Forthcoming attractions.

29Jul11

Two more months and we’ll be on the home stretch towards the awards season again. Everybody knows that if it’s a year Christopher Nolan is busy filming rather than releasing, cinema practically dies from the end of the Oscars in March until the beginning of October. I’ve found a few exceptions, but this year is barely any different. I’ve scoured IMDb and Venice’s lineup, and I count the following nineteen must-sees that we’ll soon be fortunate to have on our screens. No doubt a few have escaped my eyes, but this itinerary will do for now. The order is pretty much random – not enough release dates are set in stone for an attempt at a chronological ordering to be worthwhile. All release dates mentioned are for the UK.

Two films with early, confirmed release dates, however, are The Skin I Live In and Friends With Benefits. The former is Pedro Almodóvar’s return to the cinemas following the mesmerising Broken Embraces. No Penélope this time, though, for the first film in a while. Pedro has wheeled out that old-hand Antonio Banderas instead, but it looks like we’re in for something darker than their earlier Women on the Verge. It’s set to be the Spanish maestro’s first attempt at horror, and it involves plastic surgery. Intriguing to say the least. Release date 26th August.

The Skin I Live In.

You may laugh at my choice of highlighting Friends With Benefits, but hear me out: neither put in the technically best performance of 2010, but nobody was more entertaining. I’m talking about both Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake in Black Swan and The Social Network respectively, of course. Their characters no doubt helped them, but both are damn attractive and watchable, and it looks like a film I would otherwise assume to be cheap Hollywood Jennifer Anniston-style trash has the potential to be genuinely fun. They both earn the film the right to be given a chance. Release date 9th September.

Next up, I’ll just rehighlight the trio of female biopics I highlighted in the post before: The Lady, The Iron Lady and My Day with Marilyn. About Aung San Suu Kyi, Margaret Thatcher and Monroe respectively, and starring Michelle Yeoh, Meryl Streep and Michelle Williams, in that order. The latter two in particular look like Oscar-bait, but all three should be first rate, exemplary drama. Release date for The Iron Lady is 6th January.

A quick word for Midnight in Paris. Woody Allen drives me insane these days. You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger was offensively bad. But this isn’t his usual formulaic setup of relationship breakdown crossed with pop-philosophy. It’s a fantasy involving a trip back in time to meet Pound, Hemingway and all the other great Parisian artists of the 20s. Potential, at last, and positive reviews so far. Another worthy of a look-in.

Midnight in Paris.

The long awaited adaptation of the phenomenal and notoriously untransferable On The Road is also set to hit our screens. I retain a lot of skepticism about the possibility of this working. It’s going to have to be very art-house indeed to have any chance of feeling right. But with the director of The Motorcycle Diaries at the helm, and thus a man not a stranger to filming road trips, as well as Controls Sam Riley playing Kerouac, we’d be mad not to give them the opportunity to try it.

A word for Scorsese’s Hugo. The trailer is now out, and we can see that yet again America’s finest auteur is continuing to distance himself from his gangster past with yet another wild addition to his filmography. Add to the Dylan documentary, Stones concert, Howard Hughes biopic and the noir throwback Shutter Island, amongst half a dozen other films and documentaries during the last ten years, a fantasy film for children! The tricolour is set to look fabulous, and he’s even trying out 3D. I have nothing to say about this, except that if anyone can pull a move like this off, it’s Scorsese. It’s like David Kronenberg deciding to shoot a romcom. Release date 2nd December.

Speaking of which, Kronenberg’s new film this year is A Dangerous Method, an exposé of the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, the founders of sociology and psychotherapy as disciplines we know to this day. Yes, that’s right. My appetite is whetted too. Mortensen will be playing Freud, and Keira Knightley one of his sexed-up patients. Release date 10th February.

A Dangerous Method.

Keeping the bridges going, this time I’ll link with the theme of sex. Shame is Steve McQueen’s follow-up to his debut, Hunger, and stars Carey Mulligan as a sexaholic. I know little else, but that young girl has a sufficiently strong aura of cuteness around her (it’s only 2 years since An Education!) that this should be quite the transformation.

Which brings us on to a remake. David Fincher has carried Rooney Mara over from The Social Network and recast her as the badass Lisbeth Salander in his Hollywood version of Swedish Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Barely imaginable, and surely unwise to touch an already adequate Swedish original so soon. But then again, Fincher is at the helm, so I withdraw all reservations. Also starring Daniel Craig. Release date 26th December.

When searching for these new releases, I largely scoured by director – the most reliable guide to quality one can have. There’s an exception, however, and that’s Leo DiCaprio, who consistently makes intelligent films ever since he began working with Scorsese. This year, one has to feel his Oscar finally awaits him. Another biopic, this time he plays J. Edgar Hoover, and to top it off, none other than Clint Eastwood will be directing him. A naff lapse last year with Hereafter aside, the ageing grandfather of American cinema has made consistently good films, and I doubt this will be an exception.

Another actor I’m happy to watch films purely because they are in nowadays is Brad Pitt, who seems to have matured somewhat incredibly in recent years, apparently out of a desire to create a legacy his children can be proud of. His latest, then, is called Moneyball, which is about baseball. I’ll be going in blind on this one. Release date 4th November.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

Keeping briefly with the actor (or actress in this case) as a guide, but also noting the presence of two top directors in the form of Steven Soderbergh and Polanski, Kate Winslet is back on the scene for the first time since 2008’s The Reader and Revolutionary Road with Contagion and Carnage. The former is an environmental thriller also starring Matt Damon and Marion Cotillard amongst others, and I imagine it will be very Trafficesque. Release date 21st October. The latter is Polanski’s and co-stars Christoph Waltz.

Opening Venice Film Festival next month will be Clooney’s directorial effort The Ides of March, a political drama based on the play, starring Clooney himself alongside Tomei, Hoffman and Gosling. The Up In The Air star’s old director Jason Reitman is also back on the scene with Young Adult, which will no doubt be another typically intelligent comedy-drama. It will star Charlie Theron. Release date for The Ides of March is 28th October.

My final two shouts are for less well known foreign pieces: Wong Kar Wai’s paean to Ip Man, the teacher of Bruce Lee, was supposed to be out last year, but instead looks more likely to finally arrive in early 2012. Titled The Grandmasters, it stars long term muse Tony Leung. Rarely does Wong make a bad film. I cannot say the same with such certainty about the Greek Giorgos Lanthimos, but the Cannes winner for 2009’s Dogtooth was impressive and sick enough with that effort to warrant a viewing of his latest effort. I doubt it will reach much further than the BFI and Curzon cinemas, but it will be called Alps.

Hopefully that’s helped to shape your calendar at least somewhat. Sweet dreams, and eventually happy viewing.

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