Film, List, Opinion

JANUARY 2016 IN FILM 

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Happy new year! 2016 is finally upon us, and it promises to be one of the biggest years in cinema yet. January is an exciting month, with the UK finally getting to see some of the major oscar contenders that have been out in the US for months. Here is the lowdown of what will be coming to screens this month…

The Danish Girl:

the-danish-girl-posterOut: January 1st 2016

Directed: Tom Hooper

Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Wishaw

What’s it about?: Tells the story of the marriage of Gerda and Einar Wegener, the latter of who became one of the first gender reassignment patients in 1920’s Copenhagen. The film is based on the book by David Ebershoff, a fictionalised account of the real life couple.

Will it be good?: In an oscar-baiting way, undoubtedly. Whilst The Danish Girl is a film that has been trying to get made for over a decade, it has been released in the midst of the biggest ever dialogue about trans issues, and is sure to make good of its two leads.

Vikander is an up and coming star who well and truly broke out into mainstream consciousness last year with Ex-Machina and The Man from U.N.C.L.E, whilst Redmayne scooped an oscar for his transformative performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything – a film which also, incidentaly, portrays a marriage in unusual circumstances.

British director Hooper won the Best Director oscar back in 2010 for The King’s Speech, and his latest film is sure to tick a lot of the boxes that the Academy look for, so The Danish Girl is not to be missed if you want to know what everyone’s talking about come February.

Joy:

Joy-PosterOut: January 1st 2016

Directed: David O Russell

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Bradley Cooper

What’s it about?: Loosly based on the true story of Joy Mangano, the inventor of the Miracle Mop. The film tells the story of her rise to prominence and as a matriarch of her family.

Will it be good?: Russell must know that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, because he has reunited his triangle of talent for the third time with Joy, and there is no denying that its a talented trio. Lawrence is arguably one of the biggest names in Hollywood at the moment, and she is riding high on the conclusion of the much loved Hunger Games series at the end of last year, whilst DeNiro is a living legend, and no amount of questionable roles (more on that later) will change that. Cooper has also proved his worth in recent years, moving further away from romcoms and comedies to take on some really interesting roles – whatever your view is on American Sniper (2014), you can’t deny his ability.

Russell has also proved himself a skilled filmaker, particularly with a string of generally well recieved releases since 2010’s The Fighter, but there is still the feeling that his work has a hollow quality that is difficult to put into words. American Hustle (2014) for example, was a great and enjoyable film on first viewing, but it feels empty upon repeated watches, holding it back from gaining any lasting status. That said, Joy will be hard to ignore this month, and is sure to be worth seeing based on Lawrence alone.

The Hateful Eight:

the-hateful-eightOut: January 8th 2016

Directed: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh

What’s it about?: A snowstorm in the heart of a Wyoming Winter leaves eight individuals taking refuge at Minnie’s haberdashy in post-civil war USA.

Will it be good?: Almost certainly. Tarantino fans will be falling over themselves to see the latest from the director, which is set in the same universe as 2012’s Django Unchained. It looked like the film may never see the light of day when the director shelved it following a script leak in early 2014, but its finally here and it is sure to be glorious.

Tarantino has cited The Thing (1982) and Resevoir Dogs (1992) as the two main influences on the film, and this fact alone is enough to send excitement levels into overdrive. The idea of eight shady people being cooped up together in a tavern is an interesting premise that could go in any direction, and The Hateful Eight should be one everyone’s must-see list this month.

Creed:

creedpostersmallOut: January 15th 2016

Directed: Ryan Coogler

Starring: Michael B Jordan, Sylvester Stallone

What’s it about?: AKA Rocky VII – Former heavyweight champion Rocky Balboa becomes mentor to Adonis Johnson, the son of his former rival and late friend, Apollo Creed.

Will it be good?: When Creed was first announced there was a collective sigh from anyone who had ever seen a Rocky movie – what were they thinking? Stallone had managed to bring the series back and end it on a high in 2006 with Rocky Balboa, but in the process he had provided an appropriate end for the chracter, why ruin that? But against the odds the film has actually been very well recievec in the states, moving the story along by introducing Creed and placing Stallone in the mentor role.

It is the first Rocky film not to be written by Stallone, and also the first where Rocky doesn’t fight. This allows Rocky Balboa to maintain its definitive end of an era vibe whilst also allowing the series to continue in a way that doesn’t feel increasingly ridiculous. The up and coming Jordan also seems like the perfect candidate to play Creed, and the film is a must-see out of curiousity if nothing else.

The Revenant: 

revenant-leoOut: January 15th 2016

Directed: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domnhall Gleeson

What’s it about?: Set in the 1820s. the film tells the story of Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) – a frontierman who survives being mauled by a bear and sets out on a quest for revenge against his confidant John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy).

Will it be good?: It is set to be a technical marvel above all else, and it is looking like it will cement Gonzalez Inarritu as one of the most inventive filmakers working today. The follow up to Birdman, which won big at the 2014 oscars, the film had a well-documented troubled production, largely due to the fact that it was filmed on location and using only natural light, meaning that only a few hours could be filmed per day.

The film will live or die by DiCaprio, who gave everything to the role and said it was one of the toughest of his career. Sure, this opens him up to a lot of jokes about how far he is willing to go to try and finally bag an oscar (he ate a raw bison’s liver, in spite of being vegetarian), but it also proves why he is one of the best in the business. He turned down Steve Jobs (2015) for this, and it looks like it has paid off. The film has already been recieving rave reviews and is another strong oscar contender, as well as the type of film that was painstakingly designed to be appreciated on the big screen, so make sure you don’t miss it in cinemas.

Room:

Room_PosterOut: January 15th 2016

Directed: Lenny Abrahamson

Starring: Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay

What’s it about?: A mother and her five year old son live out their lives in a 10 by 10 feet room, where the mother works hard to keep her sons imagination alive before they decide to try and break out into the real world.

Will it be good?: It has been getting excellent write-ups, with Larson’s central performance gaining the majority of the praise. It is an interesting concept, based on Emma Donoghue’s novel, which she wrote after hearing about the5 year old Felix in the Fritzl case. A film of this sort can only work if the performances are good, and all the indacators are pointing towards this being the case, with an oscar nomination even being mentioned for Larson. Anyone interested in the awards race will have to add this to the already crowded must-watch list.

The Big Short:

tbs_1-sht_teaserOut: January 22nd 2016

Directed: Adam McKay

Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

What’s it about?: Tells three seperate tales about the mid 2000s mortgage housing crisis in the USA.

Will it be good?: Bar seeing the trailer, I haven’t heard a lot about this film, but I am banking on it being good based on the stellar cast. McKay is much better known for his comedy work, and this is the first film of his not to feature Will Ferrell, but the trailer looked like the film had a comedy-drama vibe that should suit the director well.

Carrell proved he can do dramatic well with Foxcatcher (2015), and his comedy talent is untouchable, so he seems like a perfect fit for the film, whilst it is great to see Gosling back on screen following his break from acting since 2013. Bale and Pitt are also industry stalwarts, and bringing the four talents together has the potential for brilliant storytelling – it all hangs on McKay’s ability to maintain the more dramatic elements.

Our Brand is in Crisis:

Our-Brand-Is-Crisis-posterOut: January 22nd 2016

Directed: David Gordon Green

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Billy Bob Thornton, Anthony Mackie

What’s it about?: Based on the documentary of the same name (available on Netflix), the film depicts a Bolivian politician who hires an American political analyst in a bid to win the 2002 election.

Will it be good?: The film, produced by Bullock and George Clooney, has every chance of being good, yet for some reason I’m not sold. It might be the poster, which makes it look like a generic thriller starring Liam Neeson. It might also be the fact that it is basically just remaking a documentary that I could easily watch on Netflix from the comfort of my own bed.

That said, Bullock, Thornton and recent Avengers addition Mackie are all strong performers, and it isn’t fair to write a film off totally because of poor marketing, so Our Brand is in Crisis could turn out to be that excellent film that I didn’t bother to see.

Ride Along 2:

file_612412_ride-along-2-poster-640x1013Out: January 22nd 2016

Directed: Tim Story

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Olivia Munn

What’s it about?: Ben’s (Kevin Hart) wedding is looming, and he accompanies his soon to be brother in law James (Ice Cube) to Miami to bring down a drug dealer.

Will it be good?: Granted I have never seen the first Ride Along (2014), but hopes aren’t particularly high for this one. With Straight Outta Compton (2015) coming out last year, it has reminded anyone who may have forgotten of the greatness of N.W.A, which just makes it seem even stranger that Ice Cube – the man responsible for Fuck Tha Police – is playing a police officer. There isn’t anything wrong with it per se, it’s just weird. Hart on the other hand is funny, but he has also appeared in a fair few lacklustre comedies, and I’m willing to bet that is the category Ride Along 2 will fall into.

The 33:

the33_1sht_main_dom_2764x4096Out: January 29th 2016

Directed: Patricia Riggan

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Rodrigo Santoro

What’s it about?: Based on the 2010 incident which saw 33 Chilean miners being trapped underground for 69 days. The film is based on the official account of events as depicted in the book Deep Down Dark.

Will it be good?: If handled right, yes. Films of this sort can be extremely effective, but the impact is based on the director’s ability to make the audience experience the trapped feeling of the characters. Mexican director Riggan doesn’t have a gigantic backlog to go from, and other work includes TV Movie Lemonade Mouth (2012) which was shown on the Disney Channel, so she clearly doesn’t have experience in this genre. That doesn’t mean it should be written off – it is an intriguing incident and if handled well it will be an affecting watch. So far it has recieved mixed reviews from critics, some of whom have noted that it relies too heavily on formula. It is hard to gage, but the film probably won’t take precedence in my choices for the month.

Dirty Grandpa: 

dirty-grandpa-posterOut: January 29th 2016

Directed: Dan Mazer

Starring: Robert DeNiro, Zac Efron, Audrey Plaza

What’s it about?: A young, engaged lawyer is tricked into attending Spring Break with his Grandfather.

Will it be good?: Remember earlier when I said nothing could tarnish DeNiro’s legacy? This is what I was talking about. Over the last decade or so, it seems a bit like he has thrown caution to the wind and decided to have some fun (or the more cynical and probably more realistic view is that he has decided to make some real money), and that has led to some…questionable choices. Dirty Grandpa, like a lot of the comedies DeNiro has put his name on in recent years, is the sort of film that looks like it would have been a lot of fun to make, and it is sure to be enjoyed by any number of teenage boys, but that’s about it really. See it at the weekend if you’re looking for some gross out, easy viewing.

Spotlight:

2B89064B00000578-0-image-a-25_1440115471750Out: January 29th 2016

Directed: Tom McCarthy

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams

What’s it about?: The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered child molestation allegations within the Catholic Church.

Will it be good?: Without a shadow of a doubt. The filmm has already recieved critical acclaim in the states, and it looks set to repeat the feat over here. Made with co-operation from the Boston Globe and looking like it is going to have a very All The President’s Men (1976) feel to it, this is one of the films I have been willing to appear in UK cinemas ever since I first heard about it months ago. As a journalism student myself, it is a subject that I find fascinating, as will many others.

My own personal excitment aside, there is a lot to look forward to here, most notably an excellent cast. Keaton, Ruffalo and McAdams are all excellent in their own right, and the ensemble is sure to be something special. Spotlight looks set for awards glory and is THE must-see film of the month.

Youth: 

youth-posterOut: January 29th 2016

Directed: Paolo Sorrentino

Starring: Michael Caine, Henry Keitel, Jane Fonda

What’s it about?: Fred (Michael Caine) is a retired composer and Mick (Harvey Keitel) a film director are old friends staying at a hotel in the Alps when Fred gets a request to compose for Prince Phillip.

Will it be good?: In a word, yes. Caine is another living legend, and Sorrentino wrote the film with him in mind as a main character, so it is sure to be a treat. Going by the trailer it looks like an understated, visually striking film which could be some of Caine and Keitel’s best work in years, whilst it will be great to see Fonda back onscreen. That said, with such a jam-packed month it might be hard to fit it in!

As you can see, it’s a jam packed month of awards contenders, and it could prove difficult to fit them all in, but the five films I will be making sure to see are:

  • Spotlight
  • The Hateful Eight
  • The Revenant
  • Creed
  • The Danish Girl

(I will probably be checking out Joy, Youth and The Big Short for good measure)

Which films are you looking forward to seeing this month? Let me know in the comments section!

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Film, List

DECEMBER IN FILM:

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2015 is drawing to a close, and it has undoubtedly been a huge year for film – The Avengers assembled for the second time, Bond returned, Fantastic Four flopped, Mad Max: Fury Road brought action movies to the fore and Inside Out reminded us why we all fell in love with Pixar. It has been a year of heady highs and lacklustre lows, but it’s not over yet. There is still one month left of the year and plenty of exciting films to look forward to as the Oscar race heats up. The biggest cinematic event of the month is without a doubt the release of the hotly anticipated seventh instalment in the Star Wars franchise – whilst I am not myself a fan of the franchise (I’m sorry, I haven’t seen any of the films), I will probably not be able to resist joining the hype and checking out the new movie. As is always the case in December, there are a few seasonal films being released in the lead up to Christmas, and I have looked at them before moving onto the other films being released this month…

CHRISTMAS FILMS:

 

THE NIGHT BEFORE: 

download (5)Out: December 4th

Director: Jonathan Levine

Starring: Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Anthony Mackie

What’s it about?: The film follows three best friends – Ethan (Joseph Gordon Levitt, Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie), who embark on one last Christmas Eve night out together in New York City, a tradition they have upheld for the previous 14 years.

Will it be good? Director Levine’s credits include subversive slasher All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006) and dramedy 50/50 (2011) (which also starred Gordon-Levitt and Rogen), as well as horror/rom-com Warm Bodies (2013), so there is no doubt that he has both range and comedic credentials. The cast is also strong – the leading trio are all promising and the trailer suggests a few big laughs. Comedy is always a hard one to read – the trailer will always contain the best moments, but these can easily turn out to be the only laughs in the film. Early reviews suggest that the film is a solid effort, though the likelihood that it will become a festive staple is pretty low.

KRAMPUS:

download (1)Out: December 4th 

Director: Michael Dougherty

Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Colette

What’s it about? A black comedy/horror, the film depicts a family who are stalked by Krampus, the legendary figure known for punishing children who have been bad at Christmas – “the shadow of Saint Nicholas”.

Will it be good? The film is bolstered by a strong cast – Adam Scott of Parks and Recreation fame and Toni Colette head the family – and director Michael Dougherty is known for cult hit Trick’r’Treat (2007), so the chances of this being a Christmas treat for horror fans is quite high. The marketing thus far has kept the tone relatively dark, so the jury is still out on how much of a role the comedy element will play – expect something between Black Christmas (1974) and Gremlins (1984) on the horror/comedy scale.

CHRISTMAS WITH THE COOPERS:

download (2)Out: December 1st

Director: Jessie Nelson

Starring: Diane Keaton, John Goodman, Olivia Wilde, Ed Helms

What’s it about? Titled Love the Coopers in the US, the film follows the four generations of the Cooper clan coming together to celebrate Christmas. Charlotte Cooper (Diane Keaton) is desperate to have the perfect Christmas, but the coming together of the family leads to a variety of misadventures and incidents.

Will it be good? It has a pretty decent cast, but it doesn’t look like anything particularly groundbreaking. The ensemble looks promising, and there are sure to be the typical dysfunctional family laughs throughout and the heartwarming ending, but I’m willing to bet you won’t remember it next Christmas.

OTHER RELEASES:

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS:

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens_Theatrical_PosterOut: 17th December

Director: J J Abrahams

Starring: Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley

What’s it about? Set approximately 30 years after The Return of the Jedi, the seventh film in the Star Wars franchise features new leads alongside returning characters. Plot details have been closely guarded, so we will all have to wait until December 17th to have any real idea what it’s about.

Will it be good? I honestly feel like it isn’t really my place to say, seeing as I haven’t seen any of the other six films. Popular opinion appears to suggest that the original trilogy was cinematic gold, whilst the more recent trilogy appears to get a bit of stick. However, J J Abrahams managed to bring Star Trek to a new generation, so there is no reason why he can’t work his magic on Star Wars too.

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN:

Victor_Frankenstein_2015Out: December 3rd

Director: Paul McGuigan

Starring: James McAvoy, Daniel Radcliffe

What’s it about? Based on Mary Shelly’s 1819 novel Frankenstein, the film is told from the perspective of Victor Frankenstein’s (James McAvoy) assistant Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) as he witnesses the experiments on his quest to create the famous monster.

Will it be good? The problem with any adaption of this sort is that it immediately has a lot of live up to and will draw comparisons to the wealth of other existing adaptions. The film has been met with generally negative reviews thus far, probably due to the aforementioned fact, but the fact that it has two great actors leading the film in the form of McAvoy and Radcliffe means that there is a chance for some entertainment factor.

BY THE SEA:

By_The_Sea_TeaserOut: 11th December

Director: Angelina Jolie Pitt

Starring: Angelina Jolie Pitt, Brad Pitt

What’s it about? Written, directed and starring Angelina Jolie Pitt, the film is a romantic drama set in 1970s France. Brad Pitt stars alongside his wife, and the film depicts a couple who travel the country together and stop in a seaside town.

Will it be good? This is the first film that Brangelina will star in together since Mr and Mrs Smith (2005), the film on which they met. Jolie Pitt has shown that she can be a strong director with Unbroken earlier this year, and the fact that the lead pair are together in real life suggests that they will have the chemistry necessary to pull of a romantic plot. Chances are this will be a good, if somewhat understated, piece.

SISTERS:

Sisters_movie_poster (1)Out: 18th December

Director: Jason Moore

Starring: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey

What’s it about? Two sisters – one carefree and spontaneous (Tina Fey) and the other cautious and uptight (Amy Poehler) – decide to throw one last party when their parents announce they are selling their childhood home.

Will it be good? Here’s hoping. Poehler and Fay are a double act to be reckoned with, and there is no doubt that these two can make pretty much anything hilarious. The trailer looks promising and director Moore was behind 2012 smash-hit Pitch Perfect, so this one is looking pretty promising.

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA:

In_the_Heart_of_the_Sea_posterOut: 26th December 

Director: Ron Howard

Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Ben Wishaw, Charlotte Riley

What’s it about? Based on Nathanial Philbrick’s 2000 book of the same name, which itself is an account of the sinking of the whaling ship Essex in 1820, an incident which inspired Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick (are you keeping up?), the film tells the story of the crew of the ship Essex as it is attacked by a gigantic sperm whale.

Will it be good? Directed by Ron Howard, the man behind the likes of Apollo 13 (1995), Cocoon (1985) and A Beautiful Mind (2001), hopes are high for this big sea adaption. Apollo 13 in particular showed that Howard knows how to handle a big concept, and the deep sea setting is sure to provide some stunning visuals. A lot is riding on the whale in selling the films visual appeal, and the trailer footage suggests that it won’t disappoint.

DADDY’S HOME:

Daddy's_Home_posterOut: 25th December

Director: Sean Anders

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrel

What’s it about? Brad (Ferrel) is the model step-father to his wife’s children, but finds himself battling for their affections when their infinitely cooler father Dusty (Wahlberg) returns to town.

Will it be good? It’s 50/50. Ferrel is hilarious, as is Wahlberg given the right material, so the pairing has the potential to be something pretty funny. That said, they appeared together in The Other Guys (2010), which was met with a positive reception but has since been forgotten. The two actors have appeared in what adds up to a huge number of forgettable comedies, so the odds suggest that this is the category that Daddy’s Home will fall into come the new year.

SNOOPY AND CHARLIE BROWN: THE PEANUTS MOVIE:

Peanuts_2015Out: 21st December

Director: Steve Martino

Starring: Noah Schnapp, Mariel Sheets

What’s it about? The film follows Charlie Brown try to win the affections of the Little Red-Haired Girl, whilst his pooch pal Snoopy pens the story of his WW1 alter ego Flying Ace, who is on a quest to rescue his love Fifi from the Red Baron.

Will it be good? Probably not. It is really hard to adapt a feature length film out of short panel sketches, making the chances of The Peanuts Movie being appealing to anyone other than young children very unlikely. However, to give it the benefit of the doubt, The Lego Movie last year proved that even the flimsiest source material can work with enough imagination – who says the Peanuts crew can’t be the same? The film is already out the in the US and has received positive reviews, so it is probably worth a watch.

So there you have it, the lowdown on all the films that people will be talking about this December. I suggest you get yourself a Cineworld card and join me in watching, dissecting and discussing them all! Let me know what you think of these upcoming releases in the comments section. I am leaving you with an excellent 2015 salute to cinema by Ben Zuk, featuring a staggering 164 films. Enjoy!

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