Thursday, December 5, 2013

At the Movies – December 2013 – Part 3: Most Anticipated Films

Must-See of the Month:

American Hustle (David O. Russell) – Crime Drama – Dec 20
Plot Summary: In order to get convictions within the world of New Jersey powerbrokers and mafia, FBI agent Richie DiMaso employs con man Irving Rosenfeld and his partner Sydney Prosser to pull off their greatest scheme yet (based on a true story). Filmmakers: After what was essentially a letdown with I Heart Huckabees (though, I like it alright), following his breakout works Flirting with Disaster and especially Three Kings, writer-director David O. Russell has been on a roll with The Fighter and Silver Linings Playbook (both receiving multiple Oscar nominations, and winning acting awards). American Hustle looks like it could be his best yet, with certainly his best cast. He is working again with composer Danny Elfman and production designer Judy Baker. New to the team is cinematographer Linus Sandgren (Promised Land). Cast: The film stars Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Amy Adams. Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner co-star. Robert De Niro, Jack Huston, Michael Pena, Elisabeth Rohm, Colleen Camp, Louis C.K., Dawn Olivieri, and Alessandro Nivola feature in support. Expectations: American Hustle boasts maybe 2013’s most impressive cast, and David O. Russell is one of today’s top directors. This film has all the potential in the world to be amazing (and likely will be great). However, it looks very theatrical as well with goofy costumes, hair & makeup, and accents (to fit the period), but stylistically it makes sense as this is about the work of a master con man and his biggest con. I think it is very likely that this will be among the five best films of 2013, and thusly Oscar nominations should abound. Trailer: HereReview: Here.

Worth Checking Out:

Inside Llewyn Davis (The Coen Brothers) – Drama/Music – Dec 6
Plot Summary:  A week in the life of young musician Llewyn Davis, as he tries to find his place in 1961 Greenwich Village’s folk music scene. Filmmakers: Writer-director auteurs the Coen Brothers are among the best American filmmakers not only working now but of all-time. They won Oscars for Best Picture, Director(s), and Writing for No Country for Old Men. Since that film, they have continued to churn out great, challenging films (Burn After Reading, A Serious Man, and True Grit). They are working with fantastic people on this, including: cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel (who is probably my favorite D.P. working today, notably he shot Amelie, A Very Long Engagement, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), production designer Jess Gonchor (who is a frequent collaborator, designing four previous Coen Brothers’ films), and executive music producer T-Bone Burnett (who previously worked with the Coen Brothers on O Brother, Where Art Thou? and The Ladykillers). Cast: Oscar Isaac stars, with Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, Stark Sands, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Alex Karpovsky, and F. Murray Abraham in support. Expectations: Inside Llewyn Davis feels like a love letter to folk music, and much of the film is devoted to great musical performances. But, it is also a character drama, and the Coen Brothers make probably the most interesting and unique character films right now. It won the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prize by the Jury this year and has played to nothing but high praise across the festival circuit. It is probably not going to be for everyone, but fans of the Coen Brothers should certainly be very happy. On a side note, it will be interesting to see how the film looks without their normal D.P. Roger Deakins, though Bruno Delbonnel is just as great. His style lends itself to a much more color desaturated look, which should play well into the nostalgic feeling that the film is sure to evoke. Trailer: HereReview: Here.

Plot Summary: The true story of Jordan Belfort, a wealthy stockbroker who lived a lavish lifestyle only to crash back down to Earth spectacularly involving things like crime, corruption, and the federal government going after him. Filmmakers: This is the latest film from Martin Scorsese, who needs a strong drama after the letdown that was Hugo (yes, I realize people liked it, but let us be honest with ourselves the film is not as good as some make it out to be and like The Artist it is trumped up by its ability to play on the nostalgia of cinema’s past to great effect; the narrative itself outside the gooey nostalgic feeling is only marginal). Scorsese is reteaming with his Boardwalk Empire collaborator Terence Winter on the film, Winter scripting it, as well as composer Howard Shore (who scored Hugo) and production designer Bob Shaw (who designed Boardwalk Empire’s first season). Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto (Argo) is working with Scorsese for the first time. Cast: Speaking of frequent collaborators, Leonard DiCaprio is starring for Scorsese for the fifth time. Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey co-star, while Cristin Milioti, Jon Bernthal, Margot Robbie, Jon Favreau, Ethan Suplee, Spike Jonze, Kyle Chandler, Shea Whigham, Rob Reiner, Joanna Lumley, and Jean Dujardin feature in support. Expectations: Let me start out by saying that there is a rumor that Paramount Picture is not happy with Scorsese’s cut of three hours and is hoping he can trim it down (to my guess about 140 minutes). Thus, there is a possibility that this will get delayed until 2014. But, as far as I know, it is still scheduled at present for Christmas day. The Wolf of Wall Street looks amazing. The trailer is one of the best of the year. It looks like a grand spectacle of entertainment mixing great performances with a compelling narrative, which just happens to be pretty similar to that of a gangster film (the rise and inevitable fall), something Scorsese does very well. It will likely be one of 2013’s five best films (along with Gravity, 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, and either Inside Llewyn Davis or Short Term 12 – I have yet to see the Coen Brothers’ film, but hear great things). However, there is also some concern regarding the film. Scorsese original cut was longer and R-rated. The film is now shorter (relatively) and PG-13, which means Scorsese’s original vision has been subdued – but to what extent? Trailer: HereReview: Here.

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