Some films have that special something, and some films seem like they stepped in something. Allow me to help you know the difference, and maybe find you something good to watch.
We are at the halfway point in 2014, so this seems like a good time to take a moment and appreciate some of the films that should be available to watch at some point this year, either at your local theater or on your big-screen TV.
Let’s get right into it:
THE DOUBLE – Richard Ayoade did a bang-up job directing SUBMARINE a few years back. It was clever and had a HAROLD & MAUDE kind-of-feel, but with a Wes Anderson-ish look to it. This looks to be even better. It is a psychological thriller based on the Dostoevsky novel about a man who meets his doppelganger, starring Jesse Eisenberg. This looks smart, dark, and creepy. Should be on disc August 26.
SNOWPIERCER – This dystopic sci-fi thriller promises to be one of the best things on the horizon. Based on a French graphic novel, and directed by Bong Joon-Ho (The Host, Mother, Tokyo!) this is a post-apocalyptic ice-covered future where what’s left of humanity rides on a train that never stops, and the rich are in the front of the train and the poor in the back. There was word of a power struggle between the director and the American distributor over the ending, but Bong got to keep his film in the end. Starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. This is one that I will catch in theaters if at all possible. On the big-screen July 2!
LUCY – I’ll watch anything Luc Besson is involved with. The man gave us LA FEMME NIKITA, LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL, and THE FIFTH ELEMENT, among many, many others. This one seems to have an element or two from all of those. Scarlett Johansson is a normal woman forced to mule an experimental drug, things go wrong, and she becomes super-smart, super-strong, just… super. Turns into a bad-ass looking for answers. Sounds kinda hokey reduced to a few sentences like this, but the trailer looks good, and so does Scarlett. This is right down Luc Besson’s alley, he does this kind of film so well. We’ll see if Scarlett has the chops to be an action star. In theaters July 25.
* [I’ve watched LUCY now. Read about it here.]
THE TRIP TO ITALY – This is a sequel to a hilarious and lesser known film called THE TRIP (2010), starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Actually they’re the only ones in the film, it’s basically two guys going on a road trip eating at different restaurants. Such a mundane “plot” could be torture to sit through, but these men make it work. Hilarious. Worth watching even just for the scene with their Michael Caine impressions as he gets older. So great! Oh, and I imagine this film will be the same thing but in Italy. I don’t care, I’m convinced, sign me up. Released Aug 15.
THE CONGRESS – This one looks quite creative. Blending live-action and animation. Based on a Stanislaw Lem novel, and directed by Ari Folman, the same guy that did the depressing but amazing animated film WALTZ WITH BASHIR, which in NOT a children’s film. From what I can tell THE CONGRESS will be dealing with virtual reality, artificial intelligence, corporate ownership, and the immortality of fictional characters. I don’t want to reduce the plot to a few a sentences, so I won’t. Watch the trailer. This should be interesting. Releases Aug 29.
BIRDMAN – Michael Keaton plays an out-of-work actor who used to play a popular film super-hero (Birdman). This same idea could be told a million different ways, but this is being directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. He is the guy that did 21 GRAMS, BABEL, and AMORES PERROS, so it looks like it’ll have a strong dramatic center to anchor the madness. Also starring Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, and Edward Norton. I’m excited to see Michael Keaton have a role like this to really chew on. He’s perfect for this. It’s not coming out till Oct 17.
BLUE RUIN – One of my favorite horror films is this quirky, indie, funny, gory flick called MURDER PARTY (2007). It’s pretty fantastic, and the director of that is finally making another film. BLUE RUIN looks to be a kind of revenge film turned on its head. Dark and eerie but with an awkward humor to it. Watch the trailer. Supposedly this film was funded completely through a Kickstarter campaign; pretty cool. BLUE RUIN debuted at the Cannes Film Festival and won the FIPRESCI prize. The disc should be out soon, July 7.
DOM HEMINGWAY – I saw the trailer for this a while ago, knew immediately that it would be good, and then it was in theaters for only a week. I missed it. Jude Law plays ‘Dom’, a rude, crude British dude. A safecracker newly out of prison, coming to terms with his life as it is now. It seemed a bit like Rourke’s THE WRESTLER, only with a lot more energy and gall. Another cool thing is that Richard E. Grant (WITHNAIL!!!) plays his friend, so that is awesome. This looks hilarious. I was bummed when I saw that it had left theaters already. Good thing it will be on disc July 21.
JODOROWSKY’S DUNE – Before David Lynch made his adaptation of Frank Herbert’s brilliant novel, DUNE, Alejandro Jodorowsky (EL TOPO and HOLY MOUNTAIN) was determined to put his stamp on it. It was never made, but the story of its attempt: the designs, the anecdotes, the problems, the changes, everything was documented. This is that documentary. I don’t know about you, but the mention of any one of those names Lynch, Herbert, Jodorowsky, Dune, any ONE of those name would make me interested. But all of them meeting together in one situation?! Ecstasy. Heaven. This will prove to be fascinating and gorgeous, I promise you. Also, it is getting released on disc on July 7th.
That should be good for now. Perhaps a ‘Part 2’ in the near future? We’ll see.
Check out the one like this I did last year, and see if you’ve seen them yet!