Friday, January 18, 2013

Most Anticipated Films of 2013

Wow, it really seems like this year is poised for big things. The film industry is abuzz with the usual blockbusters, sequels, and remakes. I could care less about MAN OF STEEL, G.I. JOE, or THE HANGOVER III. I am more concerned with several releases scheduled for SXSW, Sundance, and Cannes. Don't get me wrong, I am still looking forward to PACIFIC RIM, THE ICEMAN, and THE WOLF OF WALL STREET. I am also awaiting some interesting documentaries such as THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, AFTER TILLER, and WHICH WAY IS THE FRONT LINE FROM HERE. It has been so hard narrowing down the films I am anticipating the most. Here is a list of films I cannot wait to see. Synopsis courtesy of


Notorious killer whale Tilikum is responsible for the deaths of three individuals, including a top killer whale trainer. Blackfish shows the sometimes devastating consequences of keeping such intelligent and sentient creatures in captivity.

Apparently, it isn't PC to call them "killer whales" anymore. Let's face it people, they are wild "killer" animals meant to live in oceans not as circus performers living in a kiddie pool. Nature is not meant to be tamed by man which is why these whales go ape shit and kill people. With the recent success of RUST AND BONE, this doc should continue to peak people's interest in Shamu & friends.


Afternoon Delight centers around a young couple (played by Josh Radnor and Kathryn Hahn) who have a young child together. The couple are beginning to become a little disillusioned by life as parents and decide to hire a nanny to help with their child. However, in a bid to spice up their life a little, they decide not to hire any ordinary nanny but instead opt to hire a stripper (Juno Temple).

Everyone is talking about Jennifer Lawrence, Bland Hathaway, and Elizabeth Olsen as actresses to watch. Juno Temple is the girl to look out for! She had fantastic roles in KABOOM and my favorite film of 2012, KILLER JOE. I know she is poised to break out any minute now. Or dare I say she could become the new indie darling a la Parker Posey?


A story centered on two vampires who have been in love for centuries. Adam (Tom Hiddleston), an underground musician reunites with his lover for centuries (Tilda Swinton) after he becomes depressed and tired with the direction human society has taken. Their love is interrupted and tested by her wild and uncontrollable little sister (Mia Wasikowska).

The latest film from the King of Cool, Jim Jarmusch. Jarmusch's films have this fluidity that I have never seem in any other filmmaking. Throw in Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton into the mix and it's a recipe for greatness. Could this be TWILIGHT for the astute?


The U.S. government recruits Machete to battle his way through Mexico in order to take down an arms dealer who looks to launch a weapon into space.

The town's most hard boiled citizens cross paths with some of its more reviled inhabitants.

I actually got to visit Austin Studios last summer when they did the casting for MACHETE KILLS and come to find out for SIN CITY as well. Rodriguez was planning to shoot these two films back to back. I'm really looking forward to both of these sequels. It's hard to believe it's been seven years since the last SIN CITY and two cast members have died since then. Even though I hate Frank Miller as a person, I still love his writing in Sin City. I've heard so many different casting rumors from Johnny Depp to Angelina Jolie. Looks like JGL will be taking over the Depp role due to scheduling conflicts. I thought it was a joke that Charlie Sheen AND Mel Gibson were also staring in MACHETE. Isn't that too much crazy for one film? MACHETE also stars my girl crush, Amber Heard. Neither of these film will make a huge splash with the mainstream world, but I guarantee you they will be cult classics in years to come. Rodriguez is a legend in his own right and a hometown hero here in Austin.


Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.

A man, temptations, celebrity, and excess.

An examination of the birth and death of the universe.

Terence Malick used to make one film every decade, now he's pumping them out faster than Uwe Boll. Granted the shit Malick took this morning was probably better than anything Uwe Boll has ever done. Malick is another local legend who continues to cast our beautiful city in his lovely films. VOYAGE was not filmed in town, but it reunites Malick and Brad Pitt in another existential film about life and death. The untitled project created quit the stir in town! There were more Hey Girl (Ryan Gosling)sightings than the ever elusive white squirrel at UT campus. And since it was filmed in various local bars and music festivals, I know about half a dozen people who are extras in this film. People who have probably never even heard of Terrence Malick...but noooo I'm not jealous at all! I did happen to have my own heart stopping celebrity sighting. Kenny and I happen to run into one of my favorite actors, Michael Fassbender just walking down South Congress drinking a Topo Chico! Let me tell you friends, he's much better looking in person. Anyhow, I am really glad to see Malick has become so active these days.


A chronicle of the double suicide of artists Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake.

I first read the story about Duncan and Blake in Vanity Fair and I was completely fascinated. How could two young, beautiful, and talented people just off themselves with no explanation? Throw in some Scientology in the mix and the story gets even more interesting. Originally, Bret Easton Ellis expressed interest in writing the script, but I think he got distracted with the upcoming bomb, THE CANYONS. So far, I've heard Ellis may still be writing the script along with Gus Van Sant with a rumor of Hey Girl starring. What really perked my ears was when I heard Gaspar Noe would be directing. The very same man who brought us IRREVERSIBLE and ENTER THE VOID! Well, we have see if this film will actually see the light of day in 2013. Either way, I am anxiously waiting.


A modern retelling of Shakespeare's classic comedy about two pairs of lovers with different takes on romance and a way with words.

Shakespeare has been done to death and I could really give a shit about MUCH ADO if Whedon's name were not attached. Whedon shot this film under the radar while working on THE AVENGERS. He said it was sort of like a distraction to take his mind off the rigors of doing such a hugely monumental film. The cast consists of the usual Whedonverse suspects including several Buffy alumni. Most importantly, it stars the ever dreamy Nathan Fillion. To be honest, I would watch anything Joss Whedon created.


After India's father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

This marks Chan-Wook Park's first English film. The man who gave us the holy trinity of vengeance films. I really hope that Park's style and precision translate well to English. My concern for this stems from last year's THE TALL MAN, a film by Pascal Laugier. Laugier directed the much talked about MARTYRS, a French film that has been regarded as one of the most disturbing films ever made. There is no doubt Laugier is of great talent, but his first crossover English film (THE TALL MAN) was a poor example of his magnitude. I hope this curse escapes Park. With the upcoming remake of Park's own OLDBOY, I really hope STOKER blows Spike Lee out of the water.


A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.

This film caused a huge stir when it was announced. The rumor was that unsimulated sex would actually be shot. Would you expect anything less from the disturbed mind of Lars Von Trier? Where else was he gonna go after those Nazi comments at Cannes? Anyhow, despite Von Trier's excentricities, I still love his films. The one thing about this film that leaves a bad taste in my mouth is Shia LaBeouf. If there ever was a sole embodyment of the word "douchebag", LeBeouf would be it. Not very long ago, he renounced mainstream cinema and decided he would only make independent films from now one. No one forced LeBeouf to make all those shitty Transformers movies! Try as you may Shia, you cannot escape your long resume of atrocious films. Even his name alone annoys me. Anyway, this film brings back Charlotte Gainsbourg who previously worked with Von Trier in MELANCHOLIA and ANTICHRIST. Her continued interest in working with Von Trier makes me think she's just as crazy as he is. Either way, I'm coming along for the ride!


In the aftermath of his girlfriend's mysterious death, a young man awakens to strange horns sprouting from his temples.

The film adaptation of the much revered book by horror novelist, Joe Hill. I loved this book when it came out along with everything else Hill writes. I have watched this production very closely in hopes that they do this book justice and I feel really optimistic about it. The lead role was originally cast with Shia LeBeouf and of course I was livid. He dropped out and Daniel Radcliffe took over. The only thing I have ever seen Radcliffe in was THE WOMAN IN BLACK. The film itself was pretty mediocre, but Radcliffe was surprisingly good. The poor guy will forever live in the shadow of Harry Potter which is unfortunate because he could be the next Leo. I hope this film at least helps in his turn as a serious dramatic actor. I think he will make a great Ig Parrish and I am just ecstatic that my girl, Juno Temple will be playing his girlfriend Merrin. Originally, I was picturing someone like Bryce Dallas Howard in the role, but I think Temple will do a fantastic job. Alexandre Aja, the genius behind HIGH TENSION and PIRANHA 3D, will be directing. Let's hope this all works out, at least for my sake!

What are you guys looking forward to?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Best Films of 2012

You know you're a huge film nerd when you create a spreadsheet of all the films you watched the entire year. However, the "Best Of" list is something I take very seriously folks. I would never want to be less than accurate in my findings. I did a lot of research this year and watched a few things I would not normally. I was pleasantly surprised in some cases, in others, I should have trusted my instincts. Alas, I will save the ranting for my "Worst Of" list that will soon follow.

I really tried to minimize the inclusion of documentaries to my list. You all know what a big fan of docs I am! Although, I did see some fantastic docs this year that just barely missed the list like JOBRIATH A.D, BONES BRIGADE, and COLOR ME OBSESSED. I thought MOONRISE KINGDOM was an incredible film that I know is already at the top of most people's list. I expect no less from Wes Anderson. I also think BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD was probably one of the best films I've seen in years and is truly underrated. I have no doubt it will be recognized come Oscar time. LIFE OF PI was another beautiful film that will surely gain the accolades it deserves. Now onto my personal list:

When FRANKENWEENIE came out, Tim Burton was already dead and buried to me as a result of the atrocious DARK SHADOWS. I was skeptical about this rendition of a beloved short film from my childhood. This film did not disappoint and it reminded me how much I once loved the crazy world of Tim Burton. I was as giddy as a little girl watching it and no film has made me feel like that in a while.

I generally despise Jack Black, but he is actually delightful in this film. There are so many references in this film that only a true Texan will understand. BERNIE is still ridiculously funny even if you were not fortunate enough to be born in the Lone Star State. Only fellow native Texan, Richard Linklater, could truly capture the quirky essence of East Texas. BERNIE is very reminiscent of a classic Christopher Guest film. What's even more interesting is that BERNIE is actually a true story.

It's no secret I am a huge fan of Gael Garcia Bernal. Until CASA, we have only seen Gael in gritty, raw, and arduous dramatic roles. Here we get to see him ham it up with his BFF Diego Luna. Personally, I was thouroughly impressed with Will Ferrel's Spanish accent. This film had me laughing nonstop. I can't believe more people saw 21 JUMP STREET than this?!

I thought I was a big fan of sushi. Turns out I'm not as well versed in the world of sushi as I thought I was. This film is not just about raw fish and the people who pay nearly $400 just to eat it. It's about passion for what you do. If everyone in the world had an ounce of Jiro's passion for his work, the world would be a better place. This film is a true testament of work ethic which sadly has become a thing of the past in recent generations.

Most of us know Bobcat Goldthwaite as various goofy characters he's played in films like POLICE ACADEMY. Recently, he has become an incredibly talented director and writer. I was totally blown away by WORLD'S GREATEST DAD and GOD BLESS AMERICA was an equally entertaining film to follow up with. I'm kind of surprised that this film escaped more controversy than it has already received. Ross said this film gave him a touch of anxiety, but that's pretty much how I feel about real life events that are currently taking place. In the wake of so many tragedies that occurred in 2012, this film may have an even bigger message than I thought.

I was familiar with the story of Ai Weiwei thanks to Chris P and his vast knowledge of the art world. This is such a compelling story about one man's love for the people of his country and a deep fervor for creating art. Ai Weiwei is a true activist who had the courage to take a stand against an oppressive government. This film should bookend EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP because it really polarizes the people who make art because it's trendy and the people who make art because they have passion.

It's really easy to diss Ben Affleck for things like DAREDEVIL, PEARL HARBOR, ARMAGEDDON, and GIGLI. I actually enjoy Ben Affleck despite his flaws. He's done some great films like DAZED AND CONFUSED and MALLRATS. He wrote GOOD WILL HUNTING and GONE BABY GONE as well as directing the latter. Therefore, I had no doubt about ARGO. I knew it was gonna be a real contender this awards season. It sounds like a cliche, but this film (based on a true story) will keep you on the edge of your seat. The script is intelligent and razor sharp. If this doesn't redeem Affleck, I don't know what will.

Everyone knows that QT is my favorite director. I knew I would love this film long before it arrived on Christmas Day. It's an homage to Spaghetti Westerns set in the Old South, pre-Civil War. The usual Tarantino dialogue we have come to enjoy is only showcased by the powerhouse that is Christoph Waltz. Seriously, this man's acting knows no limits. My favorite aspect of the film was Leo. Leo has come a long way from his dark daze as a teen heart throb. I became a Leo fan when he became Scorsese's muse. Fun fact: QT was interested in casting Leo as Col. Hans Landa in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS until he decided to cast a German actor (Waltz) in the role. I would be interested in seeing future installments of the QT/Leo duo.

Also, to jump a bit off topic here, I am so tired of this film being the example of the prominence of gun violence in America. Several interviewers have questioned Tarantino on his thoughts on recent tragedies and how they relate to his films. Here's the deal people, they don't relate to each other. It's kind of like blaming drunk driving on too much Mario Kart. Films, video games, and music do NOT convince people to go on rampages. Mental illness (among other things) is the leading cause for many of these tragedies. Do you realize it's actually easier for me to get a gun than it is to adopt a pug? There's something very wrong with that fact. Let's stop putting the blame on everything else and address the issue head on.

You either love this film or you hate it depending on your affinity for horror films. Obviously, I love the horror genre and I love this film. The whole second half of CABIN was more of a surprise for me than the whole "Bruce Willis is a ghost" thing. Not since John Hughes has someone been able to really understand young people like Joss Whedon. That white board is probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I think Whedon and Drew Goddard really breathed some new life into the horror world. This film is a smart, funny, and exciting homage to a much beloved genre.

I heard a lot of buzz about this film during SXSW 2012. It had my interest the minute I found out William Friedkin was directing. I was not prepared to be as blown away as I was. Will someone give the Texas T-Rex an Oscar already? KILLER JOE is by far one of my favorite films of the last decade.

There you have it folk, my picks of 2012! What were your favorite films of last year?