2013 Movies Preview

2012 is done and dusted; I looked at the best and the rest of last year. The top 10 films I settled on were as diverse as they were remarkable examples showing just how good the world of cinema is at the moment. Even though I settled on my choices, I could have easily picked a top 50 which different top 10, and there was a further 10 or so movies that I never got around to, chief of which was Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt. Enough about 2012, it’s gone, its 2013’s turn now, and with the turning of the year here is a selection of films that are highly anticipated here on the geek show. No attention for comic book movies, they get enough attention spent on them.

 

The 2012 USA release Gulf 

If you’re American you’ll know this already, but the US has a tradition of going to the cinema on Christmas Day, they don’t have the tradition us Brits do, or watching TV with the family on the 25th December and the days surrounding it. As such, films that were released in America over this period don’t see the light of day in the UK until the following year. Titles which fit in this group are twofold. First is Kathryn Bigelow’s follow up to the deserving Oscar winner, the hurt locker in Zero Dark Thirty in which sees a crack group of soldiers hunt down Osama Bin Laden. The films placement in countless top 10’s stateside does little to negate this expectation and hype. Next is Quentin Tarantino’s next film Django Unchained. Even with my love-hate relationship with the director, he is a name who courts the absolute mainstream despite having such an outsider’s perspective within the pantheon of modern directors. Whether he falls on the arrogance or excellence side of his divide is another matter, but Django is an enticing premise.

 

Asian Cinema (I) Korea in America

There are two aspects to Asian cinema in 2013, the first of which is Korean cinema in America. The three biggest names in Korean cinema will be making their English language debuts, so no matter how successful (or unsuccessful) they are, these films will at least be drawing attention to Korean cinema at large. The first to see release is Kim Jee-Woon’s (I saw the devil, the good the bad and the weird) The Last Stand. The film will be getting much more press for it being the return to film for Arnold Schwarzenegger as a ready-for-retirement Sheriff in small-town America only for his town to be plagued by the Mexican Cartel – Johnny Knoxville co-stars. On paper, the idea sounds generic as Arnie films come, however, the inclusion of Jee-Woon on the director’s chair suggests more beyond the surface. Second and the biggest profile director of the three is Park Chan-wook’s Stoker. The director of Oldboy is seemingly looking at vampires for the second time (after Thirst, 2009), with a fascinating look at mythos and lore in contemporary America with a cast led by Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman. Last and most anticipated of the three is Joon Ho-Bong (the Host, Memories of Murder) adapting end of the world on a train, piece, Snowpiercer. The cast he has been given is fitting of such a highly respected director: he has Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Ed Harris and most importantly ‘the best actor that nobody has heard of’ and regular collaborator Kang-Ho Song. In a double blow of good news, the film has also got a distribution deal with the Weinstein Company all but ensuring a deserving audience and not Arthouse obscurity.

 

Asian Cinema (II)

Starting off the more traditional side of Asian cinema is the fourth film by director Gareth Evans and his third in Indonesia after the huge crossover hit, the raid redemption is Berandal (aka the raid 2). Not much is known about Evans’ new film other than a few casting decisions and the suggestively titled Hammer Girl. However for genre fans, he has shown growth with each new film, so the gap from the raid to Berandal should be pronounced, making this a complete film with depth beyond the visceral, here’s hoping anyway. In more traditional territory we see new films from two of the biggest names in Asian cinema with Sion Sono and Wong Kar-Wai. Sono returns with the latest entry into his earthquake cycle (following Himizu), Land of Hope. Third Window films are co-producing this Sono film, that shows a more mature dramatic side to the sleazy, violent and provocative auteur, by showing the human side of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. Last and most significantly is Wong Kar-Wai’s The Grandmasters, his follow-up to my blueberry night nights and his first dalliance with martial arts since 1994’s Ashes of Time. Even if the director is prone to delaying his work, this film is set to look at Ip Man (Yip) in a more historically accurate and dramatic way than Wilson Yip’s successful genre double bill. Tony Leung stars as the Wing Chun grand-master and any project that unites the two Chinese screen legends is all one needs for heightened anticipation.

 

The English Renaissance

British cinema is undergoing a renaissance, releasing some of the strongest films of recent years, with some of the most promising new directors hailing from these shores. 2013 sees some of the biggest names and new voices returning. The first comes from the prolific Ben Wheatley and his film, a field in England. Only the principal cast and basic synopsis has been released thus far, with Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh), Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen) and Michael Smiley (Kill List). Shot in a field in Surrey in 2 weeks, a field in England has been pitched as “a psychedelic English civil war movie about some treasure-seeking soldiers who desert their post to find their fortune. Instead, they get distracted by some magic mushrooms”. Next is the sophomore directorial effort from Richard Ayoade in the Double. Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska, this modern-day retelling of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novella is a comedy centered on a man driven insane by his mysterious doppelgänger.

A much higher profile is the third entry into the blood and ice-cream from writers and friends, Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost – The World’s End. A comedy set at the end of the world as a group of friends try to relive a pub crawl from their youth, with Martin Freeman, Rosamund Pike and Eddie Marsan joining the regulars (Inc. Paddy Considine). Any new Edgar Wright film is a reason to celebrate, doubly so when Pegg and Frost and involved. Lastly from the English contingent is the return of Steve McQueen (shame & Hunger) with Twelve Years a Slave. McQueen’s third film sees a man living in New York in the mid-1800s kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South. If that wasn’t enough back is the directors continuing muse, Michael Fassbender, as well as a true embarrassment of riches in the cast from Chiwetel Ejiofor and Paul Giamatti to Quvenzhané Wallis and Brad Pitt. McQueen’s star is set to grow in 2013.

 

Named Directors return

Enough is enough now, I surely have enough films to fill the 2013 movie calendar with many notable exclusions, such as the new Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodovar, Spike Jonze and Alexander Payne movies. Nevertheless here are a few named directors returning to cinemas this year. In his first movie since his genre-defining hit Children of Men, comes Alfonso Cuaron with Gravity. Where astronauts attempt to return to earth after debris destroys their space shuttle. It may have superstars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, but this is Cuaron we are talking about, no director could do this concept as soundly as he. Then there is the first post-Drive film from Nicolas Winding Refn in Only God Forgives. Ryan Gosling returns as a Bangkok police lieutenant and a gangster settle their differences in a Thai-boxing match if anything can be judged from its preliminary poster it’s that this will be a violent film. Then again, it is Winding Refn, that’s the least you’d expect.

Last two now and they are both larger than life science fiction films from promising directors both new and established. First is Neill Blomkamp’s first film since his visually and conceptually ambitious and more importantly successful South African sci-fi drama and apartheid allegory District 9. On concepts alone his follow-up Elysium is continuing his interest in class divides using sci-fi as a vehicle. The last item today is Guillermo Del Toro’s latest film, Pacific Rim. The king of fantasy and horror has had an unfortunate time of it of late, with many of his projects folding or him stepping down from the director’s chair (the hobbit: an unfortunate journey). In his first film since 2008’s Hellboy 2, the earth is attacked through a dimensional divide by creatures called Kaiju (a reference to Japanese monster movies), meaning that earth has defended itself via Giant Mechas and technology. Bringing together his fascination with fantasy and creatures into the sci-fi realm, fan or no, any new Del Toro movie demands the utmost attention.

 

There we have it, that large selection is what I am looking forward to in 2013. As I suggested, there are many overlooked films and many that I didn’t get around to mentioning. Either way, I am looking forward to 2013 hitting its stride in cinemas as based on [this] evidence; it will continue 2012’s good form.

 

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