A place where I jot down my musings on art, life, politics, philosophy and culture.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Movies I'm Excited About (July)

I've decided to try my hand at a monthly update detailing all the cinema I'm most looking forward to consuming as I become aware of it. I'll try and post trailers as much as possible so you can all see what I'm talking about. This first one will be unusually long as I've had a lot that I've gotten wind of over these past few months.


"Burn After Reading"
Directed by the Coen Brothers
After their masterfully bleak adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's "No Country For Old Men", it looks like Joel and Ethan decided to flush all the bad juju out of their systems by following up with a wacky espionage comedy. I love the idea of Brad Pitt as a mentally deficient gym-junkie and anything with John Malkovich threatening to kill people is at least worth a look.

Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/focus_features/burnafterreading/trailer1b/

"The Road"
Directed by John Hillcoat
Speaking of Cormac McCarthy, this movie looks to be one of those rare planetary alignment films, where all the elements are perfectly suited to create a masterpiece. It could somehow totally fail, but with Joe Penhall adapting McCarthy's latest work, John Hillcoat (of The Proposition fame) directing, Viggo Mortenson starring and Nick Cave and Warren Ellis scoring, it'll be one of the most amazing failures ever. My money's on roaring success. It's cannibal-infested apocalypse time! Ba beeew!

No trailer as of yet but here are some stills: http://twitchfilm.net/site/entry-images/category/C169/

"Tropic Thunder"
Directed by Ben Stiller
I have nothing but praise from all quarters concerning this latest comedy from Stiller, in which a trio of Hollywood actors get put in the jungle for an expensive war film which goes totally off the rails and ends up coming across gangs of murderous drug thugs. What makes the film completely hilarious is the notion that none of the actors realise they are not on a film set anymore, very much a similar theme to Bill Murray's "The Man Who Knew Too Little", which I regard as totally underrated. Moreover, all the actors seem to be bringing their "weird" game, with Jack Black as a heroin addicted Eddie Murphy-clone, Ben Stiller as an action star whose bid to turn "oscar" resulted in one of the worst films of all time and, most importantly, Robert Downey Junior as an Australian method actor who, for his role, has himself surgically treated to become a black man, a role he plays to the racist and ironic hilt. If all this doesn't sell you, you've got Steve Coogan as a Coppola-type director going insane, Nick Nolte as the handless war veteran author of the story the movie is supposed to be adapting and TOM CRUISE as a fat, slimy and totally amoral film executive.

Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/tropicthunder/

"Man on Wire"
Directed by James Marsh
At last something to do with the World Trade Centre that isn't depressing or moralistic. This wonderfully light-looking doco tells the amazing true story of "guerrilla artist" Phillipe Petit, who has made it his life's work to do trapeze acts on every world monument he can get his hands on. In the 1970's he conspired to make the WTC his next conquest and the film tracks his progress as he assembles a crack team to get him on that wire. It looks part social document, part caper movie, part awesome.

Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/magnolia/manonwire/

"Encounters at the End of the World"
Directed by Werner Herzog
I'll watch anything by Herzog, but this looks to be something extra special. All reviews of it have been glowing and the underwater cinematography looks mind-blowing. Werner travelled to Antarctica for this film and documents the amazing landscape, the bizzare people and weird idiosyncrisies that make up this alien continent. The title has two meanings, of both the literal geographical position of the film's subject and the future of humanity. Werner tackles both with his legendary genius. I hear his view of penguins is markedly different than previous efforts. You owe it to yourself to see this.

Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/thinkfilm/encountersattheendoftheworld/

"Miracle at St. Anna"
Directed by Spike Lee
Love him or hate him, it's undeniable that Spike Lee is a damned talented director and this latest film, telling the story of Buffalo Soldiers in World War 2, looks very good. Derek Luke is one of my favourite actors and it's a thrill to see him get a starring role, plus it's got Joseph Gordon-Levitt!

Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/touchstone/miracleatstanna/

"Mad Detective"
Directed by Johnny To
Hong Kong
Johnny To is always a film-maker who can at the very least deliver great action and at the very best create deeply analytical character studies. He's a film maker who clearly is in love with both the possibilities of cinema and with humanity, for all it's flaws and foibles. I consider him one of the best humanist directors around at the moment. This latest movie, starring Lau Ching Wan and Andy On, looks to be some kind of fever dream crossover between John Woo and David Lynch. The whole multiple personality thing is a pretty heavily mined plotline, but this movie looks to me to buck the stereotypical trend.

Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/maddetective/trailer/

"Chandi Chwok Goes To China"
Directed by Nikhil Advani
This just looks like some of the most fun you can have with your pants on. Bollywood meets Wusha in this hilarious comedy-musical about an Indian cook who is mistaken for a martial arts master. Also starring Gordon Lieu! The first Bollywood picture to ever be funded by Warner Brothers.

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1659879987

"Lone Summer"
Directed by Yoon Hong-Seung
South Korea
I don't know what it is, but all the Korean horror movies I've seen have been terrifying. This looks like an interesting blend of a race-against time thriller with a macarbe slasher film. What is it with Koreans and school corridors yielding unspeakable evil? Check out the Washing Machine death at the end!

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1672070795

"Quick Gun Murrugun"
Directed by Shashanka Ghosh
I don't know what's going on in Asia at the moment, but everyone and his grandmother seems to relish the idea of making Western films. This one looks like a cut above the rest, with a South Indian "Karmic Cowboy" sworn to uphold the tenants of vegetarianism against the evil of the McDoha chain. Featuring insane gun battles and a heady dose of curries, it looks to be a fun ride. Hopefully it'll beat out Tears of the Black Tiger as one of the most loopy takes on the Western genre.

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1659879732

Directed by Fumihiko Sori
I've got a burning love for Sori's "Ping Pong" and this latest film is one of the more interesting takes on the Chumbara genre, with a reimagining of the classic Zatoichi legend, this time with an unspeakably beautiful young girl as the blind swordsman. While I'm not the biggest fan of the look of the lighting in this movie, I'll watch anything by Sori and we'll see if he can outdo Takeshi Kitano for a weird take on this staple of Japanese lore.

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1659879857

"The Fall"
Directed by Tarsem Singh
You may recall Singh's work as the director of that visually sumptuous but narritively hollow film "The Cell", where Jennifer Lopez had to travel inside the mind of a serial killer. Well, he's back with this movie and it's the most beautiful thing I've seen all year, just in a trailer! It took 8 years for Singh to make this film, after a quarter of a century scraping together enough money making commercials and music videos and from all the press, it looks like it was worth it. This is actually a remake of the 1981 Bulgarian movie "Yo Ho Ho", which I haven't seen; it's about a little girl who visits a wounded man in hospital and the stories he weaves toegther for her in an effort to convince her to steal morphine for him so he can kill himself. Dazzling. It's worth noting while you watch this trailer that NOTHING WAS DONE WITH CGI. Every location, every effect is real and in camera.

Trailer: http://www.apple.com/trailers/independent/thefall/

Directed by Marco Kreuzpaintner
Adapted from the famous (in Germany) teen fantasy series, Krabat is the story of a young boy who enters into the world of wizardry. It's got a great horror aesthetic to it, crossed with the slickness of the recent Harry Potter efforts. I'm keen to see it.

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1683872050

Directed by Jon Hewitt
At last, something that looks like Australian film makers aren't all ahistorical. This movie is soaked in the 70's ozsploitation feel (check out the sunglasses on the murderer!) and packs a curious story to boot, with a group of school friends blackmailing a serial killer to bump off whoever they want. It looks very well shot and I'm always a sucker for people screaming in Aussie accents.

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1659795390

Directed by Kim Nguyen
Very aptly described as Jarmusch meets Jeunet, this boldly expressionist quirky sci-fi/comedy/thriller/I-don't-know is set in a dystopian Montreal where a legendary truffle hunter is pursued by an evil faceless corporation. Amazing camera work, lighting and set design, combined with a bizzarely great storyline.

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1659879964

Directed by Michel Gondry, Bong Joon-Ho and Leos Carax
What's that you say? Michel Gondry in Japan?! That's right, this trio of shorts is a meditation on the great Japanese metropolis, with what looks to be awesome stuff from all three directors. Check out the guy from the sewers in Leos Carax's one, appropriately titled "Merde".

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1659879955

Directed by Uli Edel
This just looks sexy. A cinematic treatment of the Red Army Faction's terrorist campaign during the 60's, with Bruno Ganz as Horst Herold!

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1659795350

"Sexy Killer"
Directed by Miguel Marti
What do you get when you cross Legally Blonde with Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer? This movie. What the hell? Brutal slaying cut to Aqua's "Barbie Girl". The trailer is one of the most bizzarely cut things I've ever seen.

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1662583318

"A L'Interier"
Directed by Alexandre Bustillo, Julian Maury
Man, these French are really digging their horror these days. This is apparently one of the sickest and most relentless scare-a-thons out at the moment, featuring some legendary gore and a gripping performance by Beatrice Dalle as the insane killer.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmdCfv2jZKA&feature=related

"Hitler Kaput"
Directed by Marius Balchunas
It looks like capitalism is finally loading up the coffers of Russian film makers given the massive spike in production values recently witnessed. This movie is something I can't believe even exists. A farcical, Zucker brothers-style take on the Nazi invasion of the motherland. With wacky humour, background jokes and just all out insanity. The Britney Spears cover is worth the price of admission alone.

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1472348204

"Dachimawa Lee"
Directed by Ryu Seung-Wan
South Korea
James Bond spoofs have gone beyond cliche, but this brings something else to the table, namely the most ridiculous po-mo remix of every genre imaginable, spy thriller, western, noir, martial arts epic, hong kong gangster film, it's got them all. I love the moment when the hero wacks a guy on the head with a gun, resulting in an anime-style blood nose explosion.

Trailer: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1214128517/bctid1662475246

"Late Bloomer"
Directed by Go Shibata
This is probably the movie I'm most excited by. This still hasn't been released in Australia but hopefully it'll happen soon. The movie is about a severely physically disabled man who takes revenge on those who mistreat him, played by an actually disabled man. It looks amazingly shot and has Worlds End Girlfriend, one of my favourite musicians out there, doing the soundtrack. I want it so bad.

Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kJ9k1LOYbo

About Me

Timothy John Sharp is a writer/director based in Perth, Australia.