Guest Post: Musings on Darren Aronofsky’s departure from The Wolverine… and who should replace him

So late last week, Fox announced that Darren Aronofsky won’t be directing the new Wolverine film. As a fan of Wolverine and the X-Men franchise, this was a huge blow to me. Even though I’ve never read any of the comic books, I was a huge fan of the cartoon show that aired in the 90s. I also enjoyed the first two films quite a bit, not too much with X-Men 3 and the first Wolverine film though. So when Aronofsky said that he’s coming on board to retool the Wolverine movie, I was ecstatic because I think he’s one of the best young filmmakers in Hollywood today and Wolverine is one of my favorite comic book characters right behind Batman.

I thought the first Wolverine film has potentials but the final product was pretty lame. Some of you might even remember that the first film has so much drama behind the scenes too, so maybe Aronofsky didn’t want to deal with Fox executives and decided to just walk away now before he’s knee deep in production and couldn’t get out.

The official statements by Fox and Aronofsky said the shoot was going to be out side of the States and that Aronofsky didn’t want to be away from his family for that long period of time. When I heard that, I didn’t believe it for a second. I will bet anything that Aronofsky left the project because Fox executives won’t let him make the film the way he wants and also they probably gave him a very tight schedule to shoot the picture. I truly believe that Aronofsky wanted to make a very gritty and dark film about Wolverine and Fox executives probably said no, very similar to the first movie.

Fox didn’t like where the movie was going so they ordered the director (Gavin Hood) to make changes so they could market it to younger audiences. Rumor has it that Hood actually walked off the set and veteran director Richard Donner actually was the one who finished directing the movie, Donner’s one of the movie’s producers. I think Aronofsky didn’t want to deal with the stress and just walked away. Now some people will suspect the tragic that’s happening in Japan might have something to do with his decision to leave the movie (the new Wolverine film will take place in Japan), that could be true but I highly doubt it. If they’re so concern about the danger of shooting in Japan, they could go to some other country and shoot it. There are lots of country that can be substitute for Japan, The Last Samurai was in New Zealand.

A few years ago when Singer left X-Men to shoot the new Superman film (Superman Returns), Fox announced that Mathew Vaughn was taking over the franchise. Then a few weeks before shooting begin, both the studio and Vaughn came out saying that he’s leaving the project because he didn’t want to be a way from his family for too long. Sounds similar to last week’s announcement about Aronofsky isn’t it? Here’s the original article where Fox announced Vaughn was leaving X-Men 3. The real reason why Vaughn left the project was because Fox gave him an impossible shooting schedule and they demanded he shoot the film based on the new script, Vaughn wanted to stick with Singer’s original script. Had he or Singer made the film, the main story would’ve been about the Phoenix saga and we’ll finally get to see those giant robots known as The Sentinels, it was seen briefly in beginning of X-Men: Last Stand. Of course we all know what happened, even though Last Stand made a lot of money, I thought the film was quite awful compare to the first two X-Men films.

As of now Fox hasn’t announce who will take over the project yet, I just hope they don’t go and get some of the hacks to finish the job. If they do, you can bet they’ll go after someone like Brett Ratner, Rob Cohen, Stephen Sommers (he was fired from the G.I. Joe sequel so he’s looking for work) and Paul W. Anderson. Since most of my favorite and talented directors are busy with their own projects, I’m afraid Fox might just hired one of those hacks.

But just for fun, these are my ideal candidates to replace Aronofsky: Duncan Jones (Moon), Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy), The Coen Bros. (why not, they haven’t done an action/comic book film yet and this could be very interesting project for them) and Quentin Tarantino.


I know those guys will probably never be on Fox’s list but even if they are, I highly doubt they’ll accept the job. One possible candidate that Fox might actually hire is Bryan Singer, he was in the running to direct the first Wolverine film so maybe he’ll come on board if Fox asks him.


Well, what do you think of Aronofsky’s departure from The Wolverine? Are you as upset as I am and who do you think should fill in the director’s chair for this film?

Conspicuous Trailers of the Week: The Desert of Forbidden Art and The Princess of Montpensier

I didn’t have my trailer post for last week, but today I’d like to highlight a couple of indie films that caught my attention.

The Desert of Forbidden Art

When I saw the trailer of this 80-minute documentary by Tchavdar Georgiev, I was blown away. As a designer, I feel an immediate curiosity to the story, but anyone who appreciates any form of art would surely be intrigued by this jaw-dropping true story.

Here’s the synopsis from the film’s official site:

How does art survive in a time of oppression? During the Soviet rule artists who stay true to their vision are executed, sent to mental hospitals or Gulags.

Their plight inspires young Igor Savitsky. He pretends to buy state-approved art but instead daringly rescues 40,000 forbidden fellow artist’s works and creates a museum in the desert of Uzbekistan, far from the watchful eyes of the KGB. Though a penniless artist himself, he cajoles the cash to pay for the art from the same authorities who are banning it. Savitsky amasses an eclectic mix of Russian Avant-Garde art. But his greatest discovery is an unknown school of artists who settle in Uzbekistan after the Russian revolution of 1917, encountering a unique Islamic culture, as exotic to them as Tahiti was for Gauguin. They develop a startlingly original style, fusing European modernism with centuries-old Eastern traditions.

So far this film has received numerous recognition, including Cine Golden Eagle Award, Best Documentary Award at Palm Beach International Film Festival, and the Audience Award at Beijing International Film Festival (per RottenTomatoes). The review from L.A. Times said “viewers of this remarkable documentary will be astonished at not only what this art looks like and why it’s forbidden, but also where it is and how it got there.”

Fortunately for us in the US, on April 5, PBS will show this film as part of their Emmy Award winning series Independent Lens. Ben Kingsley, Sally Field and Ed Asner provide the voice for the diaries and letters of Savitsky and the artists. I’m definitely going to try to catch this one!


The Princess of Montpensier

We’ve all heard of the story before… a girl forced into marriage with a man for political/business reasons whilst she’s in love with another man. But I’m a sucker for foreign period dramas, especially when there’s some juicy forbidden love stories involved 😀

Based on Madame de la Fayette’s 17th century novel, the action centers on the love of Marie de Mezières for her dashing cousin Henri de Guise, thwarted when her father’s political ambitions force her into marriage with the well-connected Philippe de Montpensier, who she has never met. When Philippe is called away to fight, she is left in the care of Count Chabannes, an aging nobleman with a disdain for warfare, and soon becomes exposed to the sexual and political intrigues of court.

As I’m not well-acquinted with French cinema, so the only actor I’m familiar with is Gaspard Ulliel who was in the ‘Le Marais’ segment of Paris, Je T’Aime, and some of you might have seen him in A Very Long Engagement and Hanibal Rising. He’s also in the Bleu de Chanel men’s fragrance commercial directed by Martin Scorsese. I think I’ve seen actor Lambert Wilson before, but he’s recently seen in the critically acclaimed Of Gods and Men. I’ve never seen Mélanie Thierry before but she looks pretty alluring as the sensuous yet naive protagonist.

At first glance, this may seem like a bodice-ripper type costume drama, but some of the reviews I’ve read suggest the story is quite complicated and French director Bertrand Tavernier brings more depth and intrigue to this than meets the eye. Indiewire, Hollywood Reporter and Timeout London all have something positive to say with their Cannes’ premier reviews.

This might be a good one to suggest for our girls’ movie night sometime this Fall once it’s released on dvd!


Well, any interest in either one of these films? If you have seen them, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.

The Flix List: Past and present directors who could/should still make great films

By Ted Saydalavong


I’ve written two articles for this site about Hollywood directors, both the hacks and the great ones. So this post completes my directors trilogy posts 🙂 This time I’d like to focus on the past directors who have passed away and some who are still with us but hasn’t done anything significant in a long time.

In no particular order, here are the directors:

David Lean

Lean was known for his epic films such as The Bridge of River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. All three films were huge hits, after Doctor Zhivago he decided to make Ryan’s Daughter, it was a critical and commercial failure and because of its failure Lean didn’t make another film for over ten years. His last film was A Passage to India which came out 14 years after Ryan’s Daughter.  Before his death in 1991, he was trying to get another epic picture off the ground, Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo. Steven Spielberg, a huge fan of Lean, came on board as a producer but left the project because of disagreement over the script. Eventually Lean was able to secure a huge budget from Warner Bros., $45mil was gigantic back in the 80s and the film was green lit. But he passed away six weeks before principle photography, he had throat cancer. I wonder if we’ll ever see Nostromo on the big screen, I would love it if someone like Spielberg or Nolan takes over the project. I think Nolan can definitely do it since the book was quite dark and epic in scale.

I don’t know if Lean would have successes if he was still alive and working in Hollywood today. I think he’ll have trouble finding money for the type of films that he’d made. As we all know big budgeted films today are mostly comic book based, remakes and sequels. Also, most audience nowadays has sorter attention span so I don’t think they’ll like Lean’s films at all. Unless he decides to include lots of explosions and machine guns in them, then maybe people will pay to see his films. My guess is Lean will probably never stoop that low just to please the audience.

Stanley Kubrick

Here’s a director who was known for being a perfectionist and sort of a madman. Many actors/actresses who’ve worked with him said, it was quite an experience working with him but they’ll never want to be in his film again because he drove them crazy with his long shoots and countless takes on each scene.

His most well-known film was probably 2001: A Space Odyssey and it’s my favorite film of his. George Lucas even copied the look and feel of 2001 for his Star Wars films, if you don’t believe me watch the space sequences in 2001 and then watch Star Wars, they look identical and 2001 came out 9 years before Star Wars. Kubrick was also known for bickering with his cinematographers, for example during the shoot of Barry Landon, he wanted to use natural lighting for the whole film but his cinematographer told him that’s impossible and I believed Kubrick fired him and hired a new one. Eventually he compromised and did use artificial lighting for many scenes. Also, during the shoot of A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick didn’t like the script so he decided to shoot the film from the pages of the novel. It drove his cinematographer crazy because he didn’t know how to set up the cameras correctly and it took hours just to shoot one scene.

The last film he did was Eyes Wide Shut, which took over two years to complete. Before his death, he was getting ready to shoot another potential sci-fi classic, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. Of course we all know, Spielberg decided to make that movie to honor his friend. I could only imagine what the film would’ve been like had Kubrick directed it, he said he didn’t want to use a child actor for the lead role, so my assumption would be that he’d probably use CGI for the boy character. From what I remember reading, Kubrick wanted to make a dark and gritty world for A.I. as opposed to Spielberg’s light and fantasy version.

Kubrick would have no problem making films if he was still alive today, he’s highly respected in the film industry and any big name actors would kill just to work with him, they’ll regret it afterwards but at least they can say they’ve been in a Stanley Kubrick film.

Sam Peckinpah

Peckinpah was known for the innovative and explicit depiction of action and violence, as well as his revisionist approach to the western genre. Also, he’s known for filming slow motion in action scenes, John Woo and Zack Snyder are still trying to master his techniques in their films. In fact, John Woo admitted that he’s a huge fan of Peckinpah and always tried to emulate Peckinpah’s style on his own films.

Peckinpah became famous after the release of his western epic The Wild Bunch; the film got an X rating back in 1969 because of its violence. After the film’s success, Peckinpah got the nickname “Bloody Sam”. He pretty much started the trend in Hollywood where graphic violence became acceptable in big production films. After The Wild Bunch came out in 1969, the movies of the 70s included lots of graphic violence scenes; these include The Godfather, A Clockwork Orange, Taxi Driver and many more.

Peckinpah was also known for his combative personality; he refused to edit his films after shown them to studio executives, so the producers had to edit the films when he refused to be involved in the process. Some even called him a misogynist, which explains why famous actresses at the time never appeared in any of his films. Later in his career, he was offered a chance to direct some of the big films from the 70s; these include King Kong and Superman: The Movie, but he turned them all down because he didn’t want to deal with big studio politics. Apparently when he came in the interview for the Superman gig, he brought a pistol with him. He did so much cocaine and drank a lot of alcohol that he became so paranoid and some said it was hard being around him. His hard living style finally caught up with him and he died in 1984 of heart failure. He was only 59 years old.

I believe if Peckinpah was alive today he would be very successful because of independent studios that are available to filmmakers. He won’t have to deal with big studio executives and he can make his films the way he wants and still can find huge audience. You could say Quentin Tarantino is the new Peckinpah because his films are violent and strange, and of course Tarantino is a huge fan of Peckinpah. Also, all of Tarantino’s films were financed by The Weinstein Bros. studios, which it’s still considered an independent studio.

Note: I would like to mention a couple of directors whose work I’ve never seen but they’re well respected in the film industry, John Ford and Akira Kurosawa.

If you’re a fan of either of them, do you think they’ll be successful if they’re still alive and working in Hollywood today?


Now, here are some directors who are still with us, but haven’t done anything significant for a long time:

Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola was responsible for a few well known films of the 70s, The Godfather 1 & 2, Apocalypse Now and The Conversation. But after the release of Apocalypse Now, he pretty much lost his mojo when it comes to making successful films. In 1984, he made The Cotton Club, one of the biggest box office misfires of that decade. The film’s budget was around $60mil, that kind of number was unheard of back in those days. The rest of his films in the 80s were met with so-so reviews and box office numbers. So finally in 1990, he made The Godfather Part 3, mostly because his production company was going bankrupt and fans really wanted to see another chapter of the Corleone family. Unfortunately the film wasn’t as successful as the first two and to this day, many people still considered it the ‘black sheep’ of the trilogy.

In 1992, he made Dracula and it did pretty well at the box office and people thought maybe Coppola is back. But as it turned out, Dracula was his only big hit of that decade. He was pretty much gone unknown in the 2000s, even though he released a couple of movies, none of them made any noise with either the critics or audience.

I still believe Coppola could make a big comeback, he just needs the right script and get a good leading man to star in the film. For years he said he’s been working on a script of a sci-fi epic drama called Magalopolis, apparently he gave the script to Russell Crowe to read and Crowe loved it and agreed to star in it. The story is about NYC set 300 years in the future and it involves corrupt government in that future society. But unfortunately Coppola said he need about $200mil to make the movie and with his track record, he believe no studio in Hollywood will give him that kind of cash. So in early 2000s, he put the script on hold. I hope he decides to go back and work on it, that script could be his big comeback. Of course the hard part for him is to find investors who’ll fork over $200mil so he could shoot the picture.

William Friedkin

Here’s another guy who has a couple of big hit films back in the 1970s; The Exorcist and The French Connection were pretty big in those days. Just like Coppola, he sort of lost his touch of making successful films after the 70s. He actually made a very good film in 1985 that I recently discovered, To Live and Die in L.A. I knew about it for years never really wanted to see it, so finally I bought the Blu-ray version and watched it. I was surprised how good the film was; if you haven’t seen it, give it a rent. In the 90s and 2000s, he made a few films but they weren’t big hits.

I don’t know if Friedkin can make a comeback since there are so many great filmmakers out there today and he seems to be just another average director trying to make it day by day. I can only wish him the very best because I believe he’s very talented.

Richard Donner

The man who made the first and still the best Superman film and The Omen in the 70s. Then in the 80s and 90s, he made a few hits like the Lethal Weapon films and The Goonies. Just like Coppola and Friedkin, he somehow lost that touch of making a successful film the last few years. The last film I saw that he directed was 16 Blocks and it was awful. Apparently they’re remaking Lethal Weapon, will he be involved? I don’t know but I won’t be surprised if he is because he needs a hit.

I doubt that Donner could make a big comeback as a director, seems to me he just lost interest in directing films. He produced a lot of films, so maybe he prefers doing that instead of directing. Rumors been going around that he actually directed the last half of X-Men Origins: Wolverine because the original director walked off the set. I don’t know if that’s true or not, it’s Hollywood so anything’s possible.


Well those are my list of past and present directors who should or could make some successful films in today’s market. Do you have your own list? If so, feel free to name them.

Desert Island CD Blogathon: 12 songs I wish to have if I were stranded on a desert island

It’s been a while since I participated in a blog-a-thon, so when my pal Castor from Anomalous Material initiated this one, inspired by last year’s Desert Island DVD. This time, as the title obviously says, we’re asked to list 12 tracks we wish we’d have with us if we’re stranded on a desert island for an uncertain length of time. One requirement is that one track comes from a movie soundtrack as all of us are movie bloggers, well I’m gonna take that rule and turn it on its head 🙂 As I LOVE movie music and a great deal of my music play list actually consist of soundtrack, so my list would have eleven soundtracks and only one of them is not. A lot of these songs are in my top twenty movie music list.


Here they are in random order:

1. Elephant Love Medley – Moulin Rogue
It’s tough to choose just one song from this soundtrack. Initially I went with Come What May, a sweet ballad duet by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman professing their love to each another. But in the end I couldn’t do without this cute Elephant Love Medley from the movie (the same one featured in this meme from last year) and this way I get to listen to several songs in one track, plus hear the fun banter between the inevitable lovers.


2. Music of the Night – The Phantom of the Opera
In case you don’t already know, Gerry Butler isn’t known just for his 12-pack abs and ‘This is Sparta!!’ roar. This versatile actor can also belt out a tune. And not just any song, mind you, but the Andrew Llyod Webber classics from the all-time best selling musical Phantom of the Opera. Critics be darned, so what if Butler isn’t a trained classical singer?

Even though I’ve been listening to the Michael Crawford version for years, I was blown away by Butler’s soulful and passionate rendition in the movie. And ever since then, every time I hear other people sing Music of the Night (yes, including Crawford), I long to hear Butler’s voice… what Webber himself described as having a ‘rock ‘n roll quality’ that’s perfect for the contemporary adaptation.


3. Cinema Paradiso
Italian composer Ennio Morricone has done a bunch of amazing scores for various music, but my absolute favorite has got to be from Cinema Paradiso. In fact, I’ve been a huge fan of that music long before I saw the movie. A year ago I bought the album of Monica Mancini (the daughter of famed composer Henry Mancini) and I just fell in love with her lush rendition of the song. Take a listen for yourself:


4. Amazing Grace

I don’t have to be a sole survivor in a calamity to appreciate this hymn, the lyric speaks profoundly to me no matter what time of the day it is or whatever I’m going through. I adore this Chris Tomlin rendition of the beloved hymn by John Newton. It’s featured in the soundtrack of the 2006 film by the same name that focuses on William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffud) as he maneuvered his way through Parliament, endeavoring to end the British transatlantic slave trade. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It boast a great cast of Albert Finney (as Newton), Rufus Sewell as Thomas Clarkson and Benedict Cumberbatch as British PM William Pitt.


5. Now We Are Free – Gladiator
One of the best things of my favorite swords and sandals movie is the spectacular music by Hans Zimmer. If you’ve been confined into your office cubicles for a good portion of your lifetime, being stranded in a tropical island might not be such a bad idea for you. Hence the appropriate title of this song ‘Now we are free’ sung by Lisa Gerrard.


6. Somewhere in Time

This is for the melancholic side of me. This John Barry soundtrack is a staple in my play list and one I still listen to from time to time. As I’m listening to this all alone in the island, my mind would wander what it’d be like to travel through time for love…

7. Molossus – Batman Begins

This is another movie music staple in our household as both my hubby and I adore this one. All the title tracks have Latin names (referring to various breed of bats), but the most glorious one out of the superb Hans Zimmer soundtrack has got to be Molossus. It’s used in one of the best scenes in the movie where Batman called on his ‘back-up,’ the score just feels epic and you never want it to end.


8. City of Lovers – Casino Royale

Though You Know My Name is one of my top five Bond title songs, every time I listen to the Casino Royale soundtrack, I’m always mesmerized by the gorgeous City of Lovers score. It’s as lush and beautiful as Venice itself, though it’s not exactly fun to feel all romantic when there’s nobody else on the island 😦


9. Under the Sea – The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid is one of my all time favorite Disney ‘Princess’ flicks, and who doesn’t love the adorable and loyal lobster friend Sebastian! As the days feels even longer and all hopes of being rescued grow dim, this song just might be the thing to cheer me up. I’d be on the lookout of Sebastian and Ariel to come out of water to invite me to their jovial party under the sea 😀



10. Llyod I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken – P.S. I love you

I LOVE this song on the opening scene of P.S. I Love You, sadly it’s missing from the soundtrack! I just found out that the band Camera Obscura is from Glasgow, the same city where the lead actor Gerry Butler came from. The song is catchy and upbeat despite the vulnerable sentiment, and it’s quite fitting for the movie given its premise.



11. May It Be –
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

This Oscar-winning soundtrack by Howard Shore is one of those scores that not only sounds amazing, but it has the power to transport those who listen to ’em to the magical world of Middle-earth. Beautiful and full of hope, this song is so soothing that it’ll come in handy especially in desperate times.


12. City on Our Knees

Ok, last but not least – this is the single non-soundtrack song on my list. I can’t possibly not include this uplifting song by Toby Mac, a Christian hip hop recording artist whose work I admire. The beat is wonderful, but what I like most is the lyrics. On a hard day, this mood-boosting track never fails to inspire me.



Phew, that was tough. Some of the hardest I had to cut from the list are Sting’s track Moonlight from Sabrina, Jurassic Park and Sense and Sensibility theme, amongst others. Well, anyway, that’s my list. Would you like to join me in my island? 😀

Be sure to check out what the other survivors are listening to over on Castor’s blog.

Coco Before Chanel and the exquisite Chanel’s celebrity perfume ads

Happy Friday all! Tonight is time for our monthly girls movie night and the movie we’ll be watching is Coco Before Chanel (Coco avant Chanel) starring the lovely Audrey Tautou as the famed clothing designer. I’ve been wanting to see this movie for a while.

As a woman who loves fashion, I’m naturally intrigued by the woman behind one of the most famous label in haute couture… and how she got that nickname “Coco.” Directed by Anne Fontaine, the movie depicts the rise of Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel from a humble beginning to the heights of the fashion world.

The real Coco Chanel

The reviews aren’t exactly stellar, but I’m hopeful I’d still enjoy this movie for three reasons: The beautiful and charismatic Audrey Tautou (who bears a striking resemblance to the real Coco), the always watchable Alessandro Nivola as Englishman Arthur Capel whom Coco fell for, and the clothes of course! I could never afford anything from The House of Chanel, but it certainly is fun just to watch ’em. The label is famous for their luxurious quilted bags, lady-like LBD (little black dress) and that iconic double C logo that’s instantly recognizable all over the world.

Unsurprisingly, costume designer Catherine Leterrier was nominated for an Oscar for her work in this movie. Oh, there’s also the music by award-winning Alexandre Desplat (whose gorgeous score for The King’s Speech was up for an Oscar a few weeks ago).


Well, as an Advertising major, I always appreciate beautifully-photographed fashion adverts and Chanel is one of the fashion labels who often feature film actress, mostly French, on their perfume ads. From Catherine Deneuve in the 70s to the current perfume model Keira Knightley, they always look exquisite. Ravishing and sexy, but never vulgar. Mainly the perfume featured are Coco’s first ever perfume line Chanel No. 5 (apparently the number five is pretty significant in her life). I remember when I was in high school, one of my aunts bought me a mini 1.5 ml bottle of the pure Parfum in that classy cream box with black trim and I thought it was the coolest thing. Even Marilyn Monroe was a die-hard fan, as she’s been quoted as saying,

“What do I wear in bed? Why, Chanel No. 5, of course.”

So as a tribute to the movie and a bit of indulgence on the designer side of me, here are some of my favorite Chanel perfume ads:

(Click the image to see the larger version)

Keira Knightley
Keira Knightley Keira Knightley
Nicole Kidman Nicole Kidman
Audrey Tautou Audrey Tautou
Carole Bouquet Vanessa Paradis
Catherine Deneuve Catherine Deneuve
Carole Bouquet

Btw, the stunning French actress Carole Bouquet also happens to be one of my favorite Bond girls 🙂


What do you think of the movie and/or these ads? Do you have a particular favorite of a celebrity advert?

FlixChatter’s Most Anticipated 2011 Movies – Part II

Here’s the second part of the movies I’m anticipating this year. Again, I only list those that I’d most likely be seeing in the cinema. The release dates information is courtesy of Movie Insider and The-Numbers. I will update accordingly if there are changes, as the information becomes available.


AUGUST

August 31 – The Debt
Synopsis:
Twenty years after World War II’s end, three Mossad agents learn that a Nazi war criminal is still alive and set out to pursue him across Europe.

I’ve been anticipating this movie for a while since I saw this intriguing trailer, oh and what a cast! Relative newcomers Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain are quite privileged to be acting alongside seasoned thespians like Helen Mirren, Tom Wilkinson and Ciaran Hinds. Chastain who’s also in The Tree of Life and Coriolanus is quite possibly one of the hottest (and luckiest) young actress working today! I was afraid this movie would go straight to dvd when Miramax went kaput last year. Glad it ends up getting a theater release.

 

SEPTEMBER

September 1 – Straw Dogs
Synopsis:
James Marsden as a Hollywood screenwriter who accompanies his wife (Kate Bosworth) as she returns to her hometown in Mississippi. Her ex-boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard), a former high school football hero, sees her return as an opportunity to reclaim glory.

Wow, September is a slow month indeed, I kept looking at the list and the only one that I’m somewhat interested is the one above (as I like James Marsden). He’s back together again with Bosworth, who was his love interest in Superman Returns. Depending on the reviews, this could be worth seeing in the theater, but I’m waiting for the trailer/reviews first.

The only other one I might be interested in is Brighton Rock, a UK gangster-themed thriller starring Helen Mirren, John Hurt and Sam Riley, which probably will get a limited theater release here in the States. It’s got mixed reviews when it opened in the UK and premiered at last year’s TIFF, so it could be more of a rental-quality.

OCTOBER

October 14 – Three Musketeers
Synopsis:
A modernized re-imagining of the classic novels written by Alexandre Dumas that follow the story of a young d’Artagnan, who longs to become a great musketeer — one of the personal guards of the French crown. He encounters and befriends the contentious Athos, Porthos, and Aramis — three musketeers of legend and folly.


I’ve always had a thing for this classic tale, I mean one of my favorite guilty pleasures is The Man in the Iron Mask. Most likely I won’t be as enamored by this d’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) than I was with Gabriel Byrne in the titular role, but I quite like the cast of the three musketeers themselves: Brits Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans and Matthew Macfayden. I sure hope this won’t be as bad as the other Paul W.S. Anderson‘s films and at the very least it’d be a fun swashbuckling entertainment worth a cinema ticket price.

October 21 – Contagion
Synopsis:
An action-thriller that takes place in a worst case scenario of a deadly virus.

I don’t know much about this Steven Soderbergh movie but check out the cast: Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne and recent Oscar nominee John Hawkes. I’d watch just for the amazing cast. The premise kind of reminds me of the Dustin Hoffman movie Outbreak, but I’m curious what Soderbergh has in store for us in this one.


TBA – The Rum Diary
Synopsis:
Based on a novel by Hunter S. Thompson with the same name, Depp plays an American journalist named Paul Kemp, which is loosely based on the author’s own life journey. Kemp moves from New York to the Caribbean with the hope of finding adventure, but instead finds himself tangled in love, jealousy, and violence, amongst his alcoholic American peers who staff the run-down newspaper.

This movie was actually in my 2010 most anticipated movies list, but it just kept getting delayed. Not sure what the problem is, can’t imagine a Johnny Depp movie not getting a distributor?? The premise sounds interesting and tailor-made for Depp, especially his connection to Thompson. I also like Aaron Eckhart who’s his co-star in this movie. Check out some of the on-set photos that my co-worker shot whilst vacationing in Puerto Rico. Hope the trailer will be released soon.

NOVEMBER

November 11 – Immortals
Synopsis: A mythological tale set in war-torn ancient Greece where the young warrior prince Theseus leads his men in a battle against evil that will see theGods and Men fighting against the Titans and Barbarians.

Freida Pinto as Phaedra with Theseus in the background

It’s like Clash of the Titans but Kraken-free and hopefully much, much better. Indian director Tarsem Singh first came to my attention when I saw the visual feast that is The Fall, which was filmed on location in 18 countries, including Bali for the Kecak dance sequence. I have a soft spot for the leading man Henry Cavill (the new Superman) and coupled with Tarsem’s knack for a glorious visual spectacle, this is definitely one to see on the big screen.

 

TBA – Coriolanus
Synopsis: A modern Shakespeare historical thriller on a banished Roman hero (Ralph Fiennes) who allies with a sworn enemy Tullus Aufidius (Gerard Butler) to take his revenge on the city.

Coriolanus greets his mother Volumnia as Menenius looks on

Despite Vanessa’s dismal review from Berlinale, I’m still hugely anticipating this. Yes, I’m a big fan of Butler as y’all already know, but I’m also curious to see Fiennes’s directing debut and all the fuss is about Vanessa Redgrave’s performance as Coriolanus’ mother that there’s already talks of Oscar nomination for next year. I also love Scottish thespian Brian Cox who plays Coriolanus’ mentor Menenius.

Check out the behind-the-scene photos and additional stills and info about the movie. The screenplay is by John Logan (Gladiator, Last Samurai) so I’m still hoping the dialog would at least be pretty solid.

DECEMBER

December 23 – The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Synopsis: Tintin and his friends discover directions to a sunken ship commanded by Capt. Haddock’s ancestor and go off on a treasure hunt. Based on the Belgian comic series The Adventures of Tintin from Georges Rémi, a.k.a Herge that is beloved all over the world (but largely unknown in the US).

As a huge fan of the comic books that I still even read from time to time in my native language, I’m beyond thrilled that this is getting a big screen treatment, from Spielberg and Peter Jackson no less! I realize the motion capture thing can be a concern as it did with the ‘dead eyes’ problem with The Polar Express, as Darren pointed it out on his blog post about it. But I’m cautiously optimistic that it’ll be a huge improvement from the previous motion capture films and it’d look more realistic like Avatar.

TBA – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Synopsis: In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6’s echelons.

I’ve always had a thing about retired spy being called back to mission again, hence the protagonist in my first fantasy movie pitch Hearts Want. So the premise based on John le Carré’s novel intrigues me even before I saw the cast. But when you’ve got this kind of lineup: Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC’s Sherlock Holme), and Ciaran Hinds, it’s hard not to include this in my most-anticipated list. Oldman plays George Smiley, a middle-aged, taciturn, perspicacious intelligence expert in forced retirement. He is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service (info from the Wikipedia page of the novel). There was a BBC miniseries back in 1979 starring Alec Guinness, so if any of you have seen it, I’d love to hear what you think.

I’ve been waiting for its release for quite a while but finally I heard news a few weeks ago that Universal will distribute this in the US (perhaps the fact that Colin Firth took home an Oscar had a lot to do with it?). A bit of casting trivia, Michael Fassbender was originally cast but was replaced by Tom Hardy. Not a bad trade, no, not bad at all 🙂

Maybe:

December 16 – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
I quite like the first one (read my review), I thought Guy Ritchie did a decent job adapting this with a modern feel and keeping it light and funny. I’m not a Holmes’ purist so I didn’t mind Ritchie taking a lot of liberty with the material. I think having Robert Downey Jr. as the famous character is inspired casting, and his rapport with Jude Law is Ritchie’s bromance at its most entertaining. So I might check the sequel even just to see them back together again.


Well, turns out there are more movies I want to see in the second half of the year. There might be a few I’m missing here but I’ll update this list periodically.

So, any one of these movies you’re eager to see? Do share what movie(s) you are anticipating that are not on this list.

FlixChatter’s Most Anticipated 2011 Movies – Part I

This post has been in my draft folder for a while… originally I wanted to post right after award season is over. Now Oscar is already behind us for nearly a month (boy, I kinda forgot about it already), so I better not procrastinate any longer.


This post will be divided into two parts, Part I is from March – July and Part II consist of movies released in the later half of 2011. I only list those that I’d most likely be seeing in the cinema, based on the release date information from Movie Insider as of last night. As dates get shuffled and more movies are added, I will update this list accordingly. Anyway, here they are in order of release:

MARCH

March 11 (limited) – Jane Eyre
Synopsis:
The Gothic story of a lowly governess who captures the heart of her employer Mr. Rochester, only to discover that he’s hiding a terrible secret.


I’ve blogged enough about this topic that I don’t think I need to explain further why this is on the list. Check out the
trailer and stills from the movie. I can’t wait to finally see this in two weeks and find out how Michael Fassbender fares as Rochester compared to my all-time favorite.

APRIL

April 22 Water for Elephants
Synopsis: A 90-year-old man reminisces about his life during the Depression, when he found work at a B-level circus taking care of the animals. He sees the brutality of circus life while falling for the wife of an abusive animal trainer.

There’s something about the world of the circus that intrigues me, it certainly adds a layer of mystique to the love story. Amongst a sea of comic-book superhero flicks, it’s nice to see a romantic drama to break things up. The trailer looks pretty promising with gorgeous setting and lovely music. Rob Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon seem to have a decent chemistry and having Christoph Waltz here is a big plus. I’m ready to be swept away 🙂

Maybes:

  • HannaEric Bana and Cate Blanchett in one movie… how bad can it be? The premise of a child assassin isn’t very appealing to me, but still I might be curious enough to check it out because of the cast. Plus I like director Joe Wright’s previous work.

MAY

May 27 Tree of Life
Synopsis: The story of a Midwestern family in the 1950’s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.

Click image for more photos at Collider.com

I’m more intrigued about this more for its director, Terrence Malick (who also wrote the screenplay), than for the cast (Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain). Malick’s last feature film The New World was back in 2005, which is a relatively short gap compared to the 20-year span his fans had to wait between Days of Heaven (1978) and the Thin Red Line (1998). The premise is intriguing and promises to be thought-provoking, and judging from the poetic trailer below, a sweeping visual vista is to be expected. This is certainly on the list of virtually every movie sites/blogs out there. I know it’s highly unlikely but it’d be nice if for once a movie like this beats a franchise film like Pirates at the box office.


Maybes:

  • Thor – Though initially I was anticipating this, the two trailers have been underwhelming. I’ll wait for the reviews before deciding whether to see it in the cinema or rent this one.
  • The Beaver – Yes, I don’t mind seeing a Mel Gibson movie. It actually looks pretty amusing from the trailer and the script made the top of the 2008 Black List (a list of yet-unproduced top screenplays picked by about 250 Hollywood execs).


JUNE

June 3 – X-Men: First Class
Synopsis:
Before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto, they were two young men discovering their powers for the first time. Before they were archenemies, they were closest of friends, working together with other Mutants, to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift happens that propels the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.


This one is probably in my top five anticipated movie of the whole year. If you still don’t know anything about this movie, check out the
trailer and the gorgeous character posters. I think Matthew Vaughn has picked a wonderful cast for the main characters, especially James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Charles and Eric respectively. The dynamic relationship between these two are what I’m looking forward to the most.

June 10 – Super 8
Synopsis: In 1979, after the Air Force closes a section of Area 51, all materials are transported to a secure facility in Ohio. A train carrying some of the materials derails during an accident and something escapes from one of the cargo cars. A group of kids making movies with their Super 8 cameras accidentally capture what escapes on film.

The teaser that came out a few weeks ago was intriguing, but it wasn’t until the full trailer came out that I’m actually excited about this one. It’s a throwback to the classic Spielberg sci-fi movies like ET and the kids-cast kind have that Stand by Me vibe to it. The auteur is teaming up with JJ Abrams who wrote and directed the movie. The creator popular TV show Alias, Lost and Fringe, Abrams proved his directing chops in Mission: Impossible III and Star Trek, so I’m cautiously optimistic about this one. Kyle Chandler is a likable actor who finally gets to shine in a leading man role, good for him.

JULY

July 15 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
Synopsis: The final adventure of Harry Potter as he attempts to bring an end to his nemesis, Lord Voldemort.

This is the event all Potter fans been waiting for. No matter how you feel about the first installment (read my review), one thing we can all agree on is it made us look forward to this final film all the more. One of my favorite parts of this franchise is watching all those British thespians in various roles, both good and evil, and we’ll finally learn which side he/she really is on (I’m looking at you Professor Snape).

July 22 – Captain America
Synopsis: After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America’s ideals.

I’m not as familiar about Capt. America amongst other Marvel superheroes. But the two main reasons I’m anticipating this are Aussie thespian Hugo Weaving as the main villain Red Skull and the retro look and feel of the movie, which director Joe Johnston has done before with Rocketeer. One thing for sure, Johnston has a knack for casting great actors in the role of villains (as he did in the role of fabulous baddie Neville Sinclair). Plus, one of my fave British actor Richard Armitage also has a small part as Nazi officer Heinz Kruger. The trailer looks pretty decent, so at the very least this could be the perfect popcorn entertainment of the Summer.


……

July 29 – Cowboys & Aliens
Synopsis: Set in 1800s Arizona, a battle between cowboys and Apaches is interrupted by the crash landing of a space ship. The alien commander plans to tame the Old West and enslave everyone, but the cowboys and Native Americans turn their six-guns against the alien invaders.

Initially I was a bit disappointed that Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t going to re-team with his Iron Man director Jon Favreau for this, so it kinda fell off my radar. But then I saw the trailer and went ‘whoa!’ It’s got to be one of the most memorable trailers I’ve seen for upcoming movies, it’s bizarre in an exciting kind of way. I mean, it’s hard not to be intrigued even just reading the title! Gritty Bond Daniel Craig looks all bad ass in his cowboy outfit and whatever it is on his wrist certainly looks cool. Add curmudgeon Harrison Ford into the bargain (and sexy Olivia Wilde for the boys), then this just might be the one to beat at the box office this year.
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PART II will be posted later this week. For a full listing of ALL movies released in 2011, visit the-numbers site.


Well, any of your anticipated movies make the list? What movie(s) are you anticipating this Summer?