Tag Archives: Alex Garland

MOST ANTICIPATED FOR 2017

2 Jan

So he were are. 2016 is history and as we look back on the best films of the year, we can also look towards the future and what’s coming down the cinematic pipeline. Here are my top ten most anticipated films -(provided we make it far enough in the age of Trump to actually watch them).   You can check out last year’s most anticipated here.

 

10 – Molly’s Game 

What’s it about? A young skier who get’s her own FBI investigation after creating an international poker series.

Why is it on the list? Aaron Sorkin is stepping into the director’s seat here, adapting a memoir by Molly Bloom. One of the finest screenwriters of our time, I’m curious to how Sorkin does behind the camera. Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba costar.

Release date – Unknown 

 

 

 

9 – Annihilation  

What’s it about?  All we know at this stage is that the plot has something to do with a team of scientists heading into the jungle for a secretive experiment of some kind.

Why is it on the list? Because Ex Machina was one of the most wholly original and singular sci-fi films in recent memory and Alex Garland has teamed up again with Oscar Issac. Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Natalie Portman round out a dream team of actors.

Release date – Unknown

 

8 – Wind River 

What’s it about? A Native American reservation becomes a murder scene which prompts an FBI investigation led by a veteran tracker.

Why is it on the list? Another accomplished screenwriter making a directorial debut. Taylor Sheridan‘s scripts for Sicario and Hell or High Water were both brilliant and I’m curios to see the acting duo of Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner in a non-superhero context.

Release date – Unknown for now, but I’m hoping to catch this at Sundance.

7 – The Bad Batch 

What’s it about? A blood soaked love story of sorts set in Texas. Also, cannibals.

Why is it on the list? I wasn’t the biggest fan of Ana Lily Amirpour’s Iranian-western-vampire coming of age story A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, but I was intrigued enough to see she had major directing potential. This new effort seems to have a Tarantino-influenced vibe and features a slew of great character actors including Jim Carrey, Keanu Reeves, Giovani Ribisi, and Diego Luna.

Release date: Though it’s played a few festivals, a widespread release date is unknown.  

6 – I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore 

What’s it about? A revenge thriller about a women tracking down the thieves who burglarized her house.

Why is it on the list? Fresh from his role in Jeremy Saulnier’s excellent, white-knuckler Green Room, actor Macon Blair takes a shot at directing his own original script. The premise sounds gleefully Coen-esc.

Release date: February 24 

5 – Mother  

What’s it about? “…a couple whose relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home…” – IMDB

Why is it on the list? Because it’s Darren Aronofsky’s first film since the interesting-but-ultimately sub-par Noah.  Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Domhnall Gleeson, Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris star.

Release date: Unknown 

4 – Dunkirk 

What’s it about?  “Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II” – IMDB

Why is it on the list? Christopher Nolan is one of the rare few directors who can effectively blend pedestrian blockbuster fare with an inspired artistic vision.  This has potential to be one of 2017’s biggest critical and commercial hits.

Release: July 21 

3 – Lemon  

What’s it about? A boy gets dumped by his blind girlfriend.

Why is it on the list? Though Lemon is her first feature, Janicza Bravo has one of the boldest directorial voices in indie film today mixing awkward sensibilities reminiscent of films like Napoleon Dynamite and the works of Todd Solondz and Wes Anderson. Check out her short Gregory Goes Boom!  (NSFW) which also stars Michael Cera and Brett Gelman to get a taste of what we might expect from Lemon.

Release date: Unknown 

2-  Blade Runner 2049 

What’s it about? A sequel to the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner. 

Why is it on this list? Though most modern sequels/reboots don’t hold a candle to their origins, the fact that this is being helmed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Arrival) and shot by cinematographer legend Roger Deakins (1984, No Country For Old Men, Skyfall, and so, soooo many more) might be reason enough to make an exception. The icing on the cake is a top-notch cast consisting of Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling, Robyn Wright, Mckenzie Davis, Dave Bautista, Jared Leto and Barkhad Abdi.

Release date: Oct 6

1 – The Killing of a Sacred Deer

 

What’s it about? “A teenager’s attempts to bring a brilliant surgeon into his dysfunctional family takes an unexpected turn.” – IMDB

Why is it on the list? The Lobster was unexpectedly my favorite film of 2016 and, I’m itching to see what Yorgos Lanthimos is cooking up.

Release date – Unknown 

 

 

Ex Machina (2015)

28 Apr

In 1958, Stanislaw Ulam, one of the greatest mathematicians to ever live, talked about a technological event called The Singularity.  Ulam theorized that with the ever-increasing advances in computing technology, creating a super-intelligent computer system that would outperform a human brain was inevitable.  Ex Machina, starring Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander documents the psychological and ethical implications of such an event by highlighting the various aspects of having super-intelligent machines interacting with humanity.

Caleb works as a programmer for a tech company called Bluebook (another word for Google Inc), the world’s most prolific search engine. The company’s owner, Nathan, lives in an isolated, high-security luxurious home which doubles as a state-of-the-art technological research facility. Caleb is lucky enough to win a lottery that gives him the chance to spend a week living with Nathan, as he embarks on a mysterious task for Bluebook.

Caleb is your seemingly typical white-skinned blonde-haired computer nerd; he is self-conscious, reserved, and humble. Nathan on the other hand, is virtually on the opposite side of the spectrum. Incredibly charismatic, social, and sexy, the party boy is usually seen with either a barbell or a bottle of vodka in hand. The interactions between the two awkwardly authentic. It soon becomes clear what Caleb’s secret task is: to test an artificial intelligence program named Ava. Essentially, Caleb is tasked with figuring out if Ava has a mind of it’s own, or if it’s rather just acting off a simple pre-programed structure. What follows is a mental tug-of-war between the trio, as the various characters try to unspool each other’s true intentions.

Ex Machina is a brilliant exercise of psychological anxiety fueled by sexual tension and technological paranoia. Layers of personality are gradually stripped as the film progresses revealing the startling and disturbing psyche that is behind each person/machine. It’s a complex and deeply freudian approach to the thriller genre, and remains unpredictable just when you think the story ventures into familiar territory. First time director Alex Garland really has crafted a remarkable and textually rich film. The aesthetic appeal of Ex Machina is hard to resist as well; stunning exterior shots of waterfalls, glaciers, and forests are clashed against Kubrick-esc takes of dim interiors, and the score by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow is sure to be one of the year’s best.

Bottom line: Ex Machina is a layered and complex take on the robot sub-genre that proves to be both emotionally and psychologically stimulating.

Rating: 9/10 

Film Recipe: Under The Skin (2014) + Moon (2009) + Enemy (2014)