The first few months of the year are somewhat of a waste-land for new releases. January and February usually bring steady riff-raff of shelved studio offerings and other innocuous junk (the worse of which is surmised in this hilarious article by Tom Reimann on cracked.com). But, persisting against low expectations, I see a few hopeful gems to be found a midst the dumping ground.
Gangster Squad (January 11th)
The trailer for the start-studded Gangster Squad made me squeal with the type of excitement reserved for only a select few films. Filmed in highly saturated cinematography that is equal parts “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and “L.A. Confidential”, it is based on the real-life story of a special unit gathered to take down mob boss Mickey Cohen – played by with over-the-top gusto by Sean Penn. The film also reunites Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, re-igniting their great chemistry from Crazy Stupid Love.
On the Road (January 14th)
Although it received negative reviews when it premiered at Cannes, I’m still looking forward to this long-awaited adaptation of Jack Keroac’s tenant of Beat literature. I read the book for the first time this past summer, and I’m curious to see how Walter Salles – director of The Motorcycle Diaries – will handle the material. Salle’s seems to have a knack for capturing the road movie’s sense of reckless abandon and youthful idealism, sentiments that are central to On the Road’s post-war ideology. At a bare minimum, I’m just hoping they won’t tarnish my memory of Sal, Dean and Mary Lou.
Side Effects (February 8th)
Steven Sodeberg reteams with Magic Mike star Channing Tatum for a psychological thriller about a clinically depressed woman (Rooney Mara) who begins to abuse anti-depressant medication while in anticipation of her husband’s release from jail. Maintaining a filmic output that makes Woody Allen seem lazy, Sodeberg continues to delve into a wide range of subject matter. After exploring escorts, male-strippers and infectious diseases, he takes on mental illness in a film that, judging from the trailer, could turn out to be a provocative thriller or an over-indulgent mess. But I’m never one to miss out on a Sodeberg because, even when his work is bad, it is always highly watchable.
Stoker (February 28th)
Director of the acclaimed Korean revenge-trilogy Park-Chan Wook makes his first foray into English language film with Stoker. This horror film-cum-family drama is about a young girl’s (Mia Wasikowska) creepy uncle (Matthew Goode) moves in with her and her grieving mother (Nicole Kidman) after the death of her father. As the title would suggest, the film is influence by horror other Bram Stoker, but not directly related to Dracula. I’m interested to see how the classically good-looking Goode will fare as a ‘creepy uncle’ but something tells me it might be a bit of a stretch.