Friday, January 05, 2007

2007 Movie Preview

2006 was a pretty good year for cinema, a lot of my favorite directors had projects coming out, and most of them turned out quite good. And next year looks like it should have an equally exciting plethora of new films to delight and enthrall.

10. Electroma - This is Daft Punk's film about a robot's quest to be human. It's supposedly very experimental, and seems like the kind of thing that could be either great or tedious depending on your mood. But, I love the trailer and I'm very curious to see what they do as film directors. I'm not sure what the status of this is, it showed at Cannes back in May, but I havent' seen much since. Hopefully it will re-emerge and get a 2007 release.

9. Smiley Face - This year, Gregg Arkai became one of my favorite directors, and I'm eager to see some new work from him. that said, this one sounds like a much more straight ahead mainstream comedy than he's done in the past. There's nothing necessarily wrong with that, as long as he maintains his own voice in there. The plot, surrounding a woman who eats some pot brownies and has a crazy day offers the potential for some Doom Generation or Nowhere style craziness. After the intense drama of Mysterious Skin, he's earned a lighter film.

8. Be Kind Rewind - Another director's lightening up for a more accessible mainstream comedy. However, with Gondry at the helm, it's sure to be idiosyncratic and full of weird, wonderful images. The premise, that a guy who work sat a video store gets zapped with a magnet, erases all the tapes, and has to remake them himself, is absolutely ridiculous, but full of comic potential. Jack Black is great in the right role, and this sounds like it has the potential to harness that School of Rock go getterness. The combination of him and Gondry should be brilliant.

7. Grindhouse - Tarantino has never made a film that's less than great, and he's only gotten better as time passed. So, I'm going to check out anything he does. That said, I feel like this film will allow him to indulge all his worst instincts, and the premise, a slasher film with a car as the killer, is pretty inane. Without considering the director, the Robert Rodriguez side of the project looks a lot more interesting, Rose McGowan with the machine gun leg is genius and we've even got Freddy Rodriguez, Six Feet Under's Rico, in the film. Ultimately, I think this will be a joycore film, full of so much love from the creators, you can't help but get caught up in it.

6. Sweeney Todd - Burton made a virtually unmatched run of quality films from 1988-1994, but since then he's been a bit underwhelming. After the good, but not great Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I said that he should do a musical, so I was excited to hear he'll be adapting Sweeney Todd. I haven't seen the show, but the subject matter fits perfectly into his visual world. Rarely do you see a musical that fully uses the possibilities of cinema, I'm really excited to see what Tim brings to it. On top of that, there's a fantastic cast, Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman, Sacha Baron Cohen and even Anthony Head. This has the potential to be Burton's best film in a long time.

5. I'm Not There - Normally, I would be disgruntled that we're seeing yet another musician biopic. These films are usually boring reenactments of culturally iconic moments that give no real insight into the person they're interrogating. The only two musician biopics that really worked were Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story and Velvet Goldmine, both directed by Todd Haynes, and what do you know, he's directing this film as well. Haynes is a conniseur of pop culture, using cultural trends to examine the direction of society as a whole. Superstar and Velvet Goldmine are more about a time and place than specific people and I'd imagine this film will be the same. The fact that there's seven actors playing Dylan could potentially be gimmicky, but it makes me think this'll be a crazy, surreal film and that's a good sign. He's never made a bad film and I doubt he'll go wrong here. Plus, the cast is just fantastic: Julianne Moore, Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Heath Ledger to name just a few.

4. There Will Be Blood - Finally we're getting a new Paul Thomas Anderson film. Magnolia is the best film of the past twenty-five years, PTA the rare person who's equally adept at writing and directing. Paul himself said he didn't think he'd ever top Magnolia, and I'd agree, but I'm still eager to see new work. There's not too many details out on the project, but I've got to say, a period piece of this nature is not what I'd really want to see from him. Still, all his films are amazing in their own way, and someone with his talent is going to make films that are full of compelling details even if the whole doesn't work. I'm eager to see some stills or a trailer because right now I really have no idea that this movie will be like. It's just PTA's name that earned it this place on the list.

3. I'm a Cyborg (But That's OK) - After wrapping up the Vengeance Trilogy in spectacular fashion, Park Chanwook moves on to a lighter, but still odd, comedy. The premise of this one is great and I think it has the potential to be that rare kind of movie that is simultaneously very funny and very touching. It's difficult territory, but the hard edged sensibility of Park means we won't drift too far into melodrama. And, as the trailer shows, virtually no one working today can make images as striking as Park's.

2. Southland Tales - Many of my favorite films have been described as self-indulgent messes, so I wasn't too wary when Southland Tales got savaged at Cannes. I'm increasingly less concerned with narrative coherence, instead interested in seeing moments of cinematic transcendence, and even the bad reviews concede this film offers those. Kelly's Donnie Darko is one of the best films ever, even though every re-edit and comment he makes about the film makes it sound like he has no idea why it worked in the first place. But, I still believe in him, this one sounds so over the top weird, I can't wait to see it. If Inland Empire showed us anything, it's that a three hour, barely narrative piece of directorial self indulgence can be utterly satisfying. Of course, Kelly isn't Lynch, so this one could really just be bad, but there's only one way to find out.

1. My Blueberry Nights - Wong Kar-Wai is the best film director of all time, he has redefined the way the medium can be used, inventing a totally different, more emotional, language for cinema. No one works like he does, and no one makes films like his. So, a new Wong Kar-Wai movie is an event. 2046 was a great closer to one part of his career, and My Blueberry Nights offers a lot of changes. The major one is that he's shooting in America, in English, with an American cast. I love the Hong Kong cityscapes his characters usually inhabit, but Happy Together worked well in Argentina, pushing WKW to even more visual experimentation. Perhaps shooting in America will do the same. An article I read about the shooting made it sound like this will have plenty of classic Wong Kar-Wai moments, though they're taking place in a Midwestern diner instead of a Hong Kong fastfood stand. He's got a fantastic cast, and the way he works, he seems to push people to their best work. And, it'll be great to have my first viewing of this movie in a theater instead of on an import DVD.

In addition to films, there's a few other things I'm eagerly awaiting.

True Blood - Alan Ball's work on Six Feet Under is some of the best writing ever, and I was thrilled to hear he's doing another HBO series. This one involves vampires. A supernatural conceit like this should allow him to mix things up a bit from Six Feet Under. Rarely do you see a TV auteur like Ball do a second series, primarily because a series uses up so much story, how much can one man have left? Clearly, SFU was very personal, and I'll be curious to see how the way he reimagines his trademark themes to fit in this new genre context. I'm not sure if the show will actually premiere this year, but whenever it starts up, I'll be there.

The Sopranos - More HBO, we're going to finally see the end of The Sopranos in April. There are a select group of TV shows that I consider to be in the pantheon, the absolute best series, and The Sopranos is the only one is still on the air. I'm really curious to see what happens in the final season, will Chase continue the lethargic, introspective style of the second half of the sixth season or will things rev up and end in fire? I'd guess it'll be more of a fade away than a burn out, but we'll see. Even when it's frustrating, there's no current show that can match it.

New Babylon 5 - I've still got a lot of material to go through, but I'm happy that JMS is doing some new stuff in the Babylon 5 universe. The direct to DVD format has been much discussed as an option for continuing cult shows with a small, but devoted fanbase. I would love to see the movies become wildly successful, and possibly open the door for the Buffyverse direct to DVD movies Joss wanted to do. He claimed it came down to a budget issue, so maybe some success here would inspire Fox to do an about face and fund those movies. Maybe it's been too long, but if Babylon 5 can return after eight years, why can't Buffy after only three?

Buffy Season Eight Comics - Speaking of Buffy, if we can't get DVD movies, at least there's something coming in. I'll be picking up a monthly comic again for the first time in a while. It's been too long since I spent time with these characters and I'm eager to see what they're up to. The preview pages indicate we're still in a season seven millieu, which doesn't thrill me, but I'm sure there'll be some great stuff in there as well. I don't know that a project like this has ever been attempted, a canon continuation of a series in comic book form by the original creators. I'm excited to see how it works.

Morrison/JH Williams Vertigo series - This one is the most hypothetical. In a recent interview, Grant said he was working on an original series for Vertigo with JH Williams on art. The two of them did amazing work on the two Seven Soldiers bookends, in the first creating an entire universe of believable characters and then destroying it in only thirty pages. The second was a hypercompressed pop speed pill, one of the most dizzying, awe inspiring single issues I've ever read. Morrison's projects are frequently riddled with artist problems, the few times all has gone well on art, as with Flex Mentallo, We3 or Kill Your Boyfriend, he's made masterpieces. The thought of JH on a long term project with Morrison is almost too much to handle, I just hope that it happens.


nicholas danger said...

Wasn't a Invisibles one-shot, in the vein of Sandman: Endless Nights, rumored to involve Williams? I know Morrison mentioned it at some point over the past year in an interview.

Patrick said...

When I saw Morrison in June, I asked him about the new Invisibles project and he said it was still in the early stages, but would be along the lines of Endless Nights, a glimpse of the various characters between the end of the series proper and issue one. I don't think artists were assigned yet, but I would guess he'd get Williams if possible, and Quitely would likely return as well. The two of them on one project might be too much for the universe to handle.