Friday, December 7, 2012

At the Movies – December 2012 – Part 3: Most Anticipated Films

Must-See of the Month:

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson) – Adventure Fantasy – Dec 14
Summary: Part one of three sees Bilbo Baggins set off on his journey to the Lonely Mountain with a bunch of Dwarves to take back a stolen treasure from the dragon Smaug. Filmmakers: Much to everyone’s delight, Peter Jackson is back at the helm for another adventure to Middle Earth. While Guillermo del Toro probably would have done a good job (as he was initially set to direct), having Jackson back instead is fantastic. He is again working with his The Lord of the Rings collaborators writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, composer Howard Shore and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, while production designer Dan Hennah is (sort of) new to the team (he was the art director for the LOTR Trilogy). Cast: Returning cast members include Hugo Weaving, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, and Ian Holm. New to the cast are Lee Pace, Martin Freeman (in the lead), Benedict Cumberbatch, Billy Connolly, Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, and James Nesbitt. Expectations: Does The Hobbit need to be a three part film? We will find out. Fans of the LOTR Trilogy are very excited for this, and are probably happy that Jackson will extract as much detail and story out of the source material as possible. From a cinematic aspect, this will be the first major release (that I can remember) to be exhibited at 48 frames per second (as opposed to the usual 24fps), which should give the film the highest picture quality and image smoothness. Though, it is rumored that the 48fps version will be limited in its release. 48fps should also benefit the film as Jackson also shot it in 3D. The 48fps will smooth out the picture helping the optical experience of 3D (hopefully lessening the issues people have with it). 48fps has tried before (multiple times since the 1970s) but has always failed, but Jackson and James Cameron are fully behind it as being superior. We shall see. Back to the film, The Hobbit is the biggest film of December and probably the film (with The Dark Knight Rises) most people have been looking forward to going into 2012. If it is great, then parts two and three will become the biggest films of 2013 and 2014. Trailer: HereReview: Here.

Worth Checking Out:

This Is 40 (Judd Apatow) – Comedy – Dec 21
Summary: We catch up with Pete and Debbie a few years after the events of Knocked Up. Filmmakers: Writer-director-producer Judd Apatow is known for being at the top of the comedy game right now (though some have said his latest work has fallen off, but I did like Funny People). The films Apatow writes and directs himself are generally funny, but also have a deeper emotional resonance (which is why This Is 40 has awards season buzz, even though it is an R-rated comedy). He is working with composer Jon Brion (Step Brothers), cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (The Descendants) and production designer Jefferson Sage (a frequent collaborator). Cast:  Apatow often works with the same actors over and over again (though, surprisingly Seth Rogen is not in this). Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann star, with Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Melissa McCarthy, Albert Brooks, Chris O’Dowd, John Lithgow, Lena Dunham, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Ryan Lee, Charlyne Yi, Robert Smigel, and Annie Mumolo in support. Expectations: This Is 40 is Apatow’s fourth film, and possibly his best. It has a brilliant cast of very funny people, and tackles a topic that should be very relatable for his target audience (getting older and being in a long-term relationship – dealing with the issues that arise from both). This is a must-see for fans of comedy, and particularly comedies that not afraid to be great dramatic films (along with a lot of witty and vulgar jokes). I am very much looking forward to it. Trailer: HereReview: Here.

Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow) – Thriller – Dec 21
Summary: The details of the decade long hunt for Osama bin Laden that ended May, 2011. Filmmakers: Director Kathryn Bigelow reteams with writer Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty, hoping to rekindle the magic of their Best Picture Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. Bigelow is also working with composer (and hardest working man in Hollywood) Alexandre Desplat (Argo), cinematographer Greig Fraser (Killing Them Softly) and production designer Jeremy Hindle (his first feature job as a production designer). Cast: The ensemble cast features Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Taylor Kinney, Mark Strong, Scott Adkins, Chris Pratt, Jason Clarke, Mark Duplass, Harold Perrineau, James Gandolfini, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler, Frank Grillo, Stephen Dillane, Edgar Ramirez, and Mark Valley. Expectations: I think Zero Dark Thirty will be Kathryn Bigelow’s best film yet (yes, better than The Hurt Locker). It has a fantastic cast, and looks like an involving narrative about the buildup and ultimate capture (and death) of Osama bin Laden, with great performances and thrilling and powerful dramatic moments. The film should also factor heavily into awards season, with a likely Best Picture Oscars nomination (and people are talking a lot about Jessica Chastain’s performance). Trailer: HereReview: Here.

Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino) – Western – Dec 28
Summary: Django is a slave. But, a bounty hunter needs his help, promising to free him once they catch the men he is looking for. Once free, Django plans to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. Filmmakers: Writer-director Quentin Tarantino is maybe the most celebrated auteur of his generation. His films have redefined modern cinema (things like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction). He has said that Django Unchained is part of a trilogy including Inglourios Basterds (which means that it is stylistically similar, as the plots have nothing in common). Tarantino is working with frequent collaborator and brilliant cinematographer Robert Richardson, as well as production designer J. Michael Riva (The Amazing Spider-Man; Django Unchained is his last film as he passed away this year). Cast: Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz star, with a fantastic ensemble in support headlined by Leonardo DiCaprio (and also including: Jonah Hill, Samuel L. Jackson, Kerry Washington, James Remar, Amber Tamblyn, Walton Goggins, Don Johnson, Robert Carradine, Bruce Dern, Michael Parks, and M.C. Gainey). Expectations: After how enjoyable Inglourious Basterds was, I cannot wait to see what Quentin Tarantino does with Django Unchained – a western. I love westerns, and Tarantino is the perfect person to make a modern (yet heavily classically influenced) take on the genre. Leonardo DiCaprio is among the frontrunners for Best Supporting Actor, and the film could very well rack up a few other nominations (like Best Picture, Screenplay and Cinematography). In December, it is a tough decision to pick which film is going to be the best, but Django Unchained very likely will be that film. Trailer: HereReview: Here.

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