Alejandro González Iñárritu
Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Emma Stone
The studios threw me a curve ball by moving my September pick, The Book Of Life, to October. But I won’t cheap out and pick the same movie both months. I’m a little intrigued by the concept of Birdman: a has-been actor whose most famous role was that of an iconic superhero tries to re-start his career on Broadway. According to the blurb, his ego and problems with the family are going to be obstacles to his triumphant resurgence. The parallels to Adam West and Christopher Reeves’ troubles with post-Batman and post-Superman typecasting respectively spring immediately to mind. The story was a mild attractor, but the visuals and cinematography from the short trailer are really powerful, and full of superheroic imagery. It’s going to be a pretty film, whatever else it ends up being.
Top billed Michael Keaton has a superhero connection to Batman as well; weird. He seems to have started choosing darker roles of late — like his part as an evil executive in Robocop 2014–despite that blue-eyed baby face and smoochy lips. This is billed as a comedy but I have the feeling it’s not going to be a light-hearted romp. The charismatic Emma Stone was pretty much the best thing about the Amazing Spider-Man movies, to the point where fans want her in the next one as Mary Jane, so whatever part she plays in this story is going to be worth watching.
Alas, the story seems to be another one of Hollywood’s “Diversity? Ha ha, We have a guy named Galifianakis, isn’t that diverse enough for you?” vehicles. As of this writing, I can’t find a single actor of color in the cast despite the director clearly being Spanish. I’m not a huge fan of Zach Galifaianakis, either, so this movie is getting my butt in the seat based on Keaton, Stone, and Norton, who usually don’t disappoint. I’ll be there with the grains of salt sprinkled liberally on my popcorn.
Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson, Brandon P. Bell, Dennis Haysbert, & Teyonah Parris
I love a good satire film and, given what’s been on the news lately, I’m really excited for one on race. There’s various black identities explored in the film from the activist to the assimilated to the one who doesn’t know how to be “black” or what that entails. The trailer won me over with its humour, and the cast is filled with familiar faces (Tyler James Williams, Tessa Thompson & Dennis Haysbert) and new ones (Brandon P. Bell & Teyonah Parris) that look capable in bringing us a fantastic film. This is Justin Simien’s first directorial debut of a feature film.
Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris
20th Century Fox
Nick Dunne’s wife Amy goes missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. He says he didn’t have anything to do with it, but as the investigation continues all leads seem to come back to him. Did he do it? Or is the real perpetrator still out there?
When Gone Girl (the novel) was released in the summer of 2012 it took the book-world by storm. It was everywhere. I saw posters, store displays, people reading it on the subway, in coffee shops, and everywhere in between. At the time, I didn’t consider myself much of a mystery/thriller fan, and I had been burned by buzz books before (case in point – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), but eventually, in December 2012 I caved and picked up a copy at the library.
It didn’t take long for me to understand what all the hype was about. Gillian Flynn writes fantastic broken characters and disturbing yet addictive mysteries. One month later, I had flown through not only Gone Girl, but Sharp Objects and Dark Places as well. Flynn had earned a new fan-for-life. So when the movie for Gone Girl was first announced, I had my reservations, especially with Ben Affleck playing Nick. I like Ben Affleck, but I wasn’t sure I could see him in this role. But then came the trailer. Since it was revealed, I have watched it repeatedly, and I’m just as excited every time. The casting and tone feels perfect, and I can’t wait to relive the mystery again on the big screen.
John R. Leonetti
Annabelle Wallis, Alfre Woodard, Eric Ladin
New Line Cinema
Annabelle was introduced during The Conjuring – the doll has a custom box in the occult museum Ed and Lorraine Warren keep in their home for all of the haunted items they’ve brought back during their long career as paranormal investigators. There is a short scene in the beginning of the movie that shows us the demonic doll and the two young women she is tormenting. Annabelle is briefly released later on and threatens the Warren’s daughter.
Annabelle focuses on the doll’s earlier history. John (Ward Horton) picks up the doll as a gift for his pregnant wife Mia (Annabelle Wallis). Soon after, a terrifying event leaves the couple grateful for their lives. Yet, they are unaware that the doll is now home to an evil entity, and that’s when the real horror begins.
I’m a sucker for a good ghost story: Poltergeist, Insidious, Oculus, The Ring, Stir of Echoes, The Devil’s Backbone. I eat them up like candy, and then curse the inevitable sleepless nights as I remember the scariest moments in vivid detail while huddled in my bed. I’ve been looking forward to Annabelle, and thought the Conjuring was one of the best ghost stories I’ve seen in a while. Unfortunately, I find a lot of dolls to be creepy even during the bright light of day, so while I’ll definitely be seeing this, I also expect to be delightfully scared out of my mind.