Tuesday, January 3, 2012

At the Movies – January 2012 – Part 1: Independent Films

Art-House Dramas:

Rampart (Oren Moverman) – Crime Drama – Jan 27 [limited]
Summary: The film is about a veteran police officer in LA who is the last of the ‘renegade’ cops of old. He struggles to support his family and maintain his own survival (basically it is a lot like The Shield in concept). Filmmakers: Writer-director Oren Moverman is back for his second feature, coming off the critically acclaimed film The Messenger. He is working with cinematographer Bobby Bukowski again, as well as composer Dickon Hinchliffe (Winter’s Bone) and excellent production designer David Wasco (Inglourious Basterds). Cast: Moverman is also again working with stars Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster. Steve Buscemi, Robin Wright, Jon Bernthal, Sigourney Weaver, Anne Heche, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Ned Beatty, Robert Wisdom, and Cynthia Nixon round out a fantastic group of actors. Expectations: The cast alone is a good reason to want to see this – plus, Moverman’s gritty style and ability to garner great performances seems perfect for this type of story (even though it is one that has been done many times, and very well – thinking again of The Shield or Training Day). All that said, the buzz has not been too great for the film. It has missed out on most of the awards from the 2011 season. But, if you like cop dramas this probably something worth seeing. Trailer: Here.

Albert Nobbs (Rodrigo Garcia) – Drama – Jan 27 [limited]
Summary: The film is about a woman in 19th century Ireland who passes as a man in order to work and survive. After thirty years of wearing men’s clothing, she finds herself trapped wanting to move on with her life but living a lie. Filmmakers: Director Rodrigo Garcia is best known for the HBO series In Treatment, but also made the well-received drama Mother and Child in 2009. He is working with indie composer Brian Byrne and cinematographer Michael McDonough (Higher Ground), as well as very good production designer Patrizia von Brandenstein (Amadeus). Cast: Glenn Close stars as Albert Nobbs (and also worked on the screenplay), and the supporting players are great with Mia Wasikowska, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Aaron Johnson, Brendan Gleeson, Janet McTeer, Mark Williams, and Maria Doyle Kennedy. Expectations: Albert Nobbs is a must for those that like to see all the films that should garner major Oscar nominations, as this will likely see Close and McTeer nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively. Aside from great performances, the film has been called a good but not great period drama. Personally, I look forward to renting it just for the excellent cast. Trailer: Here.

In Darkness (Agnieszka Holland) – Drama – Jan 27 [limited]
Summary: The film is about a man that helped Jewish refugees hide and escape using the sewers in the Nazi-occupied Polish city of Lvov. Filmmakers: Polish writer-director Agnieszka Holland, best known in the States for her films Copying Beethoven, Europa Europa and The Secret Garden (as well as directing episodes of The Killing, Treme and The Wire) returns to cinema after working extensively in TV since 2004. She is working with newcomer composer Antoni Komasa-Lazarkarkiewicz, cinematographer Jolanta Dylewska and production designer Erwin Prib (who was the art director on The Reader). Cast: It stars Robert Wieckiewicz, Benno Furmann, Agnieszka Grochowska, and Maria Schrader. Expectations: In Darkness is Poland’s selection for contention as Best Foreign film at the 2012 Oscars, and based on Europa Europa (a film I quite like) Holland has a mastery of the time period and drama involved with WWII and surviving. Trailer: Here.

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