Tag Archives: Mia Wasikowska

MOST ANTICIPATED 2018

2 Jan

After looking back on last year, and with the Sundance Film Festival right around the corner, it’s time to look ahead and see what stuff is on the horizon helping to establish 2018 as another great year in cinema. Here are the top ten films that I’m looking forward to seeing. You can check out last year’s list here.

10 – Untitled Suspiria remake/sequel 

Why? As an avid fan of the original I was one of many who rolled their eyes at the idea of yet another classic horror being remade (you can thank 2012’s The Thing, 2013’s Evil Dead and Carrie, 2015’s Poltergeist, among others). But then I heard the new project was being directed by Italian arthouse favorite Luca Guadagnino (Call Me By Your Name, A Bigger Splash) and it’s allegedly not so much a direct remake as it is a new take on something “inspired by the same story”. Color me intrigued.

Principal Cast: Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz, Mia Goth

Release Date:  TBA 

9 –  The Nightingale 

Why? After terrorizing audiences with the surprisingly-great Babadook, director Jennifer Kent is back with another horror thriller up her sleeves. This one is supposedly a revenge tale set in 18th century Tasmania.

Principal Cast: Aisling Franciosi and Sam Claflin

Release Date: August 10

8 – Isle of Dogs 

Why? Everyone and their dog loves Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore) and based on the trailer, we can expect another bone-fide crowd pleaser. Get ready for a barking good time.

Principal Cast: Greta Gerwig, Bryan Cranston, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray probably.

Release Date: March 23

7 – Piercing 

Why? Just when I thought I had become desensitized and jaded towards genre films, Nicolas Pesce comes along with the beautifully haunting Eyes of My Mother. While on paper this looks like another great entry into the 2018 horror slate, my gut tells me this might end up being more on the artsy side. Both Mia Wasikowska and Chris Abbot have a solid repertoire with these types of indie films and the fact it’s playing in Sundance’s Midnight section gives me solid hope.

Principal Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Chris Abbot, Laia Costa

Release Date: Sundance

6 – The Irishman

Why? Netflix is hosting the long-awaited reunion of Scorsese and De Niro (It’s been 20+ years!). While the streaming giant doesn’t have the greatest reputation of quality when it comes to original movies (looking at you Bright and War Machine), this mob drama looks like it has all the neccisary ingredients to become a major awards contender.

Principal Cast: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannevale and other associated wiseguys

Release Date: Late 2018 or early 2019

5 – Widows 

Why? After directing one of the most powerful films of the decade (12 Years a slavebritish auteur Steve McQueen is back with a script co-written by Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl).

Principal cast: Liam Neeson, Viola Davis, Robert DuVall, Colin Farrell

Release date: An awards-friendly November 16

4 – The House That Jack Built 

Why? Because it’s a Lars Von Trier (Melancholia, Dogville) film about serial killer(s?). Count me in.

Principal Cast: Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Riley Keough

Release Date: TBA 

3 – Hold the Dark 

Why? Because Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin) and Macon Blair (I Don’t Feel At Home in This World Anymore) have proven to be THE most badass team of genre filmmakers working today.

Principal Cast: Riley Keough, Alexander Skarsgard, Jeffery Wright, James Badge Dale

Release Date: TBA

2 – You Were Never Really Here 

Why? After seeing We Need To Talk About Kevin and having my soul sucked out, I was convinced Lynne Ramsay was one of the best and boldest in a new wave of dramatic directors (along with Denis Villeneuve, Michael Haneke, Steve McQueen and Paul Thomas Anderson) whose sensibilities lie somewhere in the uncomfortable middle of European neo-realism and arthouse psychodrama. Her latest received nothing but rave reviews out of Cannes where it premiered and it’s always refreshing to Joaquin Phoenix in his post-hip-hop-career.

Principal Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Ekaterina Samsonov, Alessandro Nivola

Release Date: Sundance, and then everywhere April 6

1 – Annihilation 

Why? Ex Machina became the surprise sci-fi mindmelter and one of my favorite films of 2015, and so I’ve been eagerly waiting for whatever director Alex Garland does next.  A stellar cast and intriguing premise make this an absolute must see.

Principal Cast: Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Release Date: Feb 23

Of course, 2018 will likely be filled with surprises and many great unknown films I’ve yet to hear about.  Let me know what you are looking forward to seeing this year in the comments.

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Crimson Peak (2015)

27 Oct

Crimson Peak, the new film by Guillermo del Toro, (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy) feels like it has been lifted straight out of a gothic horror novel. Taking a page from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or Nosferatu, every frame of Crimson Peak overflows with a romantic longing for early 19th century horror.

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain, the film tells the story of writer Edith (Wasikowska) as she moves away from her native home in Buffalo after her father mysteriously passes. Edith grew up believing in ghosts, and has the unique gift to communicate with them on occasion. This gift turns into a curse when these apparitions visit more often in a home inhabited by her new husband Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) and his sister Lucille (Chastain). Soon, Edith learns a frightening revelation about her new husband and sister in law, one that might prove deadly.

Del Toro has always been one to impress when it comes to production design. A true escapist director, his films always find a way to immerse viewers into their immaculate and delicately crafted worlds. Crimson Peak is no exception; everything from the costumes to the soundtrack to the carefully-pronounciated english dialogue indulges into a romanticized gothic fantasy (nightmare?) that shows del Toro’s directorial skill and passion about the subject matter. Unfortunately, the pacing is just too sluggish and the plot developments tediously follow a familiar path.

As a film that is both thematically and literally engulfed in darkness, Crimson Peak is surprisingly spook-less, barely registering enough jump scares to call itself a “horror” film. Instead, del Toro opts to build tension out of the mystery rather than terror. But the mystery absolves itself a bit too slowly (and predictably) leaving little behind but the beautiful visuals and an overuse of graphic violence to hold the audience’s attention.

Bottom Line: With a spooky atmosphere and a gorgeous production design, Crimson Peak is a visually stunning mystery that unfortunately arrives a little shy on both scares and suspense. 

Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain. Not looking suspicious at all.

Rating: 6/10 

Film Recipe: Stoker + Only Lovers Left Alive – vampires + ghosts 

Maps To The Stars (2014)

4 Mar

Ah, to be David Cronenberg.

The Provocateur’s 21st (!!!) feature film Maps To The Stars marks a true return to form for the director, after his previous film Cosmopolis underperformed critically and commercially back in 2012.  Ever since 2006’s excellent A History of Violence, Mr. Cronenberg seems to have abandoned his gore-filled fascination with bodily horror in favor of darkly and subtly examining the psychological horror embedded deep within ourselves. Maps To The Stars is no different. 

The Film focuses on an atypical hollywood family, particularly when Agatha Weiss (played brilliantly by Mia Wasikowska) comes back home from a mysterious Florida trip. Her mother and father (played by Olivia Williams and John Cusack) each have their own set of issues at play, most of which become increasingly complicated with Agatha’s unwelcome return.  Thier troubles don’t hold a candle to actress Havana’s (Julianne Moore) however, as she is on the brink of scoring the film role of a lifetime, and in a strange coincidence, hires Agatha as her personal assistant or self described “chore-whore”. 

One of Maps’ greatest highlights is in it’s casting. Appearances by Robert Pattinson and Sarah Gadon round out a wonderfully dark and amusing bunch of performances, and newcomer Evan Bird provides a very unorthodox look at child acting.  At times the script wanders aimlessly into rants about love, destiny, and forgiveness. At other times it divulges into vigana jokes.

Darkly bizarre and completely entrancing, Maps To The Stars certainly is poised to stir up quite the talk among hollywood circles, and deserves our full attention. Cronenberg has a knack for exposing and reveling in the hidden fears and desires of his characters and this film is one of his best examinations of the egocentric and conflicted mind at work. With an obvious distain (possibly even hatred) for the hollywood lifestyle Maps effectively disseminates the frail and futile search for personal fulfillment in a land riddled with commercial exploitation and extravagance.

This film is 100% Cronenberg at his most cynical best. The ugly characters manipulate, control and exploit one another, in the convoluted, erratic, and thorny environment that is the modern film industry. While the film does speak at multiple levels, it becomes clear early on that Cronenberg has developed a singular message: despite its glitzy and star-gazed appeal, there is a treacherous, cold, and violent facet of hollywood lurking just beneath surface.

Bottom Line: With an ensemble cast, Maps To The Stars makes for some ugly but fascinating viewing and a true return-to-form for Cronenberg.

Rating – 7/10 

Film Recipie: Cosmopolis (2012) + Nightcrawler (2014) + Mulholland Dr. (2001) 

 

Stoker (2013)

26 Jan

Park Chan-wook has proved himself to be Korea’s version of Quentin Tarantino.  With a slew of acclaimed films under his belt (ThirstLady Vengeance) including a revenge cult classic (Oldboy), he is no stranger to the violent and macabre.  Stoker, his first English-language film, is a bit more on the tamer side, but by far his most intellectual and thought-provoking work.

The story revolves around an 18-year-old India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska), whose father has passed away in a bizarre car wreck.  His wife, played by Nicole Kidman, arranges for her mysterious brother-in-law Charlie (Matthew Goode) to stay with the family in order to help them cope.  India is skeptical of her uncle whom she barley knows, and grows more suspicious when rumors float around saying that he is sleeping with her own mom.  To say anything more at this point would be spoiling the mystery behind this elusive family who all have their fair share of skeletons in the closet.

At its heart, Stoker is a psychological thriller, and the best kind you can ask for.  The limited amount of characters and slow pacing of the movie give the audience time to reflect and peer into the minds of the Stoker family.  The film is beautifully shot with eerie accompanying music composed by Clint Mansel.  Though it lacks the blood and carnage of previous movies directed by Park, Stoker is one of the best films of its genre I have seen. It is a suspenseful ride with more twists than your typical rollercoaster including an ending that blew me away.  I loved every minute of it.

stoker640

Rating: 8/10 

 
Similar to: Black Swan, The Shining, Psycho