January 21, 2010

On the Horizon: Movies in 2010 (Pt. 3: TBA & Documentaries)

Wow, well I don't know about you, but even for somebody who's willing to see some bad movies, 2010 looks like a good year to concentrate on some other hobbies (or, in my case, such projects like my own wedding). There are still some movies I'm excited to see, but nearly all of them are outside of the mass-marketed wide releases I listed in Part 1 and Part 2. Thanks to Garth Franklin's list I mentioned in Part 1 (you really have to check out all eleven parts), I've got my eyes on the following award-likely titles, hoping they will be bright spots in the year ahead - if they are indeed released in the next 12 months:

(all dates TBA)

- The Adjustment Bureau : starring Matt Damon, based on Philip K. Dick short story
- Animal Kingdom : buzzed-about Australian crime drama starring Guy Pearce
- The Beaver : bizarre-sounding comedy directed by Jodie Foster, starring Mel Gibson
- Biutiful : the next Alejandro González Iñárritu film (Babel)
- Black Swan : the next Darren Aronofsky film (The Wrestler)
- Brighton Rock : remake of the 1947 classic
- The Conspirator : Robert Redford-directed drama about Lincoln's assassination team
- Fair Game : Naomi Watts and Sean Penn as Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson
- Fish Tank : acclaimed British coming-of-age story (due out here March 19)
- Get Low : odd premise, but buzz is that Robert Duvall might be in line for an Oscar
- Hesher : Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a tattooed misanthrope - he did it well in Stop-Loss 
- Holy Rollers : sounds like The Wackness; Orthodox Jewish kids who deal Ecstasy
- Howl : Allen Ginsberg biopic, produced locally by Werc Werk Works
- Jack Goes Boating : directing debut for Philip Seymour Hoffman, starring himself
- John Rabe : true story about German businessman/hero during Nanjing massacre
- Mother : murder mystery from Joon-ho Bong, director of The Host 
- Mother and Child : somewhat sappy-sounding drama starring Naomi Watts and Sam Jackson
- Mr. Nobody : this time-traveling drama was on last year's list, so who knows where it is
- Night Catches Us : Anthony Mackie in drama about racial tensions in Philly circa 1976
- Paul : the next Simon Pegg/Nick Frost film (Hot Fuzz)
- The Rum Diary : Johnny Depp in another Hunter S. Thompson adaptation
- The Special Relationship : Michael Sheen as Tony Blair again in political drama
- Stone : De Niro and Norton together for the first time since The Score 
- The Tempest : the next Julie Taymor film (Across the Universe)
- The Tree of Life : the next Terrence Malick film, with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn
- True Grit: the next Coen Bros. film, with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon
- The Way Back : Peter Weir directs true story about prisoners escaped from Siberian gulag
- You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger : the next Woody Allen film

Thanks to Charlotte at The Documentary Blog, it appears there are also some fascinating documentaries on the way in 2010. Here are five I'll be on the lookout for (I've copied her descriptions; head over there for trailers):

- Restrepo - "Restrepo is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, “Restrepo,” named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military. This is an entirely experiential film: the cameras never leave the valley; there are no interviews with generals or diplomats. The only goal is to make viewers feel as if they have just been through a 90- minute deployment." 

- Prodigal Sons - "Returning home to a small town in Montana for her high school reunion, filmmaker Kimberly Reed hopes for reconciliation with her long-estranged adopted brother, Marc. But along the way she uncovers stunning revelations, including his blood relationship with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth, intense sibling rivalries and unforeseeable twists of plot and gender that forces them to face challenges no one could imagine."

- Casino Jack and the United States of Money - "Casino Jack is the story of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff who appears to be one of those characters whose reality may live up to his myth. From the official synopsis we are promised ‘a tale of international intrigue with Indian casinos, Russian spies, Chinese sweatshops, and a mob-style killing in Miami, this is the story of the way money corrupts our political process.' This the new documentary from Alex Gibney (Gonzo, Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron) and it will have its world premiere as part of the US Documentary competition at Sundance."

- The Oath - "Laura Poitras has made the second part of her planned documentary trilogy (the first being the excellent, Oscar-nominated, My Country, My Country) with this year’s The Oath...Official synopsis: Unraveling like a lush, gripping novel that constantly subverts expectations, The Oath is the interlocking drama of two brothers-in-law, Abu Jandal and Salim Hamdam, whose associations with al Qaeda in the 1990s propelled them on divergent courses. The film delves into Abu Jandal’s daily life as a taxi driver in Sana’a, Yemen, and Hamdan’s military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay prison. Abu Jandal and Hamdan’s personal stories—how they came to serve as Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver respectively—act as prisms through which to humanize and contextualize a world the Western media demonizes. As Hamdan’s trial progresses, his military lawyers challenge fundamental flaws in the court system. As charismatic Abu Jandal dialogues with his son, Muslim students, and journalists, he generously unveils the complex evolution of his belief system since 9/11."

- Lucky - "Lucky follows the journeys of people who have won the lottery and how they handle their life-changing windfalls. Jeffrey Blitz, director of Spellbound and Rocket Science, allows us to go beyond our own daydream masterplans of how we’d spend a lottery win and see whether people who have actually won have had their ‘dreams come true’." (I have to add here that last June I suggested just such a film - "How about a thoughtful drama or a documentary about the winners of these massive lottery purses?".)

So there we have the final and by far the most promising installment in this three-part forecast for 2010. Hope you found at least a few movies to look forward to this year - see you at the movies!


  1. Okay, thanks Daniel, this looks somewhat better. Might be some fine films here even though a lot of the premises don't excite me.

    The ones that interest me the most -

    The Tree of Life - I'm a Malick fan, and I've been waiting for this one!

    The Conspirator - Could be good. Whatever happened to Spielberg's Lincoln with Liam Neeson?

    True Grit - I had thought this was a Cohen brothers joke. Are they serious? Is it even based on the Charles Portis novel? I love the book. I love the John Wayne move. But I'm open to the Cohen brothers' take on this story. I could see Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn.

    The Way Back. Peter Weir - good! Also, the story is a fantastic one.

  2. Yes, this is less detailed than Parts 1 or 2 but significantly more promising - thanks for following along with all three.

    It wasn't until the last year or so that I realized The New World was as revered as it is (at least among 20-35 year old male movie bloggers). I saw it once in the theater and didn't give it much thought afterward, but I certainly think Malick has vision, and Pitt and Penn together ought to be a good show.

    Not sure about Spielberg's Lincoln, but I remember vague blurbs about it...ok I just checked on IMDb, it's "In Development".

    Now Peter Weir, there's a pretty underappreciated director, at least as far as awards go (five Best Director nods, zero wins). I don't know if this movie will do it for him, but I think we can probably expect some Oscar consideration for The Way Back.

    True Grit - yes, this is no joke, and it is decidedly NOT a remake. In fact, at the discussion with the Coens I attended in September, Ethan flat out said that, "the book has never been adapted", which tells you all you need to know about what he thinks of the John Wayne version. From what they said this is going to be much more violent yet also much funnier. Who knows - I haven't even seen the Wayne version.

  3. Well, I've got a thing or two to pass along the the Coen brothers - if you ever run into them again. On the contrary, Misters Coen, the book HAS been adapted. The version with John Wayne is strictly faithful to the book - using the dialogue straight from the novel. In fact, Portis wrote the character FOR John Wayne. (The Coens need to do a little film history research.) Also, the movie IS funny and IS violent (one bad guy chops off the fingers of another bad guy (Dennis Hopper)). There are few details left out that make the fate of the main character (Mattie Ross) more bleak - but I have no idea when the Coens are talking about. The adaptation follows the book page by page. "The book has never been adapted by us Coen brothers with our inimitable talent and singular vision." No doubt that's what they should have said.

  4. "The book has never been adapted by us Coen brothers with our inimitable talent and singular vision."

    Haha, well maybe that's what they meant. Ethan kind of said it tongue-in-cheek, but the impression I got is that they definitely don't consider it a faithful adaption, because they are going to be telling it from the 14 year-old girl's perspective, not Cogburn's. That appears to be their main hangup with the original. Anyway, we'll find out soon enough as it's scheduled for a Christmas Day 2010 opening, earlier than the original 2011 release.

  5. Well, it's interesting they don't consider it a faithful because the John Wayne movie is definitely from the girl's point of view from start to finish. Anyway, we shall see. I will be there.

  6. I'll obviously be there as well, though I owe it to myself and the Coens to either read the book or watch the Wayne version sometime in the next 11 months.

  7. I told my wife about the Coen brothers' True Grit and she couldn't believe it. When I introduced her to the movie and the novel, she became an instant fan of both. She considers Mattie Ross her favorite film character - and the movie is one of her favorites. We both wondered about the Coens implying that True Grit isn't funny. We both agree that True Grit is full of hilarious lines. In our household, it is the movie we quote repeatedly to raise a chuckle or to apply the movie's lines to a situation that arises. For example, during the Bush administration we constantly quoted Mattie's line, "I won't rest till Tom Cheney's barking in hell." Also, my wife really wants to know who the hell they intend to cast at Mattie Ross - because she doesn't think anybody could a better job than Kim Darby. Well... I guess we'll be a critical audience.

  8. Wow, very interesting that the story has such a foothold in your house - no wonder you've been interested in the Coens' version!

    As far as Mattie Ross goes, check out the offical casting website for the part. "No experience necessary" - should be an interesting find...


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