Now that the mostly-unsuccessful summer lineup is finished and the compellingly sinister experience of David Fincher’s Gone Girl has just started the fall season with great success at the Box Office, I have to wonder what other movies will be worth our while in the months leading up to the closing of 2014.
It is safe to assume that the new science fiction, Interstellar will be an amazing cinematic experience through visionary Christopher Nolan’s sincere lens. One has to wonder how the film’s terrifying theme of humanity facing realistic endangerment will work with audiences seeking sensationalism.
I feel a strange combination of excitement and skepticism regarding The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay –Part 1. Both feel like desirable returns to their fantasy worlds and both are needlessly augmented products of what I feel to be the least interesting stage of their respective stories. I simply hope that their filmmakers have found good ways to put a clever spin on their potentially trite experiences.
I think The Bible has so much movie-worthy drama that I’m surprised the Cecil B. DeMilles of today’s Hollywood don’t try to cash on it more. Sir Ridley Scott is quite adept in productions on a grand scale and I’m surprised that Exodus: Gods and Kings is his first Biblical outing. Though, he may be a little too traditional here. Those sure are a lot of white people playing Egyptians.
In the area of non-fiction, there will be quite a few interesting selections. While the The Theory of Everything has a chance of moving audiences through the telling of Stephen Hawking’s life story, I’m going to be very wary of this one. More often than not, biopics leave me wishing that I’d just watched a documentary instead. I believe that serious biopics about important people are challenging and I am turned off when the filmmakers simplify complex material with the glamor of attractive players while focusing on a romantic angle in order to pander to viewers. Let’s hope that’s not the case here.
The Immitation Game is the second big-screen movie (to my knowledge) about the Enigma code breakers during World War II and looks to be a good vehicle for Benedict Cumberbatch in a leading role. Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyer's Club) will be bringing Cheryl Strayed’s memoir to the big screen in Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon about a woman whose life-crisis inspires a 1,100-mile hike along the Pacific Crest trail.
Foxcatcher, Bennett Miller’s (Moneyball and Capote) award-winning film at Cannes, will find distribution this November. It stars Channing Tatum and Steve Carell -in unusual form. It’s based on the true story of an Olympic wrestler (Tatum) whose paranoid schizophrenic sponsor (Carell) brings about a terrible event in his life.
In the area of dark fiction with a deep artistic drive, there is Babel director, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, which takes place in a Times Square theater where we follow an actor (in what will appear to be only two long continuous takes) trying to make a comeback as his perception of reality breaks down. He's appropriately played by Michael Keaton.
There is also Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, about shady crime journalism and Whiplash –about an aspiring jazz drummer (Miles Teller) pushed to painful extremes by a psychotic teacher (J.K. Simmons). Let’s not forget about P.T. Anderson’s newest film, Inherent Vice, based on a Thomas Pynchon novel -with Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin and an extensive all-star cast. The trailer makes the film look intolerably excessive but Anderson is an artist for whom I have little doubt.
As far as family films for the holidays go, I’m thinking that the animated Big Hero 6 may be delightful. For the new version of Annie, I’m sure that Quvenzhané Wallis is perfect casting, but I’ve never liked this musical.
In the way of comedies, we’ve got plenty of sequels. Horrible Bosses 2 and Dumb and Dumber To may have some faithful fans ready to throw away money on a movie ticket. Let’s get real. No matter how funny you thought the first one was or how long-awaited the sequel is, comedies rarely grow better when they become a franchise. Rarely! I will seek psychiatric help if Night at the Museum: Secret of the Cash-in is worth a damn to anyone this Christmas.
As always, I’ll try and review every one of these films and stay sane in the process.