The summer is almost upon us! Iron Man 3, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Wolverine, Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, Monsters University, Fast & Furious 6, The Great Gatsby, World War Z, The Hangover Part III, After Earth, Despicable Me 2, This Is the End, Now You See Me, The Bling Ring, Kick-Ass 2, The World’s End, The Lone Ranger. Blockbusters, man.
You know what else happens over the summer? The Cannes Film Festival, wherein movies that won’t make money debut for the world and the people who run the Academy Awards think, “Hm…” Taking a break from my usual work this week, I’m looking at the Cannes lineup, and the three films to which I am most looking forward. Why? Partly because I haven’t done a list article in a while, partly because I haven’t actually watched a movie since The Place Beyond the Pines, and partly because I am just really looking forward to these movies.
3. Straw Shield
The Plot: A group of elite Japanese cops (great phrase, there) is tasked with escorting a high-profile murderer across Tokyo. As this dude’s crime was particularly heinous, a ton of regular Japanese citizens (less exciting phrase) want him dead, and though the cops agree that he deserves death, they must deliver him safely, defending him with their lives if necessary.
Sorry it’s not in English, but it still look awesome.
Why I am so excited: Takeshi Miike. The director of 13 Assassins is not flawless, and he can succumb to the pitfall of über-villainy, but boy howdy can he ever direct action. And violence! Yay for well-done, non-gratuitous violence in cinema. Despite poorly developed villains, he handles protagonists and moral dilemmas extremely well. The action is sure to be superb, the main characters interesting and engaging, the villain WAY too evil, and the violence bloody. Anyway, if for nothing else, I like violent East Asian movies.
2. Inide Llewyn Davis
The Plot: Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a great musician, trying to make his way through the folk rock scene of the 1960s. Of course, along the way he meets some real obstacles, probably both internal and external. He must try to succeed in a cruel industry whilst simultaneously trying to make amends with a failed former love, Jean (Carey Mulligan). Also, John Goodman (John Goodman) will be in it.
Why I am so excited: To be honest, I don’t really like Bob Dylan all that much. I can only really take him in small doses, but I’m never going to sit down and just listen through a Dylan record. Personal preference. So, I’m actually not very interested in the 1960s folk music scene. Here are a few other things I’m not interested in: writer’s block; a couple who can’t have children, and so kidnap a baby from a family with many; a lazy middle-aged stoner who gets caught up in a big conspiracy; a kidnapping gone wrong in a sleepy Minnesotan town. Yep. Don’t care.
Oh wait, but those are all great movies in the hands of Ethan and Joel Coen. While theirs is not a flawless track record, it’s more than enough for me to expect great things from Inside Llewyn Davis, especially with a wholly likeable cast including Oscar Isaac (Drive, The Bourne Legacy), Carey Mulligan (Drive, An Education), Justin Timberlake (The Love Guru, ‘NSYNC), and John Goodman (various Coen brothers movies).
1. Only God Forgives
The Plot: Julian (Ryan Gosling), a successful drug smuggler in Bangkok, at the behest of his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), goes on a rampage through the seedy underbelly of the criminal underworld (the underbelly of the underworld, yeah) to find whoever recently murdered his brother. Violence ensues in droves. Piles and piles of violence. Yeah, probably literal, physical, tangible piles of violence.
Why I am so excited: Drive. Only God Forgives marks the second team-up between director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Valhalla Rising, Bronson, Pusher) and accidental global home-wrecker Ryan Gosling (Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines, Half Nelson). Both have proven that they are near perfect at their respective jobs, and a collaboration between them can never be a bad thing. Throw Kristin Scott Thomas into the mix and a heaping helping of Thai boxing and, well… I’m no mathematician, but I can do basic addition. NWR+RG+KST+ThaiBoxing = Yes please.
Only God Forgives promises to be a few things: well acted, well directed, incredibly violent, and really weird. I don’t mean to come across as some kind of weirdo when I talk about how much I love certain types of violence in movies. Nicolas Winding Refn’s violence is special, though. It’s brutal and often over-the-top, but not in a Tarantino kind of way. The violence isn’t an aesthetic; it’s a thematic necessity. It’s always intriguing to see what he’s going to do, but I can’t stifle my excitement at seeing him do martial arts. Especially Thai boxing, which is primarily knees, elbows, and nice little grab-‘n’-twists to break bones. In the hands of Nicolas Winding Refn, it’s gonna be crazy!
But what about those blockbusters? Surely, I must be looking forward to some of them. Yes, I am, and they are: The Wolverine, Monsters University, and The World’s End. I’m yet on the fence about Man of Steel, Pacific Rim, and Iron Man 3. Star Trek Into Darkness will probably be enjoyable. I’m not looking forward to The Great Gatsby at all, and I want After Earth to be M. Night Shyamalan’s big comeback, but I know it won’t be. As always, it’ll be a busy movie-going summer, kicking off in just a few days. We, the good people at Rooster Illusion, will continue to bring you appropriately mediocre, hardly timely, partly funny reviews all summer long.