Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Great Cinewise Preview of 2013

What follows is a list of the 100 films I am looking forward to seeing this year. These are films currently scheduled to be released in the UK over the next 12 months.

I am sure I will have missed a few of these films come December and they will likely to be replaced by films I either didn't pay too much heed to in January or films that I have missed completely in my initial census. Because some films have no confirmed UK release dates yet, I have opted to list the films alphabetically. I have also singled out the films that I am most looking forward to with a shining green star - the must-sees of 2013.

One final caveat - a few of these films have already been released while I was writing this, so ... go and see them!


After Earth
Release date: 7th June
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Written by: Stephen Gaghan, M. Night Shyamalan, Garry Whitta, Michael Soccio
Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith
Gist: Father and son crash-land on Earth, 1000 years after humans evacuated it.

M. Night Shyamalan's name looms dark shadows over this film, but I have a sneaky feeling that this will see him finally handing in a more-than-decent film, his first since The Village (2004). The trailer looks like Avatar (2009) directed by Terence Malick. I don't know about you, but I am very excited about that prospect.

Ain't Them Bodies Saints 
Release date: tbc
Directed by: David Lowery
Written by: David Lowery
Starring: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Keith Carradine
Gist: An outlaw couple try to come to terms with their new existence after the man takes the blame for his wife's murder.

First shown at Sundance, it looks like a nice little take on the bandit couple genre. It has a lot to live up to going against canon films like Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Badlands (1972), but with a cast this good, I doubt that it will be anything less than excellent.

Anchorman: The Legend Continues
Release date: 20th December
Directed by: Adam McKay
Written by: Will Ferrell, Adam McKay
Starring: Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, Christina Applegate, David Koechner, Kristen Wiig (rumoured), Luke Wilson (rumoured)
Gist: More shenanigans from San Diego's top cable news team.

We all knew Will Ferrell and co would return to arguably the best frat-pack film of them all. Will it be as uproariously good as the original? Maybe not. But, regardless, it should be endlessly quotable, cringeworthy and outright hilarious. Please, please don't screw it up. And please ensure Kristen Wiig's involvement goes beyond rumour.

August: Osage County
Release date: tbc
Directed by: John Wells
Written by: Tracy Letts
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Meryl Streep, Sam Shepard, Julia Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Abigail Breslin, Chris Cooper
Gist: In a family reunion, the patriarch goes missing leaving the rest to set aside their differences to find him.

Based on Tracy Letts's own stage play, August: Osage County has everything going for it to be considered a strong contender for next year's awards season in all acting categories. Just one glance at the cast makes you wonder: how could this be not good? It may very well be this year's On Golden Pond (1981).

The Bay
Release date: 1st March
Directed by: Barry Levinson
Written by: Michael Wallach
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Christopher Denham, Kether Donohue
Gist: On the eve of the 4th July weekend, a small coastal town in Maryland is infected by a seaborne parasite.

I have always had a soft spot for Barry Levinson and this feels like a complete u-turn from a director mostly famous for feel-good adult dramedies (with the exception of Sleepers (1996)). The trailer shows Redacted-like (2007) footage, mashed up from various sources and it looks pretty impressive.

Before Midnight
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Richard Linklater
Written by: Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy
Starring: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Gist: 9 years after their second meeting in Paris, Celine and Jesse are now in Athens.

Words cannot describe how I feel about the Before ... films. Before Sunrise was the film that made a young person fall in love with cinema and realise what it can achieve on an emotional and intellectual level. I am genuinely excited about this.

Beyond the Hills
Release date: 15th March
Directed by: Cristian Mange
Written by: Cristian Mungiu
Starring: Cosmina Stratan, Cristina Flutur
Gist: Two young women from the same orphanage end up leading separate lives.

On paper there isn't much of an appeal to this, but having Cristian Mungiu calling the shots is what really intrigues me the most - and let's nor forget the gorgeous cinematography you can see in the trailer. Remember 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007)? If you have already seen it, you probably could not forget it anyway. Despite its seemingly mundane story, this could well be another masterpiece.

The Bling Ring
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Sofia Coppola
Written by: Sofia Coppola
Starring: Emma Watson, Leslie Mann
Gist: Based on true events, a group of teenagers break into celebrity homes to rob them.

Sofia Coppola's latest will surely follow in the footsteps of her previous efforts in bringing in a playful element, but unlike the others, The Bling Ring feels too lightweight in its theme of teenage obsession with MTV-led material riches. She has touched on a similar theme in Marie Antoinette, but that felt more like a subversive effort, whereas this feels like more on-the-nose. Regardless, it could be an interesting watch.

Blue Jasmine
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Woody Allen
Written by: Woody Allen
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Emerson, Louis CK, Sally Hawkins
Gist: Who knows?

Woodster's latest see him unite with Alec Baldwin, who was the best thing in To Rome with Love (2012). While there is no information about the plot, we know that he is back on home soil and judging by his track record, we should have a pretty good idea about what it will be like. It's amazing how prolific a filmmaker he is.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Rufus Norris
Written by: Mark O'Rowe
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Tim Roth, Rory Kinnear
Gist: A young girl comes to terms with the aftermath of witnessing a violent event.

Surprising, that this is less a Mike-Leigh-esque working class British drama than an American indie coming-of-age story. And that is precisely why this could be a little gem that you shouldn't miss. Tim Roth has always been excellent and Cillian Murphy is ever so consistent. Early word is that it is pretty powerful.

Broken City
Release date: 1st March
Directed by: Allen Hughes
Written by: Brian Tucker
Starring: Russell Crowe, Mark Wahlberg, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Barry Pepper, Jeffrey Wright
Gist: An ex-police officer seeks revenge after being double-crossed by the city's mayor.

Here's an old-school revenge auctioneer with a meaty cast and a modern feel. Not sure how they can mess this up, considering Allen Hughes is calling the shots. Russell Crowe is perfectly cast as the dastardly corrupt mayor and Mark Wahlberg, despite his action chops, always brings a sense of vulnerability to his characters.

Release date: Out now
Directed by: Michaël R. Roskam
Written by: Michaël R. Roskam
Starring: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval
Gist: A farmer is lured to do some dirty business which soon ends up in the murder of a policeman.

Arriving 2 years late to our screens and armed with an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, Bullhead promises to be a hypnotic psycho-drama that will hold no punches (no pun intended). If the early word and the numerous accolades it has received over the last 2 years is any proof, it should be a very solid film.

Release date: 3rd May
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Written by: Moira Buffini
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Johnny Lee Miller
Gist: A mother and daughter vampire duo seek solace in a coastal town, but they can't keep their secret forever.

The Brave One (2007), wasn't really the comeback we were hoping for from Neil Jourdan after the woeful The Good Thief (2002). And Ondine (2009) was even more woeful. So we are due another quality release from the man who brought us gems like The Crying Game (1992) and The Company of Wolves (1984). Going back to the bloodsucker genre which catapulted him to the A-list back in 1994 with Interview with the Vampire, Byzantium not only should make good bucks in the box office, but it could also be a more-than-welcom return for a man who really needs one.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: John Michael McDonagh
Written by: John Michael McDonagh
Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Aidan Gillen, Kelly Reilly, Chris O'Dowd
Gist: A priest has to battle baddies after being threatened during confession.

McDonagh brothers are determined to take over the black comedy crown for themselves and they are on par to do just that. Although last year's The Guard was slightly disappointing, you could easily see what it could have been. Hopefully this will improve on that and with the return of Brendan Gleeson (a McDonagh brothers favourite), it should.

Release date: 29th November
Directed by: Kimberley Peirce
Written by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer
Gist: A telekinetic teenage girl is bullied at school by her classmates and at home by her religious mother.

Well ... how could they, right? In a way this infuriates me to high heavens. At the same time, I'm a little curious whether, with a bigger budget, some of the things omitted from Stephen King's book will be included. We can see the burned down city in the trailer, so the answer to that question seems to be a resounding "yes". And what's with Chloë Grace Moretz and horror remakes?

The Conjuring
Release date: 19th July
Directed by: James Wan
Written by: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Ron Livingston
Gist: A family moves in to a haunted house, wouldn't you know.

Running away from this like the plague is probably the right choice, because if a film comes with that storyline and by the guy who brought us the Saw films, it could only end up being shit. But there are also 3 good reasons why I will watch it: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, and Ron Livingston.

The Counselor
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Cormac McCarthy
Starring: Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Cameron Diaz, Penélope Cruz, John Leguizamo
Gist: A lawyer gets mixed up in drug trafficking.

Holy cast, Batman! Not even Ridley Scott can fuck this up, right? Let's face it, Scott's last great film was released in the year I was born and let's also collectively forget how last year he raped the greatest sci-fi horror film of all time. He can't mess up a script by Cormac McCarthy, can he? I mean ... CORMAC FUCKING McCARTHY! Add Fassbender, Pitt and Bardem to the mix ... Jesus, Ridley. If this is anything but perfect, just stop shitting these out and retire.

Dallas Buyer's Club
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
Written by: Craig Borten, Melissa Wallak
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Steve Zahn
Gist: A man, who was diagnosed with AIDS, smuggles in illegal drugs into the country and gives them out to fellow sufferers.

Matthew McConaughey reportedly lost a lot of weight to play his character and early word is that he is incredible in it. His transformation from human washboard to serious actor is on course. The storyline does feel like it will be a little soppy in an Erin Brockovich (1999) kind of way, but a good cast should deliver some memorable performances.

Diablo Cody Project
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Diablo Cody
Written by: Diablo Cody
Starring: Julianna Hough, Holly Hunter, Russell Brand
Gist: A religious woman questions her faith after surviving a plane crash.

It was inevitable that Diablo Cody, perhaps the hottest (no pun intended) screenwriter working in Hollywood these days, would take up the helm for one of her scripts. I absolutely loved Young Adult (2011), so I'm on the bandwagon right now. Although the story feels too gimmicky and I can't seem to figure out if it will actually be funny, but then again she is a great writer and will no doubt deliver the goods once again.

Don Jon's Addiction
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Written by: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianna Moore, Brie Larson
Gist: A porn-addict tries to find a meaningful relationship.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut sounds a lot like Shame (2012), the only difference being here the addict is actively trying to cure his addiction. It will be a fine line to dance between a Shame-like intensity and a more playful atmosphere. We'll have to see whether Gordon-Levitt can pull it. If his directorial talents are anything like his acting talents, he should be all right.

The Double
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Richard Ayoade
Written by: Richard Ayoade, Avi Korine
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Jesse Eisenberg, Noah Taylor
Gist: A man starts going insane after the appearance of his doppleganger.

Based on the Dostoevsky novella of the same name, The Double should be a fantastic high-brow comedy that Ayoade has delivered before. For those who have seen his sublime Submarine (2010) will attest to his abilities to portray otherwise caricaturised characters in tangible ways, so much so that we actually feel for them. A bit like Wes Anderson, really!

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Richard Laxton
Written by: Emma Thompson
Starring: Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters, Tom Sturridge
Gist: An iffy (geddit?) relationship between a Victorian art critic and his rather young bride.

Sometimes you need to have a little Victorian-era drama. Not only to hear actors speaking in 'proper' English and prance about in the most uncomfortable gowns, but more to marvel at the social upheaval that was going on at that time. Even though we are used to our own certain social conventions, when our assumptions of what it must have been like is broken on screen, it feels like we are partaking in an important time in history. Or, I like Victorian-era dramas a lot.

Release date: 20th September
Directed by: Neil Blomkamp
Written by: Neil Blomkamp
Starring: Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, William Fichtner, Alice Braga
Gist: The rich have abandoned Earth to live in a giant space station, while the earthlings are living in dire conditions. Somebody needs to change that.

The truth is I wasn't too gaga over District 9 (2009). Yes, it was an original, gritty sci-fi with impressive special effects and a valid message. But it was a rather shoddily told story. Blomkamp will surely remedy that in his second film. Equipped with a larger budget and a fantastic cast, Elysium should finally lift him up to the A-list status.

Ender's Game
Release date: 25th October
Directed by: Gavin Hood
Written by: Gavin Hood
Starring: Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, Ben Kingsley
Gist: Decades after an intergalactic war with 'bugs from outer space', Earth have set up a battle school in orbit for gifted children to train them in warfare.

What great news it was that Orson Scott Card's seminal novel was finally getting the big-screen treatment. Speaking on behalf of millions of sci-fi fans around the world: thank you, movie gods. Casting Harrison Ford will hopefully not be a massive mistake, as the man cannot act to save his life, but I understand the business decision considering his reputation and status. Another gripe is Ender and his fellow classmates' ages. But I guess teaching 5-year-olds to kill kill kill may be a step too far even for the pseudo-liberal Hollywood. Fingers crossed this will make enough money so they film the second in the series, "Speaker for the Dead" - in my humble opinion, the greatest sci-fi novel ever. I should stop geekturbating right about now and move on.

Evil Dead
Release date: 19th April
Directed by: Fede Alvarez
Written by: Fede Alvarez, Diablo Cody, Rodo Sayagues Mendez
Starring: Some unknown people you will not see in anything else afterwards.
Gist: You know the drill: oversexed 20-somethings go to a cabin and are subsequently killed.

How dare they? I guess, this was the only one left they hadn't touched yet. And Diablo Cody's name in the writing credits intrigues me, though not sure to what extent she was involved in this. How dare they?

A Field in England
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Ben Wheatley
Written by: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Starring: Michael Smiley, Julian Barratt
Gist: During the English civil war, a group of soldiers leave their posts to find a fortune, with the help of various hallucinogenics.

Ben Wheatley is a favourite here at Cinewise and when it comes to being prolific he can rival Woody Allen. Already wrapped before last year's Sightseers was even released, Wheatley's latest (co-written once again with Amy Jump) should be immensely fun, demented, bloody and downright weird. It will be good.

For Ellen
Release date: 15th February
Directed by: So Yung Kim
Written by: So Yung Kim
Starring: Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Shaylena Mandigo
Gist: A down-and-out rock musician fights for the custody of his daughter.

Paul Dano's turn in last year's Ruby Sparks was brilliant and his leading-man credentials should now be set in stone. For Ellen looks like the quintessential mumblecore indie, but Dano always brings something special to the table. This one probably needs a few napkins along the way to wipe away the tears.

Frances Ha
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Noah Baumbach
Written by: Noah Baumbach, Greta Gerwig
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner
Gist: No idea.

Directed by Noah Baumbach is enough for me to see this even though I have no idea what it is about.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Lenny Abrahamson
Written by: Jon Ronson, Peter Straughan
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scott McNairy
Gist: A young musician joins an band fronted by the enigmatic Frank

Music films tend to fail miserably and the main character as a musician is only a lazy substitution for a character who is a writer. But I have a sneaky feeling that this will be quite different, not wholly unrelated to the fact that there is a character that walks around with a giant mask.

Freezing People Is Easy
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Errol Morris
Written by: Zach Help
Starring: Christopher Walken, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson
Gist: A man experiments with cryogenics in the 1960s.

Quite frankly, I have no idea what to expect from this, except that Errol Morris returns to directing fiction and that the cast should deliver plenty of laughs. Considering Morris's reputation, I expect it to be a bit dark too.

Il Futuro
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Alicia Scherson
Written by: Alicia Scherson
Starring: Luigi Ciardo, Manueale Martelli, Rutger Hauer
Gist: Two orphans try to find their footing in the adult world, where a former Mr. Universe opens his mansion's doors for them.

Face it: a film based on a Roberto Bolaño novel and starring Rutger Hauer sounds like the best thing ever. Well, it probably won't be, but there's no denying the appeal.

Grace of Monaco
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Oliver Dahan
Written by: Arash Amel
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Tim Roth
Gist: Grace Kelly's life as the Princess of Monaco in the 1960s.

Truth is no once can portray Grace Kelly. Not even Nicole Kidman. IMDB lists this film as a 2014 release, which ruined this list when I compiled it, but I thought I'd keep it here anyway. Not a huge fan of biopics (as you probably know already), so I'm a little skeptical about this. Having said that, Nicole Kidman playing Grave Kelly does make it interesting.

The Grandmaster
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Wong Kar Wai
Written by: wong Kar Wai, Haufeng Shu, Jingzhi Zou
Starring: Ziyi Zhang, Tony Leung Chiu Wai
Gist: The story of Yip Man, Bruce Lee's teacher.

Wong Kar Wai's latest, after the critically-panned My Blueberry Nights (2007) should hopefully see him return to the limelight. He is a director of exquisite touch, both visually and dramatically. No wonder In the Mood for Love (2001) is almost universally considered the greatest film of this century. Not sure how his directing style will fit a wushu, but I'm curious as to how he will pull it off. And reuniting Tony Leung Chiuc Wai and Ziyi Zhang does shiver me timbers a bit.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón
Written by: Alfonso Cuarón, Jonás Cuarón
Starring: George Clooney, Sandra Bullock
Gist: Astronauts try to find their way home after running into debris.

Alfonso Cuarón's first feature since the sublime Children of Men (2006) has been a very long time coming and no doubt his stock has fallen since then. Not a lot is known of Gravity except for the main cast and the brief synopsis, but we know that Cuarón is a film-maker of highest quality - remember the 2 single-take scenes from Children of Men? Whoever's capable of doing that, should be capable of getting the best out of Sandra Bullock.

The Great Gatsby
Release date: 17th May
Directed by: Baz Luhrmann
Written by: Baz Luhrmann, Craig Pearce
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton
Gist: The story of an enigmatic and wealthy man in the swinging Long Island

I have never been a huge fan of F. Scott Fitzegerald's seminal novel - and I can sense the whole USA looking at me in disgust for that comment. It is a very difficult book to like for 2 reasons: characters lacking empathy and a storyline bordering on senile. Yet, I am very excited about what Baz Luhrmann will do to it. No doubt it will have steampunk grandeur with post-modern reworkings of popular songs. It will be lavish, silly, and incredibly beautiful. Having said that, once you strip away all of that, it will still be a crappy old story about the yearning for wealth overcoming the need for it. Like you didn't know that already.

The Heat
Release date: 5th April
Directed by: Paul Feig
Written by: Kate Dippold
Starring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Kaitlin Olson
Gist: Two headstrong officers, one a policewoman, the other an FBI agent, are teamed up to bring down a drug lord.

This could easily be the most terrible film of the year on the evidence of the trailer above - looks like The Other Guys (2010), but with far fewer jokes. The only thing going for it at the moment is the epithet "from the director of Bridesmaids", which is precisely why I am looking forward to this. If it is anything half as good as that name-checked hilarity, then I am all on board. One thing that stands out from the trailer is that Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy (one of the many highlights from Bridesmaids) seem to have a good chemistry. Let's hope that's carried over to the whole film.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Spike Jonze
Written by: Spike Jonze
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde
Gist: A man falls in love with the new operating system
Yes. Also, yes. And you're telling me you don't want to see this?!

How I Live Now
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Kevin McDonald
Written by: Jeremy Brock, Tony Grisoni, Meg Rosoff, Penelope Skinner, Jack Thorne
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Tom Holland
Gist: An American girl finds herself stranded in Britain as war breaks out.

Without doubt I will have an impact on the average age of attendance when this is out, but I have a sneaky feeling that it will be better than last year's rather disappointing Ginger & Rosa. Based on the bestselling Twi-lit book, it should have a lot of teenage girl saccharine, such as swooning over some Brit heartthrob, but with Saoirse Ronan getting better with each film, it could be well worth watching.

I'm So Excited
Release date: 3rd May
Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar
Written by: Pedro Almodóvar
Starring: Penélope Cruz, Antonio Banderas, Paz Vega, Blanca Suárez, Cecilia Roth, Lola Dueñas, Javier Cámara
Gist: Shenanigans on a plane.

Conscious that I am killing the pun here, but I'm so excited about this. As readers of this humble blog will attest, I have huge admiration for Almodóvar - the most consistently brilliant director working today. Seeing him reunited with both Cruz and Banderas (for the first time together in an Almodóvar film!), the return of both Cecilia Roth and Javier Cámara, and the prospect of Almodóvar doing another straight-up comedy, the likes of which he became famous for in the 80s and early 90s, makes me very, very excited indeed. "El Deseo S.A. presenta" - probably my favourite collection of words in any opening credits.

The Iceman
Release date: 7th June
Directed by: Ariel Vromen
Written by: Morgan Land, Ariel Vromen
Starring: Michael Shannon, James Franco, Chris Evans, Robert Davi, Winona Ryder, Ray Liotta, Stephen Dorff, David Schwimmer
Gist: The true story of Richard Kuklinski, the hired killer.

Finally getting a UK release, The Iceman could easily be the dark horse of the year - or it could easily collapse under pressure of delivering a top-notch, old-school thriller. Frankly, I can watch anything with Michael Shannon in it, so there is no way I am going to miss this. It looks to be a little less clinical than David Fincher's Zodiac (2007) - a film so adored critically that it is a mystery why it never really clicked with the audience. The Iceman may do just that.

In the House
Release date: 29th March
Directed by: François Ozon
Written by: François Ozon
Starring: Fabrice Luchini, Ernst Umhauer, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emanuelle Seignier
Gist: A 16-year-old boy writes about the family of his friend in his essays.

François Ozon is one of the most underrated directors working today and he has pushed the boundaries of convention many times over, yet he is still relatively unknown outside of France. Interestingly, his style owes more to classic Hollywood maverick cinema than any of his contemporaries. Casting Fabrice Luchini, one of the best comedic actors ever lived, in an Ozon film is pure joy. Joining him are the ever-brilliant Kristin Scott Thomas and Emanuelle Seignier. Although the plot feels a little too thin, in the hands of Ozon it will surely turn into a terrific farce.

Inside Llewyn Davis
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Joel & Ethan Coen
Written by: Joel & Ethan Coen
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Adam Driver
Gist: The story of a musician in the 1960s New York folk scene

Note to self: never worry about finding something to do in life as long as you can get your hands on a Coen-Brothers-directed film not named Intolerable Cruelty.

The Invisible Woman
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Ralph Fiennes
Written by: Abi Morgan
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, Michelle Fairley, Tom Hollander
Gist: The true story of Chrales Dickens' mistress.

Continuing from last year's very good Shakespeare adaptation Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes' new directorial outing now sees him tackle another literary great. This time, though, the actual person himself. Charles Dickens, whose works have seen many incarnations on the silver screen over the years, is a man relatively untouched when it comes to depicting his life. To my mind, I cannot remember a film that I have seen where he appears as a character, which is very appealing in this case. Seemingly more conventional, so to speak, than Coriolanus, The Invisible Woman should be a very handsomely made period drama.

John Dies at the End
Release date: 22nd March
Directed by: Don Coscarelli
Written by: Don Coscarelli
Starring: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti
Gist: A new drug has a side effect - you may not come back down as a human. So it's up to two kids to save humanity from impending doom.

There is a good chance that the joke will be stale past 15 minutes after the opening credits, but there is also a good chance that this will be one of those destined-to-be-cult films that are actually ... good. Seemingly too meta for its own good, which didn't really hurt Cabin in the Woods, John Dies at the End could be heaps of fun when watching with a group of friends, over beer and pizza. In fact, I will do just that when it comes out on BluRay. I hope John doesn't die at the end, though.

Kick-Ass 2
Release date: 19th July
Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Written by: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jim Carrey
Gist: Kick-Ass is now joined by civilians to fight crime.

It was inevitable that they would make another kick-ass Kick-Ass film with Kick-Ass as the main character (OK, I'll stop now). I have absolutely loved the first film and I am not entirely sure that I will have the same feelings for the sequel. I hope I will be wrong. What made the first Kick-Ass stand out was its unashamed attempt at poking fun at itself, while making sure that it entertained its audience without taking them granted. The second one feels forced and completely unnecessary. I didn't want to see him back - I just wanted to see him do the same thing over and over and over and over again. Again, I hope I am proven wrong.

Kill Your Darlings
Release date: tbc
Directed by: John Krokidas
Written by: Austin Bunn, John Krokidas
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Elizabeth Olsen, Michael C.Hall, Ben Foster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Huston
Gist: Three great poets of the Beat generation rally around a murder.

Whether the world needs another film about the Beat generation is a valid argument and with two recent examples (2010's brilliant Howl and last year's adaptation of Kerouac's On the Road) receiving lukewarm critical and popular reception, it feels a bit redundant to continue the trend. Yet, it is also worth pointing out the sudden interest in a generation so unlike our own in its ambitions and habits. Yet, it is a generation we are trying to emulate in fashion. Daniel Radcliffe is an inspired choice to play Alan Ginsberg and with a very strong supporting cast, this could be an interesting watch.

Labor Day
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Jason Reitman
Written by: Jason Reitman
Starring: Josh Brolin, Kate Winslet, Tobey Maguire, James Van Der Beek
Gist: A mother and her son offer a wounded man a ride, who tells them about his story.

Jason Reitman's latest doesn't offer too much in terms of plot, but with a proven track record of well-told stories up his sleeve, his latest could add to his reputation as one of the A-list directors working in Hollywood today. Assuming Josh Brolin will be the 'wounded man', I am very excited about the prospect of him acting that out as there aren't that many people who can act wounded as convincingly as him.

London Project
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Joanna Hogg
Written by: Joanna Hogg
Starring: Viv Albertine, Liam Gillick, Tom Hiddleston
Gist: n/a
I am interested in this only because of Joanna Hogg, whose last film Archipelago (2011) was brilliant. So far there is no other information regarding her new film, including its title!

Release date: 22nd February
Directed by: Cate Shortland
Written by: Cate Shortland, Robin Murkherjee
Starring: Saskia Rosendahl, Nele Trebs, André Frid, Mika Seidel, Kai-Peter Malina
Gist: The story of 5 children in post WW2 Germany.

If Haneke's devastatingly beautiful film The White Ribbon (2010) was about the generation that went on to implement National Socialism in Germany, both politically and socially, then Lore is about their children. The trailer promises gorgeous cinematography and some pretty juicy dramatic scenes (an Auschwitz survivor saves the daughter of a Nazi officer). When it comes to the depiction of WW2, there is general homogeneity in its treatment, but once in a while we get to see films that offer a different perspective. I can't wait to see this.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedmann
Written by: Andy Bellin
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Juno Temple, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick
Gist: The story of Linda Lovelace.

Hollywood's fascination with Linda Lovelace and her ... umm ... deep throat will never cease to amaze me. Hers is an interesting story in terms of how she got over her tumultuous life and paved herself a superstar lifestyle. At the end of the day, though, the real fascination is of course her chosen career and that film. Hopefully this will be better than both Wonderland (2003) and the overrated Boogie Nights (1997) in its depiction of the porn industry.

Machete Kills
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Written by: Kyle Ward
Starring: Danny Trejo, Michelle Rodriguez, Amber Heard, Mel Gibson, Jessica Alba, Vanessa Hudgens
Gist: Machete kills.

Machete (2010) was terrible, despite that amazing opening scene - up there with the best in film history in its inventiveness and wow factor. Then the film died a horrible death. I am not expecting too much out of the sequel, but the fact that Robert Rodriguez has taken the directorial duties solely upon himself this time and the inclusion of Mel Gibson (!) give me a glimmer of hope that this might just be a little but more fun than the original.

Magic Magic
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Sebastián Silva
Written by: Sebastián Silva
Starring: Emily Browning, Juno Temple, Michael Cera
Gist: A young woman is slowly unravelling while vacationing in Chile in front of her ignoring friends.
You had me at Chile. Not sure what to expect from this other than its obvious indie credentials, but its unusual setting and an eclectic cast can make this a rather interesting watch. Sebastián Silva's previous film The Maid (2009) was a revelation and a critical favourite with its dark-as-a-black-hole humour and sweet humanistic touch. Coincidentally this is his second film with Michael Cera, the other being the yet-unreleased Crystal Fairy.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Luc Besson
Written by: Luc Besson, Michael Caleo
Starring: Robert DeNiro, Tommy Lee Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer
Gist: A mafia clan relocates to Normandy under witness protection program.

Luc Besson has been a lost figure lately. This creator of visual gems has become a by-the-book producer of by-the-book mainstream cinema. He needs this more than anything else. From the looks of it, this might be the perfect comeback. I am slightly unsure of the tone of the film - will it be a fish-out-water comedy, or a familial drama? Either way, it looks like it will be a sure-fire hit. Hope to welcome you back, M. Besson.

Release date: 22 February
Directed by: Andrés Muschietti
Written by: Neil Cross, Andrés Muschietti, Barbara Muschietti
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Gist: A couple take over the responsibility of their 5 nieces raised in the forest.

You had me at Guillermo del Toro presents. Last time del Toro presented a film, it was The Orphanage (2007). Remember it? Of course you do, because you are still having nightmares about it. Mama opened to lukewarm reviews States-side, but I have a feeling it is better than the expectations of many. The ghost story, haunted house films ... they are done to death and it is nigh-on impossible to make anything original within that genre. What makes a good ghost film is not its originality, but in how it is told. I think Mama will nail that just right.

Release date: 15th March
Directed by: Frank Khalfoun
Written by: Alexandra Aja, Grégory Levasseur, C.A. Rosenberg, Joe Spinell
Starring: Elijah Wood, America Olivo
Gist: A mannequin shop owner is obsessed with a girl.

Mannequins are scary and if you make a film about a guy who looks after mannequins and chases women after dark to cut their Achilles heels with a razor and bring them home to scalp them, you have a one hell of a scary film at your hands. And if you have Frodo stare at you throughout the film, nightmares are guaranteed. There will be blood.

Moon Indigo
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Michel Gondry
Written by: Luc Bossi
Starring: Audrey Tatou, Omar Sy, Romain Duris, Gad Elmaleh
Gist: A woman suffers from an unusual condition where a flower grows in her lung.

Michel Gondry, the Prince of Weird, returns with a case that only Gregory House, MD can solve. Based on Boris Vian's novel, it aims to be a highly whimsical story, told in the most abstract way imaginable from a feature director. Casting Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris - the perfect French screen couple of our times - is genius. Hopefully it will have a little bit more heart than The Science of Sleep (2006) and Be Kind Rewind (2007). Let's also hope it is half as good as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) - the Best Film of the Noughties.

Much Ado About Nothing
Release date: 14th July
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Amy Acker, Emma Bates
Gist: Modern version of Shakespeare's play.

How do you follow the double whammy of Avengers (2012) and The Cabin in the Woods (2011)? With a black and white and modern adaptation of one of the most famous of the Bard's plays, of course. Or, if your name is Joss Whedon and if you are finally the talk of the town, that is what you do. Or what you can do.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Written by: Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael McConaughey, Sarah Paulson, Reese Witherspoon, Michael Shannon, Sam Shepard
Gist: Two teenage boys meet a fugitive and help him evade bounty hunters.

Jeff Nichols has already made a name for himself as the director of fine stories about the small men facing big issues in small-town America. Shotgun Stories (2007) and Take Shelter (2011) were near-perfect examples of that. With his third feature, he is sure to repeat the trick. Lately there has been a resurgence of Americana in films - last year's brilliant Martha, Marcy May, Marlene and the equally brilliant The Winter's Bone (2010) are the two most obvious films that come to mind. With Mud, Nichols is likely to add another masterpiece to the genre and finally catapult himself into the public eye.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Written by: Bob Nelson
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Bruce Dern
Gist: A drunk father and his estranged son travel from Montana to Nebraska to claim a sweepstakes prize.

Wait ... am I suggesting a film made by Alexander 'Mediocrity Is My Name' Payne? The man whose oeuvre speaks for compromise, banality and not much else? Yes. Why? Because somewhere within that oeuvre of his lies the magnificent Sideways (2004) and its disappointing ending, which makes me hope that he will one day return to making something as good as that.

Release date: Out now.
Directed by: Pablo Larraín
Written by: Pedro Peirano
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers
Gist: The story of a genius marketing campaign that helped bring down Pinochet's regime.

It has been a long time since we saw Gael García Bernal in something decent and it looks like we have been rewarded for our patience. Shot with a videocamera in 4:3 aspect, it does capture the times and shines a light at the end of one of the darkest periods of 20th century. Chilean cinema has seen a lot of progress recently - see Magic Magic previewed above and The Maid (2010) - and it is time we recognise how much it has come over the years (has anyone seen Eternal Blood (2002)?). This will be a very special, one-of-a-kind experience.

Update: Saw it. As good as I expected it, if not more.

Now You See Me
Release date: 21st June
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Written by: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelsoin
Gist: FBI are tracking down an illusionist group who rob banks during their performances.

Well, this looks pretty sleek! With the help of a juicy cast and a high concept the likes of which we don't seem to have more of these days, this could easily end up being the perfect Friday night film. One red-light is the involvement of Louis Leterrier whose past work is a collection of insipid would-be blockbusters, so we'll have to wait and see how this one turns out.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Lars Von Trier
Written by: Lars Von Trier
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Christian Slater, Connie Nielsen, Willem Defoe
Gist: A nymphomaniac recounts her experiences to the man who saved her life.

Shia LaBeouf apparently sent a sex tape of himself and his girlfriend to Lars Von Trier as part of his audition. He won the part, of course. It is interesting how much an actor, on the cusp of becoming huge, in a way risks his career by playing a very dodgy role in a film by arguable the most controversial filmmaker around. There is a valid reason, of course - Lars Von Trier, regardless of his terrible sense of humour, is a brilliant filmmaker. Nymphomaniac will shock and disturb audiences - it will reportedly have an X-rated version and a general release version. Charlotte Gainsbourg, who is by now the de facto Von Trier muse this being their third collaboration, Willem Defoe and the great Stellan Skarsgård are back. Like him or loathe him, Von Trier deserves your acclaim for pushing the boundaries that no one else will.

Release date: 12th April
Directed by: Joseph Kosinski
Written by: Joseph Kosinski, Karl Gadjusek, Michael Arndt
Starring: Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Olga Kurylenko, Zoe Bell, Andrea Riseborugh, Melissa Leo
Gist: A court-martialed soldier is sent to a distant planet to annihilate its alien race.

Joseph Koskinski's second foray into feature films is an adaptation of his own comic book. Oblivion seems to tick all the right boxes: a bonafide superstar, a great concept, and a decent supporting cast. The problem, though, might be that it is too 'sleek'. When you consider current crop of sci-fi, it is clear that the shiny, bright future doesn't really do much these days. We need to see the grime and dirt to really appreciate the concept. So Oblivion might struggle with that. Hopefully it won't, though.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Spike Lee
Written by: Mark Protesevich
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Brolin, Sharlto Copley.
Gist: A man has only five days to find out the reasons behind his impromptu incarceration in a nondescript room.

I only want to watch this to see how much I hate it. Is there anything they will not remake?

Only God Forgives
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristen Scott Thomas, Tom Burke
Gist: A Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences via Thai box.

I would love to be in the same room as Nicolas Winding Refn when he pitches his films. Just reading the one-liner above makes me squirm. But you know what? He has delivered on these stupid premises for a very long time now. And he delivered them really well. Remember Drive (2011) or Valhalla Rising (2009)? Can you imagine anyone greenlighting those two films? Well, fortunately for us somebody did and they ended up being awesome. No reason to doubt that Only God Forgives will be anything but that. And it has the Gosling in it.

Pacific Rim
Release date: 12th July
Directed by: Guillermo del Toro
Written by: Travis Beacham, Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Ron Perlman, Idris Elba, Charlie Day
Gist: Giant robots to the rescue when aliens invade.

Giant robots. GIANT FUCKING ROBOTS! Anyone who grew up with Voltron and Laserion will know how cool giant robots are. They are hands-down the coolest things in the universe. And when those giant fucking robots are in a film by no other than Señor Guillermo del Toro, you have the making of a cult classic.

Pain & Gain
Release date: 3rd May
Directed by: Michael Bay
Written by: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris
Gist: Three bodybuilders kidnap a wealthy man for ransom money.

This has "No they didn't" written all over it. However, they did. Or more like Michael Bay did. This is a low-concept effort from the Master of Explosion and it looks as silly as it gets. Having said that, it has an undeniable 80s charm to it and Wahlberg and Johnson should really deliver the laughs that is essential for this to work on any level. High art this won't be, but it sure looks fun.

The Paperboy
Release date: 15th March
Directed by: Lee Daniels
Written by: Lee Daniels, Peter Dexter
Starring: Zac Effron, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey
Gist: A reporter is investigating a death row inmate in his Florida hometown.

I am completely phasing out the negative reception this has received upon its release on the other side of the Pond. In light of all that, I have demoted it to a may-watch status. I am curious how bad this actually ended up being. I am also curious whether it got lost amid the controversy surrounding a few of its scenes (like Nicole Kidman peeing on Zac Effron). Either way, it should be at least an interesting watch.

The Place Beyond the Pines
Release date: 12th April
Directed by: Derek Cianfrance
Written by: Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Ray Liotta, Rose Byrne
Gist: A motorcycle stunt rider, now a bank robber, comes head-to-head with an ambitious young police officer.

Ryan Gosling is rekindling his other collaboration that elevated him to the top of the talent charts. Derek Cianfrance directed the Gosling in 2010's brutal Blue Valentine and with The Pace Beyond the Pines he seems to step up to a more complex story. The trailer promises plenty of blue collar drama, electric chase scenes and moral dilemmas galore. With the stunt rider concept, it winks a little to the Gosling's other famous turn in Drive (2012). This could easily be one of the contenders for awards come this time next year.

Post Tenebras Lux
Release date: 22nd March
Directed by: Carlos Reygadas
Written by: Carlos Reygadas
Starring: Adolfo Jiménez Castro, Nathalia Acevedo, Willebaldo Torres
Gist: An urban family striving to live in the Mexican countryside.

Mexican director Carlos Reygadas has carved himself a niche in the last decade or so for directing perplexing and intelligent films. Post Tenebras Lux, a festival hit at Cannes last year, looks to continue that trend. From the looks of it, there is a clear sense of fantasy and parallel worlds at play, but the story's feet are also set in this world. Probably not something you would want to spend your date night with, but for an intelligent and reflective afternoon, you could do a lot worse.

Promised Land
Release date: 19th April
Directed by: Gus Van Sant
Written by: John Krasinski, Matt Damon
Starring: Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances MacDormand, Hal Holbrook, Rosemary DeWitt, Titus Welliver
Gist: A salesman for a natural gas company has second thoughts after coming to a small-town prepping them for the inevitable.

Gus Van Sant finally returns to 'regular' films. After years of toiling in single-take adventures to the darkest recesses of human psyche, he is back to a traditional Hollywood story. Or is he? See, Promised Land is a highly politicised affair about fracking. It is likely to be overly cheesy at times, but Van Sant probably needed this kind of story to bring the question up to limelight and make people watch to make up their own opinion on the subject. I have a feeling this may bite more than it barks, but we'll see.

Queen of the Desert
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Werner Herzog
Written by: n/a
Starring: (rumoured) Naomi Watts, Robert Pattinson
Gist: The story of British archaeologist Gertrude Bell and her friendship with T.E. Lawrence

Although not much information has leaked about Herzog's latest film, his first fiction feature in ages, it promises to be something everyone should be looking forward to. It is true that we haven't had a great Herzog feature film since the early 80s, but hopefully this will buck the trend.

The Railway Man
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Jonathan Teplitzky
Written by: Frank Cottrell Boyce, Andy Paterson
Starring: Nicola Kidman, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård
Gist: A WW2 survivor embarks on a journey to find out his torturers.

With a classy cast and an interesting story, there is a chance that this could be an awards-bait in the months to come. Not a lot has been revealed, but it could either be a by-the-book WW2 drama or an edge-on-your-seat adventure. My money is on the latter.

Release date: 15th February
Directed by: Matthieu Kassovitz
Written by: Matthieu Kassovitz, Benoît Jaubert, Pierre Geller
Starring: Matthieu Kassovitz
Gist: Dissidents in a French colony attack a police station and take hostages.

What a revelation Matthieu Kassovitz was when he came up with La Haine all those years back. Sadly his has been a story of what-ifs. A few acting forays in Hollywood (The Fifth Element (1997) and Munich (2005)) come to mind, but he is probably best known as the hapless lover of Amelie. Back behind the camera again, he now delivers what promises to be a decent action film, set in the jungle - we love those, don't we? Because it was made outside the Hollywood action factory, it should have plenty of surprises and welcome tangents along the way.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Robert Schwentke
Written by: Phil Hay, Matt Manfredi
Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon, Jeff Bridges, Mary-Louise Parker
Gist: A dead cop teams up with the Rest In Peace Department to avenge his murder.

What's not to like when you mix zombies with cops? Absolutely nothing. Based on the comic books of the same name, this will hopefully stay true to the story rather than the aesthetics of its source material. It could very well be the silliest film of the year, but if it's not, then it could be quite a lot of fun.

Robot and Frank
Release date: 8th March
Directed by: Jake Schreier
Written by: Christopher D. Ford
Starring: Frank Langella, Peter Sarsgaard, Liv Tyler, James Marsden, Susan Sarandon
Gist: An ex-jewel thief receives a house robot from his son, which becomes his partner-in-crime.

A huge hit at Sundance 2012, Robot & Frank is finally getting a UK release. The trailer promises an upbeat Asimov-esque story, where a robot is in the household, interacting with humans rather than fighting some alien species with lasers coming out of its eyes. It runs the danger of being a little tacky (just like some of Asimov's stories were), but overall it should be a crowd pleaser and a nice little thing to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

The Rover
Release date: tbc
Directed by: David Michôd
Written by: David Michôd
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Guy Pearce, Scoot McNairy
Gist: A dangerous near-future in the Australian outback.

Mad Max anyone? Yes. Then hop on!

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Susanne Bier
Written by: Christopher Kyle
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Rhys Ifans, Tobey Jones
Gist: A timber merchant's business is in trouble after finding that his wife cannot bear children.

Oscar-winning Danish director Susanne Bier's new film sees Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence re-uniting, this time in the Depression-era US where money is, as always, everything. Cooper and Lawrence had a decent chemistry in last year's Silver Linings Playbook, though I think Lawrence's performance is ridiculously overrated - she was, in nutshell, terrible. Cooper, on the other hand, was likeable despite his apparent lack of range. Hopefully they will fare better this time around and Bier is usually very good at getting the best out her actors.

The Seventh Son
Release date: 18th October
Directed by: Sergey Bodrov
Written by: Max Borenstein, Matt Greenberg, Charles Leavit
Starring: Juliann Moore, Kit Harington, Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Olivia Williams, Alicia Vikander, Djimon Honsou
Gist: 18th century boy learns magic to fight evil spirits.

Sounds a bit shit, I must admit. But seeing Julianne Moore and Jeff Bridges together on the screen once again and adding Alicia Vikander to the mix intrigue me somewhat. Hopefully this will be less Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) and more "Game of Thrones". Hopefully dodgy CGI will not distract from the story.

Side by Side
Release date: 15th February
Directed by: Christopher Kenneally
Written by: Christopher Kenneally
Starring: various
Gist: Doc about directors discussing film vs digital

Discussing film vs digital feels a bit moot point right now as digital hals clearly won. Personally, it shouldn't have, but that's for another day. Keanu Reeves talks to various big name directors (David Lynch, James Cameron, Martin Scorsese, Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan to name a few) and they seem dead-on certain about their choices ... except for Scorsese, who offer the correct answer: "it depends on the film-maker" and the film itself. Not sure this will be a groundbreaking documentary by any means, but seeing those guys talking one after another should give any film fan goosebumps up and down their spine.

Side Effects
Release date: 15th March
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Gist: A couple's life turn upside down when a prescribed medication has unforeseen side effects.

If for nothing else, you should watch this as it is supposed to be Steven Soderbergh's final film ... though he has been saying that for some time. It is true that he has yet to deliver what he is capable of since sex, lies and videotape (1989), but he has shown over the years that he has a deft hand at handling large casts with aplomb. If he is going out, it won't with a bang, but hopefully with a solid thud.

Release date: tbc
Directed by: Joon-ho Bong
Written by: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson
Starring: Chris Evans, John Hurt, Jamie Bell, Alison Pill, Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, Octavia Spencer, Ewen Bremner
Gist: In the future the passengers on a train are the only survivors of the end of the world.

Joon-ho Bong's The Host, the film that catapulted him to fame, was a little daft, but it definitely showed an able hand at handling a high concept. Snowpiercer will hopefully cement his reputation outside of his native South Korea as one of the pre-eminent action directors working today. The story, based on the graphic novel of the same name, is bonkers. The image that comes to head is that of those humongous, awesome locomotives of Soviet Russia and the film will definitely deliver that from the looks of it.

Star Trek into Darkness
Release date: 17th May
Directed by: J.J. Abrams
Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof
Starring: Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Benedict Cumberbatch, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Alice Eve, Anton Yelchin
Gist: Captain Kirk and co embark on a manhunt to find a dangerous man capable of mass destruction.

Let's just hope they have a proper ending for this one.

Release date: 1st March
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Written by: Wentworth Miller, Erin Cressida Wilson
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney
Gist: A girl suspects that her uncle has ulterior motives when he moves in after her father's death.

Another Korean director heading to Hollywood, Chan-wook Park, whose Oldboy (2003) is unceremoniously remade this year, perhaps has a lot more at stake. He has already established himself as one of the most revered directors working today and his new film bears all of the qualities that made his Vengeance trilogy and the wonderful vampire black comedy Thirst (2009) such masterpieces. Nicole Kidman does creepy better than most (see Birth (2004) for full effect) and Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode are inspired choices. The trailer looks fantastic. Everything seems to be going for it.

This Is 40
Release date: 14th February
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Written by: Judd Apatow
Starring: Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel
Gist: A few years after Knocked up we meet Pete and Debbie edging close to their 40th birthdays.

Who and who? Raise your hand if you could not remember the names of these characters. They were pretty awesome in Knocked up (2005), but do they really deserve a film of their own? Perhaps not. But Judd Apatow knows that he hasn't really delivered in quite some time (since Knocked up, actually) and although there is a whiff of desperation in all of this, I think it will be more than half decent.

This Is The End
Release date: 28th June
Directed by: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Written by: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen
Starring: James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel, Michael Cera
Gist: Apocalypse strikes during a party at James Franco's house.

Well, we'll have a real US vs UK end-of-the-world film showdown this year, what with this and the final instalment in the Cornetto trilogy. It looks fairly silly, very meta and balls-out funny. It could also end up being absolutely terrible. But I think it will swing the other way and sweep us off our feet. Our bellies will hurt. We will quote this silly until everyone hates being around us. It will be AWESOME.

To the Wonder
Directed by: Terence Malick
Release date: 22nd February
Written by: Terence malick
Starring: Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdamas, Javier Bardem
Gist: It's a Terence Malick film. It's about a lot of things.

It is a bit problematic now that Malick is more prolific than he has ever been in his career. I did get to experience that "when will he next make a film?" period a little bit after watching The New World (2005). The Tree of Life (2011) was definitely worth the wait, but now only a year or so later we get to see another Malick film. Will it be any less mesmerising? No. But here's the irony - even though we want to see more of his films, what made them equally special was the enigma behind their scarcity. Too much of this wonderful stuff hopefully will not diminish their value.

Touchy Feely
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Lynn Shelton
Written by: Lynn Shelton
Starring: Rosemary DeWitt, Ellen Page, Ron Livingston, Alison Janney, Scoot McNairy
Gist: A massage therapist develops an aversion to bodily contact, while her brother develops a healing touch in his dental practice.

Lynn Shelton's previous, Your Sister's Sister (2011) was one of my favourite films of last year - definitely one of the most earnest indie romances since Linklater's Before cycle. So it's no surprise that I am looking forward to her next film. Though its reception in the US so far has been lukewarm, with a strong cast and a dopey storyline, it could be yet another uplifting little gem. Rosemary DeWitt was fantastic in Your Sister's Sister as the former sister, so hopefully she will bring the same classy effort to this one as well.

Release date: 27th March
Directed by: Danny Boyle
Written by: Joe Ahearne, John Hodge
Starring: James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, Vincent Cassell
Gist: An amnesiac art auctioner seeks help from a hypnotherapist to recover a painting for his criminal partners.

Wasn't the opening ceremony for last year's summer Olympics just fantastic? Great. We got that out of the way and let's go back to (film) business. Danny Boyle has been on a roll after the woeful The Beach (2000), which happens to be his last collaboration with John Hodge, who is back to his screenwriting duties, along with Joe Ahearne. Now, the gist as explained above sounds terrible - just another television film produced by ITV. Let's not forget, however, that Danny Boyle is the master at turning banal into sublime. I have no doubt in my mind that this will be slick, precise and downright fantastic. Just don't mention the opening ceremony again.

Twelve Years a Slave
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Written by: Steve McQueen, John Ridley
Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Quvenzhané Wallis, Sarah Paulson, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Scoot McNairy, Michael Kenneth Williams, Garrett Dillahunt
Gist: A New Yorker is kidnapped and sold to slavery in 1800s deep South.

Holy cast, Batman! Steve McQueen's latest, again featuring his muse Michael Fassbender, sounds like it will be a major contender for awards come this time next year. Not only the cast is exemplary, but it has a properly kick-ass story as well. McQueen's previous two features were nearly perfect, so no reason why he should mess this up in any way imaginable. I'm going out on a limb and declare this one of my top 3 films of 2013. There. I've said it.

Two Mothers
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Anne Fontaine
Written by: Christopher Hampton
Starring: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, Ben Mendelsohn
Gist: Two mothers fall for each other's sons.

Sounds a bit naughty, don't it? Well ... it is. It is clearly playing to the oedipal fantasy and the MILF / cougar obsession of the beta male. "So, what are you saying?" I can hear you ask. What draws me to this film, maybe other than a subconscious pull, is that it is based on the wonderful Doris Lessing story, "The Grandmothers". And, I must admit, that is the only reason why I want to watch it. And for Naomi Watts.

Under the Skin
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Jonathan Glazer
Written by: Walter Campbell
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Paul Brannigan
Gist: An alien in human form journeys across Scotland.

Casting Scarlett Johansson in the lead role is a fantastic idea as an alien posing as human, because she has to be an alien for being so utterly lacking in acting talent (oh no, he didn't!). That aside, another film by Jonathan Glazer really intrigues me. His Birth (2004) was one of the most underrated films of the last decade. It was Nicole Kidman's best performance, who already had it in her. Not sure how Johansson will perform in the lead role, as she always seems more comfortable as the sultry support. Hopefully I'm wrong. And I have definitely blown my chances with Scarlett now.

Warm Bodies
Release date: Out now
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Written by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicholas Hoult
Gist: A zombie falls in love with a human.

Zombies are getting a bit old and making them more human is a little counterintuitive, isn't it? I mean, why would you humanise a zombie when a zombie is awesome as a ... well ... zombie? Let's forget that for a little bit and enjoy the irreverent humour and ignore the slight emo-ness of the whole thing. However, the main reason to watch this is Nicholas Hoult - that's the kid from About a Boy (2002)! Makes you pause and think.

The Way, Way Back
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Written by: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash
Starring: AnnaSophia Robb, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry, Toni Collette, Maya Rudolph, Alison Janney
Gist: A coming-of-age story about a teenager and her summer-job boss.

The only thing going for this is an irreverent cast, that could deliver many laughs without even trying too much. Followers of this blog will know how much I hated last year's The Descendants, so any film bearing the tagline "From the makers of The Descendants" is likely to draw my ire. Yet, it all comes back to the cast - I would watch these guys reading the Highway Code.

Welcome to the Punch
Release date: 15th March
Directed by: Eran Creevy
Written by: Eran Creevy
Starring: James McAvoy, Mark Strong, Peter Mullan
Gist: A notorious criminal is back in London for one final hit, pursued by an obsessive detective.

I don't know about you, but there is a whiff of desperation in the all-too-revealing trailer above. Sure, it looks smart and sexy, but the-last-job syndrome feels a bit forced. Also, the trailer seems to give away too much by way of set pieces that the end results could very well be just a longer version of the trailer itself. Mark strong obviously plays a Mark Strong character and James McAvoy, who can be very good, is the detective on his trail. Hopefully, I'm wrong and this is better than a TV film punching above his weight.

The Wind Rises
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: n/a
Gist: The story of the man who designed Japanese WW2 fighter planes.

Miyazaki returns and that is all the reason you need.

The Wolf of Wall Street
Release date: tbc
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Written by: Terence Winter
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Kyle Chandler, Jon Favreau
Gist: A stockbroker in New York refuses to co-opoerate in a large fraud case that involved the big boys.

Martin Scorsese. Back with Leonardo DiCaprio. I rest my case.

World War Z
Release date: 21st June
Directed by: Marc Forster
Written by: Matthew Michael Carnahan
Starring: Brad Pitt, Matthew Fox, Eric West, Mireille Enos, David Morse
Gist: Zombie outbreak and it's up to a UN employee to save the world.

It's never a good sign when a big-budget, high-profile film's release is delayed to allow for re-shoots, re-edits and other post-mortem panderings. There is clearly something wrong with World War Z, which was a film I was very much looking forward to. Of course, if you are living in the Blighty, you are probably still wondering why and how Glasgow will double as Philadelphia, but that's just a trivial snigger. Hopefully, Forster will have done enough tweaks to make it at least a decent film.

The World's End
Release date: 14th August
Directed by: Edgar Wright
Written by: Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright
Starring: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, Eddie Marsan
Gist: Five friends reunite to relive their epic pub crawl, end up saving the world.

The finale of the Cornetto Trilogy! It's finally upon us and the gang are back to deliver another hilarious, over-the-top and downright enjoyable film. Everyone has their favourites, you are either a Shaun person or a Hot Fuzz person. We can now add a new category for this. Also, it would be mighty interesting to see how the other end-of-the-world film from their American counterparts, This Is the End, fares against this. My money is on the Cornetto boys, but either way, we as the audience will be the ultimate winners.

You Are Here
Directed by: Matthew Weiner
Written by: Matthew Weiner
Starring: Melissa Rauch, Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Amy Poehler
Gist: Two childhood friends drive back to their hometown after one of them inherits a large sum of money.
Not sure how dramedic this will be, but with the involvement of some of the funniest actors around is encouraging.

It's going to be a very good year.

1 comment:

James Nesten said...

Dan Zukovic's "DARK ARC", a bizarre modern noir dark comedy called "Absolutely brilliant...truly and completely different..." in Film Threat, was recently released on DVD and Netflix through Vanguard Cinema (, and is currently debuting on Cable Video On Demand, including Fandor and snagfilms. The film had it's World Premiere at the Montreal World Film Festival, and it's US Premiere at the Cinequest Film Festival. Featuring Sarah Strange ("White Noise"), Kurt Max Runte ("X-Men", "Battlestar Gallactica",) and Dan Zukovic (director and star of the cult comedy "The Last Big Thing"). Featuring the Glam/Punk songs "Dark Fruition", "Ire and Angst", "F.ByronFitzBaudelaire" and a dark orchestral score by Neil Burnett.


***** (Five stars) "Absolutely brilliant...truly and completely different...something you've never tasted
before..." Film Threat
"A black comedy about a very strange love triangle" Seattle Times
stunning images...a bizarre blend of art, sex, and opium, "Dark Arc" plays like a candy-coloured
version of David Lynch. " IFC News
"Sarah Strange is as decadent as Angelina Jolie thinks she is...Don't see this movie sober!" Metroactive Movies
"Equal parts film noir intrigue, pop culture send-up, brain teaser and visual feast. " American Cinematheque


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