These are features to look forward to in 2009 and beyond; a few that could very well never see the light of day, but the filmmakers persist to taunt us anyhow. In no particular order, I give you a look into the future...
Director: Julie Delpy
She's given up on walking around foreign cities talking about love and taken up bathing in the blood of virgins. After last year's underrated 2 Days in Paris, Julie Delpy, the truly stunning actress, director and musician, is taking the reins on the historical horror feature The Countess. The film details the true story of Countess Elizabeth Bathory in 16th century Hungary, whose beauty regimen was... shall we say... strict? Use it or lose it, ladies! The (suspiciously) beautiful Delpy will we playing the sinister Countess alongside co-stars William Hurt and Anamaria Marinca, who gave us a stirring turn in last years 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days. A very vague teaser trailer here.
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Penelopé Cruz is on a hot streak that looks to continue in her fourth collaboration with the ever-brilliant Pedro Almodóvar. The story concerns an accident on the island of Lanzarote, the filming of a comedy in the vein of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, and presumably some broken embraces. Any more details would ruin the film's guaranteed pleasures. Rossy de Palma, Blanco Portillo and Chus Lampreave also continue their partnerships in what Almodóvar promises to be his most "novel-like" film to date, and one a bit darker in tone than the previous Volver. Is there any way this one could fail? I'll answer for you. No.
Release: 2009 (?)
Director: John Waters
Not since Dawn Davenport got cheated of her cha-cha heels has Christmas sounded this deliciously warped. John Waters directs his first "children's film," as if that's not enough to make parents already mortified. It's the tale of Fruitcake, a boy who runs away from home during the holidays when his family is caught shoplifting meat in that true Baltimore style. Divine would be so proud... Fruitcake teams up with another young girl, raised by her two gay fathers, who's gone in search of her birth mother. It sounds subversive, potentially scandalous, and with just a dose of Hairspray-like sweetness. Waters last few films have been arguably mixed efforts, but his pairing with the great comedic talents of Parker Posey should prove, umm... fruitful? Oh how I missed you John Waters. Where else can I expect to see a parent call their child an asshole for my amusement?
Director: Dario Argento
So while the slightly camp charm of his seventies classics has morphed into camp excess, a new Dario Argento film's always worth a look. For his follow-up to the divisive The Third Mother, he's going back to the basics and referencing the very genre he helped to define in his debut The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. The film's title Giallo comes from the Italian murder-mystery genre and, well, the Italian word for "yellow." It's also the nickname of a murderer with yellowed skin who's knocking off Milan's most beautiful models. As you can probably guess, the police inspector is missing that one crucial clue that could lead him to the killer. Well that yellow-skinned killer has some unnerving cheese potential (that draws upon my painful memories of the dreadful Black Xmas), but if Argento's screenplay is tight enough for him to focus on the visual magic, this concept is right up his alley. Vincent Gallo sadly dropped out because of past ties to the director's daughter, Asia Argento, who has also since left the project. Still on board are Adrien Brody and Emmanuelle Seigner, which seems promising given the criticism usually directed toward performances in his films. But please, Dario, no more CGI. Jaundice and CGI is just too much for this fan to handle.
Director: David O. Russell
My Gyllenhaal withdrawal will not be sustained by a video game adaptation, no matter how shirtless he is or how many times I angrily view it. Only the notoriously difficult director of Flirting with Disaster and I Heart Huckabees can give me my fix. Taking time off from being strangled by George Clooney and calling Lily Tomlin a cunt, David O. Russell's been struggling to get this film completed due to a bevy of financing disruptions and yet another actor dispute, this time with James Caan over choking on a cookie. The plot concerns a waitress (Jessica Biel) who gets a nail lodged in her forehead, causing her to become a total nymphomaniac. (Where was 7th Heaven with that plot?) The accident leads her to Washington and into the hands of a willing and clueless senator (Jake Gyllenhaal). To top it all off, it's also time for Jake's reunion with the Lovely & Amazing Catherine Keener! He's legal now, Catherine, but you best stand in line. You too, Dustin Hoffman!
Untitled Nicole Holofcener Project
Release: 2009 (?)
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Speaking of Lovely & Amazing, am I the only one who absolutely loves the indie charms of Nicole Holofcener? This will be her fourth directorial outing (including Walking and Talking and Friends with Money) and fourth time wisely casting Catherine Keener, whose sly comic wonder melds so perfectly with Holofcener's sharp dialogue. The plot is summed up as "lives and relationships in a New York apartment building," and odds are that's exactly what we'll get. The pleasures come in the form of perceptively nuanced characters and their witty, uncomfortable exchanges I'm sure. Keener's joined by Amanda Peet, Kevin Corrigan and Rebecca Hall, who's especially enticing after her conflicted performance in this year's Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Viva la female auteurs!
Part 2 coming soon.