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THN’s 2013 Preview: January And February

Usually, the marketing hyping a film’s release is a lot better than the final product: whether it’s exciting stills, an awesome trailer, or a fantastic viral campaign by the time the film actually rolls up it can fall flat (Hey, PROMETHEUS!). I’d like to think here at THN, we take a grounded view and we’ll be able to keep you calm when it comes to film in 2013. But we can’t, have you all seen how much amazing stuff is coming out?! The next six days will hype the crap out of them all!

January

Aah, January. In most aspects, this is the downer month of the year. Christmas and New Year’s are both gone, you’re hungover and out of money, and it’s usually freezing as hell. But when it comes to film, this is the month to see those films that reeeaally want an Academy Award.

The Impossible Trailer

THE IMPOSSIBLE is one with its sights on a gold statue or two. Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (THE ORPHANAGE), it’s a film about the devastating tsunami in East Asia in 2004. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts star as the separated parents trying to reunite their family, torn apart by the waves. Looking suitably dramatic and beautiful, with favourable reviews, it has already arrived in US cinemas and arrives in the UK on New Years Day.

TEXAS CHAINSAW 3D is a tough one for me because I love horror films – even the cheap slasher ones. Some people seem to have weirdly high hopes for this, but the underwhelming trailer has left THN dreading Leatherheads return. He’ll hack his way to the cinema on 4th January in both the UK and US.

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GANGSTER SQUAD has been delayed by necessary re-shoots in the wake of the horrible cinema shooting in Aurora, Colorado. Directed by Ruben Fleischer (ZOMBIELAND, 30 MINUTES OR LESS) it pits Josh Brolin’s cop up against Sean Penn’s gangster in 1940s/50s LA. Sound good? Well we also get Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone re-teaming following their amazing chemistry in CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE and stellar support from Nick Nolte, Robert Patrick and Anthony Mackie. This could be our generation’s L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and arrives in cinemas 11th January in the UK and the US.

LES MISERABLES is the biggest musical in the world. Tom Hooper, following THE KINGS SPEECH, has gathered a cast to make the Academy quiver – Anne Hathaway’s already a shoe-in – and features Russell Crowe warbling – if that doesn’t make you want to watch, I don’t know what will. It has already arrived in US cinemas and takes centre stage in the UK on 11th January.

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DJANGO UNCHAINED will definitely offend some, but I won’t be one of them. With the ‘n-word’ flung around willy nilly and strong violence throughout it looks a fun take on the Western genre (or the most offensive thing you’ll see this year). My hope is QT doesn’t go overboard with tongue-in-cheek references and the story is of the same quality as INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson, and Leonardo DiCaprio star in the US now, whilst we wait until January 18th.

THE SESSIONS looks a shoe-in for an award or two; John Hawkes has gained plaudits for starring as a paralysed man wanting to have his first sexual experience, with Helen Hunt and Willam H. Macy in support. Looking a brilliant blend of sweet, funny and sad,  this warmed the Sundance masses where it won the coveted Audience Award. The film was released back in November in the US and arrives 18th January in the UK.

THE LAST STAND probably won’t be very good, we might as well not kid ourselves, but it gives us the chance to see Arnold Schwarzenegger back in full force as a small town sheriff with an implausibly American name and a thick Austrian accent. This used to be Arnold’s bread and butter, so we should be entertained (providing we can keep Johnny Knoxville to a minimum). The film is Jee-Woon Kim’s American debut and is set for release on 25th January in the UK, with a US release the week before on 18th January.

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LINCOLN has a lot of things going for it – Spielberg and the amazing Daniel Day-Lewis – but I’m worried it could be too schmaltzy. I love Steven Spielberg and the crew he usually uses, but after the bubblegum sweetness that was WAR HORSE, I’m worried. Hopefully my fears will be for nought and they can cook up the right balance. With reports from the US predominantly positive, it seems Spielberg is back on form. The film is scheduled to arrive on 25th January in the UK, while it came out in the US back in November.

ZERO DARK THIRTY is a very American film, and whilst being outside the US may neutralise its effect, the cast is stellar and it should be an exciting experience. Jessica Chastain has gained rave reviews for her performance and the American critics have almost exploded in unison at how amazing it is – though the reaction from the general audience have been more tempered. You can judge in the UK from 25th January.

February

The month of rom-coms thanks to Valentines Day, this February also marks the return of one of cinema’s biggest badasses. It’s also the month with the Academy Awards meaning high brow films start to dry up, to be slowly replaced by bigger and bigger Blockbusters. Here are some highlights:

BULLET TO THE HEAD will not be good, I refuse to believe it. The last moderately good film involving Christian Slater was 1998’s HARD RAIN – and that didn’t blow anyone away. Casting him is like casting Chris O’Donnell, you know it isn’t good, yet but you need a biggish name. Fortunately Jason Momoa will add some class and decent banter with Sylvester Stallone, but don’t expect much much else from this. The film is set to be released on 1st February in both the UK and the US.

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FLIGHT sees the return to the world of real people for director Robert Zemeckis after almost a decade spent working exclusively on motion-capture. Zemeckis live action work has been of a very high quality and I hope that he can return to the form that brought us CAST AWAY and FORREST GUMP (not to mention the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy), but FLIGHT has landed in lukewarm waters, with only Denzel Washington receiving a lot of praise. FLIGHT lands in UK cinemas on 1st February while it was in US cinemas back in November.

ANTIVIRAL is the directorial debut of David Cronenberg’s son, Brandon which harks back to this dad’s body-horror roots,and was warmly received at Cannes. Starring Caleb Landry Jones (X-MEN: FIRST CLASS) as a man who gets infected with a virus belonging to a celebrity it should be an interesting watch (if you have the stomach for it). It will arrive in UK cinemas on 8th February (which turns out to be a packed cinema day).

If nothing, HITCHCOCK is going to be an interesting watch. Anthony Hopkins stars as the titular tyrannical director, with Helen Mirren as his long-suffering wife Alma, in a film framed around the making of PSYCHO. Early reactions have been good and the marketing excellent – especially the ‘turn off your mobile phone’ ad starring Hopkins in full get-up. The film arrives in UK cinemas on 8th February while it has already been released in the US.

WARM BODIES

WARM BODIES was a film that I was slightly sceptical about when word broke: Nicholas Hoult stars as the zombie R who eats a man’s brains and falls in love with his girlfriend…yes, that is the premise. However the trailer dashed my scepticism and showed that it might work, revealing a really funny and surprising tone that is completely opposite the angsty, teen drama I expected. This might not be the worst film you can bring a date to for Valentine’s Day, arriving just in time in UK cinemas on 8th February and in US cinemas the week before on 1st February.

WRECK-IT RALPH appears to be the latest home run from Walt Disney Pictures based on US reaction, and having grown up with a lot of the cameo characters, I’ve looked forward to this one for ages. John C. Reilly voices the titular Ralph who is tired of being the antagonist in his video game and instead wants to try and be a hero. Featuring characters from games Sonic, Street Fighter, Mario, Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat, there should be a ton of funny and nostalgic cameos for us to enjoy when it arrives in the UK on 8th February.

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A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD is going to be badass, yes I’m calling that now. I was one of the few to enjoy LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD – escapism at its finest – and although the series might have gradually lost the sense of (almost) realism that the first one had, I’m with John McClane all the way. A lot depends on Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney’s chemistry as the father/son pairing but regardless, this should be a great anti-Valentine’s Day film. Yippee Ki-Yay Mother Russia! The film will arrive in UK and US cinemas on 14th February.

THIS IS 40 is a sort-of-sequel to 2007’s KNOCKED UP which follows Paul Rudd’s and Leslie Mann’s characters as they deal with a mid-life crisis. Judd Apatow’s films are sometimes immature but carry enough weight to rank above the usual batch of Adam Sandler fart jokes. Paul Rudd is a really gifted comedian, and with solid support from Chris O’Dowd, Jason Segel, and…errm…Megan Fox (well, she’s supposed to be quite funny), this has all the elements of a comedy hit. Reviews and reactions from the US haven’t been great, but hey, Adam Sandler movies make money over there. The film is set to be released in the UK on 14th February.

SIDE BY SIDE is one of the few documentaries that will be in our preview. The film is about the rise of digital cinema and what that means to film as a media, featuring interviews with pretty much anyone who’s anyone in Hollywood: David Fincher, Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron and many, many more, I think this could be one of the most interesting films of 2013. Scheduled for a UK release on 15th February, for us film students, this is a must-see.

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CLOUD ATLAS is one of the most ambitious films in the past few years, and while it failed financially in the states, it should be a pretty epic watch. Joining the ranks of other unfilmable books ON THE ROAD and LIFE OF PI that finally managed to get translated onto screen, CLOUD ATLAS looks at love, loss, life and death in 6 different storylines spanning almost 500 years. Some critics have called the film a mess while others have been more appreciative of it’s ambitious scope, but come February you will get an opportunity to see for yourself. It’s not often you get to view a $100 million independent production, so this is a good chance to see what you can do with that sum of money, without studio interference. The film has already been released in the US and it will arrive in UK cinemas on 22nd February.

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS was one of those films that I got pretty excited about when I first heard about it: decent premise for a fun action film, good cast, classic story, this could’ve been a fun guilty pleasure…of 2012. Originally scheduled for a release in March 2012, the studio chose to hold back a year to let Jeremy Renner’s (THE AVENGERS and THE BOURNE LEGACY) star rise. Nice to see the studio have confidence in the quality of the product! It is released in the US on 25th January and in the UK on 22nd February.

MAMA’s trailer looks freakin’ creepy, and while that is not always a guarantee of the films quality, it looks ready to scare your pants off, and having such talented actors as Jessica Chastain and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau in the adult leads won’t hurt its prospects either. An early contender for scariest of the year? You can find out in the US on 18th January and in the UK on 22nd February.

To The Wonder Terence Malick Ben Affleck Rachel McAdams

Terence Malick’s TO THE WONDER is not as hyped as TREE OF LIFE thanks to Malick’s manic, by his standard, forthcoming schedule. Being a director you either love or hate the film is sure to polarise on its release in the UK on 22nd February and in the US on 12th April.

That concludes the first part of our 2013 feature. Join me again tomorrow where we will be looking at the higlights of March and April, and remember that this is just a small percentage of what will actually hit your cinema screens this year, so keep your eyes on THN for news of all the other releases.

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Esben Evans is the Danish contingent on this site. He enjoys films, swearing a lot, and a nice pair of slacks.

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