The Great Gatsby: A Review

Check it out guys! I finally wrote something!

Review: Baz Luhrmann’s

The Great Gatsby

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I’ve always been a huge supporter and defender for quirktastic film director and father of the ‘Red Curtain Trilogy’ Baz Luhrmann. I haven’t met a soul who wasn’t touched by the music, artistry, creativity and general spectacle of Moulin Rouge, never mind an individual who didn’t watch the credits with tears obscuring their vision. And though it tends to earn mored mixed opinion, I was an avid fan of Romeo + Juliet and its fresh take on the consistently over-done (but still much beloved) Shakespearean classic. Although his symbolism was at times, to understate, heavy-handed, I found the images nonetheless both beautiful and powerful. Maybe its merely because this film was my first introduction into the world of modernized Shakespeare, but I found the little attempts at modernization (the television reporter, the Sword-brand firearms) clever, and the added motif of water which bound the lovers particularly compelling.

Luhrmann’s strength is not in his characters. Nor is it, truly, in his story-telling. I find his hap-hazard (though purposefully so) style of editing generally calls for a few viewings before the material can be fully understood. His strength lies, undeniably, in his imagery. Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio first glimpsing one another through a fish tank and John Leguizamo’s death and fall into the fountain in Romeo + Juliet; Satine’s diamond-studded, cold-lighted, mid-air introduction as the seductive Satine and her dramatic embrace with Ewan McGregor atop the dazzling elephant statue, with a backdrop of dazzling fireworks, a soaring score and an opera-singing moon, mustachioed moon.

The Great Gatsby is no exception, chock full of unusual, elaborate, intensely over-the-top images. It is undeniably a beautiful film, full of color, composition and a certain ostentatiousness; yet unlike Luhrmann’s previous works, in which his outrageous presentation and creativity were the saving graces of his projects, it is in great deal thanks to this excessiveness that Gatsby fails to have the proper impact upon his audience.

As reviewer Peter Travers wrote in Rolling Stone, “Aside from the staggering beauty of Catherine Martin’s costumes, nothing works. The actors are buried in art direction, along with feeling.” I wouldn’t say that’s completely true; while Catherine Martin’s costumes are indeed breathtaking, so are the sets, the stunning aerials of a computer-rendered 1920’s New York City, the distinctly Luhrmann-esque incorporation of modern hip-hop and other, raunchier touches that attempt to sync 20’s style atmosphere with the current decade’s understanding of culture. But while all these aspects of the film are lovely as separate parts of an equation, piece them together and the math doesn’t add up. The music is well-chosen for the tone of the film but incorrectly used from scene-to-scene; the glitz and glamour of the backdrops, the city, the outfits and the elaborate parties are wonderful as additional touches but end up fighting with the story itself for dominance. In the end, as Travers states, the extravagant art direction is beautiful but buries anything real the film may have to offer in an overwhelming avalanche of champagne and confetti.

Luhrmann takes the immortal words of F. Scott Fitzgerald and sets them to gorgeous, prismatic images, but while the frames are lovely to gaze upon he fails to effectively convey the story and emotion Fitzgerald so artfully crafted. In consequence, rather than appearing as a coherent tale filled with faceted characters, crests of hope and the crushing trenches of betrayal, the film plays as merely a pretty little picture book for the words Fitzgerald penned all those years ago; at multiple points, his words actually appear in print on the screen, floating above Tobey Maguire’s head as he sits at his typewriter.

The worst thing about Luhrmann’s over-abundant bombardment of glitzy imagery is that we’re so adjusted to the extravagance that, when a scene comes along with actual emotional and narrative resonance, they seem to simply sail by. One example of this is a scene involving Myrtle, being when she is slapped by Tom for mentioning Daisy’s name. That she is in a flowing red robe with scarlet feathers, that the scene is sandwiched by dizzying, drunken jump-cut antics, and that the actual act of Tom physically harming her is shown in slow-motion and looks more like a clip out of Wile E. Coyote than a piece of serious drama; all of these detract severely from what should be a moment that causes the audience to sit up and take notice. In contrast to the absurdity that surrounds it, Tom’s act of violence would have carried a great deal more weight had the music been cut, the colors dulled, and shown in real time, grounding the viewer and jolting them out of the dream-like fantasy these ludicrously wealthy characters enjoy and back into the real world, where such atrocities occur.

When it comes to the cast, I think the decisions vary from spot-on to dead-wrong. I’ll be up-front in letting you know I’m a huge fan of one Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio. He can do very little wrong in my eyes, so I saw his depiction of Gatsby as a solid performance, despite the clear struggle to convey any emotion underneath the weight of all that unnecessary glitz and glamor. And while many criticized the choice of Carey Mulligan for the achingly beautiful Daisy Buchanan, I thought she was an excellent choice, absolutely dripping with Southern home-town charm and entirely believable as the object of Gatsby’s affection. Her character, however, is transformed from a shallow and disinterested girl to a confused and overwhelmed young woman worthy of some sympathy. In the case of Nick Carraway, both the casting of Tobey Maguire and the film’s characterization come across entirely wrong. His constant reliance on wide-eyed stares, and precious little other expression, quickly grows tiresome. Maguire’s inability to express strong emotion, often laughable and apparent in many of his other works, are a detriment in the more serious of his scenes, while Nick’s idolization of Gatsby and his hatred of all the other characters is nearly impossible to understand.

In the end, Luhrmann succeeds in creating another visually dazzling cinematic work but fails rather substantially in transposing the characters, themes and emotions of Fitzgerald’s great novel to the big screen. It’s worth a viewing perhaps for the spectacle alone, but its unlikely to evoke any philosophical thought or emotion. Much like Daisy, it is a specimen coated in a sparkling and glossy sheen but remains, on the inside, quite empty.

 

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Our Latest Foray into the Slightly Twisted World of Tarantino

Film Review

Django Unchained, in the vein of Inglorious Basterds and basically every Tarantino movie ever, is a great film that makes you feel a little guilty for admitting you like it. Of Django Unchained Postercourse Tarantino’s brand of violence, inspired in great part by cheap B-grade exploitation movies of the past, is mainstream enough that you can still praise his name and come off looking classy (vouching for I Spit On Your Grave or Toxic Avenger might not earn you as much film cred). But just because Tarantino has successfully found a niche for excessive violence outside of the horror genre doesn’t neccessarily make watching volcano-style gushes of blood and close-up headshots any less gritty.

I begin the review by discussing gore because Django Unchained has a lot of it. It’s mostly what people like to refer to as ‘fun violence’, the kind so unrealistic and over-the-top that it passes the point of disturbance and just becomes silly, and (I begrudgingly admit) enjoyable. But nonetheless, the level of cruelty observed by both Django‘s heroes and villains at times gets a little stomach-turning for even a Tarantino vet such as myself (torn apart by wild dogs, anyone? Not to mention that extremely unsettling scene of a ‘mandingo’ fight to the death.).

Despite, and probably in part because of, Tarantino’s trademark violence, Django delivered and is definitely up there as one of my favorite films of the year (although Basterds still holds its number 1 spot on my list of Tarantino favorites). The story follows Django, who has been sold and separated from his wife after attempting to escape the plantation to which he was enslaved. In an entirely brilliant opening sequence Django is rescued by a German dentist-turned-assassin Dr. King Schultz, who needs Django for information regarding his latest targets.  No matter the movie, my face lights up every time Christoph Waltz takes up a frame, so his entrance driving a horse-pulled wagon with a bouncing model tooth, attached to the roof via spring, was especially entertaining.

We then follow Django, who agrees to help Dr. King take out his nefarious victims. We watch as he begins to form a friendship with his savior, and pick up some tricks of the bounty-hunting trade along the way. All this eventually leads to a plot to rescue Django’s wife Broomhilda (Meant to be ‘Brunhilde’, as she was originally owned by a German mistress) from the iniquitous Calvin Candie, a sinister, merciless and incredibly wealth Southern plantation owner.

For a while the scheme appears to be rather successful, but, seeing as it’s a Tarantino movie, you know from the get-go it’s all going to end in a bloody show-down. I’ll just fill you in now; it does just that. And this off-the-rails ending is where Django loses a lot of its steam. The film spends a lot of time building a very compelling relationship and repartee between the two leads, Django and Shultz, which makes for the backbone of the movie. We watch Django rise from overwhelmed and heartbroken slave to fiercely determined and confident killer, and take out some white supremacist baddies along the way. But towards the end, with our main villain already dispatched, we lose what emotional investment we had in the story and the climactic gunfight feels like less of a pay-off and more an ear-splitting, bullet-hole ridden slogfest.

Waltz is fantastic and charismatic as ever in his role as Dr. Schultz, while Leonardo DiCaprio brings to life villainous Calvin Candie as equal parts upper-class brat and depraved scoundrel, with the perfect dash of southern gentleman. Samuel L. Jackson also comes across strong as sinister and cantankerous head house slave Stephen. While I hold ambivalent feelings towards Jamie Foxx as an actor, I feel his portrayal of Django, while not the film’s strongest, is more than adequate for the film’s purpose. He’s got this sort of lost puppy-dog look towards the opening I couldn’t quite see original choice Will Smith pulling off, at the same time imbuing Django with a sort of unconscious, Foxx-esque swagger, more and more clear as the film drags on. He never comes off as a cold-hearted killer, but a victim of circumstance who just happens to be a crazy-good shot. It takes a careful level of confidence, detachment and a pinch of bewilderment to pull that off.

So while I think the film does start to lose steam after a few principle characters are blown away, this act is precipitated by some hilarious and incredibly high-intensity scenes, making Tarantino’s latest work more than worth the watch.

That Time Again

It’s been roughly six months since I posted my article Film OverSaturation, meaning it’s a new film season with a new upcoming film crop. And that means, in turn, it’s about time for me to unveil my new list of most-anticipated movies of the next few years!

I say next few years because some of these projects haven’t even finished casting, much less bearing release dates. In fact, many of the movies from my past two lists (To the Wonder, Ender’s Game, Gangster Squad, Knight of Cups and the Untitled Terrence Malick Project) have yet to hit theaters. And an even greater amount that have long since come and gone from cinemas are still diligently awaiting to be reviewed by yours truly (my bad).

Anyways, without further adieu, here is the unveiling of my newest semi-annual films-to-watch-for list.

11. Foxcatcher

Foxcatcher is based on the true story of multimillionaire and schizophrenic John du Pont, who murdered his friend and Olympic wrestler David Schultz. It will be directed by Bennett Miller, responsible for the award-garnering Moneyball and Capote. The premise promises drama, but most intriguing is the casting: Mark Ruffalo as David Schultz and Steve Carell as killer John du Pont, who replaced original choice Gary Oldman. There’s been a lot of talk regarding the comedian’s ability to play such a serious role, but I’ve many a-time been pleasantly surprised by comedians in dramatic turns; Jim Carrey in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine, Adam Sandler in Punch-Drunk Love, and Bill Murray in Lost in Translation, to name a few. Foxcatcher mainly makes my list because I’m so curious to see how Carell’s performance plays out. The film will also feature Sienna Miller, Channing Tatum and Vanessa Redgrave.

10. The Wolf of Wallstreetdicaprio-wolf-nyc-92112sp

Wolf of Wallstreet is a buzzed-about upcoming drama again pairing director Scorsese and leading man Leonardo DiCaprio. Leo will play real-life swindler Jordan Belfort, who was sent to jail for stock market manipulation and fraud, and the film will take an unsparing look at his drug addiction and hard-partying ways. Not gonna lie, this one’s giving me a bit of a ‘look how hard I’m trying to be deep, edgy and relevant’ sort of vibe, but then again, it shows potential.  The cast is rounded out by Jonah Hill (who proved his dramatic acting chops with Moneyball and beat out Chris Evans and Joseph Gordon-Levitt for this role), Matthew McConaughey, Jon Favreau, Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal and Ethan Suplee.

9. Twelve Years a Slaveyoung-beasts-of-the-southern-wild-star-quvenzhane-wallis-joins-12-years-a-slave

Director Steve McQueen may bring to mind images of a talking red racecar every time I hear his name, but he is nonetheless being heralded as one of the next great directors of his time. Having helmed previously lauded films Hunger and Shame, he will be teaming up with the incredibly-talented Michael Fassbender a third time for the film adaptation of Twelve Years a Slave, about a black man living in New York who is kidnapped and finds himself sold into slavery. The film will star the underrated and unpronounceable Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, and will feature Sherlock’s Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti  and Raising Hope’s constantly overlooked Garret Dillahunt.

8. Sexy Evil Geniusimg01307228695249

A smaller-scale indie that happens to bring together three of my favorite geekdoms under one roof, this film will center around “a group of strangers brought together in a downtown Los Angeles bar by their mutual ex-girlfriend.” This ex-girlfriend, the titular Sexy Evil Genius, will be played by Battlestar Galactica alum Katee Sackhoff, with a cast rounded out by Buffy‘s Michelle Trachtenberg and Seth Green, as well as Lost‘s Harold Perrinau Jr. . I’m not exactly expecting the most original of story lines in this tale of love and revenge, but I’m expecting a lot of fun and a lot of heart.

7. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His/Hersjessica-chastain-james-mcavoy-rigby-set

All I know about the plot is it chronicles “A New York couple’s relationship”. That’s literally it. And judging by the title, their might be some sort of Beatles tie-in. What strikes me is that the story is being told in two separate films: one from the husband’s point of view (His) and one from the wife’s (Hers). While this partly just sounds like a cheap ploy to sell more tickets, the parties involved make me think this is less about audience manipulation and more a legitimate exercise in story-telling. It will star Jessica Chastain as Eleanor Rigby and James McAvoy as Conor Ludlow (the husband, I assume) while also including Ciarán Hinds, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, William Hurt and Isabelle Huppert. Whatever exactly this experimental two-parter reveals itself to be about, count me as among the intrigued!

6. At Swim-Two-Birds200px-FlannO'BrianAtSwimTwoBirds

I’ll say right now, I’ve always loved all things Irish. The landscape, the literature, the folklore, and the accents. Good lord, those accents. Originally a book by Irish author Brian O’Nolan, At Swim-Two-Birds is a rather curious novel composed of student sharing three different stories. These stories eventually begin to intertwine, interspersed with information about our college-attending narrator, as the fictional characters created by the author’s fictional character begin to turn on their creator. How to even begin converting such a story into a coherent film is beyond me, but the cast features the crème de la crème of Irish actors: Cillian Murphy (swoon), Colin Farrell (double swoon), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (fainting), Michael Fassbender (officially unconscious), and Gabriel Byrne (…. I appreciate your work). So basically this all sounds like one big tribute to our beloved Emerald Isle (notice the use of the words our; I have a problem). And it just so happens to be directed by Brendan Gleeson, my favorite crotchety teddy-bear of cinema. I’m stoked.

5. Black Wings Has My Angel

Elliot Chaze’s 50’s crime novel, Black Wings Has My Angel, is undergoing the arduous journey to the big 7-4_chaze-black-wings-bigscreen. The novel follows the escapades of escaped prisoner  Tim Sunblade and his intensive love/hate relationship with call girl and partner-in-crime Virginia. The two partner together to rob an armored truck, and the story follows them through capture and escape, as well as detailing how their ill-gained fortune impacts their character. I like that the familiar plot is being paired with a 50’s setting and southern flavor, and the fact that producer Christopher Peditto fought for ten years to secure rights to the out of print novel suggests it’s a story worth seeing play out. But it’s mostly the cast that piqued my attention: The film will star Tom Hiddleston (The Avengers’  Loki) as Sunblade, Anna Paquin as the backwoods belle, and Elijah Wood in a supporting role.

4. X-Men Days of Future Past

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Okay, I’ll start by saying this might be the worst movie title I’ve ever seen. I know sequel subtitles don’t tend to make a lot of sense (they’re generally just impressive looking words nonsensically strung together), but really? Days of Future Past? Your writing team sits down to brainstorm at the conference table and this is all they can come up with? Anyways, despite the title, if you’re at all a fan of superhero movies you have to get excited about this. Involving all our favorite X-men on a time-traveling quest to alter history, the film will combine the casts of both the original X-men trilogy as well a 2011’s prequel, X-Men: First Class. The current cast boasts Jennifer Lawrence as young Mystique, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender as both old and young Magneto, James McAvoy and Patrick Stewart as young and old Professor X, plus a slew of other characters and a possibility of Halle Berry and James Marsden stepping back into their roles as Storm and Cyclops. Yeah-ha-ha. Get excited.

3. Zero TheoremChristoph+Waltz+Django+Unchained+Press+Line+FiHefbISAWUl

Slated for 2013, this upcoming film directed by Terry Gilliam (Monty Python, Dr. Parnassus, Tideland, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Twelve Monkeys, Brazil, and all other manner of delightfully insane projects) caught my eye, thanks to its attention-grabbing premise and top-notch cast. The current imdb summary reads, “A computer hacker’s goal to discover the reason for human existence continually finds his work interrupted thanks to the Management; this time, they send a teenager and a lusty love interest to distract him.” The story will take place in a 1984-style environment, and it appears ‘the Management’ is a single entity acting as an instructor to our angst-ridden protagonist. This protagonist, Qohen Leth, will be played by one of my top five actors, German import Cristoph Waltz, with Matt Damon as Management and Mélanie Thierry as the ‘lusty love interest’. Zero Theorem will also feature David Thewlis, Tilda Swinton and Ben Whishaw.

2. Winter’s Tale200px-MarkHelprin_WintersTale

Winter’s Tale is a film based on a novel by Mark Helprin, set in a mythical, Victorian-style version of New York City. I haven’t read the book but the general gist seems to be an orphaned boy winds up joining a gang, making enemies of the leader, falling in love with a girl suffering from consumption and happens to come across a flying white horse. The film will be directed and written by Akiva Goldsman, who has served as the screenwriter for TV show Fringe, films I Am Legend and Cinderella Man. The movie will star Colin Farrell, as well as Goldsman’s go-to-boy Will Smith, Russell Crowe, the always-beautiful Matt Bomer, and Jennifer Connelly.

1. Don Jon’s Addiction

I am hopelessly in love with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and have been since his Mysterious Skin days. So the fact that he is writing, directing and starring in 2013’s Don Jon’s Addiction is more than enough to get me excited. It sounds like a typical redemption tale about a modern Don Juan and his attempts to reform. Gordon-Levitt convinced some pretty heavy-hitting actresses, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore and Brie Larson, to get on board, so I’ve got pretty high hopes. And even if it doesn’t turn out that well, at least I get to stare at Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a few hours.

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Honorable Mentions:

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Not gonna lie, I’m ambivalent towards this new let’s-mess-with-The-Wizard-of-Oz craze (See Tin Man, Dorothy of Oz, 2014’s The Wizard of Oz, Drew Barrymore’s Surrender, etc.). I’m a fervid lover of Broadway’s Wicked (not so much the book…), but how many let’s-explore-the-history-of-Oz-and-darken-everything-up stories do we need? But the cast is killer and, gotta be honest, I’m intrigued.

This Is The End

Why hello there again, James Franco! The 60’s had the Rat Pack, the 80’s the Brat Pack, early 2000’s the Frat Pack, and in this decade has emerged what I like to refer to as the Hash Pack, our favorite gang of stoners/comedians. And they’re reunited once again in This Is The End, starring Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Danny McBride (not a fan, not gonna lie), Jay Baruchel (huge fan, not gonna lie) and Craig Robinson, all as themselves. Over the course of the movie a celebrity party is crashed by the impending apocalypse, and the actors must resolve their differences and fight for their lives. The comedy will include cameos by Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, David Krumholtz, Michael Cera, Martin Starr, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari and Rihanna. It’ll either be Pineapple Express-caliber hilarious, or Your Highness brand of godawful.

Devil In the White City

I never actually got through this book. My friend had it for required reading in high school and told me to look at a passage involving late 1800’s serial killer Dr. H. H. Holmes, a historical figure, and the fictionalized account of one of his many very real murders. I got too queasy to finish and haven’t picked the book up since. But if just a few paragraphs of this unsettling story can leave pictures that vivid in my mind, a properly-done film might be able to blow audiences out of the water. And since Leonardo DiCaprio is on board as Holmes, I think we can expect good things. Or horrifying things. But in a good way?

Films I Plan to Avoid:

Romeo and Juliet

I’ve got my 1968 Romeo and Juliet if I feel like being a purist, and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet if I want something artsy and feel like bawling my eyes out. I don’t need any more. How many times has Romeo and Juliet been done? And the majority of those have been straight, like the upcoming 2013 time-appropriate version. We’ve seen it so many times before, not just through different versions of Shakespeare’s classic but through pretty much every story/film romance since it was penned. Do we need to see it again? The film will star True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet, pretty boy Douglas Booth as Romeo (untried, but he has been cast as Pip in an adaptation of Great Expectations and Shem in Noah, which almost made this list…), with Paul Giamatti, Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick and Stellan Skarsgard.

Justice League

In the Justice League vs. Avengers debate I’ve always sort of placed myself in the DC camp, mostly because I didn’t really know about The Avengers existence until the movie was announced. But even though I’ve got a place in my heart for the Justice League, any attempt at a film kinda just seems like a cheap attempt to compete with The Avengers (and I use ‘cheap’ as a turn of phrase, I don’t even want to think about how much money’s gonna get poured into this). Plus, while Avengers made a bold move and combined a collection of previously-established superhero film franchises, Justice League  plans to ignore all previous installments (that means Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy and the upcoming Man of Steel) and supplant both with new versions of and background story for Batman and Superman. I mean, we’re already on our second Superman reboot within a seven-year span, and Dark Knight was so fantastic, do we really want to see either of these characters redone so soon?

Untitled Batman Reboot

Speaking of which, there’s already a Batman reboot planned for 2015. Because if there’s any superhero franchise that really needs an update, it would be Batman.

Film OverSaturation

So a while ago (and by a while I mean a really, really, really really really long time) I put together a lovely, elaborate list of the top 11 (I’m having some trouble understanding my past self’s thought process behind that number)upcoming movies I was most excited to see. 5 of these movies have now been released, and 3 are tumbling hot on their heels towards beautiful releasementship (these latter 3 would be Brave, Bourne Legacy and Perks of Being a Wallflower, in that order).

With the end of the school year I’ve recently come into a little free time, and obviously desperate for a way to fill it all up, I decided I might revive my poor, neglected blog with not only an updated list but some quality reviews through which to share my praises and gripes with the films in question.

I thought I’d begin with the new and improved list, seeing as it’ll be the easiest to get out of the way and I’m anxious to have something posted after a roughly three-month hiatus.

So let’s see, my List-of-Movies-Most-Currently-Highly-Anticipated-By-Amy, Part 2.

10. The Dark Knight Rises

Okay, originally this was going to be on my first top 10 list, but I took it off because my top 10 list was at 15 movies and I kind of figured it went without saying. But you know what, I’m putting it up here now. I. Am. Pretty. Excited. I enjoyed Batman Begins, loved The Dark Knight (who didn’t?), and am super stoked for the third and final installment. The fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Marion Cotillard (plus director Chris Nolan makes this a lovely little Inception reunion) are involved only amped up my excitement. My only reservation, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, would be the inclusion of Anne Hathaway. I’ve always been a fan of the girl but lately she’s been picking up a lot of parts that just don’t seem to fit (Once, what exactly possessed her to sign up for Valentine’s Day, and don’t even bring up Fantine around me or I will go postal). But the movie’s got too much in its favor to not be good, and I for one am dying to know if big bad Bane will or will not ‘break The Bat.’

9. Moonrise Kingdom

Yesssss, I know, it’s already out, has been for a while. This is another one that totally should’ve been on that last list, not quite sure why I cut it since I was entirely in love within the first twenty seconds of the trailer (“No, I said, what kind of bird are you.”) But yes, I am super psyched to get out and see this highly-praised Edward Norton/Wes Andersen collaboration.

8. Prometheus

Yes, also already out. But don’t tell me after all you’ve heard you’re not super psyched to check out this Alien-esque thriller starring the amazing Noomi Rapace, goddess Charlize Theron, and the ever-cool Michael Fassbender.

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7. Lincoln

Not gonna lie to you, if this movie had any other cast I probably wouldn’t be interested at all. I mean, sure, Lincoln’s a fascinating individual, but I know all about that from biographies and history classes. Do I really need the passages of my high school text book filmed and edited and retold (in a slightly less faithful fashion, I’m sure) on a movie screen? Well, since Daniel Day Lewis will be playing Lincoln himself with a supporting cast including Joseph Gordon Levitt (I don’t know if you’ve noticed a trend here, but I really love Joseph Gordon Levitt) and Lee Pace, I’m gonna say it couldn’t hurt. And while yes, the ‘other’ Lincoln movie (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) looks pretty entertaining, I’m not exactly expecting the quality I’m hoping to get out of this one.

6. Cloud Atlas

This is one I’ve been eyeing for a while, and while it’s seen the loss of a few names that were previously attached (Ian McKellen, Natalie Portman) there are still plenty to go around (Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Susan Sarandon, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent and Ben Wishaw all have roles). I’m sorry to admit that I haven’t actually read the book yet, but I’ve heard only good things and the premise sounds beyond intriguing. So obviously getting my hands on the novel is a prerequisite to viewing the movie, but I have faith that I’ll find quality both in the paperback version of the story and its upcoming film adaptation.

5. Gangster Squad

Suave mobsters, 40’s fashion and the presence of Emma Stone, Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi, Sean Penn,

Anyone else getting a ‘Reservoir Dogs’ vibe?

Anthony Mackie and, of course, Ryan Gosling have earned this otherwise rather nondescript film a spot on my movie-radar. Previously the upcoming ‘Wettest County’, recently retitled ‘Lawless’ (coincidentally also the name of another movie on this list, which I assume will have to be changed in response) was filling my 30’s-40’s era gangster movie quota, but the release of a decidedly underwhelming trailer has dampened my excitement. So Ryan Gosling, I’m just saying, you better pull through for me on this one!

4. Spring Breakers


So give me a moment to explain myself. I know, I know – a movie starring a bunch of previously squeaky-clean tween queens (Selena Gomez, Heather Morrison of Glee, Ashley Benson and Vanessa Anne Hudgens) partying hard and getting themselves involved in crime, sex and drugs sounds extra-sleazy. And I’m sure it is extra sleazy, and there’s absolutely no way I would even consider seeing it except for the fact that Harmony Korine is writing and directing. Korine’s never been known for subtlety (man loves his shock value), but there’s no denying his movies leave a strong impact. This is the writer/director of Gummo and the writer of Kids we’re talking about here. I don’t know for sure if his movies have something to say, but he’s very good at convincing his audiences that they do. The fact that the likes of Hudgens and Selena Gomez would sign on for a Korine movie is absolutely mind-boggling, and that’s why I’ve just gotta see it.


3. Lawless or Untitled Terrence Malick Project #2

If you remember, my last list included an Untitled Terrence Malick Project starring Rachel McAdams and Ben Affleck. Whereas that film has been titled ‘To the Wonder’ (no idea what that could possibly mean), it is not in fact the Untitled Terrence Malick Project listed above. That would be the tentatively titled Lawless, which will star Ryan Gosling, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Rooney Mara, Cate Blanchett, Wes Bentley and Haley Bennett (that cute girl from Music and Lyrics whose career I’ve been inexplicably awaiting to take off for a while). And of course, as you might have gathered through very keen perception, it will be directed by Terrence Malick. Basically, if this movie were ice cream, it would be a Frozen Haute Chocolate (you know, that $25,000 sundae with the edible gold and the diamond spoon?). The plot summary reveals only this: “Two intersecting love triangles. Sexual obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.” Considering the aforementioned factors, how could this movie possibly be anything but fantastic? (As a side note, Malick’s third slated love story, Knight of Cups, sounds pretty promising too)

2. The Great Gatsby 

Okay, I know, I know, I’m such a hypocrite. If you read my first list you’ll know I included the latest Great Gatsby adaptation as one of my three ‘to be avoided at all costs’ movies for the year, on the grounds that previous attempts have been complete and utter failures and that Baz Luhrmann’s unorthodox approach to filmmaking didn’t really seem to jive with the tone of the classic novel. But I should first explain that despite my misgivings I’m a huge Luhrmann fan (Moulin Rouge, Strictly Ballroom and his ever polarizing Romeo + Juliet are among some of my favorite films) , and although I didn’t think his style would be a match the trailer completely swept me away. I know there are already rumblings about the modern music and the weird editing and such, but that’s just Luhrmann. You love him or hate him, and if you’re in the latter category you will without a doubt detest this movie as Luhrmann’s artistic stamp absolutely consumes every project he’s involved in. And since I admittedly love him, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio, I’ve decided to officially be excited. I am a little miffed, however, concerning some of the casting. Carey Mulligan seems all wrong as Daisy, pixie cute as opposed to delicate, manipulative and devastatingly beautiful. Tobey Maguire just didn’t come off well as the overwhelmed and somewhat detached Nick Carraway, and his choice of a Jordan Baker couldn’t appear more bland (and now that I’ve typed that watch her become next year’s Jessica Chastain). Anyways, I’m a little nervous about getting my hopes up but after the trailer I can’t help but be excited for Luhrmann’s latest project.

Django is Off the Chain.

1. Django Unchained

Oh my goodness gracious, I’m actually incapable of expressing to you exactly how much I am looking forward to this movie. I’ve never met a Tarantino film I didn’t like, and if you’ve seen the trailer you might share in my excitement (that shot of the blood on the white flowers and, oh my god, Leonardo Leonardo Leonardo). I can’t wait I can’t wait I can’t wait.

Feel more than free to chip in with your own comments and movie additions. 🙂