Thursday, 15 September 2011

Autumn Preview

Hooray! The 24th Helsinki International Film Festival opens today. What follows is 10 days of Love, Anarchy and Unforgettable movies. I can understand that some of my readers that don't live in or anywhere near Helsinki might feel sad or jealous because they miss such a big tidal wave of excellent movies. But fret not, because this year is still going to be filled with great movie experiences. To complete my Preview Trilogy for the year, here are some of the most interesting. Consider this also to be a guessing game as to what is the Surprise Film that's going to be shown at HIFF on Thursday 22nd of September.

The Ides of March
Director: George Clooney

George Clooney is the one of the most politically-aligned Hollywood directors we have today. Who better to helm a political thriller where a presidential campaign worker finds one too many dark truths behind the curtain. The cast is certainly impressive, from the soon-to-be-biggest star Ryan Gosling to the always amusing-to-brilliant Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Margin Call
Director: J.C. Chandor

Politics seem to be pop in this autumn's films, and this drama based on the recent economics already created good buzz at the Berlin Film Festival in the spring. Stanley Tucci, Kevin Spacey and that guy who played Spock are bankers behind the foul play that created the recent recession of 2008. And that still kind of lingers on. Economics are mostly numbers, so it's hard to make that into a compelling drama, but this seems to emphasize the decision-makings and group meetings, and seems intriguing.

In Time
Director: Andrew Niccol

Andrew Niccol (of Gattaca fame) returns to smart sci-fi with this yarn of a world where rich people can stay young by stealing years from the poor. So far, so Portrait of Dorian Gray, but wouldn't you know it, someone gets murdered, and recently released Justin Timberlake is blamed. He must clear his name before his time runs out. A good thing about film about a world where no one ages after 25 is that Hollywood can showcase their upcoming talents. So we have Cillian Murphy, Olivia Wilde, Amanda Seyfried and Vincent Kartheiser (from Mad Men) doing their best Inception.

Killer Elite
Director: Gary McKendry

From the less cerebral department we have Crank and Mr. Shoot 'Em Up meeting Robert DeNiro. This is the future of action right here. I honestly will never get bored of seeing Jason Statham kick things or Clive Owen shoot things up. Teaming these two brits from different social classes up is a match made in heaven. Oh yeah, and maybe DeNiro won't suck too much either. Whatever, what really sells is that this preposterous film is claimed to be "based on actual events".

The Rum Diary
Director: Bruce Robinson

For me, the most eagerly awaited film of the fall is what I hope to be Johnny Depp's return to form. He's done a lot of bad film choices since he became the biggest name in Hollywood, but basically playing Hunter S. Thompson has worked well for him before. And in the hands of Withnail & I director Bruce Robinson, this boozy adventure in the Caribbean seems be a billion times funnier and better than all of the Pirates fares put together. I hope they do allow flasks in the theatre, though.

The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Director: Steven Spielberg

Of course I await this adventure eagerly as well, but have a bit more fears about it. I have nothing else against motion capture technology, but I still think the human face is the most interesting object one can have in a movie, and it really can't be accurately replicated with a computer. I'd wish Spielberg had implented the real faces of actors into those CGI bodies, so as to not have to look at eyes straight from uncanny valley. But the second trailer does look a lot better than the first, so the end result may surprise us yet. What I'm most happy about, though, is that it seems that Captain Haddock, Thomson and Thompson have been captured on screen accurately.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Director: David Fincher

And the award for the best trailer of the year goes to... David Fincher! Really it's no wonder that the old music video director can shoot a trailer that's so perfectly in rhythm. But what is noteworthy is that he can make the film based on the actually-pretty-average novel that everyone is sick about by now seem exciting. There have been rumours that Fincher has bettered the novel's weak structure considerably, and redone the ending in the process. That leaves an air of excitement over this, because it could really be anything. And also I always welcome a chance to post this poster, that's amazingly hot to be American.

A Dangerous Method
Director: David Cronenberg

On the other hand, here's a trailer that seems at first to be about a pretty general costume drama. But as you know that it's a film from David Cronenberg, it slowly turns much more intimidating. Cronenberg has been fascinated by psycho-sexuality pretty much all his career, and it's intriguing to see him go to the very source of it. And who better to play out the meeting of doctors Freud and Jung than Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender. It seems even Keira Knightley has got some meat in her role as well, even though it's curious that her name comes first in the trailer.

Director: Tarsem Singh

From the visually talented director of The Fall comes a seemingly another remake of the Clash of the Titans. But this looks a lot better than that dreck, and also less macho and stupid than 300, to which it compares itself. Singh himself invites compares to Fight Club, whatever the hell that means. But let's not forget that he has the talents of Mickey Rourke and John Hurt to back him on this. The future Superman Henry Cavill stars.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Director: Guy Ritchie

And finally, we have the return of Robert Downey Jr.'s brawler Holmes. I hope this will be the franchise's The Dark Knight as compared to the previous film's Batman Begins, as it finally features Holmes going up against his future arch nemesis, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). So let's also hope for some witty banter between the two enemies. As for verbal sparring partners, the always excellent Stephen Fry will appear as Sherlock's smarter older brother Mycroft. It is also nice that the bromance with Jude Law's Dr. Watson seems to have survived intact, even if the level of the jokes on the trailer doesn't really shatter the earth. And of course you get a lot more bang for your buck now.

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