Award season may be over, but that doesn’t mean the end of quality cinema – in fact, I’d say it means the opposite. March-May traditionally sees the release of some great indies and arthouse film from Toronto, New York and other film festivals; as well as seeing the first of the [US] “summer” blockbusters.
We’ve picked 12 that we are excited for, but the list of films could have easily been double that. Check out our picks for 12 films to watch in Autumn after the jump.
Inherent Vice (March 12)
Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s turn of the 70’s LA-set neo-noir ‘Inherent Vice’ is another richly rewarding work from ‘inarguably’ the world’s finest filmmaker. The complicated and vastly threaded narrative does require strict attention from a viewer, but at the same time it is endlessly rewarding to just relax and luxuriate in the film’s atmospheric natural high. Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) is a goofy, sandaled, mutton-chopped PI stumbling through the dark half-baked, trying to navigate the mess of the multiple interconnected cases that he has just agreed to take on. Phoenix is amazing, the supporting cast is superb, the soundtrack is made up of awesome 70’s stoner tunes, and Anderson has loaded his film with period details.
Transmission Films are doing something really interesting with the release of this film. The individual Her and Him films will be available on VOD the same day as the singular Them film is released in cinemas. I haven’t seen Them, but I am very intrigued to see how the two sides are combined into one film. Her was my #11 film of 2014 and I greatly admired Him.
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is a story told from two sides – Hers and His. Her is Eleanor’s side of their story. It’s a story of loss, heartbreak, love, family and finding oneself again. While I enjoyed Him, it was the gentle exploration of grief in pain in Her that really hit me. Chastain and McAvoy have such incredible chemistry and there isn’t one moment you doubt their anguish or their love. Trips in memory through the blurred camera lens show a couple which once had a great love, a love filled with laughter and spontaneity.
One of the last films I saw in 2014 turned out to be the best. Based on writer-director Maya Frobe’s own experiences, this small family drama is both moving and funny. This film covers multiple themes not often broached in film – mental illness, bi-racial families and mothers studying and returning to the workforce (in the 70s no less!) and it does so in such a gentle, thoughtful way. Incredible performances from the whole cast (Ruffalo in particular) cemented this film in my top 25 of 2014. I am so looking forward to re-watching this soon.
Girlhood( French Film Festival, March/April)
In the housing estates on the outskirts of Paris, one young girl starts a new life as a member of an all-girl gang. Marieme tried her hardest to not become her mother, but the lack of support and academic progress sees her future looking bleak and unexciting. This changes when she’s invited to become part of a group – for the first time in her life, she’s finally someone. Beautifully constructed, this powerful film features my favourite individual scene from 2014. Girlhood screens in Australia at the Alliance Française French Film Festival.
Mommy (April 9)
A widowed single mother (Anne Dorval), raising her violent son (Antoine-Oliver Pilon) alone, finds new hope when a mysterious neighbour (Suzanne Clement) inserts herself into their household. Mommy ended up at #2 on each of our Best Films of 2014 lists and is the finest work yet from Quebecois wonder kid Xavier Dolan (Laurence Anyways). The acting is extraordinary, the music stirring, the chosen frame ratio (1:1, a boxed image perched in the screen’s centre) is a bold decision that pays off beautifully, and it features one of the most heartbreaking montages in cinema history. Left me an emotional wreck.
Now this is a love story. Lu and Feng are separated during the Chinese Cultural Revolution when Lu is arrested and sent to prison. Lu waits patiently for her love to return, but due to a head injury, she doesn’t recognise him when he finally does. This is a truly heart-breaking film, one that explores how far you would really go for the person you love, despite how painful it might be for you. Set over a period of decades, this wonderfully paced film is a testament to the power of the heart. This film made my top 10 of 2014.
While We’re Young (April 16)
Ben Stiller sure is at his best in partnership with Noah Baumbach (France Ha, Greenberg), but Naomi Watts and Adam Driver are also excellent here. This is such a funny and relatable study of the differences between Gen X and Y, centered on a couple approaching middle age (Stiller and Watts) who have become alienated from their baby-obsessed friends, and have long wasted time using their stilted professional ventures as excuses, find their sense of youth invigorated when they meet a carefree 20-something hipster couple (Driver and Amanda Seyfried) with a whole different outlook on life. Can’t wait for another look at this one.
Apart from the fact that The Avengers was a kick-ass film, I’m excited for this because of Mark Ruffalo is one of the best actors out there at the moment (this is his 2nd Autumn release in Aus) and his Hulk is the best I have seen. I’m looking forward to some butt-kicking action from the Black Widow and hopefully some more of the humour that made The Avengers so memorable.
The official synopsis of the next Marvel adventure is as follows:
When Tony Stark tries to jumpstart a dormant peacekeeping program, things go awry and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, are put to the ultimate test as the fate of the planet hangs in the balance. As the villainous Ultron emerges, it is up to the Avengers to stop him from enacting his terrible plans, and soon uneasy alliances and unexpected action pave the way for an epic and unique global adventure.
Clouds of Sils Maria (May 14)
One of the best films we saw at TIFF last year, this is a showcase for the talents of director Olivier Assayas and actresses Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart (who recently became the first American actress to win a Cesar award) and Chloe Grace Moretz. Set in the gorgeous Swiss Alps a veteran stage star Maria (Binoche) and her assistant Valentine (Stewart) hide out as she prepares for her latest play – the same one that made her famous as a young woman, but the opposing ‘older’ role. Unable to identify with this character, due to her own concerns about ageing and being unable to adapt this character into a new context, she turns to Valentine for advice. This is a very pretty and bonkers look at 21st Century ‘celebrity’, performance as role and textual interpretation influenced by age.
Mad Max: Fury Road (May 14)
I have only seen one original Mad Max film – the second one – and I didn’t much care for it. I obviously need to revisit. Still, Fury Road has an absolutely kick-ass trailer, stars Tom Hardy and is directed by George Miller, the man responsible for the first three films (and the pretty amazing Babe: Pig in the City). Though determined to wander the post-apocalyptic wasteland alone, Mad Max (Hardy) joins the band of a fugitive imperator named Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who are trying to escape a savage warlord.
Wild Tales (May 21)
After premiering at the Cannes Film Festival to wide praise, Wild Tales eventually represented Argentina for Best Foreign Language Film (losing to Ida). It in an anthology film, composed of six standalone shorts united by a common theme of violence and vengeance. The film’s satirical humour and balance of wicked comedy and deranged drama have drawn the most commentary. It features an all-star Spanish cast including Riccardo Darin and Dario Grandinetti and just sounds like an experience that shouldn’t be missed.
A new Brad Bird film!!! Bird is yet to make a film that isn’t brilliant. From the phenomenal action hit Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol to the hear-tugging The Iron Giant, this guy knows how to tell a story. Staring George Clooney, the film is about the shared destiny of a former boy genius (Clooney) and a science-mad teen (Britt Robertson),who embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.