Saturday, December 17, 2011

Are We Ready for 2012?

As I'm sure you've heard, there's going to be a new "Batman" movie this summer. And an "Avengers" movie. And a new non-"Cars" PIXAR movies. And in December, a little flick called "The Hobbit" will grace our theater screens. And James Bond will return in "Skyfall." And the "Twilight" saga will finally end with "Breaking Dawn Part 2." 2012 will soon be upon us, and some long-awaited films are just around the corner. As with every year, there's bound to be plenty of bad mixed in with the good, but for now, with everything yet unseen, it's a good time to just sit back and enjoy the speculation and anticipation. Consider the possibilities, if you will.

Release slates are still very much a work in progress, but most of the big studio titles have been scheduled, and we have a pretty good idea of which in-progress projects are expected to reach theaters by the end of next December. Here's some of the upcoming titles I'm looking forward to, that haven't gotten quite as much media attention as "The Hunger Games" and "Men in Black III" and their ilk yet:

John Carter - The marketing so far has been horrific. Absolutely awful. However, if you look at the film's pedigree, there is a lot to get excited about. This is the live action debut of "Finding Nemo" director Andrew Stanton, with a script written by PIXAR alum Mark Andrews, with an assist by Michael Chabon. A crummy title and a clueless marketing might be hiding something really interesting here.

Moonrise Kingdom - The next film by Wes Anderson. We know it's set in the 60s, we know that it was shooting in New England, and we know it's about a group of townsfolk chasing a pair of eloping love-birds. And the cast includes Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, and of course, the one and only Bill Murray.

Gravity - A year ago, everyone wanted to know who would land the lead female role in Alfonso Cuaron's latest science fiction feature, and the part finally went to Sandra Bullock. George Clooney will co-star, replacing Robert Downey Jr. This is Cuaron's first directorial effort since "Children of Men," and there have been whispers and rumors that it may be the most daring thing he's attempted yet.

Django Unchained - Quentin Tarantino is making another revenge movie, this time about a former slave, played by Jamie Foxx, settling the score with his former master, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, and Kurt Russell will be along for the ride. I'm a little scared of how far Tarantino is going to take this, but I wouldn't miss is for the world.

The Master - This one may not be completed before the end of the year, but after a lot of false starts and cast shuffling, I'm just glad that Paul Thomas Anderson's period film, about a man who starts a new religion played by Philip Seymour Hoffman, is finally getting made. Anderson is one of the major American auteurs, and it has been far too long since his last feature, "There Will Be Blood."

Prometheus - Ridley Scott's recent films haven't been great, so I have very mixed feelings about the prospects of "Prometheus," which is not a sequel to "Alien," apparently, but a story from the same universe. Then again, Scott's never gone wrong on a science-fiction film, and with Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender as the leads, I'm certainly willing to give "Prometheus" the benefit of the doubt.

Life of Pi - I know I've talked up this film before, but I find it such an intriguing one. Based on the beloved novel by Yann Martel, "Life of Pi" will follow the adventures of a young Indian boy, stranded in a boat with a Bengal tiger and other animals after a shipwreck. Ang Lee is directing, after a parade of other directors came and went, and here's hoping that he can do the book justice.

The We and the I - Not much is known about Michel Gondry's next film, except that it involves a group of kids from the Bronx and inadvertent time travel. Anyway, here's hoping it'll be a return to form for Gondry after the disappointment of "The Green Hornet." The superhero flick was much too straight-laced an exercise for his talents, and it'll be good to see him fully unleashed again.

Seven Psychopaths - This will be the second film directed by Martin McDonagh, who is best known for "In Bruges," and writing a string of gory, violent, darkly humorous plays about murderers, hit-men, maniacs, and very, very bad people. I adore his work, and relish the thought of him working with a slew of screen badasses, including Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken and Tom Waits.

Cloud Atlas - There isn't the space to go into the complexities of the multi-universe story that Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis siblings are attempting to bring to the screen, or the incredible lengths they've gone to in order to finance and film it. For more details, see this NY Times article. But one thing is certain. I have absolutely got to see what the end result. Whether failure or triumph, it's going to be spectacular.

And a few more to look out for:

* Steven Spielberg is directing Lincoln with Daniel Day-Lewis in the title role.
* Spike Lee will reportedly reprise the role of Mookie from "Do the Right Thing" in Red Hook Summer, which will premiere at Sundance.
* Woody Allen's European tour continues with a stop in Italy for Nero Fiddled, with Jesse Eisenberg and Ellen Page.
* Park Chan Wook, director of the Vengeance Trilogy, will be making his English language debut with Stoker, a thriller starring Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska.
* Tim Burton is making a movie where Johnny Depp is a vampire, called Dark Shadows, and no one is the least bit surprised.
* I've been hearing about Rian Johnson's new science film Looper for ages, and I hope it turned out well.
* Finally, David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis will be my first Robert Pattinson film. Hope the kid can act.

Happy watching!

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