By David Hudson
A few previews are already in. At In Contention, Kristopher Tapley lists ten big budget roll-outs he's looking forward to in 2010; the New York Times (where Michael Cieply explains why some films opening this year have been in the can and waiting their turn for as long as two years now) and the Boston Phoenix's Peter Keough draft local schedules for the weeks ahead; Geoffrey Macnab (Independent) and Kevin Maher (London Times) do the anticipating for the UK; Martin A Grove's preview for Reuters runs through June; and at Techland, Steven James Snyder looks ahead to the year in science fiction. Dark Horizons is previewing the good, the bad and the ugly, a gadzillion movies, in alphabetical order. As I write, they've made it to the letter "S."
But two entries Screen's Fionnuala Halligan posted at her blog back in November present far more tantalizing prospects than all that. In the first, she lists over twenty films that might make it into February's Berlinale lineup (and of course, we now know about seven that have), and in the second, she lays out an even longer of list of contenders for Cannes 2010. While I'd happily get in line for most of titles on these pages, I thought I'd pick out about a dozen that seem most intriguing and poke around to see what we know about them so far. Comments on these and other films you're looking forward to are welcome.Jean-Luc Godard's Socialisme could be the film of our time - but of course, as with all these as-yet-unseen films, we just have no way of knowing yet. But if Godard is going to be arguing the case suggested by his title, he may find the world more ready to listen than he probably assumed it would be when he first conceived of the project. As Mark Fisher, author of Capitalist Realism, tells Matthew Fuller in Mute, "It took a few years after the 1929 crash for new political forces to emerge, and just because nothing much has happened yet doesn't mean it won't ever happen. The terrain is strewn of ideological rubble, and it's there to be fought over."
Or, you know, there's an outside chance that the film's an apolitical romp. Doesn't look like it, though. Daniel Kasman posted the 4+minute teaser back in May, when Wild Bunch was talking it up in Cannes and Screen's Nancy Tartaglione reported that it's "being billed as a symphony in three movements and mixes an international set of characters on a cruise ship including a Moscow policeman, a war criminal of unknown origins, a French philosopher, an American singer (played by Patti Smith), a Palestinian ambassador and a former double agent." We also know that the cast includes philosopher Alain Badiou. Jeremy Heilman has the official synopsis.
For ages, it seemed, we knew that Terrence Malick was shooting The Tree of Life - but that was all we knew. Speculation at Wikipedia, for example, was rampant - the production seems to have been rather rocky - but now Summit Entertainment has posted something of a synposis. "Our picture is a cosmic epic, a hymn to life." A bit of the story follows: a boy learns that the world is not as wondrous as it once seemed. The film may be set in the 50s; there may be an excursion or two into the prehistoric past. Some of these details might be worrying if it weren't a Malick film we're dealing with here. Brad Pitt and Sean Penn headline the cast; Emmanuel Lubezki is the cinematographer.
Lee Hyo-won has a fine piece in the Korean Times on the "2010 Korean Cinema Lineup," and it's here that we learn: "Director Hong Sang-soo will present his 10th movie Ha Ha Ha early [this] year. The movie depicts two friends who chat about their recent trips to Tongyeong over drinks. Actor Kim Sang-kyeong plays filmmaker Cho Mun-kyung, who wants to go study in Canada, while actor Yoo Joon-sang plays his friend and film critic Park Jung-shik." This may test the patience of those who found Hong spinning his wheels in Like You Know It All. At any rate, also cast is Moon So-ri, star of Oasis.
Speaking of which (and back to Lee Hyo-won): Oasis director Lee Chang-dong's Poem (also listed here and there as Poetry), starring Yoon Hee-jeong, "is a story about a 60-something woman who raises her teenage granddaughter and receives basic living subsidies. One day she signs up for a literature class and begins to write her own poems for the first time. The movie is slated to open in early May."
And, what can I say, a third film from Korea. For some time now, the free availability of Kim Ki-young's 1960 classic The Housemaid has turned it into quite the hit here at The Auteurs. Now it's to be remade by Im Sang-soo (The President's Last Bang) with Jeon Do-yeon, who won accolades for her performance in Lee Chang-dong's Secret Sunshine. Also slated to open in Korea in May.
Ken Loach's "new film is called Route Irish, its name taken from the infamous, dangerous road that links Baghdad's international Green Zone with the city's airport, and it marks the 73-year-old director's first attempt to grapple with the Iraq War of the past six years." Dave Calhoun in a set report for Time Out London: "Loach's sympathies are well known: he has spoken out in opposition to the invasion and occupation of Iraq. But Route Irish doesn't deal with high politics. Instead, it explores the murky world of British ex-soldiers who work for private contractors in Iraq, many of whom, such as the film's main character, Fergus (Mark Womack), are grieving for lost colleagues or suffering from post-traumatic stress. Fergus is living back in his home city in an apartment funded by his contracting work and having to face the demons Iraq foisted on him. We meet him at the funeral of a colleague and close childhood friend, and he's burning up with anger and thoughts of revenge."
There seems to be a general assumption out there that Abbas Kiarostami's Certified Copy will see its premiere in Cannes this year. From Eric Lavallee's Ioncinema report on the shoot in Italy in June: "Based on an original script by Kiarostami, this tells the story of a British author (William Shimell replaces Sami Frey) who travels to Italy to hold a conference on the relationship between originals and copies in the art world. During the conference he meets a French art gallery owner (Juliette Binoche). The author plays along but the innocent charade becomes a dangerous game as the lines between reality and make-believe blur."
Way back in October 2008, Fabien Lemercier reported in Cineuropa that Béla Tarr was to begin shooting The Turin Horse within weeks; Halligan expects that the film should finally be ready this year. Lemercier: "Co-written by the director and his usual collaborator László Krasznahorkai, the film is freely inspired by an episode that marked the end of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's career. On January 3, 1889, on the piazza Alberto in Turin, a weeping Nietzsche flung his arms around an exhausted and ill-treated carriage horse, then lost consciousness. After this event - which forms the prologue to Tarr's film - the philosopher never wrote again and descended into madness and silence. From this starting point, The Turin Horse goes on to explore the lives of the coachman ([Miroslav] Krobot), his daughter ([Erika] Bók) and the horse in an atmosphere of poverty heralding the end of the world." Quiet Earth has what seems to be an official synopsis.
Tran Anh Hung's Norwegian Wood (click the title for a synopsis) is, of course, an adaptation of the novel by Haruki Murakami and features Rinko Kikuchi and Kenichi Matsuyama. Back in June, in the Japan Times, Giovanni Fazio asked Tran about recreating the 60s-era atmo: "We're going to have to shoot every scene at different places, all over Japan. For example, there's a scene with a pool, and we're using a pool about an hour outside the city, because there's nothing suitable in Tokyo. Tokyo's always changing, and there's almost nothing left that reminds one of the 60s." For more, see a topic on the film in the Forum that was pretty lively a few months ago.
Back in March, FirstShowing's Alex Billington reported that Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire and Woody Allen's upcoming You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger) was joining Hiam Abbass in the cast of Julian Schnabel's Miral, "an adaptation of Italo-Palestinian Rula Jebreal's book about Hind Husseini who founded an orphanage in Jerusalem in the wake of the 1948 partition of Palestine and the creation of the state of Israel." Schnabel also evidently hopes to see an English translation of the book appear at about the same time as the film.
Nanni Moretti is directing himself as a psychiatrist called in to treat a newly elected Pope - played by Michel Piccoli - who doesn't want the job. Der Standard reports that shooting for Habemus Papam begins this month and will wrap in May.
Viewing. Even though it's in German, this Arte report presents a fairly unique shoot. In Orly, Angela Schanelec follows four couples in the bustling airport with two cameras, no artificial lighting, no clearing of non-participants.
What else are we looking forward to in 2010?