An infrequently updated dumping ground for one culture junkie's thoughts on film and whatever else

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unlikely trios, #1

John Belushi, Jack Nicholson, Christopher Lloyd; Goin' South, 1978.

Unlikely pairs, #1

Christopher Lloyd and Jack Nicholson, Goin' South, 1978.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking ahead: 15 anticipated films of 2010

FUCK YOU, 2009! You are in THE PAST! Here are some movies I'm excited about that are theoretically coming our way in the new year, a.k.a. THE FUTURE, in alphabetical order:

The Adjustment Bureau

Writer-director George Nolfi is an unknown quantity, but a Philip K. Dick adaptation starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt? That seems like something to get excited about. I know PKD's work has fed a bunch of lousy films, but I've got a hunch about this one. Damon's choice of roles has been pretty much unerring in the past decade (leading IFC to declare him "The Actor of the '00s"), so I trust that this will have at least some merit. No release date yet, but Universal's got the rights and we can probably expect it in the fall or holiday season.

The American

Droolworthy: a collaboration between Anton Corbijn (the Dutch filmmaker who directed a number of visually striking music videos as well as that Ian Curtis biopic that I never saw) and George Clooney (he's "The American," all right). IMDb's one-line plot summary: "An assassin hides out in Italy for one last assignment." Works for me! Drops in early September, with Focus Features distributing.

Black Swan

Darren Aronofsky's follow-up to The Wrestler (which is feeling more and more like one of the key films of the decade that just ended) is set in the world of New York City ballet and stars Natalie Portman “as a veteran ballerina who finds herself locked in a competitive situation with a rival dancer, with the stakes and twists increasing as the dancers approach a big performance. But it’s unclear whether the rival is a supernatural apparition or if the protagonist is simply having delusions." So, it's some kind of psychological thriller that may or may not have a lesbian sex scene between Portman and Mila Kunis (who plays the rival). Works for me. Fox Searchlight will reportedly be distributing but no release date has been set.


I know very little about this Greek drama except that it racked up huge raves at Cannes and Toronto last year from discerning critics such as Karina Longworth, Mike D'Angelo, and Scott Tobias. When people stand up and applaud a film with no advance buzz by an unknown director, you can bet something extremely interesting is up. Kino's acquisition of the film will hopefully allow us to see what that something is in 2010.


Noah Baumbach is one of the only American filmmakers with the perceptive eye and nuanced insight into human behavior of a great novelist. I fully expect him to apply these talents to Greenberg, which stars Ben Stiller as a guy dealing with his mid-life crisis by "trying to do nothing for a while." His (much younger) love interest is played by beguiling, oft-nude mumblecore ingenue Greta Gerwig. The trailer looks promising, and Baumbach has never led me astray before. Comes out in March via Focus Features.

I Am Love

Fresh off her triumph in Julia, Tilda Swinton appears in this Italian melodrama; when it premiered at Toronto last year, reviews pegged it as a visual stunner worthy of Sirk and Hitchcock. Magnolia Pictures has picked it up for U.S. release some time this year.


Even though I had major reservations about The Dark Knight, I can't deny that the enigmatic trailer for Christopher Nolan's upcoming film is brain-ticklingly exciting. Nolan is currently in the rare and enviable position of being a brainiac intellectual filmmaker with a free pass to do whatever the hell he wants in Hollywood, thanks to the massive success of his previous film; here's hoping he takes advantage of it. With a tagline describing it as a sci-fi thriller "set within the architecture of the mind," there's a good chance this film will be closer in tone to Nolan's brilliantly clever Memento than to the overstuffed, quick-cut bombast of The Dark Knight. We'll find out when Warner Brothers releases it in mid-July.

Never Let Me Go

I'm worried about this one. Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go is one of my favorite novels, like, ever, and even if Mark Romanek gets it right, I feel like he can never really get it right, you know? But I can't wait to see what he comes up with. Fox Searchlight will be releasing it, probably some time during awards season.


This year, beloved British goofball-geeks Simon Pegg and Nick Frost have separated from longtime collaborator Edgar Wright (more on him later) and hooked up with American director Greg Mottola, whose lovely coming-of-age film Adventureland was one of my favorites of 2009. This sci-fi comedy, which Pegg and Frost wrote as well as star in, is some kind of road movie about two nerds traveling cross-country with an alien. And the alien is voiced by Seth Rogen. Again, works for me. I can't find any info about possible release dates, but Universal is distributing; a summertime release would make sense.

A Prophet

One of the big critical hits of last year's festival circuit; supposedly an epic, tough-as-fuck crime drama set in a French prison. Definitely in my wheelhouse. Some reviews have compared it favorably to The Godfather, and I won't have to wait too long to see it: Sony Classics is distributing in late February.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Bryan Lee O'Malley's cult comic book series, a giddy bubblegum-slacker adventure comedy, couldn't ask for a better cinematic translator than Edgar Wright. The comics are all very goofy and irreverent and perfectly suited to the man behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. I'm not thrilled about the Michael Cera factor (why hasn't Darwinism allowed Jesse Eisenberg to destroy him yet?), but this should be great fun nonetheless. Comin' atcha in August via Universal.

Shutter Island

We all know the deal: Martin Scorsese made an awesome-looking horror movie, it was supposed to come out in October '09, Universal shelved it because it wasn't prestige-y enough to compete in awards season, now we're getting it in February—which would normally be dumping-ground season, something of an insult to Marty. If this doesn't make my top ten at year's end, I'll shave my eyebrows off.


Sofia Coppola returns. Stars Stephen Dorff for some reason. A Hollywood story that's reportedly influenced by Sofia's experience growing up with Francis as her pops. I don't love Sofia's films but I find myself very interested in what she's cooked up here. Hey, if it's even half as sensuously satisfying as daddy's Tetro, I'm on board. Focus Features has the rights but there's no release date yet.

Toy Story 3

I don't believe this requires any contextual information. Comes out in June. Thank god Don Rickles lived long enough to participate in this.

The Tree of Life

My heart was broken when Terrence Malick's long-gestating fifth film didn't come out in 2009 as originally planned. I may not survive to see 2011 if I am denied again. Newish distrib company Apparition supposedly has the rights. This movie may or may not contain dinosaurs.