Just like every year that has come before it, there are a plethora of new releases that are slated for release in 2019 that I am eagerly anticipating. However, 2019 looks to be potentially a particularly strong year, as a very large number of my favourite directors are releasing new films. From last years list, I'm still waiting on releases for Neil Jordan's “Greta” (which was originally titled “The Widow” during production), Brian De Palma's “Domino”, and Martin Scorsese's Netflix crime drama “The Irishman”, which are still hugely anticipated and should be considered an extension of the below list (but I do not like including the same titles for multiple years). Besides the titles below that I am shining a spotlight on, 2019 will see a number of new and exciting films from talented directors, the likes of Terrence Malick (“Radegeund”), Ang Lee (“Gemini Man”), Roman Polanski (“J'Accuse”), Tim Burton (“Dumbo”), Rian Johnson (“Knives Out”), Tomas Alfredson (“Jonssonligan”), Trey Edward Shults (“Waves”), Taika Waititi (“Jojo Rabbit”), Kiyoshi Kurosawa (“To The Ends Of The Earth”), Sean Durkin (“The Nest”), Rob Zombie (“Three From Hell”), Jordan Peele (“Us”), and the Safdie Brothers (“Uncut Gems”), to name but a few. I am excited for them all and many others but below are the eight films that I am most anticipating for 2019.
While I still think that South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho has yet to direct a bad film, his recent big budget Netflix film “Okja” was my least favourite of his so far. While technically very proficient, the story just did not grab a hold of me like some of his previous films. Still this has not dampened my anticipation for his brand new film, which “Parasite” just happens to be. Very little is actually known about the film except that it is a return for Bong to a Korean language drama (after the international productions of “Snowpiercer” and “Okja”) and that he has re-teamed with Song Kang-Ho who plays the leading role. The imdb does have a brief plot synopsis which seems to give away little: “ All unemployed, Ki-taek's family takes peculiar interest in the Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.” Sounds very intriguing.
I was a very big fan of Robert Eggers “The Witch”, which was released in 2015, and was super stoked when he revealed that his next film was going to be a remake of the silent classic “Nosferatu”. He seemed like the perfect director to tackle this story once again, but for reasons that I am not totally sure about, the film got put on hold, and Eggers quickly found himself in production on “The Lighthouse”. Again, very little is known about the film with the only plot information from imdb being “The story of an aging lighthouse keeper named Old who lives in early 20th-century Maine.” It appears to be a very small production with the cast list only having two names on it, Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, but from all reports, “The Lighthouse” is something of a horror film. There has been some talk too that it was quite a hard shoot with tensions flaring a number of times, but hopefully this benefits the final picture. The thing that I am most excited about in regards to “The Lighthouse” is Eggers decision to shoot the movie on 35mm using actual black and white film stock. With him re-teaming with his cinematographer from “The Witch”, Jarin Blaschke, one thing is certain, this is going to be one gorgeous looking film.
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
After the critical and financial disaster that was “Pan”, Joe Wright bounced back very nicely with his WWII drama “Darkest Hour” which saw Gary Oldman net a Best Actor Oscar for playing Winston Churchill. Wright, always the chameleon and never tackling similar material with consecutive films, has this time followed up with what appears to be a thriller in the Alfred Hitchcock mould. It is about “an agoraphobic woman living in New York [who] begins spying on her neighbours only to witness a disturbing act of violence”. Playing the lead role is the super talented Amy Adams, with Wright immediately reuniting with Oldman who, along with Julianne Moore, seem to have a significant roles in the film also. From the plot description, this film is totally in my wheelhouse; I love thrillers, I love “Rear Window”, and I have always wanted to see Wright tackle a film like this, with his superior visual style. I am also excited to see that his cinematographer for “The Woman in the Window” is once again Bruno Delbonnel who is fast becoming one of my favourite cinematographers. If all that wasn't enough, Wright has also hired Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross to work on the score for the film. I have the feeling that “The Woman in the Window” could turn out to be something very special.
Unlike the rest of the films on this list, “In Fabric” is already finished and had festival screenings where it has been met with mostly positive reviews. The film is a horror movie about a cursed dress (!) where as it is passed on from owner to owner, the wearers each suffer devastating consequences. While the plot sounds very bizarre, it is the brainchild of writer/director Peter Strickland, who thanks to his previous work, I have complete faith in him delivering a compelling and very unique horror film. Strickland is a filmmaker who is influenced by European genre cinema of the past and uses the visual tropes from them to explore themes and stories that are interesting to him. In “Berberian Sound Studio” he used a lot of the visual language from Italian gialli of the 70's without creating a giallo himself in the process, while “The Duke of Burgundy” was clearly influenced by Jess Franco's work while also being considerably different from them too. The best thing that I have ever seen from Strickland was his segment in the omnibus film “The Field Guide To Evil” which he did in the style of a silent film, and it is the best section of that film, and visually sumptuous. From all reports, “In Fabric” is also magnificent in terms of its visual style and I cannot wait to check it out. To give me more confidence in the film, my favourite distributors in the US, A24, have picked up “In Fabric” for release.
THE DEAD DON'T DIE
Like a lot of these anticipated films, the plot of “The Dead Don't Die” is unknown but what we do know about the film is enough for me to be salivating for its release. This is the latest film from Jim Jarmusch and it is a zombie comedy. While that may not sound like the two things should go together, it was only six years ago that Jarmusch graced us with his version of a vampire tale with “Only Lovers Left Alive” which turned out to be freaking amazing in every way, so if he can produce the same sort of gold with his take on zombies, I am all for it. Jarmusch has also assembled quite an amazing cast for “The Dead Don't Die” with him even reuniting with some old favourites. In the film are Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Tom Waits, Chloe Sevigny, Selena Gomez (!), Danny Glover and Caleb Landry Jones. Wow! While I am a Jarmusch fan through and through, his two previous films I have absolutely loved to bits, so I am totally chomping at the bit to see “The Dead Don't Die”.
PAIN & GLORY
The latest film from genius Spanish director Pedro Almodovar is “Pain & Glory” and its about “a director reflecting on the choices he has made in his life as past and present come crashing down around him”. For the past thirty years, I can not think of another director who has been as constant as Almodovar at releasing brilliant and challenging films, so whenever the man ever has a new film coming out, you can guarantee it will end up on my most anticipated list of that year. The new film sees him once again collaborate with Antonio Banderas, who plays the lead here (and maybe Almodovar's on-screen alter-ego? Who knows?), as well as one of his favourite actresses in Penelope Cruz. These two actors always produce their best work, in my opinion, when they work with Almodovar so I am expecting big things out of “Pain & Glory”. As usual, Almodovar has put together his regular team of Jose Luis Alcaine as cinematographer, and Alberto Iglesias doing the music, who he works with beautifully. With “Pain & Glory” due to be released in Spain on March 22nd, you would assume that we will see a trailer for it very soon. As usual, I cannot wait to watch the new Pedro Almodovar film.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD
As I have said on numerous occasions, any time Quentin Tarantino brings out a new film, it will be added straight onto this list and will almost always be right at the top. The imdb describe “Once Upon A Time In Hollwyood” as so: “A faded TV actor and his stunt double embark on an odyssey to make a name for themselves in the film industry during the Helter Skelter reign of terror in 1969 Los Angeles.” Tarantino has indicated that this is most like “Pulp Fiction” in style compared to his other films, which works for me. It appears that he is working on a huge canvas here, and just from looking at the cast list, I am expecting a film with a significantly extended running time here. Much has been made of the casting of Margot Robbie in the role of Sharon Tate, but apparently the film is not about the Mason family rather that story serves in the background. Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are the stars of the film but the cast is teeming with names like Al Pacino, Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Tim Roth, Bruce Dern and Luke Perry (!). Since Quentin Tarantino is the creator of this movie, you know that it is going to be shot on 35mm film and once again Robert Richardson is Tarantino's cinematographer. This film screams “EPIC” and if QT stays true to his claim that he will only make ten features in his career before retiring, then that makes “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” his penultimate film.
My most anticipated film of 2019 is Paul Verhoeven's “Bendetta” (although I much prefer its original title of “Blessed Virgin”) and to be honest, the reason I am so looking forward to it is really nothing more than a gut feeling that it is going to be great. Well that is not entirely true, as I am a massive fan of Paul Verhoeven's directorial career and “Bendetta” seems like a movie that totally fits his talents perfectly. On imdb it is described like so: “A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. She is assisted by a companion, and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair.” I guess it could be very easy to just classify this as Verhoeven's “lesbian nun” film but while Verhoeven never shies away from nudity or sexual content of a story, he doesn't just do so to titillate like he is often accused of. Rather he often tackles difficult subjects and stories that have this component and stays true to the presentation of these moments as opposed to just glossing over them or ignoring them completely. Following on from his most recent film “Elle”, this is another French language project and he reunites with that films screenwriter on “Bendetta”. Interestingly, Verhoeven's longtime writing partner Gerard Soeteman until recently shared a writing credit on this too, but has distanced himself from the project by asking his name to be removed from the credits as he felt the film focused too heavily on the sexual aspects rather than the political nature that he deemed more interesting. With this recent development, it only whets my appetite more to see just how “Bendetta” turns out.
Well, that is it. My enormous round up of the year that was 2018 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?