Tuesday, January 23, 2018


Just like every year that has come before it, there are a plethora of new releases that are slated for release in 2018 that I am eagerly anticipating. From last years list, I'm still really only waiting for “A Storm in the Stars”, which has since been re-titled as “Mary Shelley” to be released as well as Paul Thomas Anderson's “Phantom Thread”, which would have made the list last year but I just didn't believe that it would be ready in time for a 2017 release. On the cards for 2018 are new films from talented directors, the likes of Steven Soderbergh (“Unsane”), Kim Ji-Woon (“Jin Roh: The Wolf Brigade”), Zhang Yimou (“Shadow”), Wes Anderson (“Isle of Dogs”), Melanie Laurent (“Galveston”), Terrence Malick (“Radegeund”), Alfonso Cuaron (“Roma”), Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Favourite”), Luca Guadagnino (“Suspiria”), David Robert Mitchell (“Under the Silver Lake”), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (“The Wild Pear Tree”) and David Lowery (“The Old Man and the Gun”) , to name but a few. Not only that, but we also have a brand new entry in the “Halloween” franchise, that sees the return of Jamie Lee Curtis in the role of Laurie Strode. All of the above I am looking forward to greatly, but the one I really wanted to add to my most anticipated list but wont, is Paul Verhoeven's “Blessed Virgin”. While slated for a 2018 release, the feature has yet to start filming, so I do not think it will be ready until at least 2019, but hopefully this will be like “Phantom Thread” and come out much quicker than I expected. Anyway, below are the eight films that I am most anticipating for 2018.


Director Pen-ek Ratanaruang used to be quite prolific but “Samui Spring” is his first theatrical feature in seven years. I suppose it should be noted that since 2011's “Headshot”, Ratanaruang has directed both a documentary (“Paradoxocracy”) and a television movie (“The Life of Gravity”), so it is not as though he has been sitting idle. Still “Samui Song” can be seen as something of a return of this super talented Thai director and it has got me very excited to see it. While the film actually premiered at Toronto back in September of last year, I have stayed away from reviews and any details about it, but the imdb synopsis describes “Samui Song” like this: “a soap opera actress finds herself increasingly pressured by her husband, a rich foreigner entirely devoted to a charismatic cult leader”. Hmmmm, colour me intrigued.


First up, I can not believe that it has already been six years since director Neil Jordan's previous film, the sublime “Byzantium”. As I always say, Jordan's films are at their best when he deals with genre elements and while not much is known about “The Widow” as of yet, it is known to at least be a thriller. The logline on imdb describes the film simply with this sentence: “a young woman befriends a lonely widow”. It betrays little of the film's plot but I have faith in Jordan to supply the thrills here, and if the name Neil Jordan is not enough to get you excited for “The Widow”, then the cast of Maika Monroe, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Isabelle Huppert (and of course, Stephen Rea) should help. Not only that but Jordan is working with the very talented Seamus McGarvey as his cinematographer. I have a feeling that “The Widow” could be something very special, and hope that it does not end up getting lost in the shuffle of more higher profile films.


Wait, didn't I just talk about this film?? No, that film was “The Widow”, where this is “Widows” directed by Steve McQueen, but seeing as how close both of these titles are, I would be amazed if one of them wasn't re-named. “Widows” may see a new chapter in Steve McQueen's directorial career as the film sees him, for the first time, tackle something less serious and more fun after the very heavy dramas of his previous three features. As I insinuated above, there is something very exciting when a “prestige” or art-house director tackles genre, as they seem to add a spark to it and elevate it at the same time. Unlike the previous two titles on this list, a little more is known about what to expect from “Widows” which is due to the fact that it is actually a remake of a television mini-series that came out in 1983. The film centres on four widows who, after their husbands die whilst planning a robbery, decide to take up the plans and finish the job. It sounds like a lot of fun, and with McQueen once again re-teaming with cinematographer Sean Bobbitt, “Widows” will at least look pretty if nothing else. 


The latest film from cinema's enfant terrible, Lars Von Trier, is something that he, himself, calls his most brutal film to date. Ummmmm.........did he not watch “Antichrist”???? Man, that statement is both chilling and exciting. “The House That Jack Built” is a horror film that spans twelve years in the life of a serial killer named Jack, where each murder changes him and evolves his style of killing. Jack is working towards his greatest masterpiece, a murder that can only be considered a work of art, but with the police on his tail, will he get the chance to finish his life's master-work. This sounds right up my alley, and while I do not always love everything that Von Trier does, he is always an interesting director that will make you feel (sure, its usually a depression, but at least he connects with an audience). It will also be nice to see Matt Dillon, who plays the titular Jack, sink his teeth into a nice meaty role again.


After creating my favourite film of 2015 with the near perfect “Phoenix”, it was a given that whatever director Christian Petzold came up with next, that it would make my most anticipated list. “Transit” is that follow up and upon initial inspection, it seems that the film could almost be a companion film to “Phoenix”, as the imdb describes it as follows: “When a man flees France after the Nazi invasion, he assumes the identity of a dead author whose papers he possesses. Stuck in Marseilles, he meets a young woman desperate to find her missing husband – the very man he's impersonating”. Sure the plot has a very pulpy feel to it, but in Petzold's hands I have no doubt it will be great stuff. When I first heard about the film, I was surprised to see Petzold immediately return to another period film after “Phoenix”, especially set in World War II, but word is that Petzold has altered the story to actually take place in modern times which is certainly interesting (and means that the Nazi invasion will no longer work as a plot point). If this is the case, we wont have to wait long to find out as “Transit” premieres at the Berlin Film Festival which starts in mid February. Whilst “Transit” sees Petzold work with his usual crew, it must be noted that this is the first film, since “Gespenster” in 2005, that he has made without his onscreen muse Nina Hoss. However, taking the place in the female lead is Paula Beer, who was sensational in Francois Ozon's “Frantz”, so I am not as worried, although she has a lot to live up to. 


Iranian director Asghar Farhadi is arguably the greatest director working in world cinema today. To date, he has made seven features and all of them have been very good to flat out brilliant. In fact his 2011 film, “A Separation”, is an out and out masterpiece (and my favourite film of this decade by far) and because of it, any film that Farhadi makes will be put onto this list. While Farhadi's previous film, “The Salesman”, saw him return to Iran, the film before that saw him tackle a French story with the outstanding “The Past”. “Everybody Knows” sees him, once again, return to Europe but this time to Spain and sees him collaborate with Spanish acting royalty in Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, not to mention the brilliant Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin. What a cast, but it doesn't stop there, as Farhadi has also been able to secure the services of Pedro Almodovar's greatest collaborators in Jose Luis Alcaine as cinematographer and Alberto Iglesias to do the film's score! Wow!! Can you imagine just how great this film is going to be? So what's the film about? Here is what imdb has to say: “Carolina, a Spanish woman living in Buenos Aires, returns to her hometown outside Madrid with her Argentinian husband and children. However, the trip is upset by unexpected events that bring secrets into the open”. It certainly sounds like a film created by Asghar Farhadi and I cannot wait to see it, hoping that it makes it to MIFF later this year.


No matter what the story, no matter what the plot, when ever Brian de Palma makes a new film, it will always be one of my most anticipated films of that year, usually THE most anticipated. De Palma is my equal favourite director, along with Martin Scorsese and David Lynch, but sadly as he gets older, the time between each De Palma film seems to get longer. Six years have passed between “Passion” and “Domino” and I am really hanging to see another new film from this great filmmaker. I must admit that the plot of “Domino” doesn't really sound anything special but as with all De Palma films, it is all about the way De Palma presents the film. He is a visual storyteller through and through, and has amazing cinematic technique, elevating the most boring of plots into something fun and exciting to sit through. He will be helped in this task again by cinematographer Jose Luis Alcaine (who shot “Domino” before moving onto the Farhadi film), and the return of Pino Donaggio doing the score. The plot sounds as simple as it comes and is described on imdb like this: “A Copenhagen police officer seeks justice for his partner's murder by a mysterious man”. Sure, it sounds a little ho-hum, but c'mon, this is De Palma!!! With Carice van Houten, who was so good in Paul Verhoeven's “Black Book”, as the female lead, it adds another layer of excitement to the new Brian De Palma film. Can. Not. Wait.


The only man that could knock Brian De Palma from the top of my most anticipated list is none other than Martin Scorsese with his brand new film “The Irishman”. However, “The Irishman” has a lot more going for it than just being a new Scorsese film, although normally that is more than enough. It is the director's return to the crime dramas that made him famous but the biggest thing about “The Irishman” is Robert De Niro. It is the first time Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese have made a film together since 1995's “Casino”. Can you believe that it has been twenty three years since these two have made a feature together?!? That alone would be enough to make it my most anticipated film of 2018 but wait, there is more. Scorsese has also brought Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel and Ray Romano along for the ride too......ummmm.....like I said, Pesci and Keitel are along for the ride too! But again, that is not all! For the first time ever, Martin Scorsese is making a film with Al Pacino as well. This film is too good to be true!! It just sounds amazing. Scorsese is again teaming up with Rodrigo Prieto as his cinematographer and it is good to see him giving the young, newcomer Thelma Schoonmaker a chance as his editor (tee hee). As exciting as all of this is, I must admit I am a bit worried about the “reverse ageing” technology they plan to use to make the actors look younger in their roles. That makes me nervous. Plus the fact that Netflix is funding this film, I worry that I will never get to see “The Irishman” on the big screen nor own it on blu ray, but we will cross those bridges when we get to them because without any doubt in the world, Martin Scorsese's “The Irishman”, starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, is my most anticipated film of 2018.

Well, that is it. My enormous round up of the year that was 2017 is finally over. Hopefully you enjoyed reading it and got something out of it, but how about we go back to watching some new films now? 

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