Spring film preview 2009

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Take a peek at what the Time Out Film team are looking forward to in the new year with our spring film preview

Che: Parts 1

Released January 1 (Part 1), February 20 (Part 2)The pitch Mammoth, two-part epic detailing major episodes in the life of the Argentinian revolutionary who’s brought to life by an extraordinary, multi-dimensional performance by Benicio Del Toro. The first chapter looks at his part in the Cuban revolution of 1956, then the second looks at his unsuccessful attempt in 1965-66 to bring revolution to Bolivia.Why we’re excited Ever the un-pindownable maverick, Steven Soderbergh combines the formal audaciousness of his low-key indie experiments with the scope and sheen of his Hollywood comedies to produce, arguably, the films that could well be seen as the centrepiece of his illustrious career.What could go wrong It’s been split into two parts as some may have found the full four-hour epic a little heavy going. However, we're pretty sure there will be the opportunity to see the film in all its glory, and if you want our advice, it's the best way to see it.

The Wrestler

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Released January 16 The pitch After navel-gazing techno dud, ‘The Fountain’, Darren Aronofsky returns with a satisfying and successful change of directorial tack in this down home heart-tugger about a past-it wrestler played by Mickey Rourke. Won the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival. Why we’re excited Those who have accused Aronofsky of being all style and no substance with his first two films ‘Pi’ and ‘Requiem for a Dream’ will be hugely wrong-footed by this low-key and compassionately drawn character piece.What could go wrong You might see Rourke’s name on the poster and be reminded of… well, pretty much everything since ‘Angel Heart’.
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Milk

Released January 23 The pitch Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay elected official, in a film depicting his struggle against institutional hatred to become City Supervisor in San Francisco and his subsequent assassination. Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and Diego Luna play the men who help or hinder Harvey along the way.Why we’re excited It’s an extraordinary real-life tale from a time in American history where music, fashion and civil rights all came together to challenge the status quo. It’s directed by the great Gus van Sant, back on crowd-pleasing form. And Penn’s performance has ‘Oscar’ written all over it.What could go wrong It may be hard to drag the casual cinemagoer to a gay biopic with such an uninspiring title.

Rachel Getting Married

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Released January 23The pitch Anne Hathaway leads a riotous ensemble cast in Jonathan Demme’s celebrated return to fiction filmmaking after a long spell in documentary. Hathaway plays Kym, a recovering pill addict who takes a break from rehab to attend her sister’s wedding, and gets caught up in a web of family dysfunction.Why we’re excited Demme’s loose, improvisational style combines documentary and fiction techniques to create something genuinely fresh and surprising. The cast includes a diverse slate of fine musicians, from Fab Five Freddy to Robyn Hitchcock. What could go wrong Audiences may not warm to Hathaway’s brittle, temperamental central character, or Demme’s experimental techniques. More fool them.
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Tokyo Sonata

Released January 30The pitch Japanese horror maestro Kiyoshi Kurosawa (‘Pulse’, ‘Bright Future’) turns to existential family drama with remarkable results. Why we’re excited The film was the winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and has received great reviews since its premiere screening. What could go wrong The film, which sees a man made redundant from his comfortable salaryman job and embark on a long and arduous journey for work – a little like a Japanese riff on ‘The Bicycle Thieves’ – may be a little tough going in this current economic climate.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona

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Released February 6The pitch Woody’s back! The youngest septuagenarian in cinema delivers yet another wise, witty character comedy, this time focusing on a love triangle between Javier Bardem’s stormy painter and rival women Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz.Why we’re excited Advance word has been nothing short of laudatory, claiming ‘Vicky’ as a sparkling return to form after the tragedy (in every sense) that was ‘Cassandra’s Dream’.What could go wrong We’ve heard the comeback rumours before, and more often than not it’s all hype. But then again, average Woody Allen is more enjoyable than most directors’ best efforts.
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Wendy and Lucy

Released February 6The pitch After last year’s perfectly formed indie gem, ‘Old Joy’, director Kelly Reichardt returns with an even more understated, topical and picturesque enquiry into aging gracefully against the bucolic backdrop of an increasingly suburbanised American Midwest. Why we’re excited Well, we’re excited because we’ve seen the film and, if there’s just a modicum of justice in the cold, hard world, Michelle Williams will earn an Oscar nomination for her achingly tender and detailed turn as the idealistic traveller Wendy who is on a quest to find her dog, Lucy. What could go wrong The only thing that could go wrong is if lots of people don’t go and see this wonderful film.

Three Monkeys

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Released February 13The pitch Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan returns after 2006’s superb psychodrama ‘Climates’ with a film that strays into genre territory – the crime thriller, to be exact – but does so with the director’s customary eye for character nuance and one-on-one stand-offs. Why we’re excited Because having already made two brilliant films in 2002’s ‘Uzak’ and the aforementioned ‘Climates’, anything that Ceylan puts his name to is cause for excitement. What could go wrong Don’t ask us how, but there could be a backlash: in some critical quarters, Ceylan has been branded an Antonioni rip-off artist; a crackpot hypothesis that has been slowly gaining supporters and credence.
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Watchmen

Released March 6The pitch Alan Moore’s comic-book bible comes to the big screen at long last, ending two decades of rewrites, recasting and revolving-door directors. It deals with a crew of down-at-heel ex-superheroes who re-team to fight evil within their own ranks.Why we’re excited The book is nothing short of a masterpiece, and early trailers certainly get the iconic look right. Advance online whisperings have been overwhelmingly positive.What could go wrong Two words: Zack Snyder. The man has yet to make a movie with any depth, intelligence or visual artistry.

The Box

Released April 10The pitch ‘Donnie Darko’ director Richard Kelly goes for multiplex dollars with an adaptation of Richard Matheson’s creepy short story ‘Button, Button’, casting Cameron Diaz and James Marsden as the couple who discover a box which dispenses untold wealth at the cost of a single human life.Why we’re excited Kelly’s a writer-director with visual flair and a great sense of character – his failings have, to date, been largely narrative. Adapting a classic short story should reign in his more indulgent tendencies.What could go wrong ‘Southland Tales’, Kelly’s sophomore feature, was such a tectonic failure that one is forced to question his creative judgement.

Author: David Jenkins, Tom Huddleston


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