The Short: Indie-rock loving misfit Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) finds a way out of the miserable small-town Texas life by joining a roller derby league in nearby Austin using her alter-ego character Babe Ruthless.
Why We Want To See It: Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut may seem like another underdog sports movie but it says something when 82% of critics polled on Rotten Tomatoes have given it a “Fresh” rating. Despite familiar ingredients they say, “Whip It!” is an energetic, fun movie with an easygoing spirit and a lightness of touch that makes it hard to mock and easy to like. We like!
A SERIOUS MAN
The Short: Set in the 1960s, “A Serious Man” is a black comedy about a Midwestern Jewish professor whose life threatens to unravel when his wife threatens to leave him, his unemployed brother refuses to move out of his house, his son has a discipline problem and his daughter is stealing money to save up for a nose job.
Why We Want To See It: Coming after their most commercially accessible film “Burn after Reading”, “A Serious Man” sees the Coen brothers returning to their trademark dark humour combined with an unusually personal touch as they explore themes of faith, familial responsibility, mortality, and Judaism. No wonder it’s been described as not only their most mature but perhaps their best film to date.
THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS
The Short: Dr. Parnassus is a travelling story-teller who makes a deal with the devil, Mr Nick, for youth, on the condition that when his first-born turns sixteen, she will become Mr Nick’s property. As she reaches her sixteenth birthday, Dr. Parnassus has to race against time to save her from her impending fate (I mean, date) with the devil.
Why We Want To See It: This is Heath Ledger’s last film- he was filming this halfway when he died of a tragic drug overdose. But besides hailing his final performance, critics are also praising the darkly imaginative vision of director Terry Gilliam, free from the shackles of studio control (yes, we’re referring to “The Brothers Grimm”) to deliver an intoxicating visual spectacle.
The Short: Returning home after being held as a prisoner-of-war and assumed dead in Afghanistan, Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) discovers that his ex-con brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) has taken over the role as man of the family and his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) has fallen in love with Tommy.
Why We Want To See It: Adapted from the critically acclaimed Susanne Bier film, Jim Sheridan’s (My Left Foot, In America) latest boasts some of the best acting of the year from its star cast, with Maguire, Gyllenhaal and Portman praised for their strong performances. From the looks of it, this adult drama is a thought-provoking piece filled with powerful and poignant scenes. .
The Short: Famous film director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) struggles to find harmony in his professional and personal lives, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, his mistress, his muse, his agent, and his mother.
Why We Want To See It: “Chicago” director Rob Marshall returns with yet another screen musical, this time backed with an even more impressive cast, including Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Kate Hudson, Fergie, and Nicole Kidman. Whew! Variety’s Todd McCarthy describes it as a “savvy piece of musical filmmaking” that is “sophisticated, sexy and stylishly decked out”. This is the legendary Weinsteins’ surest bet at Oscar glory this year and from the looks of it, they have a good chance.
What’s it about: The film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s bleak, bleak novel about a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) who walk for months across a post-apocalyptic landscape in search of civilisation.
We Say: Director John Hillcoat (better known for his underrated gem, The Proposition) stays true to the source novel and has been praised for how arresting he has realized the bleak, blighted landscape of a modern society reduced to savagery. What has also won over the critics are the hauntingly powerful performances by Mortensen and McPhee that capture beautifully the essence of the bond between father and son. As far as post-apocalyptic tales go, this spare and intense tale looks to be one riveting good watch.
ME AND ORSON WELLES
What’s it about: Set in New York City in 1937, “Me and Orson Welles” is a week in the life of aspiring actor Richard Samuels (Zac Efron) who lands a job with Orson Welles (played by newcomer Christian McKay) and his legendary Mercury Theatre Company in their staging of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”.
We Say: In an unlikely turn, High School Musical star Zac Efron takes on what has been called a career-defining role in Richard Linklater’s (School of Rock) ode to the magic and wonder of theatre. Though critics have been faint in their praise of Efron, they have certainly sat up and took notice of its breakout star Christian McKay, describing his performance as one brimming with brio and wit. Anything Linklater is worth a watch but even more so for “Me and Orson Welles’” energetic young stars.
LAW ABIDING CITIZEN
What’s it about: After being failed by the legal system, a family man (Gerard Butler) decides to take matters into his own hands to avenge his brutally murdered wife and daughter, targeting not only the district attorney (Jamie Foxx) who let the killers go but also the system and the city that made it so.
We Say: We don’t expect this to be subtle- but if you’re in the mood for some hard-hitting macho fun, then director F. Gary Gray’s (The Italian Job) “Law Abiding Citizen” promises just that. Add in two of Hollywood’s most eligible leading men- Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler- and we’re primed for a taut, intense action thriller that really doesn’t need to make much sense.
If You Missed The First Part of "The Ones We Missed"...