Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Looking to '06

The year is almost over and 2005 has not turned out to be a great year for film, in large part due to the fact that a lot of the films I was really looking forward to got pushed back to 2006. But now that we're almost at 2006, this has become a good thing, and there's a whole bunch of movies I'm really looking forward to next year. Once again, some of these films might not make it out next year, but hopefully they all will and hopefully they'll be great. So, here's my ten most anticipated films of 2006.

12. The Departed - This is Scorsese's remake of the fantastic Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. Normally I won't condone remakes, but in this case, it's such a great premise, it almost begs to be told again. I think IA was fantastic, but there are a lot of different things you can do with the basic premise, and it sounds like Jack Nicholson is going insane on this project. I think this picture speaks for itself. Hopefully he's going to give the kind of performance that makes this something unique, different from the pre-existing film.

11. Miami Vice - Once again, a remake, but this time it's Michael Mann updating his own TV series, so again, it's taking a basic premise and doing something different. Mann is always good, but I wasn't totally excited about this project until I saw the trailer, which is very cool, and features some very cool looking club scenes. The high point of Mann's Collateral was the shootout in the nightclub. Plus, it's got Gong Li, of 2046 fame, it looks to be a really stylish action film, regardless of whether or not it's pastel t-shirt under that suit jacket.

10. V For Vendetta - This is a movie I'm a bit wary of, Alan Moore disowned it and initial script reviews were weak, but the reviews coming out from early screenings are all exuberant, citing it as not only a great film, but an important cultural event. Moore's book is one of my favorite graphic novels, and there's certainly the potential for a good film. It's true that it's even half as good as the book, it'll be a strong film, and this looks like it'll be the biggest stretch of Natalie Portman's career, hopefully bringing back some of the steel resolve she had in Leon, when she gave one of the best performances in any film ever.

9. Angel-A - Speaking of Leon, Luc Besson has his first new film in six year coming out. It was actually released in France last week, and will hopefully make it over here next year. It seems to be an action/comedy/romance, filmed in striking black and white. Besson's stuff is always visuallly interesting, and the plot seems to play to his strengths, his films always feature strong women in action, and the title character here will definitely fill that role. Watching the trailer, the film looks to have some of the spirit of Amelie, but a bit darker, and most notably, it's got some very, very strong images. If Besson can come close to the level of The Professional, we'll have a great film.

8Art School Confidential - This is Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes' followup to one of my favorite films, Ghost World. I loved the stuff with Claire in art school in season three of Six Feet Under, the odd dynamic of simultaneously working together and yet being each other's competition, wanting to top other peoples' work. There's a ton of potential for the cold, sarcastic characterization seen in Ghost World in this environment, the stuff with Illeana Douglas would seem to be a preview. There's not that many movies actually about the creation of art, but this would seem to be one and I'm hoping it'll be a biting dark comedy.

7. Fast Food Nation - This is one of two Richard Linklater films coming out next year, and I'm hoping it'll be a return to greatness after the weakness that was this year's Bad News Bear. Nation will apparently be a big ensemble piece, and that's definitely one of Linklater's strengths. Dazed and Confused did Altmanesque better than Altman himself ever did, and this film will likely touch on a lot of the alienation that D&C had. This will also be Linklater's most political film yet, all of his movies are concerned with big issues, but he's never done an issue movie to the extent that this one is. I'm hoping that he'll be able to create really strong characters so this isn't just an intellectual exercise, like Traffic was, but rather it's a really difficult emotional experience.

6. Clerks 2 - This is another one I'm not sure about. Smith hasn't made a really strong film since Chasing Amy, but I'm hoping that a return to low budget filmmaking will help curb some of the badness that plagued his last two films. On the one hand, it's a bit ridiculous to make a sequel to Clerks, it would indicate the failure to come up with anything new and a bottoming out after his attempt to go mainstream. But at the same time, Before Sunset showed how powerful the ten years later sequel can be, and if Smith does something along the lines of that film, we could have a great movie here. The early buzz sounds pretty good, but I'm going to have to reserve judgment until I've seen the film.

5. Marie Antoinette - Sofia Coppola is one of the most exciting voices in American film right now, and I basically trust that whatever she makes will be great. Normally, I'm not a fan of period pieces, but watching the trailer for this, the characters feel very contemporary and real, in the same way that the people in Barry Lyndon did. The whole thing has a very Lyndon feel, with characters who crash against the absurditities of their society. It's an interesting cast, and I'm really confident that this will be a great movie, we shall see.

4. A Scanner Darkly - Another Linklater film, it's great to see one of my favorite filmmakers adapting a book by one of my favorite authors. As Linklater's speech in Waking Life shows, he's a big PKD fan, and this project is definitely suited to his philosophizing stoner sensibility. PKD wasn't about glossy futures, as seen in Minority Report or Paycheck, he was much more about dirty, gritty lives that are inherently tied to the 60s and 70s society he lived in. This film seems to embrace that style, even as he uses the sci-fi technology. Plus, if anyone's ready to played a burnt out detective with an identity crisis, it's Keanu.

3. The Science of Sleep - Gondry's music video work is some of the most astonishing filmmaking you'll ever see, and Eternal Sunshine is one of the best fusions of crazy dreamlike filmmaking with a really strong emotional throughline. Science of Sleep follows along the lines of the video for 'Everlong,' which chronicles a man's attempts to save his girlfriend as he moves through a world of dreams. Other than the weak anomaly that was Human Nature, everything that Gondry's done has been fantastic, and this sounds like his most personal project yet, seeing as how it's written and directed by him. Gondry's done so much good work in the past, I'll see pretty much anything he puts out.

2. INLAND EMPIRE - After a five year wait, we'll at last have a new Lynch film. This is another one that has some concerns, for one it's shot on digital at Lynch's house, and he's been filming on and off for two years. This would not seem to lead to a cohesive film, however MD had a similar on and off production and that worked well, so hopefully this will too. The other potential holdup is his quest for world peace, which may make him feel a bit guilty about chronicling depression, death and violence. However, I'm confident that Lynch the filmmaker will remain seperate from Lynch peace crusader, and hopefully we'll get a great film here. The man is on a roll with Lost Highway and MD, I'm really excited to see what he does next.

1. The Fountain - This is a movie that's been in the works forever, and hopefully will finally make it to theaters next year. Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream was one of the most intense pieces of filmmaking I've ever seen, you don't walk out of that final montage unaffected. With this new film, Aronofsky goes off into three different time periods, with stories that connect across time and space. This seems like it might be the most mind blowing sci-fi film since 2001, the only film to approach the blend of sci-fi and metaphysical truth that makes Kubrick's film one of the best ever made. The Fountain seems like it will touch on practically all my favorite topics, metaphysics, large cast, multiple time storytelling, and groundbreaking filmmaking. I need to see this movie.

So, it's looking like a pretty good year. There's the chance we could have a Paul Thomas Anderson film as well, and a very remote chance that Wong Kar-Wai will finish The Lady From Shanghai. But even with just this, it's looking like a great year. Looking at my preview of 2005, I only had seven films and three of them didn't even come out, so it's understandable it was a weak year, but with 06, if even half these films hit, it'll be a great year for cinema.


Keith G said...

Hey, only two of the films you listed last year didn't come out, but you've relisted them this time around, so it's all good :-)

Miami Vice does not look good.

V for Vendetta will be bad.

Thanks for the heads-up on Fast Food Nation - although I wish A Scanner Darkly would just come out already!

Please don't compare Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater ever again. Thank you.

I'm not that sold on the Marie Antoinette trailer, but I'll see the film regardless.


The Fountain has Rachel Weisz in it and that seems to be a mark of bad quality.

Anonymous said...

I think V for Vendetta looks good. Miami Vice could be anything... The poster is awesome. I hope the next trailer is better.

Patrick said...

I'm not normally a Linkin Park fan, but their song in the trailer for Vice was great, made it work as a great two minutes, though that certainly doesn't prove it'll be a good film.

The advance reviews for V all indicate that it's a masterpiece, of course most of them came from Ain't-It-Cool-News, so I'm not fully sold yet, but if nothing else it seems to aim pretty high. At least it'll be better than League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or From Hell.

Keith G said...

League of Extraordinary Gentleman was fine - leave it alone. I hear From Hell was bad, but in any case I don't think much of the original graphic novel anyway. (Yes, Alan Moore, you can research and are a stickler for detail - but there is such a thing as a story...)

amon said...

LXG was a bad abortion of what Moore was trying to do. Using Dorian Gray in the first story, revealing Harker's secret right away, abandoning the Invisible Man's rightful identity, etc. The villain in the comic had to be nebulous because of legal issues with the Conde-Nast company, but the movie's villain was a complete joke. And Sean Connery's trumping the director in the editing process should give a clue as to how bad the whole thing was perceived even by those who worked on it.

Patrick said...

Yeah, LXG was very weak, even if you separate it from Moore's work and just approach as a film on its own.

From Hell, like Moore's more recent Promethea, is definitely a work that divides people. I love the magic stuff, the chapter where Gull and his driver are going around looking at all the occult things in London is where the film really took off for me, though I can see how someone would consider it a bit of a slog to get through. Still, the movie was weak regardless, some good production design, but it was basically just a slasher movie in the 19th century.

amon said...

What bothered me about From Hell was primarily the way they merged the two characters from the comic to make the one played by Depp. Then I also couldn't get it out of my head that he had just played a very similar Ichabod Crane, inexplicably "re-imagined" as a police inspector (although I could have forgiven it if they had Jeff Goldblum make a cameo as the school headmaster, but Tim Burton wasn't that clever). I was surprised how much of the book actually made it into the movie, and glad the time travelling bit didn't.

Patrick said...

Not a fan of the time travelling thing? I thought that was actually the core of the book, since the whole thing was about the transition from a world of magic to the world of rational thought, and it was Gull's murders that brought this about, so it would make sense he would find himself in the present. In terms of a realistic treatment of the murders, it doesn't fit, but the core of the book was the magic stuff for me.

That's part of why I disliked the film, because they pretty much lost that, even though you're right, there were some things that were very close to the book. I guess one's perspective on the film would be primarily what you see the book as, I would consider it primarily interesting as a precursor of the themes that would be explored in Promethea, which isn't to say it's a great book in its own right, but that's the part that interested me.