21 July, 2005

Upcoming Flicks I'll Be Checking Out

O'Leary's Recommendations of the Day:
Film: Heat. To date, Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro have starred in two films together: The Godfather, Part II and Heat. The Godfather, Part II featured parallel story lines playing out during different time periods, and therefore did not allow Pacino and DeNiro to be onscreen together at all. Heat marks the first time that these two legends of acting interact and exist in the same scene. This is no gimmick, either. Heat is a brilliant crime thriller with DeNiro as a criminal mastermind and Pacino as the law enforcer after him. Director Michael Mann delivers one of his best films with this three hour masterpiece starring two of our age's greatest stars.
Song: "Frankenstein," Edgar Winter Group. This song is, quite frankly, excellent. Although it's simply five minutes of instrumental music, it's incredible to listen to. You know that this must be a good song since it's my ring tone for my friends.

As the summer film season sadly begins it's downward spiral, I'm looking ahead to what films are still in store for us. However, some of the following films are still to be released this summer and some won't be released this year. Here's a look at the films I'm looking forward to seeing:

The Brothers Grimm: Director Terry Gilliam returns to the cinema eight years since his last film. The former Monty Python has become one of my favorite directors, although he has a limited filmography, one that I haven't even completely seen. This film, starring Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as the Brothers, is a fantasy film taking place in and around the famous stories of the Brothers Grimm. Despite its release in late August, normally a time when the studios deliver the crappiest of crap to the theaters, I'm optimistic about this one. Not to mention there won't be much else out there when it's released.

A History of Violence: This film has some pre-release buzz as it was shown at Cannes Film Festival and vied for the top honors there. It stars Vigo Mortenson and Ed Harris in a plot that really intrigues me. The trailer doesn't really get to much into the story, but that much that it does get into seems really interesting. Mortenson is a seemingly normal guy in a normal town until his armed defense of a robbery attempt at his diner brings out some aspects of him that those around him were unaware of. Questions like "how did this normal man obtain such abilities?" arise from those around him. Harris' character enters as the one who has info about Mortenson's past and is depicted as a menacing force in the trailer. This film looks very original and very interesting.

A Scanner Darkly: I've already mentioned this film in a past recommendation. This film won't be released until some time next year but it's already getting me excited. The story comes from a novel by master science fiction writer Philip K. Dick and employs an incredible looking animation technique. The trailer displays all of this and can be found at "www.apple.com/trailers." After you check that out, you'll be excited for this one as well.

The Island: This film is to be released tomorrow. It is from shallow director Michael Bay (I'll give him props for The Rock, but all the rest of his films are shallow and suck), but I'm excited about Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson being in it and the film has the potential for being deeper than any of Bay's other films because of the sci-fi cloning plot line. Reviews have been mixed thus far but should they remain where they are or swing upward as of tomorrow, I'll be checking this one out.

Elizabethtown: Director Cameron Crow has had a pretty impressive career as director of Say Anything..., Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous. This is his new film that is already drawing some Oscar speculation. The trailer looks great, although the film looks a bit feminine. That doesn't bother me too much as a good romance can hit the spot for me, something I am looking for this film to do, as well as deliver an excellent film on the whole.

The 40 Year Old Virgin: Perhaps the least classy film mentioned in this entry, this film looks hilarious. The outlandish title can make you laugh by itself. I've heard that this film is histerical and this will also be released in one of the semi-annual black holes of cinema, late August. However, one of my favorite comedic actors, Steve Carell, plays the title role, not to mention the film is going to be rated R and comedies of this caliber with such a rating in the past couple of years have almost always made for a good time.

King Kong: Yes! Another remake! Remakes are running rampant around the cinema these days. Many of them are terrible, however, not all of them (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, should one consider that a remake, was excellent in fact). This one looks like it could be good, if not excellent. Naturally, King Kong and the dinosaurs of skull island are computer generated, but they look very good in the trailer. Lord of the Rings director, Peter Jackson, is helming this one, with Adrien Brody, Jack Black and Naomi Watts, among others, starring. This one will be out at Christmas, or there about and should make for an exciting end of the year flick.

2046: This one has been released in most of the world already, but it's coming out in the beginning of August in the U.S. This film from Hong Kong, directed by respected Chinese director Wong Kar Wai, stars Tony Leung (House of Flying Daggers and Infernal Affairs) and Zhang Ziyi (Hero and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), two of China's most revered current actors. The trailer looks very cool, showing a romance story in a futuristic noir type of city. This one looks very interesting.

V for Vendetta: This is the film for which Natalie Portman infamously shaved her head for filming, sending teenage boys everywhere to sleep crying (and some eerily aroused...). The Wachowski brothers, of Matrix fame, are credited with some creative input in the trailer for this film, although I'm not exactly what it is since they aren't directing. Hugo Weaving stars as the masked villain of this film, based on a graphic novel. This film has a good deal of buzz around it and I'm hoping this will be the second incredible graphic novel adaptation for the screen of the year, the first being Sin City.

Spielberg Olympic Film: This one is being called Vengeance some places, although that hasn't been confirmed as its title yet. This will be Spielberg's second film of the year, following this summer's excellent War of the Worlds. This film isn't exactly about the Olympics, despite it being widely called "Untitled 1972 Munich Olympic Project." The film is supposedly about the Israeli military action taken against the Palestinians responsible for the kidnapping and murdering of Israeli athletes at those Olympics. The actual story of the kidnapping and murder is an intense one, and if interested in that, check out the incredible documentary, One Day in September. This film is still in production, but all sources point to a late 2005 release, although no trailer or poster has been released. I'm totally excited for this one and I'm hoping it will be released this year.

Jarhead: Director Sam Mendes has had an absolutely stellar career so far, despite only having directed two films, American Beauty and the vastly underated Road to Perdition. This is his new film about soldiers in Gulf War combat. Indications are that it will have comic elements, so this isn't a Saving Private Ryan for the Gulf War. It is based on real events, however, and stars Jamie Foxx, Jake Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard. This one is also drawing some early Oscar buzz and looks very, very promising.

The Fountain: This film may be the film I am most anticipating. It stars Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman. I'm always looking forward to seeing Hugh Jackman in a new movie because I think he's a very versatile actor, not to mention I met him. This one comes from Pi and Requiem for a Dream director, Darren Aronofsky. The film has a totally insane plot in which three parallel stories, all starring Weisz and Jackman, play out simultaneously, despite the fact that the stories take place at different times in a 1000 year time span. The title comes from the Fountain of Youth, which plays some role in the film. This one has been in production for awhile and has been kept under pretty tight wraps. Not too many people seem very excited about this one, but it's going to knock our socks off.

Green Street Hooligans: This one is kind of a cheat. I have seen this already, although it hasn't been released in theaters. It has had its rounds on the festival circuit, under the title Hooligans, one of those festivals being the Tribeca Film Festival, where I saw it. First time feature director Lexi Alexander made this film out of personal experience. This is a gritty film depicting the world of football firms in the U.K. Firms are basically hardcore football fans, loyal to one team, who beat up the firms of other clubs. Alexander told the audience at the screening I attended that she was part of this world for awhile in Germany, where things are similar to the way things are depicted in this film. Despite speculation that this would be picked up because of its seemingly easy sell with Elijah Wood starring, it did not sell to any studio and is being released independently. Come September, this one will be released limitedly and will probably expand from there. I'm going to make an attempt to see this one again and I encourage others to as well. This film reminded me a lot of Fight Club in that it followed organized groups of average guys that fought periodically, however I enjoyed it more than Fight Club because of the sports aspect and because it was less surreal than Fight Club.

Well these are the films I'm looking forward to. I'm sure I won't get to see all of these in their theatrical runs and more films that have flown under the radar will be seen by me in the theater as well.