Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mass for Cinephile Shut Ins: Part Two

Let us commune over all this vague pre-publicity so as to garner faith and hope for a bright cinematic future. Let us also pass invalid judgment.

This is Part Two.

Mark Walhberg survives the ring
and director David O. Russell.

directed by: David O. Russell
written by: Paul Attanasio, Lewis Colick
starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo

Basically: An Irish boxer tries for the title of world lightweight champion by using his half-brother, a fighter and criminal, to underperform him in matches.

And We Should Care Because: Other than the bountiful possibilities for behind-the-scenes bouts between Bale and O. Russell? Well it's a notable difference in material from O. Russell's last success, I Heart Huckabees, but could find itself more in the vein of his genre-melding Three Kings. While Mark Wahlberg may have struggled with the dramatic punch of The Lovely Bones, hopefully he has no trouble punching the lovely bones of Christian Bale for this drama. The sideline female stars are also worth the attention, as was this project once being attached to director Darren Aronofsky, who would still find his success in the ring with The Wrestler.

Status: Mild Intrigue

Tony Leung for the block.

directed and written by: Wong Kar Wai
starring: Tony Leung, Gong Li, Zhang Ziyi, Chen Chang, Brigitte Lin

Basically: The life and times of Bruce Lee.

And We Should Care Because: One should never doubt this auteur's potential for arresting output, even after being slightly soured by My Blueberry Nights. Wong Kar Wai also doesn't seem to be a filmmaker who'd be easily swayed by the conventions that the biopic genre so often favors. Instead it leaves plenty of room for the on-the-spot innovation and character play that have served the director's most distinctive works (Chungking Express, In the Mood for Love). Along with many of his favorite collaborators and legends of Chinese cinema (as actors and inspiration), we can hope it has the force of As Tears Go By with the flourish of 2046. If anyone can make ass kicking look sumptuous and sexy, it's Wong Kar Wai and a smokin' (probably chain smokin' ) Tony Leung.

Status: Can't Miss

Ben Stiller flirts with disaster and Greta Gerwig.

directed and written by: Noah Baumbach
starring: Ben Stiller, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Messina, Rhys Ifans

Basically: Aimless Roger Greenberg housesits for his brother and soon finds inspiration and direction in his brother's assistant.

And We Should Care Because: Noah Baumbach's scaldingly funny scripts often seem an acquired taste, but the attachment of Ben Stiller should bring about a different crowd to his wonderfully acidic wit. Greta Gerwig, who has been charming under-the-radar in films like Baghead and The House of the Devil, stars as Stiller's love interest, and she has the realistic deadpan quality that Baumbach seems to look for. Also on board is the immensely underrated Jennifer Jason Leigh, who resonated remarkably in her husband's last feature, the likewise underrated Margot at the Wedding. See the trailer here.

Status: Curious

Sylvain Chomet has something up his sleeve.

directed by: Sylvain Chomet
written by: Sylvain Chomet, Jacques Tati

Basically: A traveling illusionist must conjure and come clean about his tricks to a young, adoring fan.

And We Should Care Because: Animated marvel The Triplets of Belleville was Sylvain Chomet's last effort, and should prepare us for the more literal magic this time around. The aim to craft a film of such charm and mesmerizing atmosphere without the aid of dialogue seems to be in keeping with this new project. Look forward to something funny, feeling and unapologetically French.

Status: Can't Miss

Christopher Nolan defies expectation and gravity.

directed and written by: Christopher Nolan
starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Ellen Page

Basically: A story of a CEO's blackmail and the architecture of the mind.

And We Should Care Because: Remember Sammy Jankis? Well we should all remember that Christopher Nolan's a champ at creating thrillers with scale that don't forsake character and some sort of emotional crux. The hush hush nature of the script seems justified by the advanced footage, which displays a gravity distorting thriller akin to The Matrix, full of stunts and surreal spectacle. With the scope of The Dark Knight and the mindplay of Memento, Nolan looks to do fanboys proud.

Status: Can't Miss

Pass on the chips. And your seed.

directed by: Lisa Cholodenko
written by: Stuart Blumberg, Lisa Cholodenko
starring: Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Annette Benning

Basically: Lesbian parents struggle with their biological sperm donor when their child turns 18.

And We Should Care Because: Of course the kids are all right. Who better to be your lesbian moms than Julianne Moore and Annette Bening? Director Lisa Cholodenko (High Art, Laurel Canyon) always give her actresses room to delve (think Patricia Clarkson and Frances McDormand), and she's working with two masters of their craft. Advanced word at Sundance hailed its award-worthy performances and effortless emotional backing. Timing couldn't be better given the family-focused content and its relevance in the marriage equality debate. Also notable that Julianne Moore finally plays a decent mother to her kids after years of avoiding, abandoning and fucking them (Boogie Nights, Far From Heaven, The Hours, Savage Grace, etc.).

Status: Can't Miss

Part One here. Part Three SOON.

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