Samuel Brace with three future must see films…
Well, guys, we’ve made it through the summer, a summer of cinematic disappointments, leaving us with a feeling that sadly is all too familiar. The good news is that it’s behind us now and we can look forward to pastures new, the bad news is that Oscar season is on the way, and the studios are readying their bait. There will, no doubt, be a litany of films thrown our way that we are told are great, important and worthy of our precious time. It will be asinine, as it always is. By now most of us have learnt how to navigate such traps, taking the industries pushes with two grains of salt. However, this isn’t to mean that there is not cinema that necessitates our excitement — that would be a fallacy. In fact there are some features on the horizon our eyes should be peeled for, films from the three pillars of cinema: Oscar, Indie and Blockbuster. Here are 3 of them, one from each.
Obviously, this is the lesser known of the three films on this list, but arguably the most intriguing. This new wave of art-house horror that has arrived is receiving its fair share of criticism. There are many who are not fans of the direction the genre has taken. I am not one of these people. This move, or rather addition, was necessary, it was required, the genre struggling — not financially per say, but in terms of what was being created — this direction to a slower, more obtuse and atmospheric style of horror was what the genre needed to stay relevant. Demon with a release date of September 9th in the US, is one of these very films.
Anyone who has seen the superbly cut trailer will have their eyebrow raised in interest at this Polish/Israeli telling of the Jewish legend of dybbuk — dybbuk being an evil spirit (or demon), a lost soul that possesses its host until its mission is complete. Directed by Marcin Wrona, who committed suicide in September of last year where Demon was being shown at a Polish film festival, this creepy piece of cinema set during a wedding celebration looks to be the horror venture of 2016’s latter half. With early word being good and the consensus being that this unnerving tale will claw at you from beneath your skin long after viewing, the film seems aptly named. Mark this one down as a must see.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
This one doesn’t need much of an introduction. Obviously Star Wars is back and as big and as popular as ever before. Disney hasn’t put a foot wrong so far, kicking off the new trilogy in 2015 in spectacular fashion. Rogue One (December) will be their next big test, can they follow up The Force Awakens success with a movie directed by someone else, set during a different time and starring different actors? I am willing to bet they can, but this is a hurdle they must clear. Set just before A New Hope, this addition to the saga is a one off, taking fans back to that classic Star Wars era, the moment in time where it all began; with the rebels mission to the steal the plans for the Death Star.
The trailers released so far have been glorious, the film looks beautiful and contains that deep set feeling of nostalgia that helped propel Episode VII. Rogue One can’t just count on nostalgia however, not just because many a viewer will not have the same connection to the original trilogy as older fans, but because at the end of the day the film needs to be good above all else. Disney hasn’t let us down so far with Star Wars, so until they do, the faith of the fans will be with them. But this is sacred ground they are entering; this movie can easily spill over into the early parts of Episode IV, so treading carefully while still being courageous is a fine line they will have to walk. We know of course the outcome of the film’s plot but there is still so much that we do not, connections to the new trilogy for example, the extent of Vader’s presence, and little mysteries presented in the trailers all combine with the default Star Wars hype to make this easily one of the year’s most anticipated. It should do reasonably well.
La La Land
This is the one. This is the movie that peaks my personal excitement above all others, and that very notion could be not more surprising to me. I am not a fan of musicals. I never have been. I couldn’t care less about the genre, I mean I like Willy Wonka but not because it’s a musical, however as soon as I laid eyes on the trailer for La La Land… I knew this was the film to be excited for, the one above all others. Damien Chazelle’s 2014 flick Whiplash was a sight, it really was, brutal, compelling, laced with an energy that was irresistible. We all knew to be on the lookout for what he might do next, so in some sense, La La Land was always on the radar, but not quite like this. The Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone led romance seems to be an intimate affair, a love story between a man and a woman, a tale told a thousand times. But this seems different from the rest, and it seems that way because it also looks so familiar, it looks almost old fashioned, like a long lost friend. Is that cinema I see?
Just to make it clear, I’ve not seen this film, this is all conjecture, all I can go on is the trailer, stills and the early reviews coming out from the Venice and Telluride film festivals, but my gut is telling me something about this one, it’s telling me that La La Land might be the vehicle to take us back to a time when cinema mattered, when movies mattered. Oh lord, please make it so.
The first thing that strikes you when watching the gloriously assembled trailer is the cinematography. The colours are beautiful as we watch Stone and Gosling interact with one another, the trailer displaying a dichotomy between desperate sadness and utter joy, all presented alongside an original song from the film performed by Stone. It’s a hard package to resist. And apart from the fact that it’s a love story and a musical, there isn’t much to know yet, but from the evidence on display, this film seems like it is presenting a different kind of love. A romance not based entirely on sex and aesthetics but on connection to something deeper and dare I say shared values. Wouldn’t that be something.
La La Land looks to not just be a window to a better time in the culture but also a return to an old type of film that has gone out of style. Small, personal dramas don’t often win the day at the box office, this one has every ingredient to achieve such a thing, and if this movie is that I think it is, that would indeed be a good day for cinema. I may be wrong, I hope I’m not, but I can’t wait to find out.
La La Land hits screens in the US this December and the UK after the New Year.