Friday, March 14, 2014

2014: Anything worth looking forward to?

The Grand Budapest Hotel
It says a lot that I loved Moonrise Kingdom. I’ve found myself ostracized from certain circles for not liking the films of Wes Anderson. I had always wanted to like them simply for how they looked and “Moonrise” was the first one to correct every problem I had with his previous works. I feel very enthusiastic about his new movie. The trailer’s colorful imagery and period setting all captured in classic “Academy” aspect ratio looks rather amazing and so does the cast, including Ralph Fiennes -who is one of my favorite actors- in the lead.

Darren Aronofsky’s biblical endeavor of a film may turn out to be terrible for all I know. I just respect the classic Hollywood approach to making a Bible story into a fantasy adventure. I don’t think it’s fair that most movies based on religious scripture tend to be so banal. Bible stories, especially the ones from the Old Testament, have an epic quality that should interest anyone, whether they are religious or not.

Prisoners director, Denis Villeneuve makes a surreal thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal about a man who seeks out someone identical to himself. This looks bizarre. I’m interested.

Wally Pfister, the cinematographer best known for his work with Christopher Nolan on “Inception” and the Batman movies, makes his directorial debut with a technophobic thriller about a scientist, played by Johnny Depp, who backs his brain up on a computer before dying and becomes the most dangerous computer virus the world has ever known. So much for all the love we got from “Her.”

Guardians of the Galaxy
I don’t know the comic. I just know that this looks to be a comparatively zany addition to the Marvel Movie Universe. There’s a raccoon with a machine gun! How can you go wrong?

This gazilionth retread of the famous Japanese property has a bit going for it. It’s director, Gareth Edwards is known for his independent monster film, “Monsters” which only cost $800,000 and looked like it cost millions. We know he’s the right guy for this kind of material. The cast looks excellent and the new imagery revealed in every trailer looks cooler and cooler. My only reservation is that it will lack the fun that “Pacific Rim” achieved so beautifully last year.

X-Men: Days of Future Past
I haven’t liked an X-Men movie since the second one. With that said, I find it somewhat hopeful that the director of the first two films has taken on this project. The last film, “X-Men: First Class,” established a very good cast and I hope they’re better-utilized here. The trailer is pretty great.

A Million Ways to Die in the West
Seth MacFarlane can’t write a good story but he sure has funny jokes. Just like his movie debut, “Ted,” I expect a hilarious experience, which may turn dull at the end when he adds unnecessary sincerity to his characters. I really like what he’s making here. It looks like a “Blazing Saddles”-style Western comedy, which focuses on jokes about mortality in the 1800s.

J.K. Simmons plays a psychotic jazz teacher to a pupil played by Miles Teller. This was a Sundance favorite by first time writer/director Damien Chazzelle.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
I was surprised by 2011’s prequel/reboot “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” It featured a performance from a computer-animated chimp that outshined most of the film’s human actors. The sequel seems to take place years after a virus wiped out most of the human population and a war may be brewing between the surviving humans and Caesar’s army of intelligent apes. This time, Matt Reeves, best known for “Cloverfield,” directs.

Gone Girl
Based on Gillian Lynn's2012 novel, this mystery story starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike looks like perfect material for director David Fincher, who in my opinion, has been on a flawless streak since 2007’s “Zodiac.”

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Back in 2004, Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller achieved the truest adaptation of a comic book to the screen… ever. It took a long time to get the cast back together, but it looks like they’re going to get the same results.

Richard Linklater (“Dazed and Confused”; “Before Midnight”) has been making this film, on and off, since 2002, starring Ellar Coltrane, Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. It’s a drama about a boy growing up. Linklater thought the most effective way to shoot such a project, would be to literally allow a kid to age in years during the filming process.

They Came Together
David Wain and Michael Showalter (“Wet Hot American Summer”) reunite as the writers of this sardonic looking romantic comedy, starring Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler and a cast of dependably funny actors. Wain directs and hopefully this will be a return to form for a very funny artist who by 2012, had disappointingly resorted to the conventional studio comedy formula with the only somewhat funny “Wanderlust.”

Under the Skin
Jonathan Glazer (“Sexy Beast”) makes a dark sci-fi movie. Scarlett Johansson is an alien. ‘Nuff said.

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