Preview 2009 - Film
It’s the end of the world as we know it, but Paul Dale feels fine. Amidst the doom-mongering there’s a clutch of great films coming this year
There are three years to go until the end of the world, according to Mayan prophecies and it seems filmmakers can’t stop looking back to look forward. Let’s start at the beginning of the year when the 1978 assassination of Harvey Milk, civil rights campaigner and the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California is put under the microscope of barely evolved hindsight in Gus Van Sant’s Milk. Undergoing similar treatment is the moment when a British light entertainment broadcaster met the most corrupt of all Commie bashers in Ron Howard’s surprisingly decent Frost/Nixon. Elsewhere, Tom Cruise gets to goosestep a long-awaited march into history as Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the man who failed to assassinate Hitler during World War II in Valkyrie and Brad Pitt goes beyond botox and plastic surgery and lives the dream of age reversal in David Fincher’s much anticipated The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Devilishly talented Danish filmmaker Nicolas Refn Winding (who made the Pusher trilogy) takes his Charles Bronson biopic to Sundance this year, followed by a limited release, and Leeds United fans can bask in a moment of all too rare glory with The Damned United.
Come summer blockbuster season Roland Independence Day Emmerich delivers a disaster flick about what is really going to befall us in 2012. If that’s all too pessimistic, you can always get your teeth into the other big summer film: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.
Decent arthouse fare this year includes Cannes Palme D’Or winner The Class, a chin-stroking, terribly French version of Dangerous Minds (without Michelle Pfeiffer, obviously) and Catalan José Luis Guerín’s remarkable near-silent road movie In the City of Sylvia.
Two long delayed documentary features come off the shelf this year: James Toback’s Tyson, about arguably the greatest, living American boxer, and Wim Wenders’ excellent Antarctic adventure Encounters at the End of the World.
Possible 2009 anomalies include kinetic Swedish horror Let the Right One In, which has drawn acclaim at festivals, but let’s see if it turns into box office gold. Plus, some mad person (who else but Tony Scott) has (for no good reason) remade Joseph Sargent’s still fantastic subway hijack thriller The Taking of Pelham 123.
The year looks set to end on a high note with the George Clooney-produced adaptation of journalist and broadcaster Jon Ronson’s book on the shenanigans of the US Army’s First Earth Battalion, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions. Post-divorce Guy Ritchie may be having a good time by the time Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law, hits screens. Best of all though, is Spike Jonze’s schedule-hopping take on Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s story (adapted by David Eggars, no less), which finally comes out of the bedroom. A rowdy but maybe not apocalyptic year – not quite yet anyway.