Against The Hype

movies, criticism and their pleasures

Anticipated Movies, Fall 2012

October 12, 2012 By: Colin Low Category: Announcements, Capsuled Thoughts

I couldn’t help myself. Below is my list of anticipated movies (or not) released through the end of this calendar year, filtered from Nick Davis’ far more comprehensive equivalent. I’ve dropped all the movies I haven’t even heard of, which goes to prove my brand of noncommittal cinephilia. I’m also disregarding strict release dates, since I just moved from a city which might not see half these movies till the new year to another which has already seen some past it by. Jetlag at the movies!


Give it to me:
Les Misérables: Sucker for this score, musical epics. Hooper, actors, anti-99% plot… eh

Some stirring takes, but also under-motivated fast-forwarding, furious close-ups, actors straining against their limits

Zero Dark Thirty: Chastain, Bigelow, gorgeous cinematography, an absurd early critics’ sweep

Textured (if generic) procedural pays off in magnificent title sequence. Chastain not the “killer” required by script

Amour: An arthouse version of Hope Springs by a filmmaker who pulls no punches? Sign. me. up.

Wallows in the thankless ordinary of watching a lover die. Yields toughest surprises when anyone is crabby, clear-eyed, resolute

Holy Motors: Sounds so thoroughly bizarre, I can’t help but be intrigued

Synecdoche, Paris. Picaresque tour of sublime images and absurd scenes. Balmy scifi love-letter to a cinema of the future

Skyfall: Trailer looks handsome, as do actors. Promises better Bond-M payoff than Quantum

Denied! A premium light show at its most abstract/high-contrast. Flabby script has its innuendos, but a bad case of Prequel Shoutout

Keep the Lights On: The latest acclaimed out-couple indie. Need my post-Weekend fix

Clipped vignettes from a tender but wearying relationship. Nails how periphery falls away as the (drug, love) relapses persist

Beasts of the Southern Wild: Malick aesthetic, stellar young lead? Gimme.

A kid’s earthy, elemental mythmaking. Herzog’s absurd realism, Campion’s tactility fuse. Wallis astounds

Have it come my way:
The Paperboy: Efron and Kidman under gonzo actor’s director. That rain scene. Yes
Like Someone in Love: Kiarostami always welcome. Likely elliptical, but that’s the joy

Cheeky, bracing ways of bumping bare acquaintances against each other, with payoffs tough and tender

The Master: Phoenix acts up a storm. Greenwood scores. That pristine cinematography
The Turin Horse: Sátántangó was a blast: tireless takes, apocalyptic visions
The Perks of Being a Wallflower: Actors yet to prove themselves, but I’ve heard it’s sweet

Heart-clenchingly assured filmmaking. Evokes adolescent isolation, longing better than most teen indies

On the Road: Star-making for Hedlund? Actors I wouldn’t mind hanging out with

Mildly interested:
Bernie: Soderbergh’s other 2012 triumph?
Footnote: Cannes Best Screenplay; director Joseph Cedar visiting
Rust and Bone: Still an Audiard virgin. Notices for Cotillard intrigue

Convince me, critics:
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Fear Jackson’s bloat, but looks grander than hoped
Anna Karenina: Still a Knightley fan. Need to know Wright isn’t self-indulging again
Django Unchained: Sick of QT’s vengeance lust, Waltz’s consonants. Sloppier than Basterds?

Firmly B-side. No one’s unlike what they seem, save when Django steels his heart. Slopped with blood and lazy riffs

Life of Pi: Can it avoid hurdles of green-screen fakery, New Age nonsense, too-diplomatic Lee?

Best CG Actor: That Tiger. Novel’s twist doesn’t translate well, but still a poignant take on the beliefs that get us by

Lincoln: Kushner, Day-Lewis need firm directorial pushback. Can Spielberg deliver unstodgy?
Silver Linings Playbook: Not a fan of mental-illness comedy; still unsold on Lawrence

Manic Pixie Dream Girl crap, with a charming but sphinx-like Lawrence. Cooper nails the manic restlessness

Cloud Atlas: I don’t trust Wachowskis, esp. since fans seem to expect emotional material (ha!)

Get it away!
Hitchcock: Makeup-artist vehicle + acting tics + domestic sentiment (c.f. Iron Lady). Why?
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part II: Oh, end it already
To Rome with Love: Allen never had his comeback. Not holding my breath

Stuff I missed
Moonrise Kingdom: That cast! Anderson’s first leads whose age matches their immaturity?
Rock of Ages: Cruise doing meta. I’ll take messy, if it’s a hot gaudy glitter-choked mess

Fascinatingly dramatized scifi, meticulous worldbuilding, deft camerawork/editing, moral standoffs up the wazoo. A doozy.

Pitch Perfect:

Compressed Glee season with similarly broad characters and moments. Really an excuse for drama-lite musical numbers

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:

Canned epiphanies for everyone! British thesps lend a smidge of dignity. A Juno-colored cartoon India

SIFF 2011: Pina Astounds, Cave of Forgotten Dreams is Documentary 101

September 19, 2011 By: Colin Low Category: Capsuled Thoughts

Drop everything and come to Shaw Lido tonight (Sept 19, Mon, 9.30pm) to see Pina, which I saw two days ago and can’t wait to see again. Here’s why:

It’s a vision of the future of 3D cinema. Even more than James Cameron’s Avatar before it, Pina makes a single-handed, multi-bodied case for what 3D cinema should look like if it is to take pride in being a legitimate art form. The elaborate planning needed to capture famed choreographer Pina Bausch’s dances—ingenious with space, and filmed nonstop before live audiences—even implies that 3D might be the key to restoring lost staging practices and less hyperactive editing styles to the movies. (Ironic that this newfangled “gimmick” should offer itself as a potential messiah to all the ever-lamenting Hollywood classicists.)

It’s the hulking Citizen Kane of dance retrospectives. As if its groundbreaking use of deep cinematic space wasn’t enough of a clue, Pina stakes its claim to being the Citizen Kane of dance retrospectives by revealing Bausch to us through the legacies and people she left behind, in ways that defy easy summary. Instead of filming regular talking heads, Wenders layers the testimonies of the dancers of Bausch’s Tanztheater Wuppertal over clips of their faces. More than one reminisces about Bausch’s penetrating gaze, which read them more clearly than they could give voice to, so it’s almost like Wenders is trying to exhume Bausch’s very gaze.

It was almost never made. The attention that Pina accords to the Tanztheater Wuppertal dancers grows even more poignant when you learn that Wenders cancelled plans to make the film after Bausch died unexpectedly, just a few days before filming was initially slated to begin. It was at the behest of these dancers (and Bausch’s fans worldwide) that Wenders decided to press on. “Dance, dance, or we are lost,” cries the movie’s subtitle as the credits end, and I can’t think of a more fitting rallying cry for these people who, through Bausch’s influence and choreography, ask to be found.

Just as Pina feels infused with the spirit of all the dancers that surrounded its making, Cave of Forgotten Dreams has the head and heart of the people that accompanied its making: academics. It isn’t a knock to say that this documentary about the Chauvet Caves, which hold the earliest cave paintings known to man, feels much like the movie an archaeologist or art historian or anthropologist would have made.

I daresay director Werner Herzog is a little bit of all those respectable professions, and he defers even more to the small group of actual professors in his midst who, like his filmmaking team, have been allowed a rare visit to study the caves under limited time and conditions (no touching, no straying from the narrow central walkway, etc). Yet Herzog’s own specific penchant for spelunking for people’s stories and dreams shines through (an archaeologist he interviews turns out to have been a unicycle-and-juggling circus man), even if his inimitable deadpan sometimes makes his meditations on the subject more portentous than his documentary-101 approach otherwise affords.