Friday, September 5, 2014

A Fistful of Fall Anticipation 2014! (Brad's Picks)

I don't know about you, but I've been having a pretty spectacular year at the movies.  I've already got a solid Top Ten going, and we're only just getting to the quality season.  Yes, it's that time again.  From September to December, we wade through the Oscar Bait mediocrity and nourish ourselves on "The Best" cinema has to offer.  We're all gorged on popcorn, the gut's been fed, and now it's the brain's turn to get squelched.  That means - Another Liam Neeson Revenger! And A Denzel Washington Pretender!

Okay, so maybe not every Fall Film will score gold next February, but I can appreciate a wannabe Death Wish as much as the next guy.  Neeson's A Walk Amongst The Tombstones is based on a Lawrence Block novel, and I've always enjoyed that author's thrill to punish.  Seems like a good match with Neeson's later day bruiser career.  The Equalizer I'm less confident about, but if it pushes the Retail Warrior routine hard enough, I may just have to cave.

We'll also be getting plenty of Blockbusters-Not-Fit-For-Summer, and the usual kiddie fare.  The prospect of a little known Marvel comic getting the big Disney treatment is certainly exciting.  The first Big Hero 6 trailer got The Wife to squeal from her seat, and I'd be lying if I denied its charm.  East Meets West, but hopefully it's a more successful union than Del Toro's Pacific Rim.  I'm even a little keyed up to see The Penguins of Madagascar.  What?  Have I lost my mind?  No.  It's simply the fact that The Penguins' origin story is going to stem out from Werner Herzog's deranged penguin concept last seen in Encounters at the End of the World.  And Herzog himself will be narrating the opening moments of the Madagascar spin-off.  That's some beautiful madness.

But it's the gems we're hankering for in Fall.  Below you'll find the Top Five films I'm the most giddy about, but the dream is that the films I'm less ga-ga for will actually win me over, and find their way to into The Dorkies.  Tommy Lee Jones has a new Western (The Homesman), but the trailer lacked a certain oomph, or dread that I'm always geared to see on the plains.  The Western/Southern I'm the most curious about is Daniel Berber's The Keeping Room.  Set in the South during the Civil War, the film promises some terrifying violence as three women defend their homestead from bushwhackers & Union soldiers.  Berber proved he knew how to handle terror & blood quite well with Harry Brown.

Then you have the films I'm dreading.  I dig the hell outta The Fury trailer.  However, it's directed by David Ayer, and the wretched taste of Sabotage is still fresh on my lips.  That guy makes some bullshitty man movies.  Haven't liked a one, and as much as I'm stoked for a WWII tank film staring the Inglourious Basterd himself, I cannot get pumped for an Ayer movie.  Prove me wrong, sir.  Also, both David Cronenberg & Tim Burton have new films this fall (Map to the Stars & Big Eyes).  But it's been a long time since they've done something I've cared about, and it's going to take a lot to win me back.  Anyway, I've rambled on enough, time for the Fistful...

5. Birdman:  I'm not the type of cinephile who worships at the idol of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.  I've enjoyed all of his films (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful) to one degree or another, but never quite LOVED them.  But have you seen this trailer???  "How did we end up here?"  Good question, but however we got Michael Keaton to play this washed up superhero actor, and however we got Ed Norton to don those speedos - I approve.  Inarritu has always been a visual stylist, but Birdman looks to be fully embracing a Bunuel-esque surrealism.  Rad.

4.  The Box Trolls:  Before Comic Con 2014, I was interested in The Box Trolls.  With Coraline & ParaNorman, Laika proved itself to be a studio with not just a mastery over stop-motion animation, but also one with a bent Roald Dahl style of morality.  Kiddie Movies with real danger, and real lessons to be learned.  During that Hall H Saturday, my original intention was to simply sit through The Box Trolls panel in true anticipation of The Age of Ultron cast.  On stage were Ben Kingsley, Elle Fanning, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Travis Knight, Anthony Stacchi, and Graham Annable.  They were charming, sophisticated, adorable, and utterly passionate for the project.  Their enthusiasm ratcheted mine beyond 11, and the footage they showed was gorgeous.  Also - Jared Harris! Nick Frost! Richard Ayoade!

3.  Gone Girl:  I may not have connected with his last two pictures, and I'm more than a little disappointed that he's tackling Bestseller Lit agin, but David Fincher is one of my very favorite filmmakers.  The characters of The Social Network & The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo were a bit of a bore (I know, I'm in the minority with that Facebook movie), but it's obvious that the man's craft has been getting better & better.  Ben Affleck, wife-killer?  Ok.  Will Gone Girl be more than a simple Lifetime Movie?  I hope so.  The trailer is great, but Fincher trailers are always great.  Fingers crossed.

2.  Interstellar:  Christopher Nolan science-fiction.  'nuff said.  Add Matthew McConaughey as a father desperate to save his daughter as much as humanity from its own self-destruction, and you've got yourself some serious appointment movie watching.  I don't think we're going to get 2001 here - Nolan is far too literal a director - but it appears to be a film steeped in my own love for star trekking.  "Mankind was born on Earth, it was not meant to die here."  You're god damn right.  If Interstellar gets across that message then I'll be pretty darn happy.

1.  Inherent Vice:  Joaquin Phoenix is a drugged out cop in 1970s LA, on the hunt for a missing ex-girlfriend.  Noir? Neo Noir? Neon Noir?  Doom & gloom, that's all that's important.  Along the way he butts heads with Josh Brolin, Benecio Del Toro, Owen Wilson, Martin Short, and Eric Roberts. Based on a pulpy Thomas Pynchon novel, and directed by the master of the modern epic melodrama, Paul Thomas Anderson.  That photo - it's enough to sell me a ticket.  And I've been waiting for Brolin to knock out another killer role, cuz 2014 has been just brutal on his credibility (Labor Day, Sin City 2).  The man's Thanos, start acting like it!


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