happen to take place during a war but aren't necessarily war films. I all but forgot about this film until I started doing research for this article. Yimou has an amazing visual eye and to see his eye take a look at war torn China along with the help of Bale sounds like an interesting match up and a departure from Yimous last few films.

6. We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lynne Ramsay
Don't know who Lynne Ramsay is? Go rent Ratcatcher and Morvern Callar. An undeniably unique voice in the realm of indie cinema, Ramsay tries her hand at mild horror with this tale of a mother who comes to the realization that her so has a darkness inside of him. I'm really surprised I haven't seen any connections to the Bad Seed in any of the press I've read on this film because the connections seem pretty obvious. Swinton supposedly gives another Oscar worthy performance as the mom learning the horrible truth about her son. The trailer for the film gives me a great old school Polanski
vibe which only furthers my excitement.

5. Haywire - Steven Soderbergh
He sure is working a lot for someone who is supposedly retiring. Here we have a balls to the wall action flick from one of the most versatile directors out there. I love the Soderbergh is always ready to try something new. Here he has cast real life MMA superstar, Gina Carano, as the rogue CIA agent on the run. Lots of great real life Tom and Jerry hijinks for sure. Add in Ewan and Fassbender and I really cant wait to see why he does with the story.

4. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - Brad Bird
If for no other reason than the fact the prologue off The Dark Knight Rises is in front of this it would be on my list. But that's not the case. The Mission: Impossible films have been inconsistent to say the least. The first two never really rose above mediocrity for me, but I have always enjoyed Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt. Abrams did a great job with the third in creating a great balance of action and spy antics. Now we have Brad Bird with his first live action feature. Bird has been part of some of the most amazing animation in the past two decades from his work on The Simpsons, to The Incredibles and The Iron Giant. The guy tells amazing stories and has shown that he can deliver on some amazing action as well. Now we just have to see of he can achieve the same success working in live action. Add to that Renner(badass) joining the cast and a trailer teasing some amazing set pieces and hugely interwoven plot I really can't wait.

3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - David Fincher
I didn't think I would be this excited for this, but the more I see the more it seems like David Fincher has made another amazing crime thriller. I love Seven and I think Zodiac is amazing. To have Fincher go back to that is really exciting. It seems like he has taken everything he's learned from The Social Network and Benjamin Button and applied to the crime genre. The Swedish films were entertaining and intriguing, but it seems like Fincher has created something special, really hoping this loves up to expectations. With another score from Reznor and Ross, and Daniel Craig starring, Fincher just keeps
getting better. Hope this follows suit.

2. The Adventures of Tin-Tin - Steven Spielberg
So this is the Spielberg film that has me more excited. First off I'm not the hugest Tin-Tin fan, I read a little bit in some college French classes but I don't have the hugest exposure to the story other than they're worldwide loved adventures. So I enter this with little knowledge other than these adventures span the globe, which for Spielberg has me super excited. The guy can make adventure films like no other, and the trailer looks like he has produced something on a huge scale here that is much more reminiscent of the kind of magic he captured with Raiders and Close Encounters. Now what's even
more exciting? The writing staff. Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, an Steven Moffat are some of the cleverest intelligent and witty writers working today, responsible for some modern classics across the pond. I know Manny hates writing by committee but even his black heart can warm to the idea of these three guys working with Spielberg.

1. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Tomas Alfredson
Um.....I don't know what to say. Originally this was on my Fall Preview, but the release date got shifted so now it's here. The follow up to Let The Right One In, this has one hell of a cast and a possible Oscar winning role for Oldman. A throwback to a different kind of spy film without the gadgets and the woman. This is about the fight for information and the double crossing we do to procure it.


One last thought - Ti West made House of the Devil a few years ago which had some potential but ultimately failed for me. This is his follow up. The guy knows how to set a tone and create a great sense of dread, hopefully this delivers on a better resolution than the last one. Sure do love haunted house films especially when its about people trying to prove the existent of ghosts. I'll give him one more shot and hope for the best.

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