Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mass for Cinephile Shut-Ins: Part Four

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

This is Part Four.

Human scientific experiments at their most prim and proper.

directed by: Mark Romanek
written by: Alex Garland, Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)
starring: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Sally Hawkins, Charlotte Rampling

Basically: Friends reunite to unravel a shared dark past at their private boarding school.

And We Should Care Because: The summary suggests English period drama of an ordinary kind, when the plot is actually steeped in scholarly sci-fi. Based on a novel by The Remains of the Day author Kazuo Ishiguro, threads of the story involve tea, scones, cloning and dystopias. Wisely the school seems to have cloned a choice British cast in the likes of Knightley, Hawkins, Rampling, and fresh-faced breakthrough Carey Mulligan. Director Mark Romanek's career consists largely of music videos, outside of his 2002 freak show set during Robin Williams dark period. Not the scarring era of Patch Adams, RV, License to Wed and Old Dogs, but the characteristically dark period that included Death to Smoochy, Insomnia, and Romanek's own One Hour Photo. The meld of an ace female cast, sinister schoolgirl undercurrents, and a notable visual stylist, could make for a posh, pleasant surprise.

Status: Curious

Walking and Talking,
and waiting for old people to die off.

directed and written by: Nicole Holofcener
starring: Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Rebecca Hall, Oliver Platt, Kevin Corrigan

Basically: A couple stirs confrontation as they eye the antiques of an elderly woman in their New York apartment building.

And We Should Care Because: Nicole Holofcener's films are so adept at delving into specific characteristic quirks, without those detrimental indie quirks. Lovely & Amazing is perhaps her most acclaimed title, and an apt description of Holofcener's charming, but still scathing, works. Alongside longtime muse and perfect sardonic vessel, Catherine Keener, Holofcener will once again seek to dissect human flaws, flawlessly. Advanced word from Sundance has given fans reason to demand, "Please, Give," with critics citing the writer/director's consistent talent for making small moments ring of immensely poignant truths.

Status: Can't Miss

The Origin of Grief-Stricken Love

directed by: John Cameron Mitchell
written by: David Lindsay-Abaire
starring: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest

Basically: A couple unravels upon the death of their four-year-old son.

And We Should Care Because: John Cameron Mitchell is a reputable auteur after two dynamic and distinctive works: the trans rock spectacular Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and the neurotic sex spectacular Shortbus. Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning stage play by David Lindsay-Abaire, the tonal shift seems inevitably darker than Cameron Mitchell's past works, but he has already shown himself to be gifted at balancing even his bawdiest moments with some touching backstory. For what reads like a conventional drama, the cast and crew promises anything but. Nicole Kidman graciously ties herself to another edgy indie director - the type of career choice that consistently gives her the best material. And we know by now that a grieving Kidman is a great Kidman. Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest lend their own spark to what easily sounds like one of the highlight dramas of the year. I'm so ready to love taking the plunge down this rabbit hole of despair.

Status: Can't Miss

Being a celebrity is about sex, drugs,
and paying child support.

directed and written by: Sofia Coppola
starring: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning, Benicio Del Toro, Chris Pontius

Basically: Troubled actor Johnny Marco receives a wake up call from his 11-year-old daughter while holed up at LA's infamous Chateau Marmont.

And We Should Care Because: One of the most fascinating directors working today - female or otherwise - Sofia Coppola finds such startling grace in her relaxed, atmospheric tone poems on film. Her last, the unjustly ignored and utterly sublime Marie Antoinette, had Coppola taking on a project of historically grand scale with a personal, ethereal touch. Somewhere reads like it could very well find itself in a similarly detached headspace as the many lethargic and longing characters Coppola has confronted throughout her career. She's keeping it interesting with oft-ignored actor Stephen Dorff playing bad-boy Johnny Marco, and a compellingly cast Chris Pontius of MTV's Jackass as one of Johnny's pals. Stellar French band Phoenix (the lead of whom is married to Coppola) is also lending their talents to the soundtrack.

Status: Can't Miss

Bite your tongue.
Then bite mine.

directed by: David Cronenberg
written by: Christopher Hampton (play)
starring: Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender, Keira Knightley

Basically: Carl Jung finds therapeutic and romantic success while using Sigmund Freud's "talking cure" approach on a disturbed female patient. Freud names Jung his successor only to find discord and a division of thought.

And We Should Care Because: All that male goodness under the guidance of mastermind David Cronenberg? My mind is officially blown Scanners-style. The collaborations between Mortensen and Cronenberg have already yielded two jaw dropping performances in two knockout films. The inclusion of Club Silencio favorite, the equally jaw dropping Michael Fassbender, could only be topped if Cronenberg were to make a sequel to the bathhouse scene in Eastern Promises. What can I say, I'm Rabid with a case of sexually parasitic Shivers. The mental minefield premise seems right up Cronenberg's alley. He's never one to disappoint when it comes the psychological, sexual, and everything dark and delicious in the Interzone.

Status: Can't Miss

Part Five soon.


Paul Martin said...

I saw a small stage production of Rabbit Hole a couple of years ago, with the wonderful Kat Stewart (Em 4 Jay, Underbelly) in the role of the grieving mother. As a parent who has lost a child, I found it very authentic. I can imagine Kidman being perfect for a screen adaptation.

Adam said...

I'd love to see it on stage. Nicole Kidman and John Cameron Mitchell seems like a combo too good to be true. It's nice to hear you say it's authentic because that material could so easily be used as easy drama. By the basic premise all I can think is "Antichrist," which is about the furthest thing from what the final result probably is.

Paul Martin said...

I suppose there's a comparison with the opening minutes of Antichrist. I saw it performed at a small independent theatre in Melbourne and it was a very intimate experience. I've only seen three theatre productions, so it'll be interesting to see it re-interpreted for a different medium and whether Mitchell can break free of the theatrical constraints. I've liked both his previous films and you're right that this is very different.

Simon said...

Yay to everyone but The Talking Cure, which I just can't bring myself to see...the Inglourious Basterds reunion that could've been will just be too painful.