We Can’t Wait

Over at Film Experience, I’ve been having a conversation about films I’m most excited to see this coming year. It turns out that all of my favorite directors (the ones that are alive) seem to be releasing films in 2009. Kiarostami, Haneke, Woody Allen, Lars von Trier, Quentin Tarantino, Julie Taymor, Jane Campion, Wes Anderson, Terrence Malick, Terry Gilliam, Spike Jonze, Sam Raimi, Michel Gondry, etc. etc.

Justin Long and Zooey Deschanel are in about 500 movies coming out next year, which I think is pretty great. Especially the Deschanel part. Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox is finally coming out, which I’m really curious to see. It’s been on imdb for so long now.

Julie Taymor is doing another Shakespeare adaptation (The Tempest)…I’m hoping along the lines of Titus. Taymor is so excellent with visuals, but I would rather she work with time honored material, and The Tempest is one of my favorites. Maybe she’ll do it like the production I once saw that only had three actors, one of the males playing all of the female characters, even when they had to communicate with each other. This one supposedly changes Prospero into Prospera…so that sounds awesome.

Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaul are finally playing brothers in Brothers. Cold Souls, 500 Days of Summer, World’s Greatest Dad, and An Education are all Sundance films that got great reviews from Scott and I coming out this year. Cormac McArthy’s The Road is coming up. Larry David is in the new Woody Allen movie…and on and on.

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There are so many things to be excited about. Check out Film Experience starting tomorrow for some really funny jokes I made about it. Oh yeah, and Joe, JA, and Fox are making some good (better) ones too!

15 Comments

Filed under Whitney

15 responses to “We Can’t Wait

  1. brian

    for some reason, i can’t get excited for new movies (unless it’s the lynch/jodorowsky project i heard about and, of course, the new lars von trier). i’m not exactly sure why that is. i have a lot of ideas though:

    1. the mandatory 2 hour length for all new, serious (i use that word ironically) films (that word is also used as a joke). unless you make a film that is actually interesting for 2 plus hours, you’re just torturing us (me).

    2. the increasing fetishization (which might not be a word, so obviously i’m using it as a joke) of all things actor. i know that the star system has existed for a million years, but it seems to be reaching absurd heights. acting is, in my opinion, the most overrated aspect of film. and often, with the idea of coherent or compelling narratives, the only criteria used to judge if a film is good or bad. but movies aren’t books. narratives aren’t necessary. actors aren’t even necessary. in general, the focus on acting limits the possibilities of films.

    3. i can’t stand movie theaters. i already (over)pay to see a movie and then am forced to sit through twenty minutes of commercials before the film even starts. and increasingly the films are made as extended commercials — selling a look, a lifestyle, a product — disguised as a film.

    4. i’m too close in time to the movies. i have no problem sitting through almost anything from the 50s. even the bad stuff is hilarious. but i often wonder, if i was watching some movie made now 50 years in the future would i give it more of a chance? would i be able to pick up on all the (unintentional jokes)? would i find today’s style of acting funny and interesting? (but then i remember that reason number 1 (see above) why i can sit through melodramas and noirs from the 40s and 50s while giving no chance to movies being produced today. i mean noirs from then rarely even last 90 minutes.)

    5. finally, why are (most) filmmakers so nostalgic? inland empire has opened the door to the production of totally new and radical films styles precisely because it shows how filming digitally changes the meaning of film. i mean, this shift to digital will be as big (or bigger) than the early shifts from silent to sound and black and white to color. but so many contemporary filmmakers are resistant to the change and keep trying to go back to the good old days (which i think they think of as the 70s, but the 70s sucked (i’m talking of american films)).

    but i’m probably being too hard on the new stuff.

  2. I can understand that prospective, I’m often more skeptical of new films, but I think it has a lot to do with saturation. Kind of like the difference between liking The Who now and liking The Who in the 70s.

    1. It seems like more serious movies ever try to be longer. Like Griffith’s work, or Lawrence of Arabia or The Red Shoes. I personally like longer films…but you’re right. All the films now days seem to be fighting for Oscars with their length. Something like Benjamin Button could probably be about 45 minutes long and get the point across (kind of like the short story). And that’s annoying. But there there’s also stuff like Moon coming out, which I think you would really like (kind of a cross between 2001 and Dark Star with a little more CGI) that’s only 100 minutes. So there’s always cool things going on.

    2. Maybe we’re annoyed by star power now because we don’t have to see people like Gregory Peck or Marylyn Monroe on the cover of People every week talking about how much weight they’ve lost/gained. It seems to me, though, that star power has kind of replaced genre power, which is a bit of a shame. Then again, it was the star as much as the genre sometimes (Tom Mix, Edward G. Robinson, whoever) that got people to go to all the Westerns/Gangsters.

    3. I hate movie theatres, too.

    4. Yeah, that’s kind of what I was saying. I think especially with new technology being developed movies like Harry Potter will be so awesome in 30 years.

    5. I don’t think the only innovations being made now that are important are in style and form. Yeah, those make for super-interesting movies…and they’re usually the kind of movies that I’m most excited for. But there are also innovations in what a movie can actually talk about and the point it can actually make. In the 50s, you couldn’t have women peeing in all your films, but Jane Campion gets away with it all the time! I think the movies to be excited about this year are the ones that are making those innovations in content…although Haneke and Kiarostami are doing stuff with form that’s really interesting, too.

    Anyway, The Wrestler is really good! You should give it a chance!

  3. brian,

    i assembled a list of all full-length movies nominated for oscar’s this year that come in at under two hours (though some just barely)

    -the wrestler: 115 min
    -doubt: 104
    -the visitor: 104
    -revolutionary road: 119
    -rachel getting married: 113
    -tropic thunder: 107
    -frozen river: 97
    -vicki cristina barcelona: 96
    -bolt: 103
    -kung fu panda: 92
    -wall-e: 98
    -the duchess: 110
    -the betrayal: 96
    -encounters at the end of the world: 99
    -the garden: 80
    -man on wire: 90
    -trouble the water: 90
    -waltz with bashir: 90
    -wanted: 110
    -happy go lucky: 118
    -in bruges: 107

    13 movies nominated this year were over 2 hrs, 21 were under 2 hrs, and one clocks in at exactly 2 hrs (slumdog millionaire). so the majority of nominated films this year are under 2 hours. however, the bulk of nominations do go to movies over 2 hours, and no nominees for best picture are under 2 hours. all films in the documentary category are under 2 hours. all but one film in the foreign language category are over 2 (waltz with bashir being the exception). the average length of films nominated that run under two hours is 101 minutes.

    i assembled all stats myself (with the help of imdb). there’s not a point to it, but i thought the results were interesting. esp the foreign language vs. documentary film thing.

  4. That’s so interesting. I think documentaries can really benefit from length…they don’t try to throw so many images at us and they can really cover their subject. (Like, I love those PBS 4-hours presidents movies) And then most features (I’m going to guess all in this years oscars) could all be a little shorter.

    By the way, I do like how long the comments are on this post.

  5. i think so too, about docs (though encounters at the end of the world was hands-down my favorite movie of 2008). another fun fact is that the shortest of the documentaries (the garden) got the highest viewer rating on imdb (10 out of 10 stars).

    i’m not sure what all of this says about our expectations of foreign films and documentaries. maybe it’s nothing. but maybe it’s not nothing.

    ps, whitney, how did you like nollywood babylon?

  6. I thought that Nollywood Babylon was a bit rushed. The directors said it had over 9000 cuts, and that’s not including (I think) the cuts in the Nollywood movies themselves. The subject was really interesting, but it just rushed by too quickly for me…which goes back to our point. I think the movie was about 76 minutes long and that just wasn’t close to enough coverage in a documentary about such a big/fascinating/unknown subject.

    that said, I did have to sit in the second row, which makes quick edits so much more painful.

  7. brian

    well, i use the movie length as a crutch. but still. it seems generally true to me that new movies are boring-er than old movies. or less exciting. especially oscar movies. but i think this goes back to acting. so many movies are just people talking. character studies. blah, blah, blah.

    let me take everything back. my problem with current movies are the way they’re promoted. when i watch a movie on tcm, it’s totally random. it could be about that guy from panic in year 0 inventing some wood repellent formula that he then uses (secretly) to become the best pitcher in the history of baseball or (like yesterday) the parent trap or this movie where errol flynn plays twin brothers or a 30s movie about orphans or this cagney movie with a great title (the mayor of hell) or some wilder movie i’ve never seen. it’s exciting because everything seems totally unexpected.

    but with new movies, i almost know exactly what it is going to be like. i mean, i’m a little interested in the wrestler, but i still dont see anything in the movie that will actually surprise me. (the new von trier, on the other hand, i dont know what to expect.) and, i know about movies only because of the way they are marketed and advertised. which automatically makes me suspicious.

    award ceremonies really turn me off too. like a movie nominated becomes one i dont want to see. the awards are nothing than self-congratulatory commercials that prop up hollywood. and i think we can all agree, hollywood (or rather the media corporations in control of the studios in hollywood) are the biggest obstacle to the production and release of interesting movies.

    (ps, i count sundance as being tied into the same problem. it’s just a way of outsourcing.)

    i want to watch movies that are different, interesting, unexpected.

    that’s not to say that there aren’t movies being made like that now. in fact, it seems like there has to be those kinds of movies being made. it’s just that they dont get played around her cause we’re busy watching the curious case of benjamin button and praising boyle’s lazy slumdog movie and talking about how this is clint eastwood’s greatest role.

  8. brian

    but mostly, dont filmmakers understand that there are no rules for films? they can be anything. especially now with digital filming.

    but i’ll give campion, haneke and kiarostami a chance this year.

  9. I think you’re right. About Oscar movies especially. I’m just about to post a thing about The Reader…which is supposed to be so good and so thought-provoking, and have such good acting and blah blah blah, but it was easily an hour longer than it should have been and it was boring as hell.

    But then again, this year I feel like almost all the movies I saw were really boring. The few that were pretty good were mostly really independent and not played around here.

    I’m interested in seeing Milk, but I’m not hopeful. That said, Gus Van Sant’s other movie this year – Paranoid Park – was totally awesome and isn’t getting any attention and never will.

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