Once more to the movies my friends once more!
And as always the heralds to what will hopefully be engaging, rewarding and water cooler-sharing worthy films are the trailers which arrive with the sort of frequency I would like my local train provider to follow.
I have a mixed bag this time, with everything from a documentary to a quirky indie to a rom-com thrown into the bag.
So pretty much something for everyone!
Grab your popcorn, sit back and enjoy.
My love for Calvin and Hobbes, one of the finest comic strips ever drawn, knows no bounds.
I professed my great love for it back in July when I first came across news of this amazing documentary from super fan Joel Allen Schroeder who set out in 2009 via a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to document the diverse and loyal fandom that surrounds a comic strip so culturally all pervasive that it remains massively popular 18 years after it last appeared in newspapers.
With additional funding obtained in 2012 via a supplementary campaign, Schroeder was able to interview all manner people, to add to the fan interviews he’d amassed privately since 2007.
And oh what a dream assemblage of people he came up with, according to cinemablend.com:
“… he was soon able to up his game and talk with comic strip creators like the amazing Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County, Outland) and Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), along with Bill Amend (FoxTrot), Jef Mallet (Frazz), Jan Eliot (Stone Soup), Keith Knight (The K Chronicles) and Dave Kellet (Sheldon). He also met with folks from the Cartoon Art Museum and the Toonseum, along with professional poker player Lee Salem and actor Seth Green.”
Dear Mr. Watterson is exactly what you’d expect it to be – a love letter to the man that created comic strip so intelligent and vibrant, and characters so rich and alive that you want to spend all the time you can with them, as the official press makes clear.
“Dear Mr. Watterson is not a quest to find Bill Watterson, or to invade his privacy. It is an exploration to discover why his ‘simple’ comic strip has made such an impact on so many readers, and why it still means so much to us today.” (from the official movie press release)
Joel Allen Schroeder may not have written any more than “Dear Mr. Watterson …” on the letter that sits on his computer but this documentary looks like it’s going to say everything and more that every last fan has ever wanted to say the man whose comic genius and gift for lavish, inspired comic art have given us so much.
Dear Mr. Watterson opens in USA on 15 November 2013 with the DV and Blu-ray editions releasing shipping 15 December.
Based on the beloved international bestselling book, The Book Thief tells the story of an extraordinary, spirited young girl sent to live with a foster family in WWII Germany. Intrigued by the only book she brought with her, she begins collecting books as she finds them. With the help of her new parents and a secret guest under the stairs, she learns to read and creates a magical world that inspires them all. (source: imdb.com)
I have always struggled with books and movies about this harrowing period in human history.
As a man raised by parents who fervently believed that every person regardless of race, gender, creed is equal, and taught me that every step of the way – even adopting my gorgeous brother and sister from Vietnam and South Korea respectively as a manifestation of these beliefs – I find it inconceivable that a particular group could come to power and systematically set out to exterminate an entire race of people from the face of the earth.
I can’t conceive of that kind of hatred, and while I have watched movies like Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful, and read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and been deeply moved by them, they are difficult to process and watch or read.
Even so, The Book Thief is one movie I fully intend to see if only because it represents a triumph of the human spirit in extraordinarily evil times,and represents all those people who, in big ways and small, refused to be cowed by an evil so strong it seemed unstoppable.
But stopped it was, and this unique book and movie’s take on it, is proof positive that everything can be overcome, even if it is at great cost.
(Plus it has Death as a narrator, as unique a storytelling hook as you could possibly want.)
The Book Thief opens in USA on 8 November 2013, and UK on 31 January 2014. No Australian release dates are available yet.
The Grand Budapest Hotel tells of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, the battle for an enormous family fortune and the slow and then sudden upheavals that transformed Europe during the first half of the 20th century. (source: slashfilm.com)
Wes Anderson is one of the most, if not the most, whimsically, joyful film directors at work today.
Devoted to giving his movies a wholly distinctive look and feel, one that feels removed from our own, and yet centred on themes of family, love and belonging that we can all relate to, he is able to craft movies that are whole worlds unto themselves.
And the Grand Budapest Hotel looks like it is going to another jewel in his crown as the telegraph.co.uk underlines:
“All the hallmarks of a Wes Anderson production – quirky comedy-drama, elaborate mises-en-scène, mannered dialogue and a good deal of whimsy – are in evidence … But what most stands out is just how fun the action seems – not to mention the vast scale on which it takes place.”
I realise that not everyone is a fan of Wes Anderson’s films with accusations they are too clever for their own good, placing artifice over actual emotional substance.
But it’s something I find hard to understand since the man seems to have a gift for drawing out the sort of experiences that are common to all of us, and wrapping them in a tableau so all consuming and creative that you can help but be utterly absorbed by it.
I can’t wait to take another imaginative, quirky trip into Wes Anderson’s vividly idiosyncratic world.
The Grand Budapest Hotel opens in USA on 7 March 2014. No Australian release date is available at the moment.
If you want to see the stills from the trailer close up, check out this wonderful post from vulture.com.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
Jack Ryan, a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. Prequel/reboot based on the Tom Clancy character featured in films like The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears. (source: screenrant.com)
Ah the great and glorious reboot.
Once a rarity, it is now employed with ever more dizzying efficiency by movie studios who fear we need new actors in key roles (who are the latest Spiderman or Superman exactly? Kidding I do know but really was that necessary?) or re-imagined takes on old and beloved properties (you know like Psycho which was doing just fine in its original form thank you), or we will simply stop watching their films altogether.
Whatever the relative merits of that line of thinking, it does seem to be reaching fever pitch of late with more and more re-takes on movies we have seen before.
Just occasionally though it can be warranted if the story does take place significantly before the other instalments in a series or concerns another, separate character in the same universe.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, seems tro fall into the former category, a prequel of sorts to the movies that starred Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, which purports to tell us how it all began.
The fact that it stars the always excellent Chris Pine, who will a welcome mix of swagger and gravitas to the role ameliorates somewhat any concerns I have that this film may simply be an unwarranted entry in the Jack Ryan franchise.
The key will be making sure it is a true origin story of sorts which the trailer does seem to go some to doing.
Of course if it is successful, Chris Pine will have another franchise on his hands which will keep him very busy indeed.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens in USA on 25 December 2013 and UK on 26 December 2013. No release date for Australia as yet.
Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller star in the R-rated comedy, “That Awkward Moment,” about three best friends who find themselves where we’ve all been — at that confusing “moment” in every dating relationship when you have to decide “So…Where is this going?” (source: comingsoon.net)
I love me a great rom-com.
That Awkward Moment, however, does not look it will be one of them.
Having said that, it looks to have enough goofy moments and heartfelt scenes to warrant at least a look which will either leave me rueing the day I decided to go see it or heralding a hitherto unexpected romantic comedy gem.
I very much doubt it is going to sit anywhere in the middle.
That is true of many average rom-coms which copy the style but not the wit or wisdom of the truly great members of the genre like anything by Hepburn/Tracy, Hudson/Day or Meg Ryan.
One point in its favour is a clever, fun and quick moving trailer which looks to tick all the boxes without being wantonly gross (well, OK, it pretty much is but in a goofy kind of way … hopefully).
Previously titled Are We Dating Yet?, That Awkward Moment opens in UK and USA on 31 January 2014 and Australia on 13 February 2014.