Wednesday, October 30, 2013

At the Movies – November 2013 – Part 1: Independent Films

Art-House Dramas:

Oldboy (Spike Lee) – Mystery Thriller – Nov 29
Plot Summary: One day, seemingly randomly, Joe is kidnapped and locked in a solitary room. He spends twenty years in the room and then he is released. Now obsessed with vengeance, Joe makes it his mission to find out who kidnapped him and why. Filmmakers: At first glance, this seems like a strange project for Spike Lee to be taking on, but once and a while he leaves his usual work to make more of a Hollywood-like thriller (Inside Man for example). He is working with composer Roque Banos (Evil Dead), brilliant cinematographer Sean Bobbitt (The Place Beyond the Pines), and production designer Sharon Seymour (Argo). Cast: The film stars Josh Brolin and co-stars Elizabeth Olson and Sharlto Copley. Samuel L. Jackson, Hannah Simone, Hannah Ware, Michael Imperioli, Rami Malek, Lance Reddick, Max Casella, and James Ransone feature in support. Expectations: Probably everyone’s initial reaction to this film is: “wait, what, why does this need to exist?” And that feels very valid. Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy is incredible, and it is hard to imagine that Spike Lee will be able to bring anything warranting a remake to the material. And yet, this film has some interesting aspects. Lee is capable of doing great work (though he seems to mostly miss the mark these days), and he is working with a good crew and a sneakily great cast. Maybe there is no reason for this remake to exist, but it does and surprisingly there is some potential for it to be more than just a waste of everyone’s time. I would say it even looks kind of cool. Trailer: Here.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Justin Chadwick) – Biography Drama – Nov 29
Plot Summary: The life and times of Nelson Mandela – from childhood in a rural village through to his inauguration as South Africa’s first democratically elected President. Filmmakers: Coming from a background of British television, director Justin Chadwick has made two previous feature films, and neither is particularly good (but neither is terrible either). He is working with composer Alex Heffes (who worked with Chadwick on The First Grader), cinematographer Lol Crawley (Four Lions), and production designer Johnny Breedt (Hotel Rwanda). Cast: The film stars Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela, and features Naomie Harris in support. Expectations: Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom looks like it should provide Idris Elba with a great platform to show off his acting talent (something fans of The Wire and Luther know all too well), and may even garner him an Oscar nomination. But, as a narrative film, I am a bit skeptical of Justin Chadwick’s ability to make a great film. It does look like a good drama, but I still have my doubts. I hope I am proved wrong. Trailer: Here

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