The Rest of 2011

Here are 30 films that are either completed or soon to be completed that will most likely be released this year. Some are holdovers from last year (for various reasons), while some are being held back until they hit festivals to get some buzz going, while some — well, who the fuck knows.

Keep in mind, there are more than these films coming out (or likely to come out) this year, but these are the ones I am interested enough in and want others to know about and go see. The rest we can discover for ourselves.

The Beaver

I believe in you, Mel! Like your father doesn’t believe in the holocaust. I believe in your screen presence and your directorial abilities. Just keep your opinions to yourself. I say this not out of righteous indignation, just out of the fact that I don’t want everyone else pissed at you so you can keep making movies again.

This is a movie I was excited for from when they announced it — back in 2009. The script was #1 on the Black List, and was said to be one of the best scripts in a while. I mean, it’s about a dude who starts talking to a stuffed beaver puppet. Then Jodie signed on to direct, and Mel came on — it seemed good to go.

Then Sugar Tits 2 happened. Those phone calls. They killed any opportunity he had to resurrect his career. Not true, but for the foreseeable future. Edge of Darkness was a really tightly made thriller. And from what I heard from early screenings of this, Mel gives the performance of a lifetime. They’re saying it’s awards-worthy. And now it almost certainly won’t be (though I’m hoping it is. Let him win and feel “smug” the way Hugh Grant did after he won during that whole “ugly hooker in a car” period). It’s a shame, because this looks like a really good movie. Let’s hope that tentative April release date holds up.

Red Dawn

This is a remake of the 1984 version starring Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Lea Thompson, Charlie Sheen, Jennifer Grey, Ben Johnson, Harry Dean Stanton, Powers Booth, directed by John Milius, who is the guy who wrote a shit ton of stuff (and was also the basis for the John Goodman character in The Big Lebowski). Though that version was about the Russians. This one, as it will be known by me, is Chinamen in a Town. (Enough is enough!) So, if you like Chinamen getting killed by the dozens by small-town Americans, this is the film for you.

It’s about a group of teens who see Chinese forces (and Russian too! Oh, good! Twice the fun.) land in their town and band together to take them out so World War III don’t happen. It’s being directed by a stuntman who’s made an impressive amount of films. The cast isn’t as well known as those people up there are, but maybe that’s the point. Charlie Sheen wasn’t really Charlie Sheen in 1984. So, maybe these people will be like that. Either way, this should be fun, as long as they stick to the spirit of the whole thing and don’t try to ratchet up the action too much.

The Rum Diary

Here’s a movie I can’t understand why it hasn’t come out yet. This film was shot back in 2009 and was ready to come out last January. Then it got bumped. And bumped and bumped. And it still hasn’t come out.

It’s based on a Hunter S. Thompson book (and we know what happened last time Johnny Depp made a movie out of a Hunter S. Thompson book), and has Depp starring as an itinerant journalist who gets bored of America under Eisenhower (I can see why) and goes to Puerto Rico. He then gets drunk a lot and becomes obsessed with a woman. Amber Heard is the woman. Aaron Eckhart, Giovanni Ribisi, Richard Jenkins and Michael Rispoli are also in the cast, but I’m figuring this will be a Fear and Loathing affair, where people pop up and disappear every few minutes.

Last Night

I really know nothing about this movie except that it stars Keira Knightley. That’s really all I need to know about it.

I think she’s a married woman who runs into an old flame, and at the same time the husband also almost gets into an affair. I’m guessing that since this hasn’t gotten released, it’s one of those where, one of them has the affair, and the other one doesn’t, and it’s the one you wouldn’t expect to have the affair that does, and it’s tragic because the other person feels bad for almost doing it and it’s one of those situations. That’s just a pure guess based on a random synopsis I read months ago.

It should be a small drama that’s pretty good. I think. I don’t know. It’s Keira. I’ll see it.

Meek’s Cutoff

This is a film by Kelly Reichardt, who’d previously directed Old Joy, which is a film I randomly saw on my college film series (no idea why). It’s the kind of film the hipsters I was in the film major with really liked. Nothing happened, and there were veiled homosexual and political over and undertones. It’s about two guys who go away for the weekend, and they just kind of drive to a hot springs somewhere. And one of them is subtly coded as gay and it’s implied that the two may have had an affair in the past, and then there are random political NPR radio things on at various points to probably suggest something. I don’t know. I didn’t really like it. However, her next movie, Wendy & Lucy, is a film I did enjoy. It stars Michelle Williams as a girl who, on the way to a possibly lucrative job opportunity, breaks down, and her dog is taken to the pound. And slowly over the very slow 90 minutes, her life comes apart. It’s a nice little movie.

Which brings me to this. I’m pretty sure the only reason I care about this movie is Michelle Williams. I’ve always liked her as an actress and think she does really interesting things in a very low key manner. That, and, this is a period piece. It’s set in 1845 Oregon. It’s abou a group of settlers on the Oregon Trail, and they encounter all the harsh conditions. So, I think this may actually be an Oregon Trail movie. They’re calling it a feminist western, but I don’t care about such distinctions. Just give me a good movie. I hear Michelle Williams does a good job in this, so that’s my main impetus for including it on this list.

The Hungry Rabbit Jumps

Cage. Pure and simple. Nicolas Cage makes a movie, I’m there. I’m like Tom Joad. I have no idea what the fuck this title is about, but I like it. The stranger the title, the better.

This movie is directed by Roger Donaldson, who also directed one of my favorite movies of the past decade, The World’s Fastest Indian. If you want an uplifting movie that most people don’t know about, this is that movie. Anthony Hopkins is just so damned likable in it. Donaldson also directed The Bank Job (That Jason Statham heist movie you heard about but never saw), The Recruit (a nice little thriller with Al Pacino and Colin Farrell)…I’m not going over all of them, do it yourself if you care enough about it.

This is about Cage, whose wife is assaulted, and he enlists the services of a vigilante group to help him settle the score.

Sounds awesome. This is really all I know. The less known about Cage films beforehand, the better. Go in cold, be amazed.

Trespass

A Cage movie combo. That’s four movies for him this year. What’s great about Cage is, every year, I worry that he has all these films coming out, and that next year, we won’t get any Cage movies. Then, next year comes, he magically has like three films pop up out of nowhere. It’s great. I always get my Cage fix.

This one co-stars Nicole Kidman. I know she’s never the mark of quality, but it will bring an air of some quality to this film. It’ll be like one of those forgettable September thrillers instead of a Cage film people make fun of because (they think) it’s so bad. Also, this one is being directed by Joel Schumacher, who isn’t all that bad a director. Sure, he made a bad decision by going from dark to lighter for those Batman movies, and sure that Phantom of the Opera movie was a big, expensive misstep, but he’s a very effective director who has made some very good and, dare I say, classic films in his career.

Peep this filmography: His first movie was The Incredible Shrinking Woman, which is a perfect title to start with. Then his second film was D.C. Cab, which is a movie that stars Mr. T. What was that, you ask? Yes. Mr. T was the star of a comedy about a rundown cab company. Gary Busey, Bill Maher and Coco (aka Irene Cara from Fame) are in it. I know. Go out and Netflix it right now. Then, he made St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys, Cousins (which…), Flatliners, Dying Young (which are two early Julia Roberts movies. So he is basically helping make Julia Roberts into what she is today. I mean, I know Pretty Woman was before that, but you know by that point she had decision over who directed her), and then, the film I call a modern classic — Falling Down.

If you haven’t seen Falling Down, do so immediately. It’s about Michael Douglas, as a man who just got laid off from the Department of Defense for not being “economically viable,” and the opening scene of the movie is him sitting in traffic on a hot summer morning. He was just fired after like 20 years, he’s stuck in dead-stop traffic, it’s 100 degrees outside, the radio is droning on and on, the people in the other cars are loud and annoying, and then the air conditioning breaks. And he just snaps. He gets out of the car and just walks away. Leaves it where it is. He just starts walking. We don’t know why at first, and I won’t ruin it.

Who am I kidding? Yes I will. But not really. Since it’s not about what he does. During his walk through Los Angeles, he gradually gains weapons. And you think this is about a dude going postal, but it’s not. All the shit he rails against are things that we all can’t stand. He goes into a deli and tries to get change for a telephone call, but the Korean owner makes him buy something first. Then when he goes to buy something, nothing in the store will leave him with enough change to make the call. And he gets upset and starts telling the guy his prices are too high. And as he’s yelling at the guy because he’s so pissed off, the dude pulls out a bat. And you don’t fuck with Michael Douglas. So he takes the bat and starts bashing the store. Things like that. Basically he goes around, causing mayhem because of the hypocrisy in the country. It’s a great social commentary and great performance by Michael Douglas. Favorite scene is when he pulls out an Uzi in McDonalds because they stopped serving breakfast.

So, that’s what Schumacher has done. Also, the two Batman movies, The Client, A Time to Kill (“Yes they deserved to die, and I hope they burn in hell!”), 8MM, Flawless, Tigerland, Bad Company, Phone Booth (love me some Phone Booth), Veronica Guerin, Phantom of the Opera, Number 23, something called Blood Creek, Twelve, a small drama from last year, and this.

Now, this, is a Cage movie, in case we forgot. This is why I’m excited for it. Cage and Kidman are taken hostage by extortionists and a “cycle of betrayal and deception emerges in the pressured conditions.” One of those, we’re hostage, but then we start finding out about all the bad shit we did, and the bad guys aren’t so bad compared to us, but they’re still bad, so we’re gonna overcome our flaws and kill them and make everything seem okay.”

I’m excited. I wonder what Cage will do with this.

London Boulevard

You can tell by the poster why I’m excited for this movie. Keira, Colin? Written and directed by Bill Monahan, who wrote The Departed? Sign me up.

I read the script to this. It’s a nice script. It’s not flashy, but it’s a solid little character piece. I’m expecting somewhere between a 3 and 4 star movie with this, and I’m interested to see what Colin and Keira do with it.

Colin Farrell is a criminal who was recently released from jail. He doesn’t want to be a criminal anymore. He tries to keep his wild, drug-addled sister from going too far off the rails, and gets a job as a handyman for Keira, who is a crazy-reclusive actress (not crazy, reclusive actress) and heroin addict. I don’t remember too clearly. I think she’s a heroin addict. Her manager certainly is one. He’s played by David Thewlis, who was Lupin in Potter. And as this is going on, Ray Winstone (always Ray Winstone) tries to get Farrell back into crime. He has ways and means of doing this.

It feels like a 70s film, specifically in how it ends. I don’t want to give away details (but for anybody familiar with the 70s, you already know what I’m talking about), but it definitely feels like one of those 70s crime films. I’m excited to see what it looks like.

Midnight in Paris

This film choice is funny to me. I don’t like Woody Allen movies. And it’s nothing against the man himself. He’s openly said that all of his movies are him working through psychoanalysis and analyzing himself through this work. So it really doesn’t matter to him what I think of them. He makes them for himself. That said, I just can’t get into them (don’t get me started on psychoanalysis). Generally the way his movies work for me, they’re a mixture of indifference to just dislike to extreme dislike. Most people love Annie Hall. I respect it. The reason I don’t love it is because the film was essentially a mistake. It was a completely different film that he recut. And, he essentially wrote it about Diane Keaton. That’s her real name. And the character she was playing was essentially herself. So, I can’t call the movie a masterpiece when I know all this. I just can’t. I like some of the jokes he makes during it, especially when they cut to the children and all, but, I just don’t love that movie as anything more than a reinvention of storytelling (and even that was only because he had to recut the film). You want to know a Woody Allen movie I liked? Small Time Crooks. That was a great movie. Whatever Works. That was another one. That one wasn’t so great aside from Larry David just saying sarcastic, mean shit all the time, and berating everybody on screen with him. That’s why I loved that movie. A lot of the other movies I either see what movies he’s trying to emulate (Interiors is essentially him trying to make an Ingmar Bergman movie) or what part of himself he’s trying to analyze (Husbands and Wives was brutal).

I’m never going to like Woody Allen movies. But, I do respect that the man makes one every year. I don’t have to like the product, but I like his willingness to keep putting in the work. Him putting out a movie every year is refreshing. It’s one of those things you can count on.

I don’t really care what this one is about. You can call them comedies or dramas, usually they’re neither. People just exist and do things, and we don’t really care that much. At least, that’s how You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger felt like. It was basically him ruminating on love and death, which is pretty much two of his big four topics he ever deals with. Get the title? Fortune tellers tell you this. And, death? Tall, dark?  Yeah. The movie really isn’t anything more than a title.

Wikipedia says this is a romantic comedy, but allegedly that’s what Vicky Cristina Barcelona was too (and what a piece of shit that was. I don’t care how much you liked the movie or them making out, there is no substance to it whatsoever. Don’t get swept up in how pretty they all are. That’s the point). It’s about a family traveling to Paris for business, which includes a young engaged couple “forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.” Oh, great, sounds wonderful. Highbrow people having highbrow problems.

This is why I can’t get into Woody Allen. All his characters talk about Dostoyevsky and shit. They go to operas and plays and shit and are all rich and boring. Those are not my people. I do not care about those people or their problems. But, like I said, a Woody Allen movie is proof the world is still spinning, so as long as he’s putting them out, they’re worth looking out for.

Red State

Now here’s my shit. You like your Woody Allen movies, I like my Kevin Smith movies. You think mine are too lowbrow, I think yours are too highbrow. We’re both wrong.

Kevin Smith is one of those filmmakers I always enjoyed because, aside from the whole, “he doesn’t know how to use a camera” and “his films are terrible” noise that’s out there, every time I put on one of his movies, I manage to laugh, every time. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is a movie I thought I couldn’t possibly like in 2010 the way I liked it back in 2001. I was wrong. It really is a legit funny movie. All of his movies are.

People want to talk shit about Jersey Girl, but I liked Jersey Girl. A lot. It’s a bit too sentimental at times, but it’s still a really good movie. And it features the finest performance George Carlin ever got to put on screen (despite his wanting to do more). I still say Zack and Miri is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen this decade. So, in a way, I’m biased. And so are those who don’t like his stuff. So we’re even.

I’ll also say, I’m a dedicated listener to all of his podcasts, so I’ve been hearing about this film from back when it was still in the pre-production stages. (I’m not particularly sure how I got onto these podcasts, since they’d been going on for three years before I found them. Good thing I came in when I did. Within two months of getting into them, 2 podcasts turned into 8 or 9. Now I get one every day to listen to. They’re great too. Highly recommended.)

This film, is, above all else, a horror movie. It’s not Dogma Part II or anything like that. It’s essentially a standard, “kids go out to get laid, run into some shit” movies. Though this time, the evil isn’t a serial killer, it’s fundamentalist Christians. Perhaps scarier than a movie monster. This is a real life monster.

It’s uncharted territory for Smith, which is awesome. I love it when directors try new things, especially when the old things work just fine. It shows a passion for the product and shows that they don’t give a fuck about just doing what they’re expected to do. Also, having listened to the podcasts (one of which is a preparatory one for the movie, where people from the cast and crew are brought on board to talk about it), I’ve learned what this movie really is — a labor of love and a crazy different brand of filmmaking. It’s the kind of thing where, I would have went to see this before I knew about it, but now, I want to see it even more.

Think of it this way. It’s like if you have a favorite actor. Or author, or athlete or whatever. And no matter what, you’ve always liked what that person did. And then you get to meet them. And when you meet them, they tell you all these stories about what it was like, doing what they did, and all of these details you never knew before — and by the end of it, the like you would have already had for this person and what they did becomes compounded by all this additional information you’ve received. That’s what this movie is for me.

Here’s a guy who’s essentially paved his own way in the business. He made his own movie on credit cards back in 1993, and within a year, won Sundance and got his film released alongside films like Pulp Fiction.(I’ll leave out the other ones, because you probably won’t know what most of them are. Let’s stick with Quentin. That’ll make it seem prestigious.) Then, for the next decade, he made exactly the movies he wanted to make, without any (or very little) studio interference and hassling about anything he did. Granted, the films were made on small budgets and had mostly a core audience that would see the film while the rest of the public would largely ignore it (until the DVDs hit, anyway), but they were still his films. That alone makes the man a hero to aspiring filmmakers, just because he got to do what we all want to do. And now, with Red State, he stepped the game up to a whole new level.

Red State is a film that was made for $4 million, shot in essentially 4 weeks (maybe 5. I need to go back and check the dates). And, what’s even more impressive (even if you’re not remotely aware of how the film business works, this should still come off as impressive), since he works as his own editor, he started cutting the film at night after shooting was done so he’d have pieces to show to the cast and crew the next day, and, by the time shooting finished, he managed to have an entire cut of the film finished. Two days after the film finished shooting, he showed what was essentially a first cut (minus some musical cues and sound cues and what not) of the film to everyone that worked on it. That’s fucking astounding. And in case you’re thinking that it changed since then, or that the cut he finished wasn’t remotely similar to what the final cut of the movie is going to look like — within a month of finishing, the movie was sent off to be admitted into Sundance, and will be screening there in, I think a week.

To recap — here’s a guy who essentially found $4 million through independent financing, entirely bypassing the studios and the studio system, made the movie he wanted to make, without any major changes (aside from those mandated by budget), and (although he had the script in his head for three years), shot and cut it in less than two months. We should all be so productive.

And, what makes me even happier about the prospect of this film, is the fact that it’s not going through the whole stupid marketing machine that the rest of the films in this country go through. Smith has always been on the cusp of doing thing’s no one else does. He was on his own internet message board back when AOL was still doing dial-up and you had to wait as a page loaded from top to bottom, 5% at a time (remember those days?). He started doing Q&A tours where he essentially went to his core audience (at first), colleges and universities, and just stood on stage, took questions and answered them.

Let me pause to say that these Q&As are brilliant examples of storytelling. Sit through this almost 20 minute story to see storytelling at its best (I’m serious. This is a brilliantly told story. Stick with it. The punchline at the end is worth it.):

This is also a guy who started podcasting (when I’m pretty sure most directors don’t even know what a podcast is), creating hour-long shows every week and giving them out for free for no reason other than to entertain his fans. And then, when that became big, started going on tour with his shows, and adding other shows to them, to the point where he’s opened the world’s first podcasting theater (which is just fucking brilliant. Everything about that idea is just smart). And now he’s advocating this new type of filmmaking and advertising that’s so simple that it’s revolutionary (and it’s mostly due to the fact that studios are stuck doing what they’ve always done despite the fact that now, we can watch movies on our phones).

Okay, you know how studios thought viral marketing was some sort of gift from god? They were amazed they can use the internet and use the twitter and the facebook and the myspace to raise awareness for their movies? And even then they were hesitant and only really went through with the viral for shitty thrillers and J.J. Abrams movies and shit? Well, Kevin Smith is a guy that realized, no matter what he does, he’s always got his same core audience that’s going to see his films no matter what. Spending all the money studios do to market to everyone is worthless, because odds are, most of them just won’t come (he found this out the hard way, sadly). So, since he is the most accessible guy Hollywood has ever seen (seriously, I can go on Twitter right now and send him something, and he’d most likely respond), and the most internet-friendly, he’s essentially marketing his movie and advertising solely online, via his podcasts, website, and Twitter. And because of it, everyone is kind of interested in seeing this movie. I just saw on Ain’t It Cool (a site which has mostly taken to talking shit about his movies — the people on it, not necessarily always the writers) that someone was begging people to find a ticket for them to the movie and for anyone on the site who got a chance to see it to let them know how it is.

As an avid fan, I feel I should do my part in raising awareness. I’m not a huge fan of the horror genre, but everything I’ve heard and seen about this movie has me legit excited for it. So, now you have to listen to me talk about it.

First, let me give you some background. Smith’s friend Malcolm Ingram made a documentary called Small Town Gay Bar. It’s about two very small gay bars located in the deep south. Yeah, you can imagine why that would be an extremely interesting documentary. And in making it, he went to talk to Fred Phelps, who may just be one of the scariest motherfuckers still alive. It may come down to him and Cheney. So, while listening to the interview with Phelps, Smith got the idea for this movie, and essentially wrote it over the course of three days. And of course, when he mentions this part, people naturally assume, given his history, this is going to be another attack on religion and people like Phelps, so much so that his family is going to be picketing the Sundance premiere. I know. It’s fucking stupid. But, people are like that. What are you gonna do? Though I do think it’s funny that, from everything Smith has been saying, the people in the movie are so unlike any of the Phelps family that if the family wants to claim they’re being defaced by the characters in this movie, they’ll be saying things about themselves more terrible than people would even assume on the worst day. Which is hysterical. I love it when hypocrisy blows up in people’s faces.

Anyway, this film is about three boys, who are the typical horny American teenagers. Standard horror set up. They go out to the woods to get some sex. And out there, in the woods, is this family, the Cooper family, who are like the Phelps family in as much as they picket a gay kid’s funeral. They’re very fundamentalist, they’re very crazy. That’s about it. And they have their own church out in the woods and it’s this really creepy sort of set up. Or maybe that’s just me, because organized religion frightens me. The leader of the church, and the family, is Abin Cooper. He’s played by Michael Parks.

For those not familiar with Michael Parks, he’s one of those awesome guys that rarely gets great roles in films. He was around in the 60s and then kind of disappeared for almost 30 years (from what I can gather it’s because someone had him blacklisted from films. I don’t know the full story, so I won’t speculate). Then he resurfaced in 1996, with what is perhaps the most spellbinding opening scene to open a movie that I’ve seen in a while, in From Dusk Till Dawn:

Michael Parks is the sheriff.

I’m spoiling nothing about this movie. Honestly, watching this, you’ve learned almost nothing about the film. That’s why it’s so great. The rest of the movie is brilliant because, one, Clooney gets to play badass, and he gets dialogue (he might be the only man in Hollywood, next to maybe Downey, Depp and maybe Vaughn that can handle Howard Hawks-type dialogue), and two, the movie is so brilliantly split into three separate parts that work together in a weird harmony. First, there’s the opening scene. Then, there’s what is essentially the first half of the movie — these two escaping into Mexico to try to get to a town they can hide out in. And then, midway through, the movie takes a complete 180˚ turn (like, really so). I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen it. But, don’t watch any trailers for it. Go in cold. Trust me you’ll enjoy it. You get to the second half like, “What the fuck?” And then once the shock wears off, you go with it. And then you’re really invested in that half of the movie as well. It’s brilliant how they pulled it off.

So, Parks is in that opening scene. And he’s captivating, right? You’ll also remember him as popping up as the same character in Kill Bill Vol.1 and Grindhouse. He also played Esteban Vihaio, the pimp at the end of Kill Bill Vol. 2. Which, if you watch that performance closely, is also incredible, because he’s playing a man of like 75 when he’s only 65. He completely inhabits a guy who’s on screen for less than five minutes. That’s how good this man is. Now he’s got his own movie. This role, this movie, was written just so Michael Parks could do it. And I’m excited.

Just to round out the rest of the cast, it also includes Melissa Leo (about to be nominated for an Oscar in The Fighter. She was also in Frozen River and was nominated for that as well), Kevin Pollack, Ralph Garman (radio guy in LA, also Smith’s cohost for Hollywood Babble-On, which is my favorite of the Smodcast podcasts aside from the flagship Smodcast, whom some like me would remember from The Joe Schmo Show as the “Smarmy Host”),  Stephen Root (according to IMDB. I’ve yet to hear his name mentioned in the podcasts, though), Nicholas Braun (who was one of the kids in Sky High and is also the lead in Smith’s next movie, Hit Somebody, a hockey movie, which sounds awesome, despite the fact that I watch zero hockey and am only looking for fights when I do), Michael Angarano (another kid in Sky High, who was also in The Forbidden Kingdom as the main kid, Gentleman Broncos as the main kid, and who most people would probably remember as the young William at the beginning of Almost Famous — you know, “I’m eleven!?” — that kid), Kyle Gallner (who was on Veronica Mars, Big Love, and that recent Nightmare on Elm Street remake), Anna Gun (currently in Breaking Bad), Kerry Bishé (who was the new Zach Braff on Scrubs), and John Goodman (John fucking Goodman. How great is it when he pops up on screen?).

So, I’m excited for that. Now, this is all to say, this is still a horror movie and still first and foremost a showcase for Michael Parks. It’s also Kevin Smith making what is undoubtedly going to be an extremely unsettling movie. Don’t believe me? Watch this:

I am so fucking excited for this, you have no idea.

Hobo with a Shotgun

If I said nothing about this movie, admit that you’d at least be intrigued based on the title. It’s like the movie Dead Hooker in a Trunk. Even if you know nothing about it, the title alone makes it intriguing and worth a watch.

The concept for the film came back when Grindhouse was coming out. Remember how Grindhouse had all those fake trailers, for Machete (now a real movie), Thanksgiving (eventually to be a real movie, if Eli Roth is to be believed), Don’t, and Werewolf Women of the SS, which features Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu:

Yeah. So, they had a contest to see who could create the best faux Grindhouse trailer. And this one is the one that won:

It’s a fun trailer, right? Now, they got a budget to turn it into a real movie, starring Rutger Hauer, which was a phenomenal idea from the start. And here’s the trailer for that:

I’m very excited to see this.

Son of No One

Remember that movie A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints? That indie movie that everyone really seemed to like that the guy wrote and directed about his childhood? Yeah, well that guy wrote this movie. And Al Pacino is starring in it.

That’s really the only reason I have this movie on this list. I didn’t really care for Guide all that much. But Al Pacino doesn’t get good work anymore, and every time something remotely promising comes along, I’m all over it, hoping it’ll be good. It’s like DeNiro. All those old method actor guys just can’t catch a break in today’s world. They’re stuck playing cops, or, cops, or, bad cops, or, detectives hunting cops, or, make fun of their persona in “comedic” roles, or — that’s it, really. Al really hasn’t had a good movie role in about ten years.

This is about Channing Tatum as a young cop — fuck you synopsis writers, really…did you really think we’d assume he was playing old after you tell us Channing Tatum is the lead? — assigned to a Queens precinct where he grew up. But then some secret comes up about two murdered kids and a police cover-up, and shit hits the fan. that’s about all the synopsis we know. Al is probably the detective mentoring him who is also on the case. Juliette Binoche is also in this movie. So is Katie Holmes. So is Tracy Morgan (I love that casting choice). So is Ray Liotta. I’m guessing Ray and Juliette are the parents.

The cast is interesting enough. Hopefully this turns out okay.

Rampart

This earns a spot on the list because of the director’s last film. Oren Moverman directed The Messenger, which was a film that really didn’t get much notice last year, aside from Woody Harrelson getting nominated for Best Supporting Actor for it. Had Christoph Waltz not been involved last year, I’d say Woody should have gotten it (though Stanley Tucci was also really good). The movie was about an army guy who gets injured and is sent, while he’s home, to deliver the news to families that their loved ones died overseas. And Woody is the guy who he partners with and has been doing it for a long time. And he drinks a bit too much and is really hardened by it (but not really), and it’s a really great performance in a really touching movie.

There’s one scene that happens about midway through — or maybe it’s near the end, I forget — but, they go to this one family’s house to tell them, and as it’s about to happen, we know what’s going to happen, and the way the person reacts when they see them, we know it’s not going to end well. One of those, “oh no, when she finds out, this is going to be bad, bad, bad,” and I forget specifically what happens, but the way Woody handles this scene is just sublime.

Anyway, so that movie is great, you should check it out. This one, is Moverman’s second film, this one also starring Woody, as well as Ben Foster (who was army dude in Messenger), Steve Buscemi (also in that one), Robin Wright (no longer Penn), Sigourney Weaver, Brie Larson, Anne Heche, Ice Cube, Cynthia Nixon — a really top line cast.

It’s about Woody as a police officer — “the last of the renegade cops” — yes! — as he “struggles to take care of his family, and fights for his own survival.” Okay, I’m game. It’s apparently based on the Rampart scandal of the 90s, and the story and screenplay were co-written by James Ellroy, who wrote the book for L.A. Confidential. So, this sounds like both a good movie and Oscar bait. I’m very interested.

Butter

Here’s a movie I know because it was on the Black List of 2008. And a lot of big talent surrounded it and it got quietly made and no one really talked about it since then. Now it’s ready to come out. So I’m back to being excited about it.

It’s about a young orphan (here’s where young is actually appropriate, since she’s like 10), who discovers a talent for carving butter. The talent then puts her against the wife of the local butter carving champion in the annual competition.

It sounds like a nice comedy. Jennifer Garner plays the wife. Good casting. The little girl from Imagine That is the girl. Ashley Greene from Twilight, Olivia Wilde, Alicia Silverstone, Rob Corddry, Kristen Schaal and Hugh Jackman are also involved. I like the cast. It’s a nice eclectic mix or personalities. I’m wondering if Hugh Jackman is her adopted father or not. Probably not, based on his character name.

But, should be good. Or, if they fuck up what was probably a good script (haven’t read it, so, don’t know), decent enough.

Haywire

This is one of those Soderbergh films he goes off to shoot himself and no one knows anything about. The only reason this made some noise is that he cast an MMA fighter as his lead. Other than that, I doubt it would have been noticed by the mainstream media. Not like Contagion was.

The logline for this is simply: “a female soldier seeks revenge after she is betrayed.” This seems like Soderbergh doing his Girlfriend Experience thing again. Last time was a porn star playing a hooker, and this time is an MMA fighter playing a spy who kicks some ass. Hopefully this film will be more interesting than that one was.

Gina Carano is the soldier. Antonio Banderas is in it. So is Michael Douglas, Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender and Michael Angarano. This is Soderbergh, so I’m guessing what we expect this to be, it won’t be. I figure most of those actors won’t be on screen for more than a scene or two. I also expect there to not be so much action as we’d think there would be. I’m also almost positive that Ewan McGregor is playing her always-at-home boyfriend. You just know he will.

This sounds interesting though. Soderbergh usually makes things worthwhile.

The Whistleblower

Rachel Weisz. That’s it. She makes a movie, I watch that movie. I like her.

Here’s one of those Oscar movies she does randomly. She had one she was going to do for the longest time where she was gonna play a woman who pretended to be a man for like thirty years. That fell apart, then this one popped up.

This is about her as a Nebraska cop who serves as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia. She ends up outing the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal. It’s got one of those serious-minded casts, meant to bring the gravitas and stature to something like this. Vanessa Redgrave, David Strathairn, Monica Bellucci — they know what they have here. Since it was postponed from 2010, I’m guessing it won’t make waves, but I’m guessing something will be worth seeing in this one. Probably Rachel Weisz.

Henry’s Crime

This movie is on this list purely because it brought us this photo:

Sad Keanu. Anyway, this also sounds like more than just another Keanu movie. Despite what it looks like, he does try to vary up his role choices and film choices. I do also respect him as an actor, so I like when he tries things. Street Kings may have turned out a mostly generic movie, but it was very well done, and his performance was good in it.

This movie, believe it or not, is a comedy. I know. Keanu doing a comedy. I’m excited too. All we know is that it’s about a man (Henry, I’m guessing), an aimless man, no less (that explains the sad Keanu picture), who is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. I’ll bite. This sounds interesting.

Vera Farmiga is also in it. So is Judy Greer, who seems to be queen quirky indie. Her presence is usually a sign of originality in the material. James Caan, Peter Stormare, Bill Duke and Fisher Stevens are also in it. First off, Bill Duke is awesome. He has a nice on-screen presence. Peter Stormare is always solid. James Caan is amazing. I will watch that man do anything. And Fisher Stevens. That’s the most intriguing name on this list. You may remember him from Short Circuit. He’s the Indian man who finds “Number Johnny Five!” It’s nice to see him doing things again.

Anyway, the plot intrigues me, so I’m going to keep an eye on this one. This feels like an April movie.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

See that picture? That’s why I’m going to see this movie. Gary Oldman rules.

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6’s echelons.

Gary Oldman gets a lead role? Can it be true? Being directed by the guy who made Let the Right One In? Oh man, count me in. Listen to the solid cast of characters in this movie — Tom Hardy, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Cirán Hinds, Stephen Graham, and Christian McKay. Look up who they are if you don’t know. Every one of those people is someone I love seeing in movies.

This is a movie made for me to see. It’s as simple as that.

My Week with Marilyn

Here’s a movie I’m sort of against, but not really. I’m sure this can be done well. It just seems like it won’t work. Especially since there’s another one coming right behind it, directed by a guy I really respect (Andrew Dominik) based on a brilliant film he made (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), starring Naomi Watts. Now, I like Michelle Williams more than Naomi Watts, but I do like Naomi Watts. This one’s being directed by a BBC TV director. I’m not too pessimistic — The King’s Speech was also directed by a BBC TV director. It’s just, the other one gave me more hope.

Why I think this could work? It’s not about Marilyn. The other one is. The other one makes sense. It’s very Jesse James-like. Almost a flip side to the coin, even, in a lot of ways. Which is a fascinating thought. But this one is more like Me and Orson Welles. That was a very good movie with a fantastic performance by Christian McKay as Orson (I just answered one of the people you probably didn’t know up there in the last film). But, in that movie, the lead is Zac Efron (don’t get upset, he’s not that bad. He’s actually pretty good). Here, the lead is — some British kid. He played Matt Damon’s son in The Good Shepherd. And it’s about him working for Laurence Olivier, played by Kenneth Branagh, which makes perfect sense. Dude’s been trying to be Olivier on screen for years now, now he actually gets to do it. And he witnesses the affair between him and Monroe as they do The Prince and the Showgirl together. And Emma Watson is the kid’s love interest. And Judi Dench is in it. And so are a bunch of other people, but I think I’ve sold everyone I needed to sell already.

I think this can be a good movie, particularly since it’s not about her and her dying. It’ll be a nice companion piece to the other one that’s coming out.

My one gripe with the two movies though — both actresses playing Marilyn are way too thin. Way too thin. They better make them gain weight, or at least make them look as shapely as she was. She was probably the last of the normal looking women — before everyone went and got all anorexic crack whore.

A Dangerous Method

 

 

David Cronenberg’s first movie since Eastern Promises and A History of Violence. I like that he’s going back to Viggo Mortensen. He usually gives Viggo his best roles. This one’s about the relationship between Freud and Carl Jung and how psychoanalysis was founded.

Now, normally I wouldn’t give a fuck about this movie, but there are a few things that make me really interested in this. One, Viggo Mortensen is Freud and Michael Fassbender is Jung. Obviously. Two, Keira Knightley is in this. So is Vincent Cassel. Love that guy. Next — this sounds like an Oscar-type movie, doesn’t it? Like, dangerously so. The reason that makes me want to see this is because Cronenberg is directing. There are few directors who scream “Oscar” less than David Cronenberg. So I’m wondering if this is something where he’s trying to go for it, or if it’ll be good enough and accessible enough where they can reward him for it.

I’m really excited to see what happens to this over the next 6-8 months.

The Conspirator

I’ve been hearing about this movie for over a year now. Obviously, for someone who follows the Oscars as much as me, a movie about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln being directed by Robert Redford is about as high profile as it gets. However, since this did premiere at TIFF last year, and wasn’t picked up, I’m wondering how good this movie actually is.

It’s about James McAvoy, who looks to be getting back to his streak of dying in every film he appears in, and Robin Wright (no longer Penn). It’s mostly about her, as she’s the lone female conspirator that was charged in the assassination. The whole country turns against her, and it’s up to her lawyer (McAvoy…hmm, I guess he’s gonna live in this one after all) to get her acquitted. Apparently the reason she’s charged is because the only person to get away during the manhunt, the one who is actually guilty, is her son. That’s interesting.

I wonder why no one picked this up. Alexis Bledel is in this. So is Evan Rachel Wood, and Justin Long, and Kevin Kline, and Tom Wilkinson, and Stephen Root, and Danny Huston, and Johnny Simmons (dead boyfriend in Jennifer’s Body and young Neil in Scott Pilgrim), Evil henchman dude from Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the — oh, that’s a spoiler — one of the other policeman, Trooper Barrigan, if that name rings a bell to anyone (or his) in The Departed, one of the two Boondock Saints, some Glee guy, and Eli Thompson on Boardwalk Empire.

That’s a pretty fucking good cast. How can this not be a good movie?

Live with It

This is a comedy about cancer. You had me at cancer. Not the title, though that would be awesome. It was originally called I’m With Cancer, but now that’s the new title up there.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is diagnosed with cancer, and it’s about him as he tries to beat it. Seth Rogen is his buddy and Anna Kendrick (who I love) and Bryce Dallas Howard are also in it. So is Anjelica Huston. And Phillip Baker Hall. No doubt as his doctor.

I mean, it’s a comedy about cancer. This should be good. Joe Gordon Levitt usually picks only good things. (Fuck you, G.I. Joe was awesome. And he got to be Cobra Commander. Don’t give me no shit.)

Girls, Guns and Gambling

It’s Gary Oldman as Elvis, what did you think was going to happen?

Also, let’s just review that cast up there (aside from Gary): Christian Slater, Dane Cook, Tony Cox, Jeff Fahey, Powers Boothe, Chris Kattan. That has to lead to something interesting.

The story throws Elvis impersonators, Indians, modern cowboys, a 6-foot-tall blond assassin, a frat boy, a corrupt sheriff and a prostitute into a chase for a priceless American Indian artifact stolen during a poker game at an Indian casino.

Let’s do it. Bring it on.

My Idiot Brother

I’m actually less interested in the idiot brother than I am in the “me” part of that sentence.

It’s about an idealist who barges into the lives of his three sisters. That’s Paul Rudd, with that stoner/Unibomber beard. His sisters are three of the following women: Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, Emily Mortimer, Janet Montgomery. Either way, all of these women are in this movie. That alone makes me want to see it.

Everything Must Go

This is another one of those dramedies that Will Ferrell likes to do once in a while to make people think he cares. He doesn’t. He prefers doing those stupid comedies that got old back in 2005.

This script was ranked very highly on the Black List. I’m guessing it didn’t turn out as well as they hoped. Or, it did, and that’s the reason why it hasn’t been picked up by anyone yet. Studios don’t think they can sell it if Ferrell isn’t that idiot persona he loves to put on. Somehow I doubt that’s the case.

It’s about Ferrell, a middle-aged alcoholic (stop telling me people’s ages, motherfuckers!), who relapses, and is fired and thrown out of the house by his wife. In retaliation (not sure if he’s drunk or not while this is happening), he holds a yard sale on his front lawn in an attempt to start over. “A new neighbor may be the key to his return to form.” The two women in this movie are Rebecca Hall and Lauren Graham. I’m guessing Rebecca Hall is his wife and Lauren Graham is the new neighbor. Just a guess. Lauren Graham has that girl next door look about her. And Rebecca Hall is more capable of playing a tired bitch. Maybe not a bitch, but someone who will come off as one to people who are siding with Ferrell.

Something tells me Ferrell is badly miscast here, and that in better hands, this script could have been really good. I might actually read this, just to study how bad casting can ruin a good script. This is assuming already that it doesn’t work. I still want to see it. Maybe it does work.

Atlas Shrugged

This is on this list purely because of how fascinating its journey to the big screen has been. They’ve been trying to make this movie for 40 years. 40 years. Back in ’72, Albert S. Ruddy (producer of The Godfather) tried to get the rights, but Ayn Rand insisted on final script approval. He said, “That ain’t happenin’,” and nothing happened then. Then they were gonna make an 8-hour miniseries of it in ’78, but administrations changed hands at the network and it was scrapped.

Ayn Rand wrote some scripts herself in her day, so she started writing it. But she died in ’82 with only 1/3 of it done. She then left the film rights to one of her students, who sold an option to two other guys. Though he didn’t approve of the script they wrote, so it never happened. Then, in ’92, an investor came on and paid a cool million for complete creative control. Then nothing happened with it until ’99.

In ’99, under the sponsorship of that investor guy, Albert S. Ruddy returns to broker a deal with TNT for a 4-hour miniseries. But after the AOL-Time Warner merge, it was scrapped again. Getting complicated, huh? Then, after that, two other people acquired the rights, though they worked for a company at the time. They left and formed their own company, taking the rights with them. A two-part screenplay for the film was written by the guy who wrote Hook, Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, Kenneth Branagh’s Frankenstein, Contact, Tuck Everlasting and Sahara. Oh, and August Rush. No judgment, that’s just who he is. It was then rewritten to be a 127-page screenplay by Randall Wallace (who wrote Braveheart and just directed Secretariat), with Vadim Perelman to direct (he directed House of Sand and Fog).

Then everybody got involved. Here’s a list of people who were attached to it at some point — Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, and Brad Pitt. Then nothing happened, and things changed and it was basically just sitting there in development hell.

Then, last year, in May, a script was written, with intention to begin filming in June. However, the guy who was directing was fired and another director came on board just 9 days before filming started. What makes the start date interesting was that the film has until June 15th to start filming, otherwise the rights would have expired. So they got a script out for May, and began filming on June 13th. This is essentially a movie being made because they had to otherwise they’d lose the rights. Much like what’s going on with the Fantastic Four franchise and I think even the Superman franchise (didn’t they have to rush this Snyder version into production because the rights were expiring?). Paul Johansson is directing the movie, and the film pretty much includes people no one knows. The budget is only $5 million.

Holy shit, right? This story alone makes me want to see what this film looks like. Apparently it’s only a part 1 of 2. I can’t imagine this being the version of the film everyone wants. My best guess is in like ten to fifteen years, some big name director is going to come on board and attempt to do this. But, for now, let’s see how this one turns out.

The Details

I know nothing about this movie except that it’s about to enter Sundance, it’s starring Elizabeth Banks, Tobey Maguire, Laura Linney, Ray Liotta, Kerry Washington and Dennis Haysbert, and has this synopsis:

When a family of raccoons discover worms living underneath the sod in Jeff and Nealy’s backyard, this pest problem begins a darkly comic and wild chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity and murder.

That’s really all I need to check this out. Dark comedies are usually good. Dark comedy indies are usually a little too weird, but we always keep hope alive.

The Descendants

All I know about this is that it’s directed by Alexander Payne (Election, About Schmidt, Sideways — those are the only films he’s directed, along with Citizen Ruth) and that it stars George Clooney. Let’s find out what it is together…

A land baron tries to re-connect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident.

Okay — a land baron. I’m in. I mean, I was in before, but now I’m really in. Clooney always makes good movies, and Payne has a certain character in his films that makes them worth watching.

That’s it, really. I’d rather go in cold on this. I’m sure some really good trailer will come out soon that’ll make everyone want to see it.

The Ides of March

This will be Clooney’s fourth directorial effort, after Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Good Night and Good Luck, and Leatherheads. All of those films were very well made, and very entertaining as well. He seems to alternate between a fun one and a serious one.

Also, don’t be fooled. He is starring in this, but mostly in a supporting role. It’s about “an idealistic staffer for a newbie presidential candidate gets a crash course on dirty politics during his stint on the campaign trail.”

Clooney is playing the candidate. Ryan Gosling is the lead. The rest of the cast is Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Max Minghella, and Jeffrey Wright. What a cast, right?

This is a movie that screams Oscar bait. It was picked up for a December release, this will factor into the Oscar season in some way. I, for one, can’t wait. Clooney always picks good projects.

Rubber

And now, our final film. There’s a reason I saved this one for last. You see that tire over there? That’s your main character in this film.

That’s right. The movie is about a tire. Listen to Wikipedia:

Rubber is a 2010 French horror comedy film about a tire that comes to life and kills people with its psychic powers.

The tire is named Robert.

Sounds awesome, right? Check out these great teasers for it:

This might be my most anticipated movie of the year. I cannot wait to see this one.

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