Friday, January 1, 2010

Not Just Another Load of Studio Ads: Nine Movies REALLY Worth Looking Forward to in 2010

There's something intangible that annoys the hell out of me of the countless 2010 Previews that only highlight the movies either a) you've already heard of, or b) will be hearing about indefinitely preceding their release. You know, your Iron Man 2 or Clash of the Titans or...God help me...Tron: Legacy (I don't know why I'm so predisposed to hate it, but...I am). So instead of just seething over this fact, I decided to be a part of the solution and throw together a quick list of some movies you won't necessarily be hearing about that seem genuinely interesting.

I do, however, want to give a shout-out highly in favor of big-studio products Inception and The Social Network. Christopher Nolan and David Fincher, respectively, directing, and they are for my money the two best studio directors working today (I don't actually know if that's true, but they'd make a Top Five I'm sure...Fincher absolutely would be the top).

You should also know that I purposefully know very little about these films; I prefer to know as little as possible about a film going into it, and this becomes very easy with those less marketed.

Oh, and yeah, I did this same thing last year and had ten movies that time, but give me a break, we haven't even gotten to Sundance yet. I know there'll be more stuff worth seeing later.

Red Riding Trilogy - So this is a British film series revolving around a series of crimes in Yorkshire that looks at, I think, the bureaucracy of police investigation. IFC is releasing this, and God love 'em, it'll be on their OnDemand service starting February 5th.

A Prophet - So the trailer for this one has a quote from Kenneth Turan saying, "By general consensus, the best film at the Cannes Film Festival," and that's no lie. I kept up with the reviews coming out of Cannes, and in a Tomatometer sense, this was by far the victor. It walked away with the Grand Prix, the second-most prestigious prize at the Festival (The White Ribbon, opening on February 5th here in Portland but technically a 2009 release, won the Palme d'Or). This is coming to New York and Los Angeles at the end of February, but I'll be keeping tabs on other release dates as they become available.

Wild Grass - One of the films I'm anticipating most this year, hands down. I've made no small mention of my love for director Alain Resnais, and just the fact that he's still working at 87 is stunning. Nevermind the fact that he's apparently made one of his best films with this one. No release date yet.

Everyone Else - So I crack open my copy of Film Comment one month to find an article by Kent Jones, one of my favorite film critics, about this movie I've never heard of, let alone seen, called Everyone Else. Although I hate to read articles of films I've yet to see, I figured, what the hell. There, I happened upon this section:
"Their film is harrowing because they understand that when you're part of a couple with an unnamed problem to work out, you often feel like you've been dropped into the Bermuda Triangle without a life preserver. Funny, because once the impasse has been resolved, viewed from a distance and condensed into a story, the essential ridiculousness of it all seems obvious. Moving, because [the director and her actors] understand the everyday poignancy of all human efforts to simply be understood."
Dude, ticket SOLD. Cinema Guild is releasing this, and although they're a small company, I'm holding out hope it'll get more play than New York and LA. It just has to...

Get Low - Literally, all I know about this movie is it has Robert Duvall and Bill Murray giving some of their best performances ever, and that is all I need. I often note how empty a film can be if all it has are good performances, but there are a handful of actors who can get my money just for that. No release date yet.

Somewhere - New Sofia Coppola movie. I love all her stuff (yes, even Marie Antoinette). One of those directors who could film almost anything and have me captivated.

Black Swan - So, APPARENTLY, this is about a rivalry between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis, who are both ballerinas, except maybe one of them is a figment of the other's imagination. And there's hot, angry, lesbian sex in it? Like I said...apparently. It IS the next film from writer/director Darren Aronofsky, he of Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain and The Wrestler, so I'm there.

The Fighter - This was supposed to be Aronofsky's next film, but he moved on and it became David O. Russell's (he of Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees), which, all things considered, will make for a very interesting movie. Apparently Christian Bale is amazing, playing the trainer/brother to a boxer played by Mark Wahlberg, one of cinema's most uneven actors who gave great performances for Russell in the aforementioned films.

Tree of Life - Okay, so I wrote about this last year because word around the campfire is that the distributors were intent on getting this out in 2009. Now they're saying writer/director Terrence Malick, my favorite director of all time, has locked himself away, editing indefinitely. Although I find Malick to be stronger the less he fine-tunes and the more he relies on his insticts (I prefer the original, 172-minute cut of The New World to the wide-release, 135-minute cut), y'know...give the man what he wants I guess. Whenever it comes out, it's a guarantee I'll be there though.

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