22 Films to look out for in 2011 – Page 3
Tom Huddleston and David Jenkins count down the 22 titles they're most eager to catch in 2011
15. Your HighnessDirector: David Gordon Green
The director – David Gordon Green – and two of the stars – James Franco and Danny McBride – of 2008’s bonkers, bong-smoking action comedy ‘Pineapple Express’ reunite for this loopy knockabout cod-medieval romp. What’s more remarkable is that they’ve managed to drag the Oscar-friendly, serious-thespy likes of Natalie Portman, Damian Lewis and Toby Jones into their frankly idiotic-sounding fantasy freakout. Franco plays Fabious, a young prince whose bride-to-be is kidnapped by dark forces, sending him on a quest to rescue her accompanied by his weed-addled layabout brother Thadeous (McBride). Sure, it’s basically ‘Conan the Barbarian’ meets ‘Up in Smoke’, but on the other hand, brilliant, it’s ‘Conan the Barbarian’ meets ‘Up in Smoke’!
Watch the trailer here
16. Cowboys and AliensDirector: Jon FavreauThe title may sound like a straight-to-DVD animated misfire, but there’s enough talent involved here to put those fears to bed. For starters, it’s directed by Jon Favreau, whose sterling action work on ‘Iron Man’ almost made us forget he used to be that guy from ‘Swingers’. The script was penned by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzmann, whose script for ‘Star Trek’ rebirthed a franchise in the finest imagineable style (never mind they also wrote ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’). And the cast is just a dream: not only does it feature James Bond squaring off with Indiana Jones, but lower down the list we find names like Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown and Keith Carradine, explosive scenery-chewers who should give even Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig a run for their money. So even if it turns out to be just a bunch of grizzled outlaws blasting their six-shooters at some flashing lights in the sky, we don’t really see how this one can fail.
17. The Rum DiaryDirector: Bruce Robinson
Another long-gestating pet project, this time for writer-director Bruce Robinson (‘Withnail and I’) and star Johnny Depp, whose friendship with the late troublemaker Hunter S Thompson led to this adaptation of one of Thompson’s best-loved works. Depp plays Paul Kemp, a thinly disguised surrogate for the author, whose remote rum-soaked existence writing for a Caribbean news outlet is constantly disturbed by the maniac Americans he works with. First mooted for Depp in 2000 (a fiasco which led Thompson to describe the filmmaking process as a ‘waterhead fuckaround’, whatever that means), the film came into focus a few years back when Robinson, who’d been on extended hiatus himself since ‘Jennifer 8’ in 1992, jumped on board to write the screenplay. And its hard to imagine a better suited moviemaking trio: if Kemp has half the wit of Withnail, the rage of Raoul Duke or the poise of Jack Sparrow, we’re onto a winner.
18. Tintin and the Secret of the UnicornDirector: Steven SpielbergYou wait three years for a new Steven Spielberg movie, then two come along at once… Slightly adapting his usual twofer trick (one serious, one silly, a la ‘Schindler’s List’ and ‘Jurassic Park’), Spielberg returns with one fun kids movie, ‘Tintin and the Secret of the Unicorn’, and one slightly-less-fun-but-probably-more-Oscar-worthy kids movie, ‘War Horse’. As has been widely reported, Tintin marks the first collaboration between Spielberg and his antipodean counterpart Peter Jackson, in a CG-animated version of Hergé’s pre-war teen adventure series. Sure, the animated style may be a tad queasy to behold, but with this much talent involved (we should also mention writers Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish and voice stars Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell and Simon Pegg), we feel our plucky, be-quiffed hero is in pretty good hands.
19. War Horse
Director: Steven Spielberg
‘War Horse’, by contrast, is a more sombre affair: adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s bestselling novel, it tells the tale of a boy who heads to the Flanders trenches in 1915 to rescue his beloved nag. With an extraordinary cast of British character actors including David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Peter Mullan and Tom Hiddleston, this looks like a shoo-in for Spielberg, fusing the awe-struck child’s eye majesty of his finest ’80s work with the darker, more adult stateliness of his recent Oscar-friendly heavy-hitters. In fact, the Spielberg film it most obviously resembles is ‘Empire of the Sun’: if it’s half as good as that lost classic, we’ll be happy.
20. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpyDirector: Tomas Alfredson
Stepping into a role previously inhabited by Alec Guiness is a bold move, as Ewan MacGregor found out to his dismay. So good luck to Gary Oldman, who this year steps into those shambling shoes to play iconic spymaster George Smiley in ‘Let the Right One In’ director Tomas Alfredson’s fresh take on John Le Carre’s Cold War classic. Backed by a mighty cast including Colin Firth, Kathy Burke, Stephen Graham, Mark Strong an, um, Trigger from ‘Only Fools and Horses’, Oldman will have to hold back on the scenery-chomping if he wants to measure up to old Alec. In a recent Time Out interview, Colin Firth attempted to put those fears to rest: ‘Guiness was an incredible genius, but I think Gary’s made it absolutely his own,’ he said. ‘It’s a very gentle and compelling performance.’ Colin, we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
21. ShameDirector: Steve McQueen
For a long while, many thought that artist Steve McQueen was planning to follow up ‘Hunger’, his highly accomplished and artful portrait of IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands, with a film about Nigerian afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti starring Chiwetel Ejiofor. But it recently came to light that he’s working again with the star of that world-beating debut, Michael Fassbender, in this contemporary drama about a thirtysomething New Yorker whose sex life is thrown into disarray when his young sister, Carey Mulligan, moves in with him. To be frank, it doesn’t sound like the hard-edged and challenging film we may have expected from McQueen, but we shall of course reserve any judgement for when the film is released. It starts shooting in January, so we may have to hang tight until the end of the year to lay our eager eyes on it.
22. HannaDirector: Joe Wright
Brit golden-boy Joe Wright moves away from the handsome prestige trappings of ‘Atonement’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to try his hand at the time-honoured high concept action thriller. ‘Hanna’ stars Saoirse Ronan as a teenage assassin who’s holed up in a Finnish wasteland with her father/teacher, played by Eric Banna. When they notify the CIA of their whereabouts, Cate Blanchett’s bigwig comes down on them like a tonne of bricks, suggesting there may be more to Hanna than just a simple pre-teen killing machine. The film is scheduled for an April 11 release in the US and UK, with no festival screenings announced as of this date.
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Author: Tom Huddleston & David Jenkins
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