Last month of 2013! Can you actually believe the year went by so fast? Well there are a number of great movies headed for release this month. See the list I have constructed of what I consider the most interesting, clever, and thought-provoking films to be released in December. Happy watching!
As always, check back here to catch of on my thoughts and commentary related to these movies as I watch them. Live comments and let me know what you think of any of them!
*Note: some of these theatrical release dates are for limited release before it opens in wide release, others are dates for film releases on VOD; all are US dates
—> Watch the trailer for the foreign language film Twice Born
Should-be Hollywood prince Emile Hirsch and my always girl crush Penelope Cruz come together in this film as passionate lovers whose love is threatened by the war that ravages the city of Sarajevo and forever impacts both of their lives and the life of their son. [No theatrical release; only on iTunes and VoD]
"Inside Llewyn Davis"
—> Watch the trailer for Inside Llewyn Davis
—> Preview a scene from Inside Llewyn Davis
It’s the latest dark comedy from the Coen Brothers (Fargo) and from what I hear, the breakout performance from Oscar Isaacs, who plays the true life folk singer/songwriter as he struggles to find his way in New York’s Greenwich Village in the 1961. I’m also there for co-stars Adam Driver (Girls) and Carey Mulligan. [Limited release; wide release on December 20th]
Let’s get to more of my thoughts and experiences from TIFF:
“The Dallas Buyers Club”
The Dallas Buyers Club is a film that reminds us just what life at the intersection between rural 1980s Texas, the AIDS epidemic, and the developing LGBT community of its time. Here we seen McConaughey take on the real person Ron Woodroof, a man whose plight to survive the death sentence of AIDS led him to create a community united by their need of medical action to sustain their lives, further defining the differences between illegal and unapproved drugs. He does it well, with peaks of brilliance used to shade attitudes of the time, the wide eyes bolster from the touch of a gay man or even the implication of him ever being homosexual, the indulgent wonder of the fast life and faster women, and the Southern camaraderie and rivalry elicited through money exchanging hands. Woodroof, through McConaughey’s performance, is unapolegetic about his past after his diagnosis but constantly evolving into a man worthy of a film dedicated to his memory.
In what has been touted as a serious effort by McConaughey to grab an Oscar nom, I ended up drawing my attention more to the living, breathing performance by Jared Leto as the transgendered prostitute Rayan who sustains the film as a heart . His journey is one that is much like Ron Woodroof but even more profound, opening up by the minute in his persistent quest to prove he is worthy of love and positive attention to everyone around him; a battle, I contend, is a constant struggle for those like him everyday. It took much for me to not reach out and want to hug him. My Grade: B
—> Watch the trailer for The Dallas Buyers Club here.
Here are a couple of indie theatrical releases I recommend for the month of September:
*Note: some of this theatrical release dates are for limited release before it goest wide; all are US dates
It’s a star studded movie (and official Toronto International Film Festival 2013 selection) that will surely examine the psychology of the two families of two missing little girls and the awful lengths they will go to find their children.
—> Watch the trailer for Prisoners here.
A lonely writer develops an unlikely relationship with his newly-purchased artifical intelligence operating system that’s designed to meet his every need.
Being John Malkovich. Adaptation. Where the Wild Things Are (haven’t seen this one… never read the book… and I’m kinda not into movies that focus on kids… but the lead kid, how great a name is Max Records? okay, I’m getting off topic). And now Her. You can’t say director Spike Jonzes doesn’t have imagination and a quirkness to construct films that people still delve into and cherish for years on end. I really cherish this trailer which gives me an indication that I will feel the same about the movie. Don’t think I ever knew Joaquin Phoenix could smile… or look happy.. .or be playful… so this is kinda a brilliant performance already. Yes, that is Scarlett Johansson who is voicing the AI, Amy Adams looking really homely, and Rooney Mara who seems kinda too young to be his former wife. All in all, I’m really really digging the emotional tenderness of it but at the same time having a slight edge of tension and creepiness (another commonality between Jonze’s works).. ‘cuz, you know.. he’s falling in love with AI, which then probably opens him up to a relationship with a real woman (Amy Adams, I presume). It’s very Lars and the Real Girl of him.
It was recently announced that Her will be the closing night selection for the 2013 New York Film Festival. All the mere mortals who can’t attend will have to wait for the schedule theatrical release November 20th (US).
Jon Martello is a modern day Don Juan who objectifies everything in his life, especially women. His friends call him Don Jon because of his ability to pull “10s” every weekend without fail. But his addiction to porn has made him dissatisfied with life and he sets out on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life. However, he ends up seeing the bigger picture and learning more about life and love through two different women.
Oh, yeah, I saw this movie (formally Don Jon’s Addiction, a title I actually prefer), the directorial debut of Mr. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, at Sundance 2013. It not only solidifies how much of an artist JGL really is by adding filmmaker to his resume, but it also shows us another character archetype that he can play well. You wouldn’t really expect this infectiously enthusatic and always adorable JGL to be able to pull off a such machismo juice-head but he does it. Here is some of what I had to saw after I watched it in January:
"…what JGL does give us is a great dark comedic look at everything that pop culture reveres and the masses turn to for quick gratification - the porn culture and the fast acquisition of sex that the club culture that fosters this idea, the laughable, cookie cutter movies that fosters idealistic romantic notions, as well as our recent fascination with all things Jersey as the intersection of the two.”
—> Read the rest of my review from Sundance 2013 and see related photos and video.
I love the last month or so of the year. You have Thanksgiving, my birthday, Black Friday, Christmas, loads of paid time off… and Sundance festival announcements. Yep, it’s time that again to start planning my trip over to Park City to see some of Sundance’s slate of indie films. In the last week or so, the majority of the films have been announced in the competition and out-of-competition categories. Not much to go on right now, but there are some pretty good potentials to look forward to based on summaries, initial movie stills and filmmakers/screenwriters/actors attached. Here is my short list of films that are on my radar come January:
Two Mothers / Australia, France (Director: Anne Fontaine, Screenwriter: Christopher Hampton) — This gripping tale of love, lust and the power of friendship charts the unconventional and passionate affairs of two lifelong friends who fall in love with each other’s sons. Cast: Naomi Watts, Robin Wright, Xavier Samuel, James Frechevile. Why I want to see it: Complex subject matter to tackle and an interesting one to see how it all comes together without it being too contrived. Plus, I constantly am looking forward to Naomi Watts matching her performance in 21 Grams, one of my favorite movies of all time, where she was simply great.
…or “How Marvel got alot my time and money”
Let’s just say I was determined to watch the movies in the Marvel-verse that I hadn’t already seen before enjoying The Avengers. I had already seen both of the Hulk movies (the Edward Norton version definitely coming out on top), Captain American (which was pretty damn good), and the first Iron Man (blah). I just had to finish the movies out…
Thor (Friday, 5:30 pm). One of the best movies I never wanted to see. I attribute it all to Chris Hemsworth’s charming appeal.
Iron Man 2 (Friday, 7:30pm). A franchise that continues to cater to the role Robert Downey Jr was born to play. He has mastered the art of snarky and makes it oh so funny, yet just I still can’t really get into the movies for whatever reason.
The Avengers (Friday, 10:00pm). A little slow out of the gate and not enough Jeremy Renner, but a super-fun movie with a cast of characters that are great to watch whether they are playing nice or at each other’s throats. Ruffalo is definitely my favorite onscreen Hulk to date, Pine cracked me up with the red boots he sported in every screen, loved the on-screen bromance between Hulk and Iron Man, and (dare I say it) Black Widow had me intrigued.
Pop Culture Randomness (Marvel edition):
To me, Jeremy Renner is just plain exceptional. I first took notice of him in a couple of independent movies only a few years ago, but already he has joined the ranks of Leo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ryan Gosling as one of my favorite actors of my time. I think that’s saying alot for a man who has struggled in the acting game for so long and has only just began to have his big break in Hollywood around the age of 40. He’s comes across so intense, so focused, and so consumed with his characters that you get lost in them too. He has consistently churned out some many really powerful performances in such a short time, it’s incredible. He is definitely one my list of actors I hope to meet one day. I only hope that he doesn’t get too “Hollywood” and stick close to the independent roots that have served him so well. So here’s to Jeremy Renner and his many great futures performances I’m anticipating (Bourne Legacy!). I give you my top five favorite Jeremy Renner performances to date. I highly suggest anyone of these movies for your viewing pleasure.
#5: The Avengers (2012)
I just saw this movie this weekend, and while it can be said that Renner didn’t have a big role as Hawkeye in this box office giant, he was credible as a loner and trained assassin, intensely determined, and created for his enigmatic character enough intrigue that I wouldn’t mind seeing in a Hawkeye (and Black Widow) sequel (or maybe more aptly, a prequel).
#4: Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (2010)
Enter semi-suave Jeremy Renner as an IMF agent initially posing as an mild-mannered analyst. He was a great on-screen match for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, holding his own against this iconic character. For me, he brought the cool and the ease that balanced out the group dynamic and was probably the best thing the film had going for it.