Monday, January 3, 2011

Fifteen Good-Lookin' 2011 Movies Without Release Dates

You have have seen several blogs and sites out there in the past few weeks run down their list of movies they look forward to and anticipate for the next year.  I, too, have a list, but I thought I might mix it up with some movies that while you may or may not have heard are coming out this year, have no idea when they'll be released.  This may be in part due to the movies still being edited, or possibly shot, or that they played festivals last year and got distribution but have not been given definitive release dates or plans due to studio politics (and this is with the indies mind you), or that the movies have yet to come to respective festivals one may expect them to arrive at.

So it's a mixed list, and it's possible even one or two may not see the light of day until 2012.  But until then, here is a tentative list (and, again, for movies that to my knowledge don't have planned release dates, so no Thor or Green Lantern, no Cowboys & Aliens, Tin-Tin, Hugo Cabret, Dragon Tattoo remake or Paul or Rango or Tree of Life).

1) Living in the Material World: George Harrison - MARTIN SCORSESE

Scorsese's always a busy cat even if one may forget how often he puts out films (he's the in-between of Woody Allen and Terence Malick, not too often, not too far apart, just right). And in his spare time while working on other features and TV work, he has this new rock documentary based around the life and work of the great Beatle that some neglect when looking at Lennon/McCartney.  This makes me especially excited as Harrison may be my favorite Beatle, and had a remarkable, diverse career following the 1971 split (his song "What is Life" was used excellently in the May 1980 sequence of GoodFellas), and that Scorsese's already proved his chops many times over with rock docs, specifically 2005's No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, which also used interview footage and archive clips like this film will do.

2) A Dangerous Method - DAVID CRONENBERG

Freud.  Jung.  A girl between them.  And it's Cronenberg, one of the masters of the psychological horror film (and, you know, he usually likes to deal with the duality-of-man thing... a lot).  So there's lots of good ground to cover, and maybe there will be some blood drawn between friend-rival psycho-pioneers?  One can only hope, especially with Viggo Mortensen as Freud and Michael Fassbender as Jung, two of the best Actors-My-Mom-Would-Do working today, and Kiera Knightly as the girl... perhaps I've said too much...

3) Twixt and Now Sunrise - FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA

(Or should I say F.F. Coppola?)  This title is kind of strange, especially as I'll end up calling it "That Twix Movie" as its release comes up.  But Coppola's had a kind of newly resurged renaissance as of late in the Golden Age of his career, and his last film Tetro is arguably one of his most beautiful works. This latest one seems to return him to the horror genre, one he hasn't been back to in 20 years (that long since Dracula? geez), and has a diverse cast including Val Kilmer, Bruce Dern and Elle Fanning as a character mysteriously named V (is she like a crazy person?)  This is a case where I'll go see it if nothing else for the stature of the director - there's only so many more films he can pump out.

4) Tabloid - ERROL MORRIS

One of the smash hits of the Toronto Film Festival last September, this sees a return for the iconoclast documentary director Morris to the kind of territory one may have seen with Fast, Cheap and Out of Control: wild character and an outrageous story (or maybe going back to Vernon, Florida in some part) as the saga of an ex-Miss Wyoming (one can kind of tell from the picture) who abducted a Mormon missionary in the 70's.  It actually also has the makings of an underrated doc from a few years ago, Crazy Love, which had similar Tabloid-Tendencies.  All I can say is if someone can show up TMZ and those other bullshit rag-shows, it's the guy behind Gates of Heaven.

5) Cave of Forgotten Dreams - WERNER HERZOG

It's Werner Herzog, one of the great wildman-adventurers of filmmaking.  Already in.  It's in 3D.  Hmm.  Shot in the most remote, hard-to-enter caves featuring early artwork by our collective ancestors that can only fit up to 8 people at a time.  More Hmm.  And it's one of Herzog's documentaries, which means it's loaded with ecstatic truth.  And 3D.  More hmm... But I have to trust the man's instincts; if he, as with Scorsese and Spielberg, is taking a crack at shooting a 3D movie, with an actual 3D camera, and in this case with its nature being that of something meant for IMAX, count me in X a million.  That it too got some great buzz and a ferocious bidding war at Toronto is another plus in its favor.

6) The Grandmasters - KAR WAI WONG

We haven't seen a full-on action/martial arts movie from this director since 1994's Ashes of Time (or if one wants to be a dick about it, 2008's Ashes of Time Redux so... his last released movie), and in this case  it's a sort of bio-pic of a legendary martial arts master, the IP Man, who trained Bruce Lee at one time.  All I know is WKW is one of THE skilled art-film directors who makes the camera in a dream-like presence with the characters.  With martial arts, it could be quite amazing.  One needs to see a trailer (one that is NOT just calligraphic text) to give a fuller assessment, but I'm interested.  Also co-starring 2046 leads Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi.

7) The Descendants - ALEXANDER PAYNE

No relation to the alternative-indie rock group, this is Payne's return to the director's chair since his Oscar-winner Sideways, and, like that film and like most of his films it's an adaptation of a novel.  It also stars George Clooney as a character who, kind of like Nicholson's Schmidt, is seeking redemption from his children.  Payne has a natural eye and ear for the way that people look and speak (usually from the midwest ala his state of Nebraska), but also people in circumstances that allow for some natural satire to come out (before it's been school, retirement, and wine-culture).  Now it's about... a guy who plans to sell his land and move his family to Hawaii.  Alrighty then.

8) Midnight in Paris - WOODY ALLEN

It's never a question of 'when will the next Woody Allen' come out, just really around what time of season (maybe a more practical one could be 'Is it major or minor Wody?'.  I imagine this one, his first set in France/Paris and featuring lots of comedy-romance with an uncertain family (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) coming to Paris for business and, in the Woody-ian sense, wackiness ensues.  Also starring Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen, Kathy Bates, Allison Pill, and Kurt Fuller, and cinematography by Daris Kondji.  Let's face it, us Woody Allen fans will go along to see just about anything he does- even The Curse of the Jade Scorpion and, the select few, Cassandra's Dream- so his Paris Movie?  Oui.

9) Moonrise Kingdom - WES ANDERSON*

Don't know too much about this yet, outside of the synopsis: "Moon Rise Kingdom is set in the 60s. Two young adults fall in love and run away. Leaders in their New England town are sticking the idea that they've disappeared and go in search of them. (Edward Norton) will play a scout leader who brings his charges on a search. (Bruce Willis) is in talks to play the town sheriff who’s also looking, and who is having an affair with the missing girl’s mother, the role (Frances) McDormand is in talks to play. (Bill) Murray, a regular in Anderson films, will play the girl's father, who has his own issues."  Not too shabby a cast.  Bruce Willis could work well for Anderson as he is a mostly stoic-still-figure guy at his best.
(*This could be a 2012 release, we'll have to wait and see if it is shot and edited this year)

10) The Rum Diary - BRUCE ROBINSON

Fans of cult cinema and Hunter S. Thompson should rejoice at this, though it shouldn't have taken so long; technically this movie has been 'Complete' for a number of months now, maybe even closer to a year.  The delay?  It's star Johnny Depp who to give the benefit of the doubt has said he wanted to give this movie all of his time and energy to promote but due to being, you know, Johnny goddamnJackSparrowTimBurtonLoveBurritto Depp, his time is sparse.  But the film, from the director of Withnail & I is an adaptation of the good late Doctor's first novel, set in the 1950's in Puerto Rico and concerning all odds and ends of hanging out, writing, drinking, and getting into Thompson-like adventures (and this being in the period of time when he was very much influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald).  This was one of my most anticipated pictures of 2010, and so it's natural for it to carry over to this year.


Sometimes Linklater can amaze and make one's innards tingle, and other times he's still entertaining as a filmmaker with his dramas, comedies and philosophical musings in rotoscope animation.  This time sees him going back to some dark comedy ground- a tale of a mortician who woos a widow and when he accidentally kills her tries to make her look like she's still alive (so, in other words, Bernie being relation to that "Weekend" character)- and reuniting with a very old-school Linklater alumni: Matthew McConaughey.  Before you get your panties in a bunch at the news of Dazed & Confused's David Wooderson returning to the screen, just know that the movie also stars Jack Black... yeah, but, Jack Black did impress, Dog, years back with School of Rock.  Can that minor-comic magic be rekindled.  We'll just see, won't we?

12) La piel que habito (The Skin That I Inhabit) - ALMODOVAR

Starring Antonio Y Banderas, el actor, this is based on Thierry Jonquet's novel "Mygale", a revenge tale telling the story of a plastic surgeon on the hunt for the men who raped his daughter. ... So... Almodovar's Darkman then? COOL!  And if it's in Almodovar's patented form of Spanish melodrama, it should be full of color and blood and high-level emotions that are beautifully left to chance.

13) 13 Assassins - TAKASHI MIIKE

Reportedly, from its screenings at the 2010 Fantastic Fest, this has some of the best buzz going for a Miike movie in his very prolific career, which is saying a lot.  It's also a hardcore samurai movie, which might have me interested on its own.  The combination of the two, and comparisons to Seven Samurai, make this Jack all giddy in anticipation.


Should I try and get worked up about this one?  I have to enter with some trepidation, that it's not the awesome John Carpenter of olden times (the 80's) when his B-movie aesthetic was always something to look forward to- it's a decade where his weakest film was Christine, what would've been a fantastic work for a rookie director- but rather it's the director who has lost of the passion for filmmaking, either by personal lack of it or by the damnation brought on by years fighting the studios (he hasn't directed since 2001's Ghost of Mars).  But I would like to give the benefit of the doubt, since it is a return to feature films and it has gotten some, if not overwhelming, positive buzz, all concerning a group of girls getting insane treatment in a psycho ward of a hospital.  So, maybe, just maybe, Carpenter's Shutter Island?  Again we'll just see.

15) Hobo with a Shotgun - JASON EISENER

So... this is based on this:
From the director of this:
Featuring the star of this:
Need I say more?

Honorable mentions:

1) Untitled Keith Richards Documentary (directed by Johnny Depp) - Hey, Richards fan to the max, even read his memoir released last month, and a Depp fan (not sure about his directing skills yet however).

2) Surviving Life (directed by Jan Svankmajer) - Read on:

3) Film Socialsme (directed by Jean Luc-Godard) - ....Eh, maybe it'll make sense this time... Maybe not... Maybe it'll still be pretty!

4) No idea what this is.  But just look at the director.  How could I *not* see it, just out of curiosity?

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