Canucks with connections, desirable sequels, and other movie trends for the next 12 months.
With hotly tipped Oscar contenders like Zero Dark Thirty and Amour finally hitting local theatres, the beginning of the 2013 movie calendar might still seem like the end of 2012. The early-year glut of low-rent genre flicks (think: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D) and low-expectation studio releases (hello, Gangster Squad) adds to the impression of these mid-winter months as a cinematic wasteland.
Nevertheless, hope still floats for the rest of 2013’s movie lineup, which is distinguished by four trends that bode especially well for patriotic cinephiles, sci-fi aficionados, and many other folks who’ll be happy to spend a good chunk of the year in the dark.
Canadian filmmakers find A-lister friends: Judging by the stars they acquired for new projects, the country’s most celebrated directors have some very impressive networking skills. Now in post-production and a likely pick for Cannes in May, Devil’s Knot is a new drama based on the case of the wrongfully convicted West Memphis Three, that teams Atom Egoyan with Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth. Meanwhile, Denis Villeneuve is readying An Enemy, an adaptation of the novel by José Saramago that the Incendies director shot last summer in Toronto with Jake Gyllenhaal. Not to be outdone, Café de Flore’s Jean-Marc Vallée is wrapping up Dallas Buyers Club, an AIDS drama starring Matthew McConaughey. Starbuck, the Québécois comedy that was Canada’s biggest homegrown hit of 2011, is being remodelled as The Delivery Man, an English-language vehicle for Vince Vaughn with the original’s director, Ken Scott, still at the helm. Then there’s The F Word, a rom-com by Goon’s Mike Dowse that brought Daniel Radcliffe to town last summer. And despite the mixed response to Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson plan to reunite in Los Angeles this summer to shoot Maps to the Stars. All this cross-border traffic has us hoping that more Canadian directors make strategic alliances—maybe Sarah Polley and Jason Statham can finally find a project together.
Super-sized science fiction: The trailer for Pacific Rim recently caused a worldwide round of fanboy pants-wetting, and Guillermo del Toro’s locally shot robots-vs.-monsters showdown (out July 12) has plenty of company when it comes to grand-scaled science-fiction cinema. On March 8, District 9 director Neill Blomkamp unveils Elysium, a dystopic tale of class warfare in the year 2159 starring Matt Damon. On April 12, Tom Cruise headlines TRON: Legacy maker Joseph Kosinski’s adaptation of the graphic novel Oblivion, set on a future Earth left devastated by a war with aliens. Though still awaiting a new release date after being pushed from last November, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity promises to be a similarly spectacular, if more existential-minded, vision of the future that strands Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in space. Yet the most tantalizing prospect is an enigmatic indie called Upstream Color, the first feature by Shane Carruth since Primer, the 2004 time-travel tale that was one of the past decade’s most mindbending cult flicks.
Sequels we actually want to see: Beyond the franchise-extenders for The Hunger Games and The Hobbit—plus such grim inevitabilities as Paranormal Activity 5—the slate for 2013 has an abundance of sequels that promise more than more of the same. After successfully snazzing up the big-screen Star Trek series with his 2009 reboot, J.J. Abrams returns with Kirk and Spock in tow in Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17). And though 300: Rise of an Empire (Aug. 2) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Oct. 4) are sure to replicate the CGI-enhanced ultra-violence of their predecessors, moviegoers may get something meatier from Riddick (Sept. 6), director David Twohy’s third entry in the sci-fi series that he and Vin Diesel started in 2000 with the nifty Pitch Black. The only snag is that we have to wait till next Christmas for Anchorman: The Legend Continues, a long time to be so cruelly deprived of Ron Burgundy’s jazz-flute stylings.
Fest faves return to the fray: Many other films awaiting release have already proven their mettle on the festival circuit. For instance, TIFF Bell Lightbox’s winter program includes runs for Mekong Hotel (the latest by Cannes all-star Apichatpong Weerasethakul) and Sundance prize-winner Middle of Nowhere. As for the film festivals themselves, the schedule is quiet until the late-February launch for Human Rights Watch. Then comes the springtime deluge of Cinefranco, ReelWorld, Images, Hot Docs, the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, etc., all of which will be competing for the attentions of local moviegoers. The wisest of us will be resting up with a regimen of hot drinks, vitamins, and well-timed naps during screenings of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.