Friday, 24 January 2014

Cinematic Lamentations

Though not one to dwell on negativity, I am feeling a bit put out. The beginning of 2014 has seen a significant rise in "decent" films and cinematic endeavours, and here I am, in the middle of the North Sea, with no access to any of it! And not just film, no indeed: television has decided to produce some wonderful series, and the West End is awash in Shakespeare. Typical.

I can't really complain, as I'm having a jolly adventure here...but film has always been an avid interest of mine, and when the line up came out for "What to expect in 2014", well, I could hardly believe my eyes. We've seen some great things come out of cinema the last few years, and television as well, but never have I seen such an incredible list for the first few months of a year.
(If film isn't really your thing, please feel free to skip ahead. But...I would implore you to read on - you might find something of interest!)

A section of the line up:

JANUARY

The Best Offer - starring Geoffrey Rush; the story is about an antiques dealer (Rush) who becomes obsessed with an heiress who has asked him to evaluate some rare paintings she owns. The trailer looks very mysterious, and has an array of familiar faces.

The Railway Man - Colin Firth stars in this true story of a victim of the WWII "Death Railway" in Burma. It will likely be compared to Bridge Over the River Kwai, but in my opinion it stands apart. The main character is faced with a chance to meet his Japanese torturer, so while very much a historical drama, this will no doubt be a captivating story. A three tissue film, I should think.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - based on the character in Tom Clancy novels, starring Chris Pine. (Not sure I can see him as anything but Captain Kirk now...). I don't think this particular film is based on a Clancy book, unlike the Harrison Ford films. Pine will be the fourth actor to play Jack Ryan, following Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. I'm interested in this film, because 1) I do love a good action flick, 2) it's about spies and hankers back to the Cold War, and 3) surprisingly enough, it's directed by Kenneth Branagh. Yes... I'm curious! (Plus it has Kevin Costner alongside Pine!)

Inside Llewyn Davies - about a young folk singer in 1960s Greenwich Village, New York, that echoes strongly of Dylan. It's directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, with an incredible soundtrack, and a stellar cast. I go rather weak at the knees at the music - Marcus Mumford, Dave Van Ronk, Chris Thile, and Oscar Issac (Davies) who gives them all a run for their money. I'm sceptical because I'm not usually a fan of the Coen brothers...however, the music is drawing me in, and I will certainly see it.

And the television channel, Sky Atlantic, is releasing the mini-series, Fleming, at the end of the month. About Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, obviously. Dominic Cooper stars amongst a brilliant cast, and I'm hopeful! Television has been looking good so far this month! We've seen the return of Nordic Noir delight, The Bridge, as well as Call the Midwife, and The Bletchley Circle.

FEBRUARY

(This is the month where things really begin to heat up!)

The Invisible Woman - Ah, the wonderfully talented and silk voiced, Ralph Finnes (pronounced the old fashioned way, "Rafe," by the way). Not only is the clever man directing, he is starring as Charles Dickens. I go all a-flutter when I see the trailer as it looks beautiful. Creatively shot, interesting story line (Dickens had a secret young mistress apparently, the scoundrel), and lovely costumes. Cannot wait!

Winter's Tale - this film, starring Colin Farrell and Russell Crowe is being released in the US on Valentine's Day, which leads me to believe it will be rather soppy. But then again, who doesn't love a bit of romance and fairy tale? It also stars the ill-fated Sybil from Downton Abbey (Jessica Brown-Findlay). The trailer itself is somewhat confusing - it's set in a mythical New York, and a burglar falls in love with a young lady who is dying. I think. Anyway, I am intrigued. It's based on a book by Mark Helprin.

The Monuments Men - First off, they filmed part of this near Cambridge, England! It was in the papers and everything: "Matt Damon and George Clooney come to Cambridge" - (only slightly less exciting than when the Duke and Duchess visited...). It's about a group of men (true story, by the way) who have been tasked with saving Europe's art from the Nazi's and returning them to their rightful place. Art, WWII, great cast - I'm already sold.  

MARCH

The Grand Budapest Hotel - This is the one I'm waiting for. I think it will be even better than Wes Andersen's last, and it has a most amazing cast. With, guess who - (yes, You-Know-Who!) - Ralph Finnes, as the lead. He really has been a busy bee. This film looks amazing on so many points - cast, obviously; hilarity and great one liners; beautifully shot; and the ever intriguing characters Wes Andersen is truly brilliant at creating.

Some other films that are coming out this year that look interesting are, Osage County (Oscar nomination for Meryl Streep, surely); Labor Day (Kate Winslet being her usual talented self, though stuck in another mother role); Grace of Monaco (Nicole Kidman in the starring role);
And the one I am most impatient for (they haven't even given us a release date!?) is The Imitation Game - starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. All about Bletchley Park and the WWII codebreakers, with Turning at its head. Not only historically fascinating, but it has the lovely Benedict looking dishy in braces (suspenders), and riding a bicycle in a rather fetching grey suit.

So, as you can see - a tremendous line up, and that's only the first three months of the year! Of course, the films might be horrible, but I somewhat doubt it. I'm chafing at the bit because my old independent cinema in Cambridge is having special events and themed nights galore to celebrate all this wonderful art.

For me, going to the cinema is nothing to do with popcorn or best mates or a night out; no, for me it is about celebrating an artform where it was intended. Bring down the lights, turn up the sound, roll the projector - bliss. Go when it is quiet and cheaper (afternoons or Monday evenings); go to your local, independent cinemas (they usually serve beer, always a plus); support cinema and film - don't just settle for downloading; on the big screen is where film comes to life after all.