Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Don't sleep on the first half of 2013

I know how it goes. The first half of any year is not always the most exciting half for film. Generally, for cineastes, it's all about Sundance and Cannes. What films will come out of there that will be talked about for the rest of the year? Well, this year it's a bit different.

Amidst the aging action hero films and the plethora of films starring The Rock, we actually have some pretty interesting films that will be released in the next few months and I want to go over as many as I can. Let's get started.

This past Friday, it was Steven Soderbergh's "Side Effects." I gave it a B+. Really good film, you should see it.

This weekend, there's "No," "A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III", and "Like Someone in Love." "Charles Swan" is failing gloriously on rottentomatoes, but I gave it a C+. Honestly, it's not the worst thing in the world, but then again, I watched it via itunes. I even said in my review that it may suck to have to pay $10-14 to see the movie. So, really, just watch it on itunes then.

But the other two are interesting. "Like Someone in Love" is a film by internationally renown Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. It's his follow up to "Certified Copy" and this time, he's set the film in Tokyo. While reviews have been middling for the film, you can't ignore such a film from a director like him.

"No," for me, is the must see of the bunch. It stars Gael Garcia Bernal and it's a Chile-set film about an ad exec who comes up with a campaign to defeat dictator Augusto Pinochet in Chile's 1988 referendum. Buzz regarding the film has been sky high, high enough for it to get a Best Foreign Film nomination at this year's Oscars. I plan on seeing it this weekend. You should too if you have the chance.


Aside from Bryan Singer's "Jack the Giant Slayer" which doesn't really look all that exciting, we have Park Chan-wook's "Stoker" starring Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska. It also has Dermot Mulroney. Or is it Dylan McDermott. No, Dermot Mulroney. Yeah, for sure. Anyway, Park Chan-wook is yet another famed international director and he hails from South Korea. What has he made? Oh, just Oldboy, Thirst, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance... now Stoker first screened at Sundance a month ago (holy shit, that was a MONTH ago?) and it came out to wildly mixed reviews. Some loved it, some hated it. It was divisive. The last three sentences all mean the same thing. Either way, it's definitely a film worth catching.

Then for the most part, we have crap for the next few weeks. I gotta be honest with you, "Oz the Great and Powerful" looks stupid. Looks like it was shot on shitty video. I mean, in color it looks gorgeous, but the black and white looks really cheap in the trailer. I could be wrong, but I stand by what I say.

March 15th gives us "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone," a comedy which is supposed to send up Sigfried and Roy. This could easily go both ways, couldn't it? I mean, it has a great cast: Steve Carrell, Jim Carrey, Steve Buscemi, James Gandolfini... but this could easily turn to shit in the wrong hands. Don Scardino is the one helming this film and he's only done TV work thus far. Granted, some of it is good, and the writers of "Burt" wrote "Horrible Bosses" which was a pretty clever film with some big laughs. I don't know, I'd hate to write this film off completely but the trailer leaves a lot to be desired.

March 22nd has Harmony Korine's "Spring Breakers" which I gotta admit, I'm very intrigued by. It has the buzz, it has James Franco playing a rapper/gangster, it has hot former Disney stars dressed in bikinis. The appeal is obvious with this one. Now I'm not a huge Korine fan but I definitely am willing to give this film a spin a month from now.

This leads to what I'm looking forward to the most... The Place Beyond the Pines. Holy shit do I want to see this film. Derek Cianfrance impressed just about everyone with his raw, emotionally gripping "Blue Valentine." Now he follows that up with this crime epic starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, and Rose Byrne. The film's got a 140 minute running time and, from what I gather, it's basically like a cat-and-mouse between a bank robber and a rookie cop, and the film is a multi-generational story. I already said enough. This looks really good. I can't wait.


April 5th gives us two interesting ones: "Trance" and "Upstream Color."

"Trance" is Danny Boyle's follow-up from what's arguably his best film, "127 Hours." Trance is more of a pure genre/caper type film starring James McAvoy and Vincent Cassel. Boyle hasn't really done this kinda film in awhile so it'll be interesting to see how he returns to a more crime-oriented genre.

"Upstream Color" is the very very long-awaited follow-up to Shane Carruth's "Primer." Primer's that mind-boggling film about time travel that's impossible to understand but hard to not admire. Seriously, I don't know if I love the film, but I admire the shit out of it. It was made for $7,000 and it looks like it was made for $1 million, at least. I really want to watch that again, actually. "Upstream Color" has a bigger budget, looks like the scope is much deeper. Anyway, it should be an interesting sci-fi film from a guy who has already turned the genre inside out once before.

April 12th gives us "To the Wonder," Terrence Malick's 6th film. Everyone apparently hates Terrence Malick now, or at least, it's cool to hate on him. I don't. As you all know, The Tree of Life was my favorite film of 2011. To the Wonder is apparently more ambitious than ToL, but you know what? Fuck it. Bring it on. I can't wait.

Now you'll be surprised to hear me say this but I'm also circling April 26th on my calendar for... what's that? A Michael Bay film? What? But seriously, after the shitty Transformers movies he's been forcing down our throats the past half-decade, I can go for a silly Bad Boys-like Michael Bay film. Shot on a smaller budget than is usual for Bay, the film stars The Rock and Mark Wahlberg as body builders who get caught up in a kidnapping scheme gone wrong. I don't know. This could be dumb fun. I can dig dumb fun, as long as it's fun and not an eyesore.


So in May, we have the obvious. Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek 2, Hangover Part III. Those are all well and good, but there's also some interesting indie fare in the midst.

First there's May 17th. Noah Baumbach's "Frances Ha" starring Greta Gerwig, this little indie film was shot in secrecy last year and later was screened at Toronto last September to great reviews. Many called it a career refresher for Baumbach and they praised Gerwig's performance, who's almost always delightful. For all the talk of Lena Dunham, Greta Gerwig has always been my fave. I am a Baumbach fan so I'm definitely up for this one.

And on May 24th, there's Before Midnight. This is the third film in a trilogy. The first two films were "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" and they all star Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as strangers who happen to meet and wind up getting to know each other over the course of a day in Vienna. Then the second film, they meet up 9 years later. And now, with Before Midnight, they meet up 9 years later once again. How cute. Seriously though, the first two films were great and this apparently is just as good. It'll be a nice alternative viewing for those looking to escape the loud summer fare.

Ok that's basically it, as far as we know now. That's what I gathered from wikipedia and imdb. I feel like there's more though. As it is, I had to dig to clarify that Frances Ha is coming out on May 17th. According to my sources it most definitely is. I do know that Pedro Almodovar's "I'm So Excited" comes out in June so there's that also.

So overall, to recap:

Side Effects
Like Someone in Love
Spring Breakers
The Place Beyond the Pines
Upstream Color
To the Wonder
Frances Ha
Before Midnight
I'm So Excited

Those are all the indie/adult fare coming out in the next four months. That's 12 films. 3 films per month. That's not a bad ratio at all.

I'm also pretty sure Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives" is supposed to be coming out in May but I've got nothing at the moment that supports that.

There's also The Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis" which has a trailer but no release date yet. You would imagine it'd at least come out by June, we'll have to wait and see. But that's two more films.

So that's what we got going on in the next few months. I hope I've convinced you that there's a lot to look forward to in the cinema world and you don't have to wait until September/October like most other years. Most other years, you'll be lucky to get 3 interesting films come out in the first half of the year. Sure, you might get a great summer tentpole here and there, but some summers? Not the case. This summer? Meh... there's Elysium and Pacific Rim and that's about it. Hopefully, of what I listed above, you can find something that interests you.

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