??As fun as it is to go into a movie cold, it can also be exciting to have an idea what’s coming. Here are a few upcoming movie projects and events that get me all tingly with anticipation.
More Jang for Your Buck
The best movie news I’ve heard recently is that Korean filmmaker Jang Joon-hwan is finally making a new feature, nearly ten years after his astonishing debut Save the Green Planet!, which I consider one of the best films of the ’00s. It’s a stunning combination of science fiction, comedy, action, social satire and a kind of passionate madness blended with culturally specific political resonance—I still think of it every time I hear a rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” It will star Kim Yun-seok, probably South Korea’s hottest actor right now. Kim appeared recently in the brutal serial killer flick The Chaser and the mellower The Yellow Sea. I haven’t found a useful plot synopsis yet for Jang’s new film, but apparently it’s about a vast conspiracy, and a boy seeking bloody revenge against the two men who raised him. I learned about the project through Twitch, and I’m extremely geeked out about it.
Hey Girl, My Face Hurts
I have to admit that I liked Drive okay, particularly the first ten minutes and Albert Brooks, but I don’t think it’s the masterpiece some do. It’s just a slick, trashy little thriller with two very unconvincing characters at its core. That said, Nicolas Winding Refn is teaming up with Ryan Gosling again for Only God Forgives. This one is about a retired kickboxer/gangster living in Thailand who seeks revenge against a brutal Thai policeman for the murder of his brother. That sounds pretty intriguing, I admit, and it gets even more intriguing when you look at this image of Gosling that Refn Tweeted recently. So sexy! Kristin Scott-Thomas also appears in Only God Forgives, and she’s no slouch. Eventually someone is bound to make a movie wherein I believe Gosling is a tough guy. Maybe this one’s it.
Herzog to the 4+1
Next week, everyone’s favorite voiceover artist/filmmaker Werner Herzog will be the guest of honor at the Fundación Mapfre’s International 4+1 Film Festival. The unique festival will screen its selections in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Spain, and will feature films that have not had commercial releases in any of the host countries, including Chantal Ackerman‘s Almayer’s Folly, Johnnie To‘s Life Without Principle, and Azazel Jacobs‘ wonderfully honest coming-of-age flick, Terri. Herzog will present screenings of Nosferatu and The Wild Blue Yonder in Rio de Janeiro, where he’ll also give a lecture—hopefully about the vileness of the jungle. The festival will be available in streaming HD-quality, online pay-per-view in the participating countries through the Spanish internet platform Filmin. That last part is definitely part of our collective festival-going future.
Werner of Arabia
Speaking of Herzog, the filmmaker’s new project is coming together quite nicely. Jude Law, Naomi Watts, and Robert Pattinson have all signed on to star in Queen of the Desert, written and directed by Herzog. In this historical drama, Watts will play Gertrude Bell, the British spy/writer/explorer of the Mideast, who was sort of a distaff T.E. Lawrence. Herzog has certainly worked with this type of adventure material before, in his own unique fashion. I don’t expect this take on colonialism to match the scathing brilliance of Aguirre: The Wrath of God, but he’s never less than interesting.
Any Witch Way You Can
Another offbeat international auteur, Alex de la Iglesia is in production on his new movie, which has the English title Witching and Bitching. It’s about a group of Spanish thieves with women problems, including one who takes his young son along on a heist gone wrong. They escape with their loot to the woods of Northern France, where they encounter a band of witches. I’m kind of mixed on de la Iglesia. I like his earlier work, and thought The Last Circus was pretty terrific. But I found his last effort, As Luck Would Have It, disappointingly ordinary. I think he’s better off working with material that’s a little crazy, so this sounds promising. I would like to imagine it will be a cross between Blair Witch Project, Reservoir Dogs, and Antichrist—but funny.