Budding Artists 2009: Ones to Watch, Film Edition
Mon, 20 Apr 2009 17:45:40
Promising projects from new (and relatively new) talents don't always live up to their potential. Then again, hope is in the air. And so, with fingers crossed and all best wishes, here are some films and more-or-less fresh faces that look like they should be worth watching this year.
Nora Arnezeder makes her lead-character feature debut in the French film Paris 36 (opened 4/3), from The Chorus director Christophe Barratier. Arnezeder steals the show as a beautiful and talented ingenue with a singing voice that's perfect for the movie's brand new but classic sounding music hall melodies.
Anvil: The Story of Anvil (opened 4/10) documents the forgotten metal band's 30-year headbanging history, which alternates between hilarious and heartbreaking. Highlights include footage of a disappointing European comeback tour and squabbles that nearly derail the recording of a new album. First-time director and longtime Anvil devotee Sacha Gervasi proves that the funny stuff in This Is Spinal Tap was surprisingly close to reality; Anvil's producer even has a volume knob that goes to 11!
The Tour (Turneja): This Serbian-Croatian-with-subtitles ensemble piece follows a troupe of cluelessly self-absorbed stage actors who accept an offer to do a performance tour behind the front lines of the Bosnian conflict in 1993. Slow-moving at times, and more of a bleak comedy than a black one, the story turns into an unexpectedly affecting parable about the illogical absurdities of war. Directed and written by Goran Markovic, the 2008 film is not yet available on DVD but may turn up on the art house circuit.
Gigantic (opened 4/3): Zooey Deschanel falls asleep on a bed in the mattress store where unfulfilled salesman Paul Dano works, so he naturally is smitten enough to try winning her from domineering dad John Goodman. Also, Dano is obsessed with adopting a baby from China. Whether a movie described as a "surreal love story" will have the right mixture of quirk and charm may be up to individual tastes, but this effort by first-time writer/director Matt Aselton sounds like a definite "love it or hate it."
Indian director/writer Kabir Khan, whose first feature was 2006's banned-in-Afghanistan Kabul Express, brings the action stateside this spring with New York (opens 5/1). A Hindi take on how a group of foreign students are treated in post 9/11 America, the film stars John Abraham from Kabul Express and model Katrina Kaif.
Lymelife (release date 5/1): First-time feature director Derick Martini co-wrote this Toronto Film Festival Critics Award-winning dramedy with his brother Steve, and it has "labor of love" written all over it. The film gets offbeat-originality points just for making 1970s Lyme disease paranoia a plot point. Stars Alec Baldwin, Rory Culkin, Timothy Hutton, and Emma Roberts (who gets to drop the F-bomb, smoke pot, and get laid!).
9 (release date 9/9): Not to be confused with the Fellini-inspired musical, this animated feature from first-time feature director/co-screenwriter Shane Acker is an animated, post-apocalyptic fantasy based on Acker's Oscar-nominated 2005 short of the same name. Acker's other previous credits include visual effects work on the third Lord of the Rings movie and a cartoon that qualified for Spike & Mike's Sick and Twisted Film Festival.
Mark Millar: The super-hot comic-book writer whose Wanted series lost a lot in translation to last year's movie of the same name may be better represented this year in theaters. The film adaptation of his Kick-Ass comic (release date not yet announced) is directed and co-written by Layer Cake's Matthew Vaughn, who may make amends for his ho-hum handling of 2007's comics-to-film Stardust. Then again, Vaughn's Kick-Ass co-writer, Jane Goldman, is the same person who co-wrote the Stardust screenplay with him…so who knows?
Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) (release date unknown): Produced in 2006 and only screened at three film festivals since then, this documentary about the singer chosen by Paul McCartney and John Lennon as their favorite American singer—and group—never got an official theatrical or home video release. Featuring interviews with members of The Beatles, Monkees, Beach Boys, and Monty Python's Flying Circus, the movie finally may appear in theaters this year, according to PR sources. As we mentioned earlier, hope is in the air.