It is being hailed as one of the best movies of the year, and after reading about it ad nauseum, I am intrigued. But I’m still not entirely sure, based on the descriptions and hype, what makes it so compelling, which is why I’m anxious to see it and finally find out.
I have a lot of respect for director Alejandro González Iñárritu of “Babel” and “Amores Perros” fame, and he’s made a truly auteurist (or gimmicky, depending on your point of view) move with his single-continuous-shot approach to the production. The technique is frequently compared to the most famous previous attempt at it – Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 thriller “Rope,” which Iñárritu rather ungraciously called a terrible film in a recent Time magazine article. (It certainly wasn’t one of Hitchcock’s best, but it was by no means “terrible.”) In any case, I hope he’s done it as well if not better than the master of suspense.
The most delightful thing about the film for us Michael Keaton fans will be seeing Keaton in a leading role again. I’ve enjoyed his detours over the years in films like “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Jackie Brown”/“Out of Sight” (same character), but his appearances have been too few and far between. In the interest of full disclosure, I never thought he was the right guy to play Batman. He did a fine job, but, frankly, I thought he was better than Batman because Batman is not terribly interesting (sorry Christian Bale). The villains are what make those movies great. Keaton as the Joker – not that would’ve been something.
DIRECTOR: Alejandro González Iñárritu | HEADLINERS: Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Naomi Watts
Dear White People
The word is that this hilarious comedy takes on the experience of black students on a predominantly white college campus (in this case, a fictional Ivy League university) with a refreshingly honest perspective. It’s a tricky thing to maneuver all the racial perceptions and misconceptions at work in the world, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this Sundance special jury prize-winning feature manages to make it funny and fascinating.
DIRECTOR: Justin Simien | HEADLINERS: Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson
Listen Up Philip
Jason Schwartzman brings his quirky hipster vibe to this indie black comedy about an unapologetically obnoxious novelist.
DIRECTOR: Alex Ross Perry | HEADLINERS: Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce
Being touted as a mash-up of the western and sci-fi genres, the visual imagery looks stunning and the concept is interesting. It’s set in the near-future during a drought so severe dishes are being washed with dirt. We’re probably supposed to interpret that figuratively. But the drama emerges from the desperation of the rural family at the center of the story and the strangers who come calling for the family’s land.
DIRECTOR: Jake Paltrow (Gwynnie’s brother) | HEADLINERS: Michael Shannon, Elle Fanning, Nicholas Hoult
Watchers of the Sky
What will be an undoubtedly depressing but hopefully inspiring documentary about the remarkable warriors who have fought to prosecute the perpetrators of genocide. Inspired by the book A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, the film features human rights activists and lawyers such as Raphael Lemkin, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Emmanuel Uwurukunda and Benjamin Ferencz.
DIRECTOR: Edet Belzberg
OK, so it will clearly be a melodramatic retread of “Unfaithful” flipping the scenario of “Fatal Attraction” to show what it’s like for a married woman being hounded by her maniacal lover, but there’s always room for sheer entertainment by way of watching beautiful people (especially Boris Kodjoe) engage in elevated soap opera antics. We can’t be high-minded all the time. And apparently the sex scenes will rival anything they plan to hit us with in “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
DIRECTOR: Bille Woodruff | HEADLINERS: Sharon Leal, Boris Kodjoe, William Levy
The Golden Era
A sweeping biopic of Chinese writer Xiao Hong, who led a short, troubled life but managed to produce several novels during turbulent times before her death at the age of 30 in 1942.
DIRECTOR: Ann Hui | HEADLINERS: Tang Wei, Feng Shaofeng