January 31, 2013 1 Comment
The continued pull of cinema can be encapsulated by the month just ended; in January, Les Miserables, Django Unchained and Lincoln were showing at the same time in theatres. Despite the economic crisis, moviegoers across the world are still flocking to cinemas to see the latest films, and there is little to suggest that this trend is about to change. The film industry is in rude health, and 2013 looks likely to be a year in which many excellent films are released. Here is The Vibe’s preview of films in 2013, beginning with new Culture Editor Jane Singer’s take on upcoming films.
Film preview of 2013
There is a superb array of films set to hit our screens this year. Two in particular to which I am looking forward are Oz The Great and Powerful and Pacific Rim.
Perhaps it is a yearning for my childhood and the magic of the Emerald City, seen first in The Wizard of Oz and then the 1985 Return to Oz, but I am very excited to see the return of the ruby slippers.
Like the teaser-trailer that debuted in July and 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, the film starts out in black-and-white Kansas before arriving in the colourful Land of Oz. Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved character, the Wizard of Oz. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot – fame and fortune are his for the taking – that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity – and even a bit of wizardry – Oscar transforms himself not only into the great and powerful Wizard of Oz but into a better man too.
This year welcomes back Guillermo del Toro after a few turbulent years. Having seen success in 2006 with the Oscar winning Pan’s Labyrinth and in 2008 with Hellboy II, his path seemed set. However, after leaving The Hobbit due to delays and disagreements with Peter Jackson in 2010 and then witnessing the collapse of At the Mountains of Madness after Universal balked at its planned R rating, Del Toro returns to ours screens with Pacific Rim. Set in Asia, the film is about giant robots fighting against giant monsters for the future of mankind. The sci-fi epic sees Del Toro back to his best.
For my sins, I will admit that I am also looking forward to Top Gun 3D – what’s not to like – and the return of Bruce Willis in A Good Day To Die Hard, where he reprises his well-known character, John McClane. Looking at the indie movies, two stand out in particular, Don Jon’s Addiction and American Promise. The first is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut which portrays a modern day Don Juan who objectifies everything in his life, especially women. However, his addiction to porn has made him dissatisfied with life and he sets out on a journey to find a more gratifying sex life. However, he ends up seeing the bigger picture and learning more about life and love through two different women. The latter chronicles the journey of two African-American boys from carefree kindergarteners to mature high school graduates.
Finally, don’t forget to see The Great Gatsby. The cinematic adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel, co-written and directed by Baz Luhrmann features an all-star cast of Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher. and Jason Clarke.
Motorsport fans have been well served by excellent documentaries on the TV but the Senna film in 2011 was groundbreaking in that it captured the attention of the wider public in cinemas across the UK and the world.
We will see whether Rush will achieve that effect this autumn. It is directed by Ron Howard of Apollo 13; A Beautiful Mind fame with Hans Zimmer composing the soundtrack and Peter Morgan (Frost/Nixon) wrote the screenplay. It will chronicle the friendship and rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). The two would be vying for the F1 World Championship in 1976, a year that is regarded as one of the most exciting seasons in the history of F1. As of now, the film is in the final stage of editing.
Rush is another example of prosthetic memory: an event in the past not being depicted in documentary form but by the tropes of thrillers and fiction. At best, audience members who were not fans of F1 either in the 1970s or now could be engaged about the sport. Whatever the critical response may be, it’s a notable event that a motorsport film is being made with a director of Howard’s repute at the helm. Rush will hold its premiere in September.
In contrast to Rush’s $100 million budget, independent film-maker Amber Fares used indiegogo, a site to enable donations for films and other art to raise money for her film Speed Sisters. The money was needed to cover production expenses and editing. The target amount was $35,000. The public response or crowdfunding netted $46,438.
Speed Sisters is about the Middle East’s first all women motorsport team and they’re from Palestine. They have competed in autotests held at Nablus, Jericho, Ramallah and Bethlehem as well as Aqaba, Jordan. The team has gained international attention too. In December 2011, one of its members Noor Daoud finished third in a race held in Israel at Eilat. In January 2012, the team tested cars at Silverstone, the prestigious host circuit of the British Grand Prix and visited the popular Autosport International Show at the Birmingham NEC.
Speed Sisters features Palestinian women who are victims in that they have their daily lives controlled by occupation. They are also promising participants in one of the toughest sports in the world. It is hoped Speed Sisters will be completed in September and be released to festivals worldwide.
The big political film of the year is one that has already been released. Lincoln, with Daniel Day-Lewis as the protagonist, is hyped as one of the biggest movies of the year, arriving in the UK having received 12 Oscar nominations and general acclaim. For the American political heart, divided (not quite as) sharply in two as it was in the 1860’s, this film will perhaps be more than simply a retelling of the story of the nation’s most revered son. But regardless of the modern-day state of the American political system, Lincoln is certain to be memorable; after all this is a film about Abraham Lincoln made by Steven Spielberg. Be sure to watch it.
From an epic take on the most momentous age of American politics to a slightly less realistic endeavour, if you scan through a list of films coming up this year Olympus Has Fallen will inevitably catch your eye. For one thing, it’s called Olympus Has Fallen, which gives the film potential to be inadvertently hilarious from the outset. From another, the official poster is a picture of the White House on fire. The cast list is impressive; Morgan Freeman, Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhardt just a few of the established names. The plot – a secret service agent must save the President, who has been kidnapped by terrorists – is remarkably similar (if not identical) to White House Down, also set to be released this year. While the films seem remarkably alike, the superior cast of White House Down (including Jamie Foxx as the President) may bring in viewers who shun Olympus Has Fallen.
A more explicitly political film than either is No, the third of Pablo Larrain’s trilogy of films about Pinochet’s Chile. After being show at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, No has been talked about as a serious political movie done well. The story is taken up in 1988, in the run-up to Chile’s first democratic election. No is a film that is likely to teach something to every viewer – even if it is only to watch the previous two films of the series.
As a film about a girl in Saudi Arabia, Wadjda is inherently political. Due to be released in April in the UK, the film tells the tale of a fun-loving 10-year old girl who wants a bicycle, but is refused it by her mother, who fears the consequences. As a film exploring human nature as much as the Saudi Arabian political system, Wadjda is a must-see this year.