And we’re back, ready to take the new year by storm. Here again is our latest attempt to help you, our beloved readers, get to know us, your Daily Grindhouse staffers and contributors, a little better. Every week or so, we’ll pose and answer a big important movie-type question. Please feel free to join us in the comments with your own two cents and a bag of chips. So here’s this week’s question, an ambitious three-parter:
Which movies are you most eagerly awaiting in 2015, which are you most dreading, and which are you hoping can surprise you?
SPECTRE. STAR WARS. AVENGERS 2. Dreading nothing. I hope the three I named surprise the crap out of me in all the good ways. It’s going to be an amazing year.
I’m going to agree with SPECTRE and AGE OF ULTRON, and add THE HATEFUL EIGHT and JUPITER ASCENDING.
Dreading? Whatever Adam Sandler does next [That’d be THE COBBLER, PIXELS, and HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2; busy year! — ed.], but it’s really a moot point, because if I’m dreading it, I ain’t seeing it.
Hoping they will pleasantly surprise me: THE FORCE AWAKENS and ANT-MAN.
And really looking forward to the smaller pictures that just aren’t on the radar yet, because they’re being drowned out by the above movies. Those are often pleasant surprises.
It’s going to be a loooong wait for some of the stuff I’m really dying to see. CRIMSON PEAK and THE HATEFUL EIGHT are slated for October and November 2015, respectively. Scorsese’s adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s SILENCE, which he’s been wanting to make for decades (and I’ve been wanting to see him make for decades), is supposedly set to be released before 2015 is out but it’s going to probably be November or December at the earliest.
That said, I’m super jazzed for JUPITER ASCENDING, opening in February. I’m pretty much on board with the Wachowskis for life after SPEED RACER and CLOUD ATLAS, and this looks like another ridiculously ambitious epic that most people probably won’t get at all. Maybe not this time, though! They’re due for another huge hit already. Fingers crossed on this one.
There are a lot of interesting filmmakers hopefully getting new films out this year: Alejandro Amenabar (REGRESSION), Rick Alverson (ENTERTAINMENT), Noah Baumbach (MISTRESS AMERICA), Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead (SPRING), Andrew Bujalski (RESULTS), Derek Cianfrance (THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS), Todd Haynes (CAROL), Jeremy Saulnier (GREEN ROOM), Ben Wheatley (HIGH RISE), Thomas Vinterberg (FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD), Guillermo del Toro (CRIMSON PEAK), Jon M. Chu (JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS), Gus Van Sant (SEA OF TREES), Brad Bird (TOMORROWLAND), Yorgos Lanthimos (THE LOBSTER), etc. etc.
The one thing that I’m probably most excited about that might not happen this year is the new film from Miguel Gomes, who directed last year’s amazing TABU. His new film, ARABIAN NIGHTS, reportedly has a current running time of about 7 hours 30 minutes. I’m totally on board with anything Gomes does, but if the final version is anywhere near as ambitious as that suggests, it could be one for the history books.
Not really dreading anything. Really curious to see what happens with FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. I’d love it to be huge and kick off a new wave of major-studio sex films, but I’m not holding my breath on that. Seems more likely we’ll just get a ton of direct-to-home video knock-offs for a few months and then back to business as usual.
The movie I’m most eagerly awaiting is the one that’s not even on my radar yet. Every year, some awesome little movie comes out of a film festival like Sundance or Toronto. No one knew about it going in, but it gets good buzz, is acquired and released, and then people see how great it is. I’m talking about 2015’s equivalent of WHIPLASH. That’s the film I can’t wait to discover. As for what I’m dreading….well, Peter Jackson’s done with those boring-ass HOBBIT pictures, right? So, I guess there’s nothing obvious on my radar.
I could care less about AVENGERS 2 — why not just call it “more of the same” and be done with it? — but I’m very much looking forward to seeing what J.J. Abrams does with STAR WARS and to find out whether or not JUPITER ASCENDING is as big a confusing clusterfuck as everyone claims CLOUD ATLAS was even though it wasn’t. Oh, and don’t we have a new Michael Mann flick coming out right away this year? Why, yes we do.
As a lifelong Bond fan, SPECTRE can’t get here soon enough for me. Crossing my fingers the filmmakers can pull off a fight scene between Daniel Craig and David Bautista that rivals the great 007 punch-ups from the past when Bond was pitted against such adversaries as Red Grant, Oddjob, Jaws etc. As for dread, anything Michael Bay throws at us in 2015 will make that list. And I’m really hoping the new STAR WARS gets the job done. Like most, that series has left had a stale taste in my mouth since 1999. Really hope Abrams comes through.
I’ve seen a bunch of these 2015 lists and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why more people aren’t excited for THE LAST WITCH HUNTER. On the one hand, you have the director of THE CRAZIES, one of the better horror remakes of the last decade; on the other hand, you have mother-flippin’ Vin Diesel, voice of giant robots and killer trees, and star of one of the better contemporary action franchises.
I’m actually a pretty big fan of Diesel as an actor, not just as a walking action figure. He’s been great in films as diverse as BOILER ROOM and FIND ME GUILTY, and beneath that scowl and booming bass lies the beating heart of a fanboy. How many other actors have breathed life into a sci-fi/fantasy passion project like 2013’s RIDDICK? Who else flaunts his love of Dungeons and Dragons in interviews and dances to Beyoncé just to make the world a better place? He’s a goddamn national treasure and we need to appreciate him while he’s still young enough to do action films.
So yeah, sign me up for a movie about an immortal witch hunter and more of the blend of action and fantasy that Diesel does so well. And for those of you who may doubt the Diesel, remember that this movie also features Elijah Wood in a supporting role, and what was the last time he made a genre picture that didn’t excel in either concept or execution? Both actors are known for pursuing roles in genres that they find interesting. It’s a more intriguing match-up than you’d guess on paper.
Oh, and there’s also Rose Leslie of Game Of Thrones fame. Man, the line readings in this film are going to be husky.
Forget AVENGERS 2 and STAR WARS… the franchise return I’m most excited for is MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, which I can only hope brings vehicular combat to a new level of inspired insanity with George Miller at the helm. Also, despite the critical and commercial savaging of EXODUS, I’m awfully curious about Ridley Scott’s adaptation of THE MARTIAN. He certainly has some tremendous source material to work from. I’m also extremely interested in SNOWTOWN director Justin Kurzel’s adaptation of MACBETH with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard. Could be something special. And while I’m skeptical about Bill Condon’s upcoming ‘aged Sherlock Holmes’ film [MR. HOLMES], I’m very excited to see Ian McKellen take a stab at the character. But, like Mike McGranaghan, it’s the unknown films that I get most excited about, and I can’t wait to see what million dollar wonder puts the big-budget competition to shame this year.
For me, 2015 so far appears to be a year book-ended by two films I can’t imagine I won’t love – BLACKHAT in January (i.e. one more day!) and THE HATEFUL EIGHT in December. As for what happens in between those two blessed totem-poles, it’s all up in the air.
In some ways, 2015 looks to be one of the worst years on record, as far as abundance of sequels and reboots, and paucity of originality, are concerned. It’s not that these things can’t be good, and in the specific cases of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON and MAD MAX: FURY ROAD I very much hope they are, but let’s be honest, scientifically speaking the chances aren’t good.
Here’s a short list of some of the not-so-new ideas coming your way in 2015:
TAKEN 3, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2, FURIOUS 7, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 5, JURASSIC WORLD, TERMINATOR: GENISYS, MINIONS, PAN, POLTERGEIST, POINT BREAK, THE TRANSPORTER LEGACY, LONDON HAS FALLEN, VACATION, FRIDAY THE 13th, AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING, THE FANTASTIC FOUR, THE WEDDING RINGER, PITCH PERFECT 2, SINISTER 2, INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 6, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2, STAR WARS 7, WOODY ALLEN 51, JAMES BOND 26, THE HUNGER GAMES 3 PART 2, TED 2, PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2, and even CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON 2 and motherfuck THE SECOND BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. When even the arthouse shit is repeating itself, things are looking dire.
Really, the fact that we’ve got a Kevin James movie and a Seth McFarlane movie coming out that close to each other is as bad for the chemical composition of the universe as crossing the streams would be. The beasts of the apocalypse is never too far away.
Luckily, as many upcoming movies that have me feeling cautious at best, there are just as many movies that have me feeling curious or better. Some of them are legitimately promising, some are so bizarre they just might work, and a couple look so insanely bad they just plain have to be interesting somehow.
Here’s what’s on my radar at the moment. You decide which ones go in which categories.
AZTEC WARRIOR : In what is — believe it or not — his first starring role in a long career of great character roles, Luis Guzmán stars as a professional wrestler who comes out of retirement. The director is Scott Sanders (BLACK DYNAMITE).
BIG GAME : The follow-up movie from RARE EXPORTS director Jalmari Helander, BIG GAME stars Samuel L, Jackson as the President Of The United States, who is helped out by a teenaged camper when Air Force One goes down in a forest.
BONE TOMAHAWK : The less high-profile Western of the two released this year starring Kurt Russell, this one finds Kurt fighting CHUDs in the Old West. Holy shit.
CRIMSON PEAK : It’s a Guillermo Del Toro movie, which means no matter the subject, I’m going to feel major enthusiasm tempered with minor caution. Here’s my PACIFIC RIM review, which sums these feelings up as well as I can do. Few directors can bring as much beauty and majesty to genre outings, but with Del Toro there can come the peril of miscastings. The single worst actor in PACIFIC RIM is on board for CRIMSON PEAK, for example. But that said, any movie that has the ability to capture Jessica Chastain looking this regally eerie has earned my anticipation.
DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS : From what I can tell, it’s got the same premise as MIDNIGHT RUN, with Reese Witherspoon in the De Niro role and Sofía Vergara as the Charles Grodin. There’s no reason to expect this to be any good otherwise, but sometimes wacked-out-but-brilliant casting carries the day.
DRAGON BLADE : Finally, Jackie Chan and John Cusack in the same action movie. Add Adrien Brody and a Han Dynasty setting and I have no idea what the fuck is going on here. And normally I like that.
THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY : This is the next movie from the guy who made BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, which I thought was one of the best horror movies of 2013. The title definitely sounds like the name of a comedy character played by either Will Ferrell or Nick Offerman, but I don’t see how that’s a bad thing.
ESCOBAR: PARADISE LOST : IMDb says, “In Colombia, a young surfer meets the woman of his dreams — and then he meets her uncle, Pablo Escobar.” WHAT. WHAT?!? Josh Hutcherson from THE HUNGER GAMES plays the surfer and Benicio Del Toro plays Escobar. It’s MEET THE PARENTS meets BLOW! What can possibly go right?
EVERLY : Salma Hayek finally gets her long-deserved Liam Neeson action-hero movie role! From what I understand, all of the battles are set in just one room. It’s an interesting challenge. Let’s see if they pull it off.
GREEN ROOM : Variety says, “The thriller centers around a punk rock band that ends up trapped in a secluded venue after witnessing a horrific act of violence. The band members eventually face off against Patrick Stewart and his gang of white power skinheads.” This is the next movie from Jeremy Saulnier, whose previous movie was BLUE RUIN, which means I’d watch his next movie no matter what it was about.
IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE : Indie horror filmmaker Ti West is switching up genres for his new movie, which is set in the Old West. That’s right, it’s a Ti Western. Ethan Hawke and John Travolta star, which at this point could mean just about anything.
IN THE HEART OF THE SEA : I’ve never been this excited for a Ron Howard movie. I’m not sure I’ve ever been excited for a Ron Howard movie, but that’s neither here nor there. No offense. If THE DA VINCI CODE had a whale attacking a wooden ship in a fit of rage, I’d have seen that shit too.
JUPITER ASCENDING : I liked THE MATRIX just fine, but it always struck me as a bit of a pose. The Wachowskis really won me over when they switched over to heart-on-sleeve sincerity, maximized in 2012’s CLOUD ATLAS. This looks like more of the same, but arguably even weirder, which makes me even more down.
KIDNAP : IMDb says, “A mother stops at nothing to recover her kidnapped son.” Halle Berry plays the movie. It’s the Halle Berry version of TAKEN. Fuck yes I’d see that.
THE LAST WITCH HUNTER : For all the reasons my man enumerated above, and also because I hope it’s about Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood teaming up to find out exactly what “colder than a witch’s tit” is supposed to mean.
LEGEND : Tom Hardy plays identical-twin gangsters — shocking dual-role!! — in the new Brian Helgeland film.
MANGLEHORN : David Gordon Green directs Al Pacino. Absolutely. Yes.
MASTERMINDS : A heist comedy with a cast list including Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, and Jason Sudeikis sounds promising but not automatically a slam-dunk. What interests me most is that the script was co-written by Jody Hill and Danny McBride, among others. Have I told you lately that Eastbound & Down is maybe the greatest thing to ever happen on television that doesn’t involve Muppets?
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL : Region-specific auteur Jeff Nichols (SHOTGUN STORIES, TAKE SHELTER, MUD) is three for three so far, and now he’s returning with his first science-fiction movie. And I’m all about it.
PADDINGTON : When horror movies let you down, you can always rely on fucked-up-looking kids’ movies to freak you out. This year’s most promising nightmare is PADDINGTON. In this still, you can see Paddington getting rid of his trademark coat in front of children, which is definitely a felony in the United States. Not sure about the laws in Great Britain but would assume they’re similar.
QUEEN OF THE DESERT : This is the new Werner Herzog movie and not, as far as I know, anything to do with the beloved Australian cult film THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT. Although if Werner wants to remake that one, BAD LIEUTENANT style, I would support that decision.
THE REVENANT : Having heard me across the world belly-aching about how much BIRDMAN was ponderous and pompous, Alejandro González Iñárritu has endeavored to win me back by making a follow-up where Leonardo DiCaprio is mauled by a bear. (Is it Paddington?)
RUN ALL NIGHT : Liam Neeson reteams with the director of NON-STOP in order to face off against Ed Harris. Sold.
SAN ANDREAS : 2014’s POMPEII aside, we don’t get that many really good disaster movies these days. This probably won’t be any exception, but it does feature True Detective‘s Alexandra Daddario as the daughter of wrestling’s The Rock, with Paul Giamatti sputtering around in there somewhere. The director of SAN ANDREAS previously made the CATS AND DOGS sequel, THE RETURN OF KITTY GALORE, which I am as surprised as anyone to find out that I had reviewed.
SON OF A GUN : Ever since those STAR WARS prequels it seems, Ewan McGregor has somehow become one of the world’s most curiously under-utilized actors over the last decade. All I know about SON OF A GUN is that it’s a crime thriller where McGregor plays the heavy, which is all the interesting I need to get mobilized. Fellow Ewan fans: Also look for him this year as Jesus H. Christ in LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT.
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON : This is the NWA movie, from F. Gary Gray, director of FRIDAY. Paul Giamatti is playing Jerry Heller, NWA’s manager. Matthew Libatique is shooting the pictures. This project could end up any which way, but I can’t see it being disinteresting. I normally hate the biopic genre but I will watch every goddamn last hip-hop biopic they put out.
TALES OF HALLOWEEN : This is a horror anthology with segments from nearly a dozen directors, one of whom being Neil Marshall, who made THE DESCENT. That means it’s worth following.
TRAINWRECK : Judd Apatow’s Amy Schumer movie. Or Amy Schumer’s Judd Apatow movie. Either way, this thing has more comedians in it than TOP FIVE did. It’s like a Noah’s Ark full of comedians. Still no word on the storyline, but check out the names in this project. Chances are good it’s going to be funny even if it happens by accident.
TRIPLE NINE : John Hillcoat (THE PROPOSITION, THE ROAD, LAWLESS) does a modern-day crime film.
WILD CARD : The fabled screenwriter William Goldman wrote this Jason Statham movie which co-stars Sofía Vergara and a bunch of other randos. Simon West (CON AIR) is directing. It’ll have to be a mess, but hopes are high it can be a splendid mess.
Z FOR ZACHARIAH : Margot Robbie is at the middle of a post-apocalyptic love triangle in the latest film from the director of the ethically-fraught COMPLIANCE.
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