Take 5: Fall / Winter Movie Preview

This week, we look at my top five upcoming films of the fall / winter season

1. Argo (Release Date: October 12, 2012)

Ben Affleck has shown he can be one of Hollywood’s best filmmakers with his first two films “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town.” I believe that this film will be better than both of those. Based on the true story of how six Americans were rescued from Iran during the hostage crisis, this movie features one of the best casts of the year, with John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin and Kyle “Coach Taylor” Chandler along with Ben Affleck starring as well as directing. Ben Affleck has proven his worth with movies set in gangland Boston; can he take the next step to movies on the international stage?

2. Lincoln (Release Date: November 16, 2012)

Steven Spielberg knows how to make a historical epic. They all look fantastic, sound fantastic (thanks to John Williams and his long-standing relationship) and garner acclaim. However, sometimes they all feel a little too alike, in their sentimentality and world-view. This is why I enjoyed a more controversial Spielberg film like “Munich” rather than “War Horse.” I fear that “Lincoln” will end up suffering some of the problems of the Spielberg epic. With a subject like our greatest president, it would be easy to make a movie that simply reveres him and goes through the motions. However, I am putting those concerns aside for one reason: Daniel Day-Lewis. His performance will undoubtedly be masterful and add more depth than the material provides. I trust that our greatest living thespian can fulfill the role of our greatest commander-in-chief.

3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Release Date: December 14, 2012)

It was always coming to this. After years of production delays, lawsuits and a directorial change, we finally got what we needed; Peter Jackson returning to Middle Earth. With all respect to Guillermo del Toro, the first director attached to this project, only Peter Jackson could truly make these movies on the level of the “Lord of the Rings.” With many cast members of the LOTR trilogy returning, such as Ian McKellen as Gandalf or Andy Serkis as Gollum, these movies should blend seamlessly and feel of the same world as the earlier movies. The recent announcement of an additional film has made “The Hobbit” series a trilogy which will allow for more development and inclusion of materials from the appendices of the books. Middle Earth may be the best place for fantasy films yet again.

4. Skyfall (Release Date: November 9, 2012)

James Bond is finally back, following the bankruptcy of MGM and the troubles of production. Following one of the worst Bond movies “Quantum of Solace,” this installment looks to leave the plot line that the first two Daniel Craig-starring ones followed of an international conspiracy involving the terrorist group QUANTUM. The previews have been very enigmatic so far, but what can be deduced is that confidential info about MI6 agents is stolen and James Bond is presumed dead. Daniel Craig is the second-best Bond ever, and I hope that this film will return to the form of “Casino Royale.” One thing this installment has going for it is Javier Bardem in the villain’s role. Plus he’s wearing a bad haircut, and if you’ve seen “No Country for Old Men,” you know how fantastic Javier Bardem is with a bad haircut. It’s good to see 007 back.

5. Django Unchained (Release Date: December 25, 2012)

Quentin Tarantino has done gangster movies, kung-fu movies, and war movies. Now he tackles the Western genre and the results should be crazy, completely un-PC and fantastic. Tarantino’s best quality is that he is always able to subvert the genre that he is working in; “Death Proof” is a comic film not a horror movie. “Inglourious Basterds” is a fairy tale not a war movie. With “Django Unchained,” Tarantino is making his statement on the American South and its long history with race. The movie follows the slave Django (Jamie Foxx) as he travels with the bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) to free his wife from the plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). It’s another fantastic cast for Tarantino and we can all expect the same quality from one of America’s few auteurs that we have gotten in the past.

BONUS SECTION: Occasionally, this blog will review some recent or new music. This week, we look at music by electro artist Adam Young, better known as “Owl City.”

The two singles released from the new album “The Midsummer Station,” show two different sides of Owl City.

First up is “Shooting Star.” This song is a painfully mushy synth-pop pep talk. The chorus line of “Brighter than a shooting star / So shine no matter where you are” makes you think this is coming from the credits of a straight-to-DVD Disney movie. When Mr. Young sings through the “Woah, whoa” refrain, instead of adding any emotional/motivational impact to the song; it instead detracts because of the horribly overused synthesisers. After listening to this song, I only want to scrape my nails on a chalkboard to get rid of this assault of sonic cholesterol.

Next up is “Good Time,” with artist-of-the-moment Carly Rae Jepsen. This song goes down far easier than “Shooting Star” and indeed lives up to its title. This is for several reasons, firstly because of the presence of Carly Rae Jepsen. Her voice on this track provides a welcome change from Adam Young whose vocals are flat and almost monotone. Secondly, there is no pretense of an inspirational talk here; this is simple and fun radio fare, with more enjoyable production and a fun sing-along chorus. If you had to choose a song from Mr. Adam Young, make it this one.

Nathan Foster brings you the latest news and highlights of pop culture, from the cinema to the music stage, from Hollywood to Broadway.
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