Here is the second part of a list of movies to be released within the next year that we at By Way of Beauty are looking forward to. Please stay tuned for the third part of this article, "The Whimsical & The Whacked-Out," to be posted on the site shortly; and if you'd like to read the first part, "The Historic & the Poetic," you can find it here.
For those of you who have read my article on the book and musical in anticipation for this movie, you know already of our lifelong and somewhat peculiar passion for this story about "a simple man who became a monster, who became an honest man, who became a saint." Late last month, a moving teaser trailer was released (embedded above), and although it was well received by many, some Les Miz fans have expressed their displeasure with the raw and choked quality of Anne Hathaway's singing of "I Dreamed a Dream." For those who may be still unaware of the fact, nearly all of the singing in the movie was recorded live on set, a practice which is rarely used for big budget movie musicals. The filmmakers believed that this will lend to this particular telling of the story a very intimate and emotional quality, and anyone who would prefer that each and every note be belted at a perfect pitch by highly trained operatic singers could always watch the Anniversary concert productions. This film, directed by Tom Hooper, stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Hathaway, and Sacha Baron Cohen and is slated for release on December 14th, 2012.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
After the tremendous success of the risky The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Tolkeinphiles all around the world began salivating for a cinematic take on the novel which started it all. At first Peter Jackson brought on Guillermo Del Toro to direct as well as co-write the script along with Jackson, and his partners Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. While bogged down in preproduction, however, Del Toro ultimately had to drop out, leaving Jackson as the man who once again would conjure up the fantastical world of Middle Earth, but not before meeting a number of trying obstacles prior to filming. Eventually, however, all the hiccups in preproduction were solved; the film again would be shot in New Zealand instead of the suggested studios in London, and actors from the original trilogy such as Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf) and Andy Serkis (Gollum) settled on their contracts. The film, which has been cut in two parts (the second will be released December 2013) also features state of the art Hi-Def 3D technology and a sure to be winning performance by Martin Freeman (The Office - UK) as the titular Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. Its release date is December 14th, 2012. (the same as Les Miserables… "Sophie's Choice" much?)
The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan's impressive Batman trilogy comes to a conclusion this summer with Christian Bale donning the iconic cape and cowl one last time. In the previous installment, we saw Batman face a relentlessly chaotic force in that of the late Heath Ledgers brilliant turn as the slimy Joker, in this one he faces a relentlessly brutal force in that of Bane, played by former British beefcake turned Brandoesque chameleon, Tom Hardy. While we've seen Bane on screen before in the abysmal Batman and Robin, Nolan promises that this Bane will be more faithful to the comic books, in that he is a foe formidable in his physical strengths and a mastermind in his terroristic plots who puts a tremendous strain on Bruce Wayne's body and spirit. Throw into the mix Anne Hathaway as Selena "Catwoman" Kyle and further philosophical exploration on good versus evil, scapegoating, and the mythological lore of the all-sacrificing hero, and we've got ourselves what is sure to be a great night at the movies. The Dark Knight Rises will hit theaters - nay, it will punch theaters in the face - on July 20th, 2012.
After the making of the harrowing There Will Be Blood, Paul Thomas Anderson had a notoriously difficult time acquiring the funds needed in order to film his next project about the beginnings of a controversial spiritual practice not unlike Scientology. For fear of a backlash, the studios wouldn't touch his script with a ten foot pole, and most of the investors Anderson had signed on ultimately withdrew. Just when it looked like the film was never going to happen, billionaire software heiress and patron to the arts Megan Ellison in a heroic motion put the money down so that it could get made. The movie stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a man who creates a new religious movement known as "The Cause," Amy Adams, who plays his wife, and Joaquin Phoenix, in his first big role since his faux-retirement, plays a troubled alcoholic veteran who becomes Hoffman's right hand man. The film's expected release date is October 12, 2012. You can read more about the films of Paul Thomas Anderson here.
Director Joe Wright (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice) reteams once again with Keira Knightly for a new adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's classic novel. Working of a script by master playwright Tom Stoppard, Wright shot the majority of the film in a dilapidated theater outside of London, seemingly capturing the same beautiful and enchanting feel displayed in films like Vanya on 42nd Street and Russian Ark. Starring Knightly as the title character, the film also features Jude Law as her saintly cuckolded husband, Alexei Karenin with Aaron Johnson (Kick-Ass, Nowhere Boy) as the dastardly home-wrecker Count Vronsky. The bodice-ripping will commence in theaters on September 7th, 2012.
Untitled James Gray Film (Formerly titled Low Life)
James Gray has been a writer/director that we have been continually impressed by. With a great respect for the classics, Gray has infused his films with character relationships and story arcs that are reminiscent of great works of literature. For instance, in his cop drama We Own the Night, Joaquin Phoenix turns from a life to partying to a life of honor just as Prince Hal rejects Falstaff and his life of revelry for the sake of his eventual kingship. His next film Two Lovers was also clearly inspired by Dostoyevsky's short story, White Nights. In his newest film, Gray reteams with Joaquin Phoenix for the fourth time in a story about a man (Phoenix) who tricks a poor immigrant girl (Marion Cotillard) into being a Burlesque performer, while a mysterious magician (Jeremy Renner) attempts to save her and reunite her with sister who is being confined in Ellis Island. The film is slated for a 2013 release.
In recent years, Robert Zemeckis - the visionary director of Forrest Gump, Cast Away, and Back to the Future - has been bogged down in motion-capture CGI films like Beowulf and The Polar Express. With Flight he returns once again to capture the physical world in this story which imagines a Sully Sullenburger-type hero played by Denzel Washington who is also battling some pretty intense demons in the face of public scrutiny after safely landing a plane crash. Denzel Washington always excels on screen when he plays charming but deeply troubled anti-heroes, and this film looks like an ideal vehicle for his greatest strengths. Flight's ETA into theatres is November 2nd, 2012.