Sunday, October 7, 2012

Upcoming (and Current) Films of 2012, part II

A few weeks ago, I posted a list of some of the movies out this fall (and a few I missed so far this year) that I have an interest in seeing. The following is an updated list of said films, as well as others that many people are looking forward to, or are wondering or debating about.

It should be noted that my opinions or thoughts about some of these films do not necessarily mean I may recommend them or make any kind of endorsement for their worldviews (whatever they may be). Rather, these are films, I believe, that will create discussion and debate among several viewers.


Argo (in theaters October 12) 
Star Ben Affleck returns to the director's chair (after 2007's Gone Baby Gone and 2010's The Town) with this intense, true story of the rescue of six American hostages in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Affleck plays a CIA specialist who comes up with a plan to rescue said hostages, where he and his colleagues pose as a film crew. I was intrigued by the trailers, and by its mending of real-life events and Hollywood satire. 

Beasts of the Southern Wild (still in select theaters)
I've been hearing a lot of interesting things about this Sundance sensation of a film. Set in a fictional Louisiana location known as the Bathtub, a young girl called Hushpuppy (played by newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis) goes on a search for her lost mother after her hot-tempered father develops a mysterious illness. 

Cloud Atlas (opens October 26)
If you thought last year's "The Tree of Life" was ambitious, wait until you see the nearly-six-minute preview of this sci-fi-genre-bending epic from the Wackowski siblings (the "Matrix" trilogy), along with co-director Tom Tykwer ("Run Lola Run"). (Check out the second trailer as well, and determine which one you're more convinced by.) A summary of the film would consist of interconnections and actions of individual lives in the past, present and future, combining science-fiction, drama, action, and complex storytelling. But I'll let the trailers speak for themselves. Stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant, and Wackowski-regular Hugo Weaving, among others. 

Flight (November 2)
Robert Zemeckis ("Cast Away," "Forrest Gump," "Back to the Future") directs his first live-action feature in over a decade, with Denzel Washington as a pilot who saves a group of passengers from a near plane crash, but is put on investigation for alcohol-related issues involved. A promising cast also includes John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo, and Bruce Greenwood. 

Frankenweenie (now in theaters) 
Tim Burton returns to his roots with this stop-motion animated update of his 1984 original live-action short film, about a young boy who brings his deceased canine friend back to life. Shot in black-&-white, and featuring a cast of quirky and eerie characters, the film is an homage to classic monster/horror movies, as only Burton could achieve. He also does what he does best: bringing audiences into a bizarre, imaginative, and unexpectedly moving experience.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (opens December 14) 
Director Peter Jackson returns to Middle-Earth in this adaptation (reportedly the first part of a planned trilogy) of J.R.R. Tolkien's unforgettable prequel to the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, centered on the backstory and journey of Bilbo Baggins. That should be enough to persuade moviegoers (especially fans of the books and the original film trilogy) that this will be a film not to miss this holiday season.
Teaser trailer
Theatrical Trailer 

The Impossible (Opening in Spain October 11; expected to be released in the U.S. in December) 
Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor star as a married couple whose family is separated in the 2004 Tsunami. I first heard about this film through a friend, and I have no doubt it will be a powerful experience, especially for the survivors and families. 

The Intouchables (Now playing in select theaters) 

French drama about the growing friendship between a quadriplegic aristocrat and the young man from the projects he hires to be his caretaker. The film looks moving and resonant. 

Life of Pi (November 21)
I was amazed at director Ang Lee's ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Brokeback Mountain") visual and visceral storytelling when I saw the trailer for this. Based on the bestselling novel by Yann Martel, "Life of Pi" tells the story of a zookeeper's son who finds himself in the company of a group of zoo animals after a shipwreck leaves them stranded in the Pacific Ocean. The trailer alone recalls the emotional quality of such films as "Whale Rider" and "Slumdog Millionaire," and I have no doubt this will be one of the year's best. Deeply astounding. 

Lincoln (November 16)
Steven Spielberg directs Daniel Day-Lewis (Oscar-winner for "There Will Be Blood") in this biopic of the sixteenth president of the United States, during the last four years of his life. The three already-published photos (including a teaser poster, as well as Day-Lewis on set) already suggest this will be brilliant. Also stars Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sally Field, Jackie Earle Haley, and David Strathairn. Written by Tony Kushner ("Angels in America," "Munich"). 

The Master (September 21)
Paul Thomas Anderson ("Magnolia," "Punch-Drunk Love," "There Will Be Blood") returns to the director's chair with his script about what is being speculated as the birth of a religion. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the leader of this newfound organization, taking Joaquin Phoenix under his wing. Will definitely challenge many filmgoers this season. Also stars Amy Adams and Laura Dern. 

Moonrise Kingdom (still in select theaters)
Wes Anderson's ("Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums," "Fantastic Mr. Fox") throwback to 1960s childhood innocence and angst has made some impressive marks at the Cannes Film Festival and with critics and audiences since then. The story is about two young lovers who run away together, but are soon followed by a local search party (including Bruce Willis as the town sheriff, Edward Norton as a scout master, and Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as the young girl's parents). Along that same note, the film has also been said to contain some very adult-related issues and themes regarding romance, relationships and character. Looks terrific, well-made, and intriguing (with discernment) nonetheless. 

Rise of the Guardians (opens November 21) 

Just about every holiday character - from Santa Claus to the Easter Bunny to Jack Frost - gets a bizarre re-imagining in this fantasy-adventure, based on William Joyce's book series, "The Guardians of Childhood." I thought the trailers were just weird - although I was convinced by the portrayal of Jack Frost. Features the voices of Chris Pine, Alec Baldwin, Hugh Jackman, and Ilsa Fisher. Guillermo del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth") serves as executive producer.

Ruby Sparks (still in select theaters)
"Little Miss Sunshine" veterans Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris direct this intriguing romantic comedy about a novelist (Paul Dano, another "Sunshine" veteran), suffering from writer's block, who creates a female character that comes to life. Also stars Chris Messina, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, and Zoe Kazan (who also wrote the script). 

Safety Not Guaranteed (still in select theaters)
Three newspaper writers (including Aubrey Plaza of "Parks and Recreation") go on a quest to find the story and person (mumblecore expert Mark Duplass) behind a classified ad involving time travel. This low-budget indie flick looks quirky, deadpan, sophisticated, and intriguing, and may remind viewers that the smallest films can create the greatest effects. 

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (on Blu-ray and DVD)
Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt play a fisheries expert and consultant, respectfully, in this dramedy about fulfilling a sheik's dream of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert. Critics and audiences have called this a "feel-good" and enlightening movie. Written by Simon Beaufoy (Oscar-winner for "Slumdog Millionaire"), based on the novel by Paul Torday. 

Samsara (Now playing in select theaters) 

An international effort that was shot on 70mm film over a period of five years, in twenty-five countries on five continents. Like "Cloud Atlas," I'll let the trailer speak for itself. 

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (still in theaters)
Steve Carell and Kiera Knightly headline this apocalyptic comedy-drama about two strangers on a quest to find the former's old high school flame as an asteroid heads toward earth. Also stars Patton Oswalt ("Ratatouille," "Young Adult"). Directorial debut of Lorene Scafaria (screenwriter for "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist"). 

The Silver Linings Playbook (November 21)
This may be one of the most impressive and promising trailers I've seen this year. Bradley Cooper ("The Hangover," "Limitless") plays a former school teacher who moves in with his parents after returning from an eight-month stint in a mental institution and hopes to get his life back on track, including reuniting with his ex-wife. Things get complicated when he meets a mysterious woman (Jennifer Lawrence, who's had an impressive resume since "Winter's Bone") with problems of her own. Yet, the trailer suggests unexpected bonds and promises. Co-starring Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver (Oscar-nominee for "Animal Kingdom") as Cooper's parents, Julia Stiles, and Chris Tucker. Written and directed by David O. Russell ("I Heart Huckabees," "The Fighter"). 

Trouble With the Curve (Now Playing) 

Clint Eastwood returns to the screen after a four-year hiatus (his last acting gig being 2008's "Gran Torino"), as a baseball scout trying to prove what he's still made of. Amy Adams plays his estranged daughter who decides to help him out during a scouting gig. Also stars Justin Timberlake and John Goodman. 

Won't Back Down (now playing) 

Already a controversial film with the education system, this true-story drama is about two determined mothers (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis) who decide to transform the inner city school system, and to make a difference in their childrens' future education. 

Wreck-It Ralph (November 2)
A video-game villain gets tired of his role and wants to be the good guy. That's the basic premise of this latest Disney offering, sure to unite Comic-Con fans, video-game lovers, and children and adults of all ages. (Watch for cameos from classic arcade villains in this clever and funny teaser trailer.) Featuring the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch, and Jake McBrayer. 

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