Sunday, September 20, 2009

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of the Last Quarter of 2009

With the end of the year just around the corner (and it really is - I saw Christmas decorations at a local dollar store the other day!?) I wanted to take a look at the films I consider to be the most anticipated of the final quarter.  At least highly anticipated in my eccentric/cinemacentric world.  But before I delve into my list let me start off with a pair of films that get special billing here.  That said special billing is due mainly to the fact that one has already opened and the other is a film I have already seen, so neither one is necessarily anticipated - sorta.  

Claire Denis' latest, 35 shots of Rum, which opened on September 16th at Film Forum in NYC, is already being called her best film by many a critic and cinephile.  I will be seeing Denis' film this coming Wednesday when I travel to the city for the first of my (unfortunately truncated) two trips to the NYFF.  As long as I can make my way from Walter Reade to Film Forum in about 17 minutes that is (I can do it!!).

The film I have already seen (and which opens Oct 2) is that giddy bloody popcorn funfest called Zombieland.   Maybe not as deep of social commentary as Romero's Dead series nor as rapid in dialogue as Shaun of the Dead (Zombieland's most frequently cited brethren) but it is pure unadulterated multiplex fun.  I suppose that's a good thing in some ways, at least it can be with certain movies.  Zombieland does have quite a lot of cinematic flair going though so it's not all just mindless zombie-killing fun.  It smacks of Zack Snyder at times.  That's a good thing, right?

There are a few other upcoming films that somewhat pique my interest (for good or for bad) that I guess should be mentioned here.  They are (and try to figure out which ones I think are for good or for bad) Capitalism: A Love Story, An Education, Men Who Stare at Goats, 2012, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Pirate Radio, Brothers, Sherlock Holmes, The Box, Lovely Bones and Invictus.  More on those as the year progresses.

Anyway, let's get on with the list of the 10 most anticipated films of the last quarter of 2009.

1. Antichrist (Lars von Trier) - Actually this was one of my most anticipated films of the whole year (along w/ QT's Inglourious Basterds of course) and could be the one film that tops my list come New Year's Day (which means it would knock Basterds out of that top spot).  Lucky for me that I will get to see this film in just four days at an NYFF press screening.  Its subject matter, not to mention the fact of who is directing (read: mr. provocateur!) will most likely lead this film to become the most derisive movie of the year, everyone either loving or hating it.  My love (or possibly lust) of von Trier and his cinema make it almost a foregone conclusion that I will be in that loving it crowd.

2. The White Ribbon (Michael Haneke) - I am going to get to see this at NYFF soon as well (on my second trip) and from the stills I've seen so far it looks to be an amazingly visual spectacle of auteurism.  Again, much like von Trier, Haneke's reputation precedes him and thus The White Ribbon could end up being nearly as derisive as Antichrist.  Okay, maybe not that bad.

3. Nine (Rob Marshall) - Daniel Day-Lewis!  Nicole Kidman!  Marion Cotillard!  Penelope Cruz!  Judi Dench!  Sophia Loren!  A musical remake of Fellini's 8 1/2!!  Okay, it may be Rob Marshall and his problematic way of filming musical numbers (the songs were great in Chicago but could you show us a little more than Hollywood close-ups required by the publicists?) but everything else seems to be in perfect sync.  Did I mention Daniel Day-Lewis and Sophia Loren!?

4. The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (Terry Gilliam) - Forget The Dark Knight, this is really Heath Ledger's final film (dying halfway through filming).  Replaced by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law in what might be a forced-hand Todd Haynesian deconstruction of the film.  Whatever it ends up being, since Gilliam is at the helm, chances are it will look and feel freakingly amazing.

5. Where the Wild Things Are (Spike Jonze) - Although my lovely wife claims to have been too busy reading Jane Eyre to find time to read this beloved (yea I said it!) book as a young girl, I have nothing but fond memories of the thing.  Now put that together with Spike Jonze and you get, get probably the strangest adaptation of a children's book since Leonard Nimoy sang about good ole Bilbo Baggins.  All I know is the film will surely be fascinating for many aspects of cinematic giddiness.

6. The Road (John Hillcott) - Adapted from Cormac McCarthy and starring Viggo Mortensen, this post-apocalyptic social horror story is directed by ne of the most underrated director's working today.  Now this praise is based on just one film, the Leone-meets-Peckinpah Australian western, The Proposition, but what a film it was.

7. Broken Embraces (Pedro Almadovar) - Another film I will be seeing on my second trip to the NYFF.  The film looks as luscious as we are used to from the Spaniard.  And it's Penelope Cruz again.  Hopefully my experience with this film will be better than my last Almadovar press screening in the city.  Running late (mainly due to me thinking I could walk forty some blocks in a half hour instead of doing the smart thing and taking the subway) I swept into the Sony Screening Room to see Volver covered in sweat and way too out of breath (I ran the last few blocks) for my own good.  I did enjoy the movie though, even if it is one of Almadovar's lesser work.

8. Me and Orson Welles (Richard Linklater) - I know, I know, the film stars Zac Efron but I have been waiting for the new Linklater for nearly a year now and I am not about to let some High School musician ruin it for me.

9. A Serious Man (Joel & Ethan Coen) - In the recently acquired context as arthouse cinema manager, I have seen the trailer for this film about a thousand times (replete with its thumping back track) and I've gotta be honest - it doesn't look like it will be in the brothers' higher shelf of films.  But hey, it's the Coens.

10. The Invention of Lying (Ricky Gervais & Matthew Robinson) - Part Jacques Tati, part Jerry Lewis, part Bob Hope, part Laurel AND Hardy, part Abbot AND Costello, part Jack Benny, Ricky Gervais may very well be the funniest bloke on the whole planet.  'nuff said?

Well that's it for the list but I do want to mention one final film before I go.  That film is Alan Resnais' Wild Grass.  I won't have the chance to catch this one at NYFF and there seems to be no set release date as of yet (it may end up getting a 2010 US release) but it still deserves mention.  Glenn Kenny has (unashamedly) gushed about the film recently, calling it's final shot on par with the final shot of 2001 and/or the final note in A Day in the Life.  As far as I can see, the film looks drop dead gorgeous (just take a look to your left).  Hopefully we ugly Americans will get a chance to see the great master's latest work eventually.

Well, that's the end (for now) and (hello) I must be going.  The Yankees game is just about over anyway (bottom of 8th and 8-1 over Seattle!!) and the cats need fed.  Good night and good luck.  Talk to ya soon.

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