One of the films we've been expecting to land on the annually secretive Telluride line-up this year is Werner Herzog's "Queen of the Desert" with Nicole Kidman. A period piece chronicle of the life of traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer and political attaché Gertrude Bell, the film sounds like it could be a meaty opportunity for Kidman, and if a studio were to bite at these late stages and prime a strategy, it might even be a potential awards player. Alas, the film won't be ready for the early festival circuit, at the very least, and that includes Telluride.
One of the better movies I missed at this year's Cannes Film Festival turned out to be Matthew Warchus' crowd pleaser "Pride." The British film made its debut in Director's Fortnight and, unfortunately, as less hectic as Cannes is compared to its prestige festival cousins it rarely allows you to catch up with everything on the schedule. From a distance the film seemed like "The Full Monty," "Waking Ned Devine" or "Calendar Girls" with a slight Working Title spin. Basically, a movie I could catch down the road. Plus, it was screening at the end of the festival when there were a number of other priorities. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Needless to say, I'm kicking myself for not seeing it at Cannes because it's a good one.
Despite his work being sometimes tepidly received at all corners of the globe, James Franco, the filmmaker, has been a major force on the world festival stage. He'll be showing up at Venice once again this year with his William Faulkner adaptation "The Sound and the Fury," but while he's there he'll be picking up some hardware.
I sort of feel like if you can check your brain for "Guardians of the Galaxy," you can check your brain for "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." These things are both basically children's movies. Yeah, Marvel's big end-of-summer king got a lot of great reviews, but it also instantly shot to the top of the most-overrated-film-of-the-year-by-a-staggering-margin list. And I liked it just fine! We're just in this weird space of polar reactions. The media either has to love something or hate it. I feel like these two movies are a perfect illustration of the inherent hypocrisy in that, but that's just my opinion.
John Michael McDonagh's "Calvary" is a gorgeously photographed, exquisitely acted, richly written tale of the underbelly of faith. At the end of a lackluster summer that seemed full of more malnourished product than normal, it's wonderful to sink your teeth into something like this that has so much to say and does so in so efficient a manner.
It seems rather surprising that a biopic tackling the life of famed physicist Stephen Hawking is just now making its way to the big screen, but courtesy of director James Marsh ("Man on Wire," "Red Riding") and actor Eddie Redmayne ("My Week with Marilyn," "Les Misérables"), it's finally doing just that. And ahead of a world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, Focus Features has launched the first trailer for the film.
Last week "Boyhood" producer John Sloss asked me why I thought his film could win the Best Picture Oscar this year. Of course, it's only just August, so all you have is the same thing everyone else has: instincts, observation of the lay of the land, etc. And I'm nowhere near calling it for the little engine that could. Rather, I see in it the kind of special quality that tends to light the fuse of many an Oscar winner. But there's plenty that could stand in its way between now and Feb. 22, 2015.
Then again, looking ahead at this year's potential Oscar slate, I'm not really sensing a banner year. Many of these films could end up absolute masterworks; we just don't know yet. But in the awards fray, lately I've just been thinking, "I see 'Unbroken' and then I see everything else." Angelina Jolie's upcoming POW saga about the life of the late Louis Zamperini seems to have all the bells and whistles that you'd expect of a power Oscar player (and of countless potential players that have hit a brick wall, it should be said), so like most of you, probably, I'm expecting it to clean up. But everyone is getting their narratives in order and Sony sure got a nice smooch from The New York Times over the weekend, setting David Ayer's "Fury" up as an unflinching look at the dark underbelly of heroism in World War II.
The start of production on "Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass" isn't the only Tim Burton news happening. Additionally, newly released are the first two images (below) from the Burton-directed "Big Eyes."
This weekend, Marvel finally goes cosmic as "Guardians of the Galaxy" soars into theaters across the nation. Chris Pratt is now an action star and the geeks are rejoicing. Though I guess it's now just the geeks: with a healthy Rotten Tomatoes score, "Guardians" is one of Marvel Studios' best-reviewed films to date. Will it break August box office records? It very well might.
I've been very curious about Jon Stewart's "Rosewater" since the material and the story seized him so much that he took a hiatus from "The Daily Show" to go make the movie. And now at least we know when we can expect Open Road Films to release it: Nov. 7, right in the thick of awards season.