2012 has to be one of the most exciting years yet for imaginative storytelling on the big screen.
Halle Berry co-stars in the highly ambitious Wachowskis (The “Matrix” trilogy) film, “Cloud Atlas,” which likely due to its high concept, didn’t perform well at the box office, domestically, that is. It’s almost a sure bet that the film will be better received overseas. Featuring six interlocking stories, “Cloud Atlas,” is the sort of film that hopes to reach, but never quite grasps a mainstream audience. But hey, that’s art.
Wu-Tang Clan’s The RZA, thanks to his powerhouse Kung fu film, “The Man With the Iron Fists,” is going to direct a new film based on the life of Genghis Khan. If you haven’t seen “The Man With the Iron Fists,” you should. It’s an original idea written, performed, scored, and conceived by one individual (the RZA) just like a classic Prince album.
“Django Unchained,” the new Quentin Tarantino film starring Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx and co-starring the ubiquitous Samuel L. Jackson will be required viewing. Tarantino’s work is always off the charts in terms of great writing, great directing, perfect casting, and originality. Any time Tarantino returns with another scribbling from his inner thoughts, it reminds moviegoers that originality still exists (and thrives).
Many happy returns
Though I tend to avoid unnecessary sequels, the new Bond film “Skyfall” wouldn’t fall under that category anyway. This may be the 50th year of the franchise.
One hoped that Peter Jackson wasn’t done with Middle-Earth, as there are literally hundreds of stories left from the pen of J.R.R. Tolkien. The “Lord of the Rings” film trilogy rivaled “Star Wars” in its attention to detail and rabid, passionate fan base. Prepare to see a bunch of folks dressed up as hobbits for the premiere of the new film based off Tolkien’s book (“The Hobbit”). Ian McKellen reprises his role as the wizard Gandalf -- ‘nuff said. If you loved Middle-Earth from Jackson’s perspective you should love “The Hobbit.” And, true to form, this film will be split into three parts. “The Hobbit,” a prequel to the “Lord of the Rings” triology, is quite shorter than those books. Why Jackson feels it necessary to break one book into three films doesn’t make much sense, but with Jackson, you’ve got to trust the guy’s vision.
Classic literature on film
Leo Tolstoy’s tale of adultery, “Anna Karenina,” has always seemed to adapt well to film. Keira Knightley, a reliable period piece actress, plays the title role. The best adaptation so far, to my mind, was a Masterpiece Theatre production in the ‘90s. This one has the advantage of millions of dollars behind it, Knightley, and director Joe Wright.
As Robert Redford pretty much embodied the quintessential Gatsby in the 1974 film for many students of American literature, Leonard DiCaprio is going to try his hand at a little pop culture rewriting. The trailer is audacious enough to intrigue a much larger audience than Mr. F. Scott Fitzgerald would have ever imagined.
Now that we’ve got through all the superhero films, cars turning over, failed remakes and the like, it’s time to get on with some serious cinema.