Monthly Preview: December 2013

Okay folks, here we go: one last big rodeo to close out 2013, hopefully on a high note. After the drudgery of November (I had fuck-all to write about for the past month), it’s refreshing to have multiple movies to be excited about in a single month again. WIth several projects from high-profile filmmakers, I’m expecting at least one or two of the movies listed here to place as some of my favorite of this year. But, as the great prophet Berra would say, it ain’t over til it’s over. So let’s enjoy my anticipation while we can for the movies of December 2013…

Out of the Furnace: Some people I know (and they know who they are) have dismissed Out of the Furnace as looking like nothing more than Oscar bait, which is something that I outright do not understand. All I see when I watch that trailer is a Rust Belt revenge drama with a killer cast and a really tangible sense of place. I like every single actor in this movie, and I like the sense of despair and desperation that seem to permeate the whole movie. I can’t complain about (or resist) an old-school family-centric vengeance yarn, especially when approached with such a terrific collection of talent, and I’ll be all over this one when it hits this week.

Inside Llewyn Davis: I haven’t really paid much attention to the buzz around Inside Llewyn Davis, nor do I feel an immense amount of anticipation for it. But I do remember that when it was first announced that the Coen Brothers would be doing a drama about the Greenwich Village folk music scene of the ‘60s, my immediate reaction was “I have to see that”, because it feels like such a perfect concept for the Coens to be exploring at this stage in their careers. While there’s nothing wrong with more mainstream projects like True Grit, the film world is better off with more of the Coens’ left-of-center material, and Inside Llewyn Davis seems to be exactly that kind of project, so I’m there. Also it’s great to see Oscar Isaac in a starring role; here’s hoping to see more of that in the future.

American Hustle: Hoo boy, is this a movie I’m waiting for people to HATE. When I saw Silver Linings Playbook, it was in May of last year, in one of the first preview screenings, and I thought it was a fun, enjoyable movie and not much else, and that was fine. But once it was released, along with thundering awards chatter, everyone in my world seemed to turn against it and become furious that such a movie was being taken so seriously (something similar also seemed to happen to Argo; people seemed more okay with it before Affleck got snubbed for Best Director and the freight train got going). And I fully expect something similar to happen to American Hustle, which is too bad because it looks to me like another fun, dysfunction-driven film from David O. Russell, with the added bonus of some Scorsese-esque period pizazz. It’s got a good cast (and yeah they’ve all worked with him recently on movies people like to hate, but a good cast is a good cast) and it’s a ridiculous enough story to make it stand out as something distinctive just by default. But regardless what other people say, it looks good to me, and I guess that’s what matters, right? Right??

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: I was a latecomer to the Anchorman party, mostly because I’m not a huge fan of Will Ferrell. And outside of Anchorman that’s still primarily the case. Good thing there’s now a second Anchorman movie, even if it’s possible that it could turn out to be the Ghostbusters 2 of our comedic generation. But hey, it looks suitably and appropriately zany, and considering how much is probably missing from the trailers (Adam McKay has said he could cut a whole second version of the movie with all his extra material), there’s still plenty of reason to be excited. Plus, Harrison Ford! James Marsden! More than anything it should still be a lot of fun, and that’s all I really want from it.

Her: For the longest time, I assumed that Charlie Kaufman had written the script for Her, because it’s exactly the sort of uber-weird high concept that he and Spike Jonze made their careers on. But apparently Jonze decided that he doesn’t need Kaufman’s help in making bizarre material, and after Where the Wild Things Are I see no reason to argue. The movie looks impressively touching and painful, and Joaquin Phoenix looks as good as ever. Not to mention Scarlett Johansson proving her voice is at least as appealing as the rest of her. This could be a truly terrific film, and be another unique feather in Spike Jonze’s cap. Now I just need to hope I can see it without the infuriating idiots who laughed at the trailer when it played before Don Jon. Them I can live without.

The Wolf of Wall Street: And ending the year on (what I hope will be) the highest of notes is dear old Martin Scorsese with what looks like his funniest and zaniest movie in years. I personally am a huge fan of his collaborations with Leonardo DiCaprio, and I’m all for the idea of them doing a black comedy that’s essentially a mashup of Wall Street and Goodfellas. The addition of Jonah Hill and Matthew McConaughey only make it more enticing. Honestly I don’t know how anyone could’ve watched the first trailer set to “Black Skinhead” and not come out the other end grinning like an idiot, but this movie looks like a huge bit of awesome, and I’m glad to see it as the movie that caps off 2013.

As a big fan of Ben Stiller as a director, I’ve been excited for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty for awhile, but the middling reviews (and a piece I read recently about it being inundated with product placement) have cooled me on it somewhat; after his debut of Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes looks to have another solid directorial effort with The Invisible Woman, though it’s not the kind of movie I usually go for; and I hate to admit that I’m curious about 47 Ronin– even with the production chaos and the Keanu Reeves whitewashing- as stylized, 300-esque samurai tale.

And that’s it for 2013! Onward and upward, to 2013 and year-end retrospectives!

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