Thursday, December 2, 2010

At the Movies – December 2010 – Part 3: Best of the Month

Must See of the Month:

True Grit (Joel & Ethan Coen) – Western – Dec 22nd
The film is about a stubborn young woman who hires a rough cold-blooded U.S. Marshall to track down her father’s murderer, based on the novel by Charles Portis (there is also a 1969 adaptation of the book with John Wayne). Fans of the Coen Brothers know to expect great dialog and wonderful visuals (and I am quite excited to see a Coen Brothers’ full on western, especially after No Country for Old Men). As usual, the Coen’s will have music from Carter Burwell, production design from Jess Gonchor and cinematography from Roger Deakins. Very good producer Scott Rudin is working on the film, as well as (and sort of surprisingly) Steven Spielberg, both in producing roles. Newcomer Hailee Steinfeld and Jeff Bridges star and both are receiving acclaim for their performances; Steinfeld is on many Oscar short-lists. The supporting cast is also really good with Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Domhnall Gleeson, and Barry Pepper. This looks to be amazing, considering the talent behind and in front of the camera. Fans of westerns, the Coen Brothers and good cinema need to see this. Check out the trailer.

Worth Checking Out (if not in theaters then at home):

Black Swan (Darren Aronofsky) – Thriller – Dec 3rd [limited]
The film is about a ballet dancer who, in intense competition for premier ballerina, begins to go through a change.  Darren Aronofsky is one of the great auteur directors of today’s cinema, thus any new project of his is one to take notice of and seek out (though, why he is making the X-Men film The Wolverine is beyond me, but it will probably be amazing). Interestingly, Aronofsky has action cinematographer Matthew Libatique shooting the film (but really it is no surprise as he shot Aronofsky’s first three films). He is also using composer Clint Mansell for the fifth time to score the film, however for production design he is working with indy designer Therese DePrez for the first time. The cast seems to be perfect for the project and its tone, as it stars Natalie Portman (whose performance is being hailed) and co-stars Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel. Winona Ryder, Barbara Hershey and Sebastian Stan highlight the supporting cast. The film looks to be an aesthetic marvel and intense (it is right there with True Grit as must see for the month). Check out the trailer.

The Fighter (David O. Russell) – Drama – Dec 10th [limited]
The film is about the early years of boxer “Irish” Micky Ward and his dysfunctional brother, who helped train him before he went pro in the mid 1980s. David O. Russell has a reputation as a bit of a madman (see the youtube video of his spat with Lily Tomlin), but regardless he makes great and interesting films. This is being executively produced by Darren Aronofsky (so there a lot of creative talent behind the production) and produced by star Mark Wahlberg. Russell is working with a completely new crew with production designer Judy Becker (who generally does very good work), amazing Swiss D.P. Hoyte Van Hoytema (see Let the Right One In for reference) and composer Michael Book. The film has a great supporting cast with Melissa Leo, (and two of my favorites) Amy Adams and Christian Bale, whose performance is being favored for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Star Wahlberg seems initially to be the weak link, yet his work with Russell in the past has been among his best, not to mention that Wahlberg worked extraordinarily hard to both star in and get this film made. Critics seem to universally agree that this is going to be a great film (and I will see anything with Bale in it). Check out the trailer.

Somewhere (Sofia Coppola) – Drama – Dec 24th [limited]
The film is about a washed up, hard-living actor who takes a look at his life and how to break out of the rut he is in, after his eleven-year-old daughter surprises him with a visit. Writer-director Sophia Coppola has been a bit hit or miss with her first three projects – Lost in Translation is brilliant, but The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette are aesthetically interesting but have a flawed narrative. The film is being producer by Coppola and her brother Roman Coppola (see CQ), and thus should have interesting creative aesthetics, only helped by frequent collaborator production designer Anne Ross. Wonderful cinematographer Harris Savides is shooting the film and French pop/rock band Phoenix is scoring it. Stephen Dorff stars (perfectly fitting the role) and rising-star Elle Fanning co-stars. (Underrated) Michelle Monaghan, Chris Pontius, Laura Ramsey, and Angela Lindvall (co-star of CQ) feature in the supporting cast. While Coppola may only have one great film to her name, her other work is quite interesting and engaging from a filmmaking and aesthetic point of view and this seems to be in the same narrative vein and have the same vibe as Lost in Translation. It also won the Venice Film Festival’s Best Film award. Check out the trailer

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