Big screen - Upcoming film releases
Same, same but different is a pretty accurate way to describe the coming year in cinema. There's the annual mix of blockbusters, prestige Oscar-bait and offbeat cult movies, but, of course, you haven't seen the new crop of films yet. There are franchise reboots for James Bond to Star Trek, graphic novel adaptations with The Spirit and Watchmen, new Harry Potter and Pixar films, horror movie remakes and black white old school classics and Steven Soderberg's two-movie portrait of Che Guevara. All that and two, count 'em, international film festivals. Miles Fielder discovers that the new movie year starts here.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate People
Simon Pegg plays Toby Young in this adaptation of the British writer's comic memoir about his efforts to fit in at a high-profile New York magazine (whose initials are VF). Kirsten Dunst, Gillian Anderson and Danny Huston lend star support, and Jeff Bridges scene steals as Pegg's editor Clayton Harding.
Where the Wild Things Are
Spike Jonze's first film since his 2002 Charlie Kaufman collaboration Adaptation. is a live action version (co-written with Dave “McSweeney's” Eggers) of Maurice Sendak's classic children's book about a young boy named Max who dreams himself into a kingdom of monsters and there sets himself up as ruler. “Let the rumpus commence!”
Julianne Moore and Gael Garcia Bernal take the leads in Brazillian filmmaker Fernando “City of God” Meirelles' adaptation of Nobel Prize winner José Saramago's apocalyptic novel about the population of an unnamed city who are afflicted by “white blindness”. A chilling parable about society breaking down.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The penultimate blockbuster adaptation of the boy wizard's adventures conceived in Edinburgh by JK Rowling sees Daniel Radcliffe's HP discovering more about evil nemesis Lord Voldemort's dark past. Should be a good one given it's directed by talented Brit David Yates, who helmed The Order of the Phoenix and who is calling action on the two-part finale The Deathly Hallows.
(2 Jan/20 Feb)
Not one but two Che Guevara biopics from Hollywood's hardest-working filmmaker Steven Soderberg. In the first, Benicio Del Toro's revolutionary hero and pal Fidel Castro lead the 1956 insurrection against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista; in the second set eight years later Guevara travels to New York to address the UN.
Titanic stars Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are finally reunited, but in a very different kind of film. Directed by Winslet's husband Sam Mendes, it's an adaptation of ready-for-rediscovery novelist Richard Yates' excellent demolition job of the American dream that's set in seemingly perfect 1950s suburban Connecticut.
Alan Moore's brilliantly iconoclastic superhero graphic novel gets the blockbuster treatment courtesy of Zak Snyder, who did a pretty good job of Frank Miller's comic, 300. Many have tried and failed to adapt Moore's genre benchmark (Terry Gilliam, for one), so there are weighty expectations. But the images look good.
The Lovely Bones
Peter Jackson sets aside hobbits and giant apes to direct a very different type of fantasy in this adaptation of Alice Sebold's disturbing novel about a young girl who having been raped and murdered looks down from heaven as her family falls apart. Atonement's Saorise Ronan, Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz star.
State of Play
Glaswegian filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) directs this big screen version of the BBC's celebrated thriller about police and reporters working on the murder case of a politician's mistress. Russell Crowe, who stepped into the breach after Brad Pitt bailed out, is joined by Ben Affleck, Robin Wright Penn and Helen Mirren.
And back to Simon Pegg, who plays moaning engineer Scotty in Lost creator JJ Abrams' restart of the final frontier franchise. As the working title Star Trek Zero suggests, Abrams' film chronicles the early days of James T Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise. Leonard Nimoy from the original cast makes a guest appearance as you know who.
And the best of the rest...
Glaswow-born director/star Marianna Palka gives Good Dick (3 Oct) in this offbeat indie rom-com. Indefatigable Ridley Scott directs Leo DiCaprio in Body of Lies (10 Oct). The Israel/Lebanon conflict is beautifully dramatised in Lemon Tree (14 Nov). Keanu Reeves' spaceman attempts to bring peace to the planet in The Day the Earth Stood Still (12 Dec). Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr Hunter S Thompson does for Johnny Depp's favourite writer what it says on the tine (19 Dec). Angelina Jolie acts up a storm for director Clint Eastwood in the baby swap drama Changeling (2 Jan). Frank Miller adapts Will Eisner's groundbreaking crime comic The Spirit (2 Jan). Peter “The Queen” Morgan adapts his hit stage play with Frost/Nixon (9 Jan). Viggo Mortensen stars in the adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's bleak post-apocalyptic novel The Road (16 Jan). Robot wars continue without the Governator in Terminator: Salvation (5 Jun). And Pixar follows WALL-E with the “coming of old age story” Up (17 Jul).