2012: Movies I’m Looking At Loving (Part 2)

Welcome back, one and all!

This post is not what I was going to put up today at first but then when I was going over the several drafts and “to work on” and possible posts that I have backed up (and do I seem to have a lot of them!) that I realised that the first part of this brave undertaking of mine had been published here about a month ago!
Now even by my lazy and lackadaisical standards that’s pretty shameful!

So without any further adieu, to follow up on my listing of guilty pleasure movies for the year ahead in Part 1, I give you now my list of movies that I fully expect to just go nuts over – and with a little luck, Hollywood will not have gone all studio on them and let the creative talents behind them shine through.
26. Mirror Mirror

First in my countdown is an unexpected entry. This is a new offering from one of the most visually oriented and awesome film-makers of our time – Tarsem Singh (The Fall, Immortals, The Cell). Love or hate his movies, there is no denying the sheer stunning imagery and style that he brings, making his movies a truly cinematic experience that few directors have to offer I think.

Close on the heels of his exceedingly entertaining and oh-so-pretty Greek saga – Immortals – last year, Singh is bringing this reinterpretation of the beloved Snow White fairy tale. Starring the lovely Lily Collins in the lead with Julia Roberts on board as the evil queen, the story follows the princess enlisting the help of seven wily rebels – a group that includes Nathan Lane, Danny Woodburn and Martin Klebba – to help her win her kingdom back and I don’t know about you, but the sheer quirkiness and sense of fun that this movie seems to have will make it something unique and landmark in an otherwise bleak landscape of remaking such classics.

Case in point: it is competing with Snow White and the Huntsmen, though I see no trouble here because that is to the original what Tim Burton’s recent “Alice” was to that tale – utterly stupid and pandering, no matter how visually pretty, and I don’t imagine even the lovely Charlize Theron will be able to salvage that.

25. To Rome with Love

After his masterful work in his most recent outing, Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen seems to have found a second wind and though it might be premature, I’m holding out hope that this next venture of his will follow suit and be another good entry into his body of work.

The movie tells a story about a mixed bag of characters – some Italian, some American, locals, tourists, etc – in Italy (of course…) and the adventures, trials, tribulations, lives and loves of them all. The very stellar cast of this movie includes Allen himself, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Roberto Benigni and Ornella Muti among several others.

I don’t know entirely what to expect apart from the Woody Allen sensibility that is a trademark of his story-telling, but barring some severely bad-luck and choices, this should be a really great movie.

24. Take This Waltz

An unexpected entry on this list for me, this simple little movie by director and acclaimed actress Sarah Polley shows a world of promise.

Starring Michelle William, Seth Rogan, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman, the movie tells the tale of a happily married woman (Williams) who (as happens all the time of course!) finds herself falling for an artist, Daniel (Kirby) who has moved in and lives across the street from her and her husband (Rogan). The early feedback and what I’ve been able to see of it so far shows it to be a very human story, one that takes us through long-term relationships, choices, emotions and moments in life as our heroine tries to fight her attraction and finds that the avoidance only makes the unsaid eroticism that much more desirable and has to face the things she learns about herself.

Ordinarily I tend to take movies on such topics with a pinch of salt as only a few gems here and there really bring something genuine and free from cliché and drivel to the table, but thus far this promises to be something special even among this basic, slice-of-life and people oriented type of movie.

23. Jeff, Who Lives at Home

One of the comedies that I’m most looking forward to this new year. It stars Jason Segel and Ed Helms, two of my favourite comedic talents out there regardless of role and has a premise that has so much potential for sheer awesomeness and entertainment.

It’s about brothers Pat (Helms) and Jeff (Segel) and their lives. But wait, it’s the details that get you. Pat is struggling with a failing marriage and Jeff is still residing in the basement of his parents home at the tender age of thirty and holds a fairly strong belief in signs and destiny and all that jazz. At some point he and Pat end up following around Pat’s wife (played by the awesome Judy Greer!) suspecting she is cheating on him with another man and during their many misadventures during the day they could be on the road to finding their destiny and themselves. With Susan Sarandon as their long-suffering mother to round out the main cast I fully expect this to be a memorable and enjoyable little gem.

22. The Dictator

I really don’t what to tell you about this movie.

It’s Sacha Baron Cohen (Ali G, Borat) returning to movies after the incredibly divisive and quite disturbing Bruno a few years back. And going by the look and feel of the movie from the previews and early information, this is a return to more familiar form, less gross-out, more clever and in-your-face social commentary and borderline painful but impossible to avoid humour.

He stars as a heroic dictator of a fictional country who “risks his life to ensure that decmocracy never comes to the country he so lovingly oppresses.” The preliminary look makes you laugh out loud all by itself and with a guest star list that includes Megan Fox, Anna Faris, Ben Kinglsey, John C. Reilly, Kevin Corrigan and a whole host of others, this promises to be several barrels of laughs when it finally hits theatres.

Sure it could turn bad really, really fast knowing Cohen, but for the moment I’ll stay optimistic!

21. The Master

One of the more promising and hard-to-pin-down movies of this list for me is this one, The Master. Already stirring up controversy because the followers of L.Ron Hubbard founded religious group, the Scientologists, are crying foul that the lead character and the movie itself is a dig at their faith and that it will reveal details of their faith that they do not wish made public – all charges that the film-makers have strongly denied.

The film by master film-maker Paul Thomas Anderson is set in the 1950’s after the second World War and follows a charismatic man played by Philip Seymour Hoffman known as “The Master”, who founds a faith-based organisation that spreads life wildfire throughout America. The cast also includes Joaquin Phoenix who plays a drifter who becomes his right-hand man, later finding himself questioning both his faith and his leader as the movement becomes bigger and bigger. Amy Adams and Laura Dern round out the cast in this very promising movie that may not see the light of day if the rumours of powerful Scientology members pressure on the studio to halt it show true.

Here’s hoping!

20. Cosmopolis

I can’t really do justice to this movie without having seen it – especially given that it’s by David Cronenberg, master of the mind-f**k movie! From what I gather, it’s about a strange journey over the course of a day of one man and his gradual fall and ruin. To try and explain it beyond that might be too long and complicated, so I’m simply going to quote the most detailed blurb about it that I’ve come across:
Cosmopolis is the story of Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson), a 28 year old multi-billionaire asset manager who makes an odyssey across midtown Manhattan in order to get a haircut. The stretch limo which adorns the cover of the book is richly described as highly technical and very luxurious, filled with television screens and computer monitors, bulletproofed and floored with Carrara marble. It is also cork lined to eliminate (though unsuccessfully, as Packer notes) the intrusion of street noise.

Packer’s voyage is obstructed by various traffic jams caused by a presidential visit to the city, a funeral procession for a Sufi rap star, and a full-fledged riot. Along the way, the hero has several chance meetings with his wife, seeing her in a taxi, a bookstore, and lying naked in the street, taking part in a movie as an extra. Meanwhile, Packer is stalked by two men, a comical “pastry assassin” and an unstable “credible threat.” Through the course of the day, the protagonist loses incredible amounts of money for his clients by betting against the rise of the yen, a loss that parallels his own fall. Packer seems to relish being unburdened by the loss of so much money, even stopping to make sure he loses his wife’s fortune as well, to ensure his ruin is inevitable.

19. Cloud Atlas

Another movie with a monster cast, great creative talent behind it and very limited details on what it will bring us. Both a great idea because I think there are few joys like seeing something without really knowing what to expect – but also frustrating and more-so in this day and age.

Based on the book of the same name (which I’ve not yet read), essentially it follows six different stories that are set in a different time and place that become intricately related to each other. The actors attached include some favourites of mine such as Hugo Weaving, Tom Hanks, David Keith, Susan Sarandon (again) and Jim Broadbent and also stars Halle Berry, Hugh Grant and several others.

A new movie by the Wachowski’s after quite a long gap, this movie could be brilliant or it could be a real pile of steaming… you get the idea… but for now I’ll hang on to the idea that Speed Racer was just a stroke of bad luck a moment of weak judgement.

18. Argo

With this movie, Ben Affleck once again returns to the directors chair and also plays the lead. It’s intensely arguable amongst fans but for my part I’ve enjoyed most of Afflecks movies over the years and his most recent efforts as director with Gone Baby Gone and The Town have shown how much he’s grown as a creative talent and makes one expect good things from this newest venture – even more given that it’s backed by producer George Clooney, another Hollywood pretty-boy who has shown himself to be so much more than that and has in past years been attached to fantastic movie after fantastic movie.

Argo is a historical action film that tells us the story of the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran during the hostage crisis in 1979 and how it was done by convincing the Iranians that all six hostages were in fact members of a film camera crew who were scouting locations for a movie titled “Argo”.

I really am not sure what to expect with this one, but the potential in this movie with its stellar cast including John Goodman, Bryan Cranston and Michael Parks puts it here on my list.

17. Hysteria

I really can’t give you a whole of detail about this movie as there isn’t much to share, but the basic premise and cast give me reason enough to believe that this will be a real good time!

Starring Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Rupert Everett and Jonathan Pryce, the movie tells the story of how a man named Mortimer Granville (Dancy) came up with and created the worlds first vibrator. You heard that right. And honestly, I think it’s an excellent topic to make a movie on, especially given how prior to this for hundreds of years, women were considered to be suffering from “Female Hysteria” if they exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and “a tendency to cause trouble”… usually treated by “pelvic massage” a.k.a genital stimulation by a doctor until the patient experienced a “hysterical paroxysm”.

I swear I’m not making ANY of that up. Really, look it up.

So this light-hearted and quirky little movie shows us how all this used to be back in that era and how Granville invented – in the name of science – something that today we take quite for granted! Promises to be a riotous good time!

16. Chronicle

This is a movie whose trailer I came across by chance and in all honesty I have very little to tell you about because I saw the trailer, saw that a bunch of rave reviews abounded and the positive reaction people had to it and am now trying my best to just wait and watch it without spoiling it by knowing too much!

What I can tell you is that it features a mostly unknown (for me anyway!) cast and is helmed by a director and writer who I’m not familiar with either and tells the story of a three young guys who receive some sort of telekinetic abilities from a mysterious object they find. They proceed to use their abilities for fun and mischief until one of them starts to crank it up and starts using it for darker and more serious things.

It appears to be shot in a style resembling “found footage” from primarily a camcorder used by one of the boys as well as various other recording devices. I can’t tell you more but I would simply say watch the trailers and decide for yourself.

15. Savages

This new entry in the distinguished movie archives of legend Oliver Stone promises to be ever -so-slightly a departure from the more mob-centric movies he is associated with most of the time.

We get to follow the adventure undertaken by a pair of pot-growers, Chon (Taylor Kitsch) and Ben (Aaron Johnson) as they go head to head against a Mexican drug cartel that has kidnapped their mutual/shared girlfriend played by Blake Lively. The movie also stars John Travolta, the ever-sexy Salma Hayek, Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch and Benicio Del Toro and whatever else it may or may not be, I expect to thoroughly enjoy this outing!

14. The Grey

Yes, yes, there are those that will argue that this movie came out in end December 2011 or some such, but as far as I know, it’s main release date was January 2012 and for me it stays on this list.

For the last couple of years Liam Neeson has solidly built up a whole new badass image for himself (not that he was lacking one!) and this latest entry seems to be another such part and one that I heartily look forward to – even though I’m fairly certain you’ve all seen it already. Yes, I’m late to the party on this.

For those like me, it’s the story of a group of oil workers whose plane crashes in the wilds of Alaska. They must struggle to stay alive, not just because of the harsh environment but because they are being hunted by a deadly pack of wolves. Raw, brutal and dramatic, I’m so completely looking forward to this one!

——————

With this last, I’m going to stop for the moment – though have no fear, I’ve already written out the second half of this list, but will post it separately for fear of overdoing it and boring the hell out of you, the good folks actually taking the time to go through all this!

The third and final instalment of this too-damn-long-for-it’s-own-good list shall be posted on this coming Friday night/Saturday morning (depending on where in the globe you’re at I suppose) so until then – Cheers!

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