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Critics’ crystal ball

Democrat-Gazette movie reviewers can’t wait to see these 2013 releases

By Philip Martin

This article was published January 25, 2013 at 3:09 a.m.

johnny-depp-and-armie-hammer-in-the-lone-ranger

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in The Lone Ranger.

Evie Stoker (Nicole Kidman) is an emotionally shaky mother in Korean director Chan-wook Park’s highly anticipated English language debut Stoker.

Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby.

— These are the lean weeks for movie critics. Aside from a few late-arriving award-seekers (Amour, anyone?) January and February are traditionally the time when studios dump their most misbegotten, least promising ventures on a not quite unsuspecting public. Generally, if your movie is opening in January, it’s either a low budget horror film or presumed to stink.

Which leaves us to wonder what the coming year will hold. Don’t look at me - I’m so terrible at predicting what future movies will work that I try not to pay too much attention to coming attractions. Last year at this time, the movie I was most looking forward to was probably Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz - which turned out not to be the worst movie of the year, just the one that disappointed me most.

This year, I’m intrigued by a few things: Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby might work out better than it sounds, and I’m still interested in Kristen Wiig’s Girl Most Likely and even in the Anchorman sequel. I’ve heard whispers of another Bad Santa flick. I understand Brad Pitt is going to be in a lot of movies this year.

Other than that, I plan to keep my expectations in check. But I asked some of my more fun friends what they were looking forward to seeing in 2013, and here is what they said:

Karen Martin, MovieStyle founder, Home Movies columnist and frequent contributor:

January and February are best spent catching up on DVDs and watching the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on TV, but I hold out hope for March 1. That’s the tentative opening date for Lovelace. It’s the story of Linda Boreman, also known as Linda Lovelace, arguably the most famous porn star ever thanks to her starring role in 1972’s Deep Throat and later an outspoken critic of the porn industry’s exploitation of women. Amanda Seyfried, with big brown hair, plays Lovelace. Her mother, Dorothy Boreman, is played by Sharon Stone. Juno Temple plays Linda’s best friend, Adam Brody is Linda’s Deep Throat co-star Harry Reems, and Arkansas native Wes Bentley is Larry Marchiano, Linda’s second husband. Adding some Sex in the City spice to the lineup are Sarah Jessica Parker as Gloria Steinem (!) and Chris Noth. Since it’s likely that many of the female cast members will be taking their clothes off, there’s also Chloe Sevigny, who seems to enjoy such roles.

Then, from Korean director Park Chan-wook (Old Boy) comes psychological thriller Stoker, which is not about vampires. Opening in limited markets March 1, it stars Mia Wasikowska as India, whose Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother (Nicole Kidman) after India’s dad dies in a car accident.

Although India suspects her uncle is up to no good, she finds herself increasingly attracted to him. The appeal here is a terrific director making his English-language debut and a knockout cast that also includes Dermot Mulroney and Australia’s Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook). Besides, it’s high time Nicole Kidman had a hit.

I’m usually not a fan of anything with Disney’s name attached to it, but Disney’s presence is overcome by the casting of much-loved Johnny Depp as Tonto in July 3’s The Lone Ranger. This action comedy traces the history of how lawman John Reid (Armie Hammer) was transformed into an Old West legend. The production was temporarily shelved in August 2011 because another Western, Cowboys and Aliens, did poorly at the box office. But a reworked budget got The Lone Ranger back on track. Directed by Gore Verbinski, the film has an impressive cast that includes William Fichtner, Helena Bonham Carter, James Badge Dale and Barry Pepper.

Directed by Ridley Scott (who halted production of the film in August after the death of his brother Tony, then resumed work in September), The Counselor - with a opening date of sometime in November - is intriguing because it’s the first “spec” script (original, unpublished script written without a deal already in place) by novelist Cormac McCarthy (The Road, All the Pretty Horses, No Country for Old Men). It concerns a lawyer (Michael Fassbender) who gets in all sorts of trouble through his involvement in drug trafficking and the sorts of villains attracted to that particular career path (including characters played by Javier Bardem and Brad Pitt).

Piers Marchant, film critic and frequent MovieStyle contributor:

Inside Llewyn Davis - First of all, know this: I’m one of those Coen Brothers freaks who agonizes over having to choose a fave film of theirs because I love so many of them. Disclaimer aside, their new film Inside Llewyn Davis, which involves a young singer/songwriter trying to make his way in the folk music scene during ’60s era New York, has all the earmarks of another classic. That is, unless a cast that includes Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham and regular Coens stalwart John Goodman does nothing for you. (Feb. 8)

Upstream Color - Shane Carruth has only one previous feature to his credit, a low-budget, densely confusing time-travel flick called Primer, released almost a decade ago. So why is there so much anticipatory buzz about his new film? Primer hinted at a kind of savant genius, for one thing; for another, the premise of this one (the lives of a young couple are somehow entwined with that of an “ageless organism”) is almost too perplexing not to be good. (April 5)

Gravity - The brilliant Alfonso Cuaron hasn’t made a feature film since 2006, when he made the movingly taut Children of Men. His much anticipated new film stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney as two astronauts marooned in a damaged space shuttle, trying desperately to get back home to earth. There are many ways this could go wrong, but I have nothing but faith in the director of Y Tu Mama Tambien. (Oct. 4)

Levi Agee, filmmaker, Screen Gems columnist and programmer for the Little Rock Film Festival:

Gravity - I’ve been waiting for the project to be completed for at least a year. Children of Men is one of my favorite films ever and the details surrounding this new one sound pretty exciting. I also hear the opening shot is 17 minutes long. Wow.

Man of Steel (Zack Snyder) is second on my list because I want to know how Christopher Nolan acts as a producer and if Snyder can win me back as a fan after his last two stinkers. (June 14)

Star Trek Into Darkness. I loved the J.J. Abrams first stab at the Trekkie franchise because he brought it into the 21st century and gave it equal parts story and spectacle. (May 17)

Dan Lybarger, film critic and frequent MovieStyle contributor:

Pacific Rim - Time and time again, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro has made entertaining or even edifying movies from setups that seemed played out. This time around he has people in giant robotic suits taking on giant extraterrestrial creatures. Sure, it looks like a Transformers movie, but it would be refreshing to see a Transformers movie directed by someone who had more imagination, narrative sense and visual panache than Michael Bay does. Knowing that Idris Elba and Oscar-nominee Rinko Kikuchi (Babel) are involved doesn’t hurt, either. (July 13)

Machete Kills and Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For - Robert Rodriguez, a veteran of the Austin, Texas, film scene, is at his best when he’s paying tribute to the drive-in fare he grew up with. He’s coming back to it with a vengeance with his next two movies, and both should be bloody, guilt inducing delights. The former should be especially fun because it features Charlie Sheen playing the president. Just the thought of that casting seems delightfully perverse. (Machete Kills opens Sept. 13; Sin City Oct. 4)

Before Midnight - Richard Linklater, another Austin veteran, is back with his follow-up to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play an American man and a French woman who have brief, meaningful encounters but never quite commit to each other. Because Before Sunset was smarter and more enjoyable than the film that preceded it, it’s reasonable to expect more from the new installment. (Release date to be announced.)

Touchy Feely - Director Lynn Shelton and actress Rosemarie DeWitt were behind the delightful improvised comedy Your Sister’s Sister. Having DeWitt playing a frustrated massage therapist has loads of possibilities. (Release date to be announced.)

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me - Having seen Alex Chilton play an unforgettable set at Juanita’s in Little Rock back in the early 1990s, I’m dying to catch this documentary about how his 1970s band Big Star made breathtaking albums that didn’t sell. The film explores the sadly fascinating story of Chilton’s partner in crime, Chris Bell, who recorded the haunting I Am the Cosmos as a solo album but died at age 27, long before listeners in the ’80s and ’90s discovered the songs he and Chilton wrote and recorded. (Release date to be announced.) E-mail:

pmartin@arkansasonline.com www.blooddirtangels.com

MovieStyle, Pages 31 on 01/25/2013

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