14 Movies for 2014
Last day of 2013 in review, this time the focus is one those titles in 2014 that are whetting our appetite. Before the meat of this article, it’s only fair to highlight the gap between the USA December release schedule and the UK’s is incredibly notable, it’s a nightmare for end of the year lists but for cinema goers in January it couldn’t be a bigger blessing. The UK gets walking with dinosaurs and the Harry Hill Movie, but in January we’ll be getting Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, The Coen’s Inside Llewellyn Davis and Spike Jonze’s her, one of the few genuine auteurs’ still standing in America. That’s a great start to 2014.
Elsewhere there’s the latest film from one of the most talented new script-writers, David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) with film number 2 – the Rover. David Cronenberg has a new film, Map to the Stars. Little is known about Cronenberg’s latest, but any film from the Canadian provocateur is full of enticing new possibilities. A Touch of Sin by Chinese director Zhang-Ke Jia has been getting all sorts of plaudits on the festival circuit. Lastly, there’s the UK debut of the phenomenal Korean debut Bleak Night, thanks to Third Window Films. That’s a film I cannot wait to see again, all I’ll say is it’s an exceptionally potent piece of social realism that’s a world away from the stuffy kitchen sinks of British cinema.
Joon-Ho Bong’s fifth feature film was on our list of most anticipated list for 2013, unfortunately it only saw a select few film festivals and a selective theatrical release. Based on Jacques Lob’s comic book Le Transperceneige, Snowpiercer sees the last survivors of a dystopian post-apocalyptic future circle the world in a train. With a cast that includes the best actor in the world that nobody has heard of in Kang-Ho Song, Tilda Swinton disappearing into another role, Snowpiercer is set to become to great comic book Film of 2014.
The Raid 2: Berandal
Gareth Evans the Raid was a kick to the face of a martial arts genre that was getting a little too staid for its own good. After directing the best segment of V/H/S 2, Evans returns to the Raid with its sequel Berandal. On the awesome evidence of the Indonesian trailer, everything that was great about that first film has been magnified many times over. It also added a story too. The hair on my arm was standing on its end after the trailer, just imagine what the film will be like!
Only Lovers Left Alive
Jim Jarmusch is the king of indie America; with Dead Man, Down by Law, Ghost Dog and Mystery Train to his name. Nothing really happens in his films, but he does it in such a way that I’m always in awe of their cool. That’s quiet cool and nonchalance, not explosions and stuff. Only lovers left alive is right in Jarmusch’s wheelhouse, two vampire played by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton. Need I say anymore?
Bit of a wildcard in Blue Ruin. Revenge as a motive in cinema is kind of played out, but when you see advance word of a film on the festival scene claiming it to be a game changer you can’t help but look forward to it. The same is true of not-a-zombie zombie film, The Battery. Telling the tale of a beach bum getting revenge on the man who killed his parents, this is a world away from the simplified and glorified takes on revenge we are used to seeing. It’s in films like this that the independent scene keeps on showing up the mainstream.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The love him or hate him director returns off the back of Moonrise Kingdom to direct his most idiosyncratic film to date. Wes Anderson in a beautiful hotel with a cast as great as one’ll see in 2014. It also gives an actor known for being a super serious in Ralph Fiennes the opportunity to play a comedic role, and on the evidence of trailers, it looks like a marriage made in heaven.
Under the Skin
Jonathan Glazer made the best of the British gangster wave that hit cinema screens in the 2000’s and that film was Sexy Beast. In 2014 he returns with Under the Skin, a sombre tale of an alien who seduces people in her ford transit van. And it’s set in Glasgow. And the alien is played by Scarlett Johansson. There isn’t a single element of the film that fails to catch our attention. It was also one of the biggest hits of the festival in 2013.
How to catch a Monster
We hate Ryan Gosling for all the wrong reasons. Everything he does he does it brilliantly. He acts, writes and performs music (Dead Man’s Bones) and now he is turning his never-ending talent to directing. Add into the mix Matt Smith fresh from Doctor who and we’re very anxious to see the new phase of Gosling. Story-wise How to Catch a Monster is a neo-fantasy-noir in which a single mother is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town.
While everyone is paying attention to the latest Christopher Nolan film, Interstellar, personally we’re looking at the directorial debut of his cinematographer Wally Pfister. His debut feature Transcendence recalls the classic tradition of thoughtful science fiction. Johnny Depp plays a brilliant scientist who dies, in a desperate attempt to keep him alive his girlfriend/wife, Rebecca Hall, uploads his consciousness into a computer creating a super AI. Following on from friend and cohort Nolan, Transcendence looks to carry on the intellectual sci-fi trend in 2014. Where the new Godzilla falls in that field remains to be seen. Will this year be the year the West finally ‘gets’ Godzilla?
The Lego Film
This one doesn’t really need any summing up. Chris Lord and Phil Miller, the men behind 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs have been given the sandbox of countless IP to play with. Hopefully they bring their zany cartoon energy to a film that seems ready-made for them. The pair is also returning with 22 jump street. Comedy sequels are an enigma, but if anyone can crack it these two can.
Why don’t you play in Hell
The sleazier and weirder side of Japanese cinema has a hole from when Takashi Miike went ‘all serious’. Sion Sono filled that gap, but even then he’s indulged in the more serious stuff with 2013’s the land of hope. His latest is a brilliant deviation, why don’t you play in hell sees a renegade film crew embroiled with a yakuza clan. Off the back of advance reviews and trailers, everything here looks like a triumphant return home for the weirdo auteur who gave the world the one of its most undefinable films of recent years – Love Exposure.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Summer Marvel Films are one of the givens of a new year’s release calendar. When they were set to announce a new IP a while ago they had the chance to really shock the world, I was hoping to see a Black Panther Film, and it wouldn’t be long after T’Challa that we’d see a Wonder Woman Film from DC. But Marvel went completely left field, they plumed for Guardians of the Galaxy, the one with a space racoon and talking tree. It’ll be fascinating to see what James Gunn does with the characters as Marvel is walking in completely new territory.
The Zero Theorem
It’s Terry Gilliam. It’s been a long time since the world has had a Terry Gilliam and this one went through finance in Romania of all places. As far as what it’s about goes, well there’s the trick. But thematically it’s everything one would expect from the surrealist director, 1984 overtones, bizarre set design and dream logic leaking left, right and centre. A great cast, one of the most under-rated directors in the world and an insane premise where a computer hacker’s goal to discover the reason for human existence continually finds his work interrupted thanks to the Management.
John Michael McDonagh directed the thoroughly entertaining and curiously under-rated The Guard, a comedy thriller about Gerry Boyle – a super offensive Garda – played by Brendon Glesson. In Calvary, Glesson and McDonagh are reunited. Glesson plays a priest who is threatened during a confession; after which the good-natured man of god must battle the dark forces closing in around him. In his feature debut he showed a brilliant knack at comedy-drama of a uniquely British persuasion and with a duo who works so well together there is no reason this shouldn’t continue.
Last but not least is the second film from Richard Ayoade. We like Richard Ayoade, from his directorial debut Submarine to his acting and appearances on quiz shows like ‘big fat quiz of the year’. It should be no surprise that his second film features in this list. Based on a novella by Fyodor Dostoevsky, it’ll be interesting to see what a sly comic talent like Ayoade will come out with. With Mia Wasikowska, Jesse Eisenberg and fellow IT crowd man Chris O’ Dowd in the cast it’s looking like he’ll be winning more new fans in April.
Here’s to the next 12 months and the cinematic treats it holds. Happy 2014 everybody.