First off, I hope your Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate) was as good as mine. I gorged on turkey, spent time with my family (most of whom I haven’t seen in months), and didn’t get sick! We’re actually doing a “Christmas: Part II” this weekend because my sister and brother-in-law got sick and couldn’t make it to our secret Santa exchange.
On the movie side of things, I missed out on seeing Django Unchained. I’m really hoping to see it this weekend, and get a podcast done as well. A lot of it will depend on travel schedules. Fingers crossed!
Alright, on to the news…
Top 10 of 2012… for now
First up today is my top 10 films of 2012. It’s an extremely early look at what the final list will be. I won’t have a proper list until just before the Oscars. And that list will include write-ups for each entry, unlike this one which is just the titles. But I thought since it’s the end of the year now, I’d at least give out what my current top 10 are, just for the sake of interest. Without further ado…
10. The Master
9. The Raid
8. The Sound Of My Voice
6. The Dark Knight Rises
4. The Grey
3. Moonrise Kingdom
2. The Cabin In The Woods
1. The Avengers
Again, I can’t stress enough how incomplete this list is. There are a ton of films I haven’t even seen yet that stand a very good chance of stealing a spot. And some of what’s there already could very well shift around. For example, The Master is almost surely a better film than The Raid, but The Raid is much easier to size up. The things it does well are plain to see, whereas the virtues of The Master are much subtler. Long story short, I need to see The Master again to get a better handle on it.
Danny Boyle resumes work on Trance
Danny Boyle’s latest film, Trance, has been just about done for awhile, but the filmmaker took a bit of a break during post-production to direct the opening ceremonies for the 2012 London Olympics. Boyle’s back to his film now, and a few photos from the production have been released. I’ll let you have a look at those first, then give you more details below.
So now that you’re all visually stimulated, time for context! What is Trance (which as you can see stars James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, and Rosario Dawson) actually about? Read on:
Fine art auctioneer Simon (McAvoy), in league with a gang led by underworld boss Franck (Cassel), plots the audacious theft of a masterpiece by Goya from a major public auction. When Simon double-crosses the gang during the robbery, Franck retaliates violently and knocks him unconscious.
In the aftermath of the heist, Simon sticks stubbornly – and perhaps shrewdly – to his claim that the violent trauma has left him with no memory of where he stashed the artwork.
Unable to coerce the painting’s location from Simon, Franck and his associates reluctantly join forces with a charismatic hypnotherapist (Dawson) in a bid to get him to talk. But as they journey deeper into Simon’s jumbled psyche the boundaries between reality and hypnotic suggestion begin to blur and the stakes rise faster and far more dangerously than any of the players could have anticipated.
Speaking with USA Today, Boyle said much of the story will turn on Dawson’s character. “It’s the first time I put a woman at the heart of a movie,” he said. In talking about the tone he had in mind for Trance, he said, “I wanted to do an updated noir, give it a contemporary spin in terms of emotion… Noir is usually cold. I wanted it to be more emotionally charged.”
I don’t think it’s a secret that I’m a massive film noir fan (in fact, one of my Christmas gifts this year was a three-disc set of The Maltese Falcon, which I can’t wait to dig into). So to have a great filmmaker like Danny Boyle taking on the genre and bringing a fresh perspective to it is definitely exciting to me. He’s being aided with this task by longtime writing collaborator John Hodge (Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, Shallow Grave, etc.) And Anthony Dod Mantle is back as cinematographer. He’s worked with Boyle a ton, including on 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire, for which he won an Oscar.
The cast is worth getting excited about too. I’ve been a fan of Dawson’s for a long time. I’ve only seen McAvoy in a few things but I like him too. His role here sounds pretty complex, so it should be a good showcase for him. And Vincent Cassel is always good at playing intense, creepy characters (Black Swan, and … actually I don’t think I even need a second example for that).
The UK release date for Trance is March 27, 2013. No date for North America has been set yet.
Update on Paul Thomas Anderson’s (apparent) next project, Inherent Vice
I have a lot of love for Paul Thomas Anderson. Pretty much everything he’s done, I’ve liked. But I found his last movie, The Master, to be his least accessible. With that in mind, I’m not sure what to think of his next project (or what should be next, anyway), an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel Inherent Vice. The reclusive Pynchon is generally well regarded in literature circles. His book Gravity’s Rainbow is considered a classic example of postmodern literature. I haven’t read it, but I did read Inherent Vice. And I kind of hated it. I found it meandering and a bit dull. Like Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas with all the fun sucked out.
That being said, I think a film adaptation could work fairly well. The plot (such as it is) has to do with a pothead private eye who gets an unexpected visit from a former girlfriend, which leads to… well, a whole lot of random nonsense and arbitrary plot contrivances. But hey, put the right guy in the lead role (like, say, Robert Downey Jr., who’s said to be interested in working with PTA), and I’m onboard. He did great work in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, another detective story with a lot of random plot twists. But that movie’s similarities to Inherent Vice pretty much end there. Inherent Vice is set in the sixties, for one thing.
Anyway, with all that said, the actual news here is that PTA is apparently working with Pynchon on a film adaptation. He won’t actually come right out and say it, presumably protecting the reticent author. But if you read between the lines, it’s safe to say they’re collaborating. The adaptation is extremely faithful to the source, according to Anderson. Talking about his work writing the screenplay, he said, “It’s more secretarial… The credit should be like ‘secretary to the author.'”
It’s way too early to start thinking about a release date yet, but apparently Anderson wants to film it in 2013, so if all goes well we could be seeing it late next year or maybe sometime in 2014.
Tarantino spitballs about his next movie, fuels the blogosphere
As much as the news about the Inherent Vice adaptation is tentative, this news item is even moreso. If you follow Tarantino at all, you know he likes to talk about stuff he might do at some unspecified point in the future. Like a Vega Brothers movie (don’t count on it), or Kill Bill: Vol. 3 (looking less and less likely), or a Depression-era gangster pic (still a possibility).
Well, add another page to the “what if” file. In an interview with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. over at The Root, they were talking about how Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained are both righting historical wrongs, in a sense. In Basterds, Jews take revenge on Hitler, and in Django, a former slave takes revenge on slave owners. So, filmmakers love trilogies, right? Only need one more, right? QT had this to say:
“I don’t know exactly when I’m going to do it, but there’s something about this that would suggest a trilogy. My original idea for Inglourious Basterds way back when was that this [would be] a huge story that included the [smaller] story that you saw in the film, but also followed a bunch of black troops, and they had been fucked over by the American military and kind of go apeshit. They basically — the way Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and the Basterds are having an “Apache resistance” — [the] black troops go on an Apache warpath and kill a bunch of white soldiers and white officers on a military base and are just making a warpath to Switzerland.
So that was always going to be part of it. And I was going to do it as a miniseries, and that was going to be one of the big storylines. When I decided to try to turn it into a movie, that was a section I had to take out to help tame my material. I have most of that written. It’s ready to go; I just have to write the second half of it... That would be the third of the trilogy. It would be [connected to] Inglourious Basterds, too, because Inglourious Basterds are in it, but it is about the soldiers. It would be called Killer Crow or something like that.”
When it comes to Tarantino, I’m down for whatever, of course. And this story has the added benefit of being mostly written already. So it’s not quite as nebulous as some of the other ideas he’s floated at different times. If nothing else, Killer Crow getting made would give Spike Lee something else to rage about.
If I had my druthers, though, I’d rather QT made the gangster pic (or something else totally different) next. This story for Killer Crow sounds interesting, but based on what little information we have, it sounds like a bit of a retread of Basterds. At least the gangster movie would have him working in a completely different era and a different setting. I really think he could do something great with that. But, like I said, any movie Quentin Tarantino cares to make is a movie I’ll happily pay to watch.