In this volume I look at a new adaptation of a classic book, the inevitable latest chapter in a long-running fantasy franchise, the latest craziness from the director of “The Lobster,” a potential return to form for two directors, a film that’s not quite a TV series adaptation, another film that’s not quite a sequel or a reboot, multiple gritty crime dramas, some ambitious sci-fi films, a creature feature, and a project that would make Roland Emmerich proud:
Director: Ramin Bahrani (“99 Homes,” “At Any Price”)
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, Sofia Boutella, Lilly Singh, Laura Harrier
Details: HBO Films’ new adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s tale, arguably the most famous dystopian work of fiction aside from “1984,” is premiering as a telemovie in the United States. However don’t be shocked if this gets a limited theatrical run internationally like with “Behind the Candelabra” a few years back.
Bahrani, coming off strong work in the housing crisis drama “99 Homes,” has assembled a stellar cast including Michael Shannon, Michael B. Jordan and Sofia Boutella for the story of a future where media is a mass opiate, history is outlawed and ‘firemen’ burn books with Jordan’s young fireman forsaking this world. Jordan is producing the project which will mark the first film adaptation of the work in fifty years.
Director: Mary Harron (“American Psycho,” “The Moth Diaries”)
Details: Though currently in pre-production with no-one officially cast as yet, this will almost certainly be racing to be finished and out hopefully by 2018’s end to avoid comparisons to Quentin Tarantino’s 2019 film which also touches upon the Manson Family murders. Harron’s film however is more directly about the crimes, albeit focused not on the man but his inner circle of women.
Adapted from Karlene Faith and Ed Sanders’ work, the story follows a young graduate student was sent in to teach three imprisoned women who were a part of ‘The Family’ and through her “we witness their transformations as they face the reality of their horrific crimes”. Harron hasn’t quite been able to match the success she had with “American Psycho” nearly two decades ago, but this true crime and redemption tale holds the most promise of anything she’s done since.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindlewald
Director: David Yates (every “Harry Potter” since the fifth)
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Ezra Miller
Details: The second of five planned prequel films to the “Harry Potter” saga, this one seems much less standalone and more about setting up the next few movies along with tying directly back to the events of the ‘Potter’ films with Dumbledore arriving as a character – albeit as Jude Law playing his own age which has already seen him dubbed ‘Hot Dumbledore’.
In the new film, Johnny Depp’s dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald has escaped and has set about gathering followers for his cause of an army of pure-blood wizards to rule over all non-magical beings. Dumbledore enlists Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander’s help as the wizarding world becomes increasingly divided. Expect a notably darker adventure this time out.
Director: Juila Hart (“Miss Stevens”)
Cast: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Strathairn, Lorraine Toussaint, Saniyya Sidney
Details: The always on verge of breaking out Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays a woman forced to go on the run when her superhuman abilities are discovered. Years later she has to use her last resort option – returning to the small town family she abandoned to seek refuge from a rogue government organization determined to capture her.
This New Mexico shot thriller from “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz also stars Christopher Denham as the head of the group hunting her down, and David Strathairn as the town’s sheriff who is suspicious of the young woman’s return. However it’s the draw of Hart, Horowitz’s wife, whose first feature “Miss Stevens” with Timothee Chalamet was a very strong debut and hopefully, this should prove a similar showcase for Mbatha-Raw.
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” “The Lobster”)
Cast: Emma Stone, Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn
Details: Following the super dark quirkiness of sci-fi romance “The Lobster” and dark obsessional thriller “The Killing of a Sacred Deer,” filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos turns his mannered meticulous lens towards the corset drama genre. The story sounds promising with royal intrigue, passion, envy and betrayal in the court of Queen Anne in early 18th century England where two noblewomen jockey for power and influence.
Though described as bawdy, which makes it sound like a bodice-ripping sex romp, this is Lanthimos we’re talking about whose sense of humor is odd to say the least. But with a stellar cast and crew, including the great Sandy Powell on costumes and the inspired casting of Olivia Colman as Queen Anne, this will be his most mainstream ready project yet. What will be interesting to see is the reactions when those unfamiliar with his work give it a try and get hit by Lanthimos’ style in full force.
Fighting with My Family
Director: Stephen Merchant (“Cemetery Junction,” “Hello Ladies”)
Cast: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Nick Frost, Dwayne Johnson, Vince Vaughn
Details: In an unusual pairing, British comedian Stephen Merchant (“The Office,” “Logan”) is teaming with Dwayne Johnson and WWE Studios on this comedy-drama which offers a narrative take on the 2012 documentary of the same name about WWE wrestler Paige. Merchant directed and Johnson is both executive producing and cameoing as himself.
Paige, played by “Lady Macbeth” star Florence Pugh, and her brother Zak Zodiac, played by “Dunkirk” pilot Jack Lowden, are siblings who make a living as wrestlers performing in tiny venues alongside their reformed gangster parents (Nick Frost & Lena Headey). Things change when she is accepted into the WWE and the family soon tries to work through the issues that arise from her new job.
Director: Damien Chazelle (“La La Land,” “Whiplash”)
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Corey Stoll, Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke
Details: In the wake of the massive success of “La La Land,” Damien Chazelle could have picked any project he wanted for his next one – which makes his choice, a former potential Clint Eastwood project, automatically one of the more anticipated films of next year in many circles. When you add in Nicole Perlman (“Guardians Of The Galaxy”) and Josh Singer (“Spotlight”) working on the script, along with the return of much of his key crew from “La La Land” including Ryan Gosling, it jumps right up to near the top of the list.
The biopic is said to explore the life of the legendary astronaut Neil Armstrong from 1961-1969 on his journey to becoming the first human to walk the moon. Armstrong’s life isn’t one that, outside the Apollo 11 mission, seems to have enough meat to make a movie out of due to the man being intensely private. However, the source material, the novel by James R. Hansen and the only authorized biography of Armstrong to date, looks beyond that mission and to his involvement in many key moments in the space race. Hopefully, the film will retain that wide scope.
Director: Paul Schrader (“American Gigolo,” Auto Focus”)
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles, Michael Gaston
Details: Premiering at the Venice Film Festival in August and scoring easily his best reviews since “Affliction” almost two decades ago, filmmaker Paul Schrader returns to respectability with this drama about grief and guilt which A24 picked up immediately after that festival and are set to release early in the new year.
Ethan Hawke stars as an ex-military chaplain who is tortured by the death of his soldier son whom he encouraged to enlist. His faith is further challenged by a young woman (Amanda Seyfried) and her radical environmentalist husband come to him for counselling. In an unusual choice, experimental Welsh musician Lustmord is doing the score.
Director: Samuel Maoz (“Lebanon,” “Total Eclipse”)
Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Sarah Adler, Yonaton Shiray, Shira Haas
Details: The Israeli entry for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2017 and the winner of the Grand Jury Prize – Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, “Foxtrot” finally breaks out of the festival circuit and opens for much of the public early in 2018. Despite its Oscar chances, Israel’s Minister of Culture has denounced the film for its depiction of Israeli Defense Forces covering up the murder of Arab youths.
The story opens with an affluent Tel Aviv couple learning that their son, a soldier, has died in the line of duty. The narrative follows the parents in the hours after they learn of his death, flashes back to their son’s experiences during his military service manning a checkpoint, and returns to the parents six months later. Despite the serious subject matter, the film is mostly remembered (and being sold on) an extended scene involving the son dancing quite well with his rifle in order to relieve boredom.
Director: Ben Wheatley (“Kill List,” “A Field in England”)
Cast: Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer, Sasha Lane
Details: Though slated to begin shooting in August last year, there’s been no word anywhere as to whether “High Rise” and “Free Fire” director Ben Wheatley’s attempt at a 1950’s B-movie was actually filmed or not. Either way the film, which he dubs “Hill Street Blues meets Doom,” is still slated for a 2018 release.
The guns-blazing action thriller stars Alicia Vikander and Wheatley returnee Armie Hammer as part of a band of misfits in the near future who hunt down and kill nocturnal underground monsters – specifically creatures akin to giant crabs. Expect shotguns, trucks, fighting at night and a dynamic tone, but also less sadistic and more outright fun than “Free Fire” was.
The Front Runner
Director: Jason Reitman (“Juno,” “Labor Day”)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, J.K. Simmons, Vera Farmiga, Ari Graynor
Details: One of two films by Jason Reitman due in 2018, and the more obvious awards fare with a likely Fall festival run, the darkly comic biopic is based on Matt Bai’s 2014 novel “All the Truth Is Out” which chronicles the rise and fall of American Senator Gary Hart, a Democratic presidential candidate in 1988.
Hugh Jackman stars as Hart who was a front runner in 1988 until accusations of an extramarital affair hobbled his campaign. He famously challenged the media to follow him around and see how boring his life was, only for tabloid photographs to emerge of him having an affair. Whoops.
A Futile & Stupid Gesture
Director: David Wain (“Wanderlust,” “Role Models”)
Cast: Will Forte, Domhnall Gleeson, Martin Mull, Joel McHale
Details: Set to have its premiere at Sundance ahead of a release on Netflix at the end of the month, the comedic biopic is based on Josh Karp’s 2006 book about comedy writer Doug Kenney, one of the key founders of National Lampoon magazine.
One interesting inclusion is that of Joel McHale playing comedian Chevy Chase whom he co-starred with on “Community” and who had a connection to Kenney’s suicide at the age of 33. The film also boasts a number of famed comedian characters with actors taking on the roles of Bill Murray, John Belushi, Harold Ramis, Christopher Guest, Paul Shaffer, John Landis, Dan Aykroyd, Rodney Dangerfield, Ivan Reitman, Gilda Radner, Stephen Furst and Lorne Michaels.
Directors: James Franco (“The Disaster Artist”), Bruce Thierry Cheung (“Tar”)
Cast: James Franco, Milla Jovovich, Suki Waterhouse, Snoop Dogg, Lucy Liu
Details: A James Franco co-directed post-apocalyptic fairy tale shot in 2016 and still uncertain of release anywhere bar China where it was sold to Phoenix Legend Film. There’s a solid cast though, including Jovovich as a sinister drug lord as opposed to ass-kicking hero which makes for a welcome bit of casting against type.
Set decades into the future, the film follows a young prince who goes on a daring journey through the violent and desolate world of “the Wastelands” looking for a cure for his dying mother. Along the way, he meets the last of the sentient robots that decimated mankind.
Director: Melanie Laurent (“Plonger,” “Breathe”)
Cast: Elle Fanning, Ben Foster, Beau Bridges, Lili Reinhart, Adepero Oduye
Details: French actress Melanie Laurent has made some impressive early in-roads into directing, with her few films as a helmer so far showcasing meticulous attention to detail and emotional sensitivity, even if very few have seen those works. That won’t be the case with her much more scrutinised first English-language film, a U.S. set visceral crime tale based on the celebrated 2010 novel by “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto.
Pizzolatto is adapting his own work in which a debt collector escapes an assassination attempt and returns to his hometown where he plans his revenge against his loan sharking boss. The book has been lauded for its grittiness and darkness, which makes Laurent’s very feminine perspective as a director a fascinating one for the material which she calls a “moving, honest exploration of damaged souls”.
Game Over, Man!
Director: Kyle Newacheck (debut)
Cast: Lochlyn Munro, Sugar Lyn Beard, Neal McDonough, Aya Cash
Details: The team behind the Comedy Central series “Workaholics!” have collaborated on this Netflix original feature which brings together creator Kyle Newacheck and the show’s three stars for a geeky action comedy in which three friends are on the verge of getting their video game financed when their benefactor is taken hostage by terrorists. Cue a bunch of fun jokes with “Die Hard” references and stoner humor, along with some high profile producers including Scott Rudin and Seth Rogen.
Director: Christoph Waltz (debut)
Cast: Christoph Waltz, Annette Bening, Vanessa Redgrave, Corey Hawkins
Details: Beloved thespian Christoph Waltz makes his directorial debut on this crime drama from Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Auburn and based on the true story of Albrecht Muth. Waltz plays Ulrich Mott, an ambitious social climber who marries wealthy widow Elsa (Vanessa Redgrave) in Washington D.C. in order to mix with powerful political players.
Throwing lavish events at their townhouse in Georgetown, they became celebrated and even powerful figures until Elsa is found dead and Ulrich becomes the chief suspect. Elsa’s daughter, a federal judge, begins her own investigation as Ulrich creates an increasingly elaborate charade to convince everyone that unknown dark forces from his past are responsible for his wife’s murder. Sounds fascinating.
The Girl in the Spider’s Web
Director: Fede Alvarez (“Don’t Breathe,” “Evil Dead”)
Cast: Claire Foy, Cameron Britton, Sylvia Hoeks, Sverrir Gudnason
Details: While David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” film adaptation was definitely more polished and cinematic than its Swedish language predecessor, it came at a cost – a $90 million budget. That meant the film had to perform exceptionally well at the box-office to guarantee further entries and it simply didn’t. As a result Sony has skipped the two-part second and third books in favour of the standalone fourth one which also serves as a minor reboot.
Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig are out, replaced by “The Crown” star Claire Foy as hacker Lisbeth Salander and “Borg and McEnroe” star Sverrir Gudnason as Mikael Blomqvist. Utilising the first book in the series NOT from Stieg Larsson, the story has the pair looking into a web of spies, cybercriminals and corrupt government officials. The most interesting change here is Alvarez as the director as he isn’t afraid to go very dark, and can do so with a limited budget and deliver a solid film in the process.
Director: Sebastian Lelio (“A Fantastic Woman,” “Gloria”)
Cast: Julianne Moore, Michael Cera, Holland Taylor, Sean Astin
Details: Before his two recent festival darlings “A Fantastic Woman” and “Disobedience,” Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio was best known for 2013’s celebrated “Gloria” which won many awards. That film starred Paulina García as a free-spirited older woman in Santiago who engages in a whirlwind relationship with a former naval officer whom she meets out in the clubs.
Now Lelio re-imagines his own film five years later with this English-language remake starring Julianne Moore in the lead role in the new take which is set in Los Angeles. It has been confirmed it will NOT be a straight remake, Lelio writing and directing something a little different that goes beyond a mere change of setting and language with him calling this new take a “re-invigorated and vital” version of the story.
Director: John Turturro (“Fading Gigolo,” “Illuminata”)
Cast: John Turturro, Bobby Cannavale, Susan Sarandon, Audrey Tautou
Details: John Turturro reprises his iconic “The Big Lebowski” role of bowling enthusiast and Latin American North Hollywood resident Jesus Quintana. The thick Puerto Rican accent and the referring to himself in the third person character traits return for the project which is technically an unofficial spin-off. The Coen Brothers have previously said they have no plans to do a ‘Lebowski’ follow-up and aren’t involved here but have given Turturro permission to use the character which he was mostly responsible for any way in the original.
The new film also serves as a remake of Bertrand Blier’s 1974 French film “Going Places” and follows a trio of sexually depraved misfits including Quintana along with characters played by Bobby Cannavale and Audrey Tautou. The irreverent and highly charged dynamic reportedly evolves into a surprising love story as they inadvertently perform good deeds. They’re also pursued by both the law and a gun-toting hairdresser. Hopefully, it will be some naughty bed-hopping caper fun.
Director: Kevin Connolly (“Dear Eleanor,” “Gardener of Eden”)
Cast: John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Spencer Lofranco
Details: Currently in search of a new distributor able to give it a wide release, the question with “Entourage” actor turned filmmaker Kevin Connolly’s true story mob drama film is when and how we’ll see it. The project has been in the works for many years and finally got rolling in mid-2016 but then, last month and under two weeks before it was slated to premiere, the film was pulled from distribution with Lionsgate selling it back to the producers at their request.
The producers certainly want to get this movie out there and shown, but is it good and commercial enough for a wide release? Hard to say as it hasn’t been reviewed at this point. The film spans three decades and chronicles Gambino crime family head Don Gotti (John Travolta) and his tumultuous life as he and his wife (Kelly Preston) attempt to hold the family together amongst tragedy and multiple prison sentences.
Director: Nash Edgerton (“The Square”)
Cast: David Oyelowo, Charlize Theron, Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, Thandie Newton
Details: Joel Edgerton’s brother Nash has had an impressive career as a stunt man and, ten years ago, made his feature directorial debut with the little seen but very well received “The Square”. For his second film, he’s delivered this – a blend of absurdist dark comedy and action thriller which sees British actor David Oyelowo playing an African businessman working for a U.S. company who finds himself crossing the line from law-abiding citizen to wanted criminal in Mexico.
The trailer released for the film the other week is both insane and cliche. Oyelowo’s character becomes the pawn of several others including Joel Edgerton and Charlize Theron’s back-stabbing business colleagues who are both literally phoning in their performances. There’s also local drug lords and a morally conflicted black-ops mercenary (Sharlto Copley) on his tail. It feels like it wants to be in the vein of “The Mexican,” but the tone is going to be a big deal breaker for audiences.
Guardians of the Tomb
Director: Kimble Rendall (“Bait 3D,” “Cut”)
Cast: Kelsey Grammer, Kellan Lutz, Bingbing Li, Shane Jacobson
Details: After his ‘sharks in a supermarket’ film “Bait 3D” was a big success, director Kimble Rendall returned to the genre for this massive Chinese-Australian co-production. The most lethal spider in the world, the Australian funnel web spider, becomes the subject for a film blending creature feature with “The Mummy”.
In the film, a team of scientists lose a colleague in an ancient 200 BC-era Chinese labyrinth – one inhabited by a swarm of genetically altered and deadly, man-eating versions of the funnel webs which have grown both in size and intelligence and could wipe out mankind if they got out.
Director: Mike Newell (“Donnie Brasco,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”)
Cast: Matthew Goode, Lily James, Jessica Brown Findlay, Michiel Huisman
Details: “Four Weddings and a Funeral” director Mike Newell helms this British historical drama adaptation of Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ novel “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” which couldn’t sound more English if it tried. Newell took over the project after the originally attached Kenneth Branagh dropped out.
This subsequent incarnation sounds less high profile but retains the story of a writer who forms an unexpected bond with the residents of Guernsey in the Channel Islands in the aftermath of World War II when she decides to write a book about their wartime experiences. The film is set to get a big launch in the UK just after Easter.
Director: David Gordon Green (“Stronger,” “Joe”)
Cast: Judy Greer, Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Nick Castle
Details: One of the most anticipated films of this year in certain circles, the new “Halloween” forgoes being either a forgettable sequel or another gross and misguided reboot like the Rob Zombie films. Instead we have a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s original 1978 film, one that ignores everything that came after it including the second film surprisingly.
Made with not just the blessing but with the input of John Carpenter, who is also said to be working on the score, the film is helmed by the continuing to impress filmmaker David Gordon Green and co-written by comedian Danny McBride spearheading a sincere horror film with Jamie Lee Curtis reprising her iconic role of Laurie Strode. It effectively feels like its aiming to be what “Halloween: H20” wanted to be but couldn’t pull off, and should it work could show there’s both commercial and critical life left in the old 1980s horror brands.
The Happy Prince
Director: Rupert Everett (debut)
Cast: Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson
Details: Actor Rupert Everett penned, directs and stars in “The Happy Prince,” a long gestating film about the untold final days of acclaimed writer Oscar Wilde. Everett has been obsessed with Wilde and has played him on stage before, but this film took him eight years to bring to fruition and he’s already indicated he’s likely not going to be doing another one.
Living in exile and with his body ailing him, the flamboyant irony and brilliant wit that defined him helps him survive long enough to see the transience of lust and the true riches of love. Colin Firth, Colin Morgan, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Anna Chancellor and Miranda Richardson also star in the film which premieres at Sundance.
The Happytime Murders
Director: Brian Henson (“Muppet Treasure Island,” “Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars”)
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale
Details: A spin on the “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” idea, albeit with puppets co-existing with humans rather than cartoons & humans, ‘Happytime’ has been in development at The Jim Henson company for over a decade after the film’s script achieved rave reviews. The project stalled for a long time until Melissa McCarthy signed on for it early last Summer and things quickly got underway with Brian Henson helming.
In the story, puppets co-exist with humans as second class citizens, Disgraced ex-cop puppet turned private eye Phil Phillips is working on a case – hunting the trail of the serial killer who murdered his brother and is now targeting the cast members of the famous 80s television series “The Happytime Gang”. Shows so much promise, but much of it will depend upon the execution of the world its characters inhabit.
Director: Hans Petter Moland (“Aberdeen,” “The Last Lieutenant”)
Cast: Emmy Rossum, Laura Dern, Liam Neeson, Julia Jones
Details: Norwegian film director Hans Petter Moland remakes his own Golden Bear-nominated 2014 darkly comic action thriller “In Order of Disappearance” which followed a snow plow driver who learns his son died of an overdose and the local drug gang is behind the death. He hunts down the killers, goes after their bosses and in the process starts a major gang war.
This English-language version switches out Stellan Skarsgard for Liam Neeson, not the most inspired choice as it feels like the kind of role Neeson has been playing again and again since “Taken”. He does have some good supporting talent alongside him here though including Laura Dern, Emmy Rossum and Tom Batemen. Could be good, but seek out the original which is likely to be better.
Director: Clare Denis (“White Material,” “35 Shots of Rum”)
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Mia Goth, Juliette Binoche, Lars Eidinger
Details: Celebrated French filmmaker Claire Denis had to put this sci-fi project on hold for years due to other commitments including the Juliette Binoche-led “Let The Sun Shine In,” but now she’s gotten around to and already shot the space film which will be her first effort in the genre and her first English language feature. Gestating for fifteen years also promises to offer an exploration of a unique paternal relationship played across deep space in a way very different to the overly maudlin family scenes of something like Chris Nolan’s “Interstellar”.
Boasting a script by novelist Zadie Smith and husband Nick Laird, the story follows a group of criminals on a mission to find an alternate energy source near a black hole. They’re soon sexually experimented on by the scientists on board. Robert Pattinson plays one of the criminals who finds he now has a daughter against his will (she was gestated through artificial insemination) and soon comes to love her. The film is expected to get a release on the festival circuit at the end of the year.
Hold the Dark
Director: Jeremy Saulnier (“Green Room,” Blue Ruin”)
Cast: Jeffrey Wright, James Badge Dale, Riley Keough, Alexander Skarsgard
Details: A modern master of thrillers, it came as little surprise when Jeremy Saulnier was hired to direct the third season of HBO’s “True Detective”. Before he gets to work on that though, he’s popped out this icy tale which could be even darker than his previous works and has been adapted from William Giraldi’s novel by “I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore” director Macon Blair (who also stars).
In the film, the deaths of three children in a remote Alaskan town are suspected to be by wolves. Jeffrey Wright plays Russell Core, a wolf expert hired by the parents of a missing six-year-old boy to track down and locate their son in the frozen wilds. He soon discovers that more is going on than meets the eye. Netflix snapped up the rights to the project from A24 and will release the film sometime in 2018.
Holmes and Watson
Director: Etan Cohen (“Get Hard”)
Cast: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Ralph Fiennes, Kelly Macdonald, Hugh Laurie
Details: After scoring brownie points for co-writing the likes of “Tropic Thunder” and “Idiocracy,” Etan Cohen squandered all his good will with his directing debut on the comedy “Get Hard” which has to be one of the worst comedies released by a major studio in the past decade. Despite that failure, he and its star Will Ferrell have decided to re-team for this more promising looking comedic spin on Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories.
Enlisting his “Step Brothers” and “Talladega Nights” co-star John C. Reilly as Watson to Ferrell’s Holmes, the film promises something deliberately more silly than some of the other recent Holmes adaptations. There’s also some pitch perfect casting in supporting roles including Ralph Fiennes as Moriarty, Hugh Laurie as Mycroft, Kelly Macdonald as Mrs. Hudson, and Rob Brydon as Inspector Lestrade.
Director: Drew Pearce (debut)
Cast: Jodie Foster, Dave Bautista, Jeff Goldblum, Sofia Boutella, Jenny Slate
Details: One of the most promising blockbuster writers out there right now thanks to co-writing credits on both “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and “Iron Man 3,” Drew Pearce makes his directorial debut on this neo-noir sci-fi crime thriller boasting a Black List script he created.
Jodie Foster plays a nurse who runs an underground hospital for Los Angeles’ most sinister criminals and finds that one of her patients is actually there to assassinate another. The film sports an incredible cast including Foster, Dave Bautista, Jeff Goldblum, Sofia Boutella, Jemmu Slate, Sterling K. Brown, Charlie Day, Zachary Quinto, Kenneth Choi and Brian Tyree Henry in supporting roles.
Director: Anthony Maras (debut)
Cast: Armie Hammer, Jason Isaacs, Dev Patel, Nazanin Boniadi
Details: After winning multiple awards for his short film work, Australian filmmaker Anthony Maras tries out directing a feature with this true story tale about the victims and survivors of the devastating attacks on Mumbai in 2008 when members of an Islamic terrorist organisation carried out a series of a dozen co-ordinated attacks lasting four days across the Indian city – most notably the Taj Hotel where 200 hostages were being held.
The draw here is that unlike so many of the other films in this genre, this is a much more internationally focused story with people of all races, colors and ethnicities fighting for survival – as opposed to yet another patriotism-heavy film set entirely around mostly white Americans or an event within the United States. There’s a welcome international and diverse cast here which feels truer to real life.
The House That Jack Built
Director: Lars von Trier (“Melancholia,” “Nymphomaniac”)
Cast: Matt Dillon, Uma Thurman, Bruno Ganz, Riley Keough, Sofie Grabol
Details: Originally developed as an eight-part TV series, filmmaker Lars von Trier reconfigured the project as a feature which marks his first directing effort since his ambitious two-part “Nymphomaniac” feature, though tonally seems to be more in line with his work on “Melancholia”. Matt Dillon leads the cast of the film which explores the gestation of a budding serial killer in the U.S. in the 1970s and follows him over the course of twelve years.
Specifically, the film focuses on five incidents that define his development as a serial killer and we experience the story from Jack’s point of view. Despite being previously banned by the Cannes Film Festival, von Trier has reportedly been negotiating with the fest organisers to have the film premiere there. There’s already been talk of this being von Trier’s final film, and certainly its brutality against women coming in the wake of accusations of harassment levelled against von Trier himself not long ago will become a topic of conversation.
The House with a Clock in Its Walls
Director: Eli Roth (“Hostel,” “Death Wish”)
Cast: Jack Black, Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, Colleen Camp, Owen Vaccaro
Details: Universal and Amblin’s early Fall entry sees horror director Eli Roth returning to the genre for something more family friendly and less torture porn-like than we’ve seen from him in the past. That’s mostly because the fantasy horror tale boasts a script by “Supernatural” creator Eric Kripke based on the novel by John Bellairs.
Here the story follows a recently orphaned boy who moves in with his uncle (Black) who turns out to be a very average witch. The boy soon finds himself in a world of magic and danger, especially when he discovers a clock inside the walls of his house that is designed to bring about doomsday.
The Hummingbird Project
Director: Kim Nguyen (“War Witch,” “Two Lovers and a Bear”)
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgard, Salma Hayek, Michael Mando, Ayisha Issa
Details: Canadian filmmaker and “War Witch” director Kim Nguyen returns, just months after his previous film “Eye on Juliet” premiered in Toronto, with this high stakes drama set in the world of high-frequency trading. The film made headlines last year due to star Alexander Skarsgard shaving his head in a way he looks like he’s suffering from severe male pattern baldness.
Despite their physical differences, Skarsgard and Jesse Eisenberg play cousins who dream of building a fiber-optic cable straight between Kansas and New Jersey – an idea that could well make them millions. It would also allow them to get revenge on their old boss (Hayek) whom they find themselves competing against.
The Hurricane Heist
Director: Rob Cohen (“The Fast and the Furious,” “Stealth”)
Cast: Toby Kebbell, Maggie Grace, Ryan Kwanten, Ralph Ineson
Details: Sounding like a hell of a lot of dumb fun. this disaster thriller originally titled “Category 5” blends heist thriller with meteorological disaster film. The story follows a team of tech hackers who plan a $600 million robbery from a coastal U.S. mint facility just before a disastrous Category 5 hurricane is set to strike the facility (and thus wiping out any evidence of their crime).
The facility is located near a deserted beach town whose few remaining residents – including a meteorologist (Kebbell), a Treasury agent (Grace) and the meteorologist’s ex-Marine brother (Kwanten) – must survive the hurricane and stop the thieves from committing the heist of the century. The $35 million project was shot in mid-2016 and has yet to release any real material beyond a sales postereven as it is only two months out from release.
ALSO ON THE WAY:
“Lost” and “Oz” actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje makes his directorial debut on “Farming,” a somewhat autobiographical film set in 1980s UK where a young Nigerian man is fostered by a white British family, only to become the leader of a racist skinhead gang. “Snowfall” actor Damson Idris leads the cast alongside Kate Beckinsale and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Terrence Malick’s protege A.J. Edwards follows up his debut effort “The Better Angels” with “Friday’s Child,” the story of a young Texan drifter (Tye Sheridan) who forms an unlikely bond with the daughter (Imogen Poots) of a man he killed, Caleb Landry Jones, and Jeffrey Wright co-star.
The duo behind “Horrible Bosses” and “Vacation,” John Francis Daley and Jonathan M. Goldstein, return with the comedy “Game Night” about a group of friends who meet regularly for their game night, and one night find themselves investigating an actual murder mystery. It’s a cute idea but the trailer offers little in the way of laughs or interest beyond a strong cast including Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler, Jeffrey Wright, Michael C. Hall, Jesse Plemons, Danny Huston and Chelsea Peretti.
Fourteen years after “The Butterfly Efffect,” writer/director Eric Bress returns with the WWII supernatural thriller “Ghosts of War” with strong young talent including Brenton Thwaites, Kyle Gallner and Alan Ritchson. The story follows five American soldiers ordered to hold a French castle formerly occupied by the Nazi high command, an assignment that spirals into madness when the group begins experiencing inexplicable events.
Premiering at Sundance last year, “Golden Exits” is an intersectional narrative following two families in Brooklyn and the unravelling of unspoken unhappiness that occurs when a young foreign girl (Emily Browning) spending time abroad upsets the balance on both sides. Filmmaker Alex Ross Perry, coming off the success of “Queen of Earth,” scored awards nominations at several festivals but no wins. Overall reviews on aggregate sites boast a similar reaction – it’s good, but it’s a minor work.
“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” marks the third film in Genndy Tartakovsky and Sony Animation’s CG animated family film franchise. This time Dracula, Mavis, Johnny and the rest of their family are vacationing on a luxury Monster Cruise Ship when Dracula then falls for the ship’s mysterious female captain, Ericka, who is secretly the descendant of Abraham Van Helsing. Mavis must soon become the leader of the “Drac Pack” and rally everyone up so they can stop Dracula before it’s too late.
Volume One (A-B): 12 Strong, The 15:17 to Paris, Acrimony, Acts of Violence, Ad Astra, Adrift, The Aftermath, Alita: Battle Angel, Alpha, American Animals, Ana, Angel Has Fallen, Anna, Annette, Annihilation, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Anthem, Apostle, Aquaman, Arctic Justice, Arizona, The Art Of Self-Defence, Ash Is Purest White, Ashes in the Snow, Assassination Nation, At Eternity’s Gate, Avengers: Infinity War, Backseat, Backstabbing for Beginners, Bad Samaritan, Bad Times at the El Royale, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, Batman Ninja, The Beach Bum, Beast of Burden, Beautiful Boy, Been So Long, Beirut, The Bell Jar, Ben is Back, Bigger, Billionaire Boys Club, Bird Box, Birds of Passage, Black Klansman, Black Panther, Blessed Virgin, Black Water, Blaze, Blockers, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Bombing, Book Club, Boy Erased, Braven, Bumblebee, Burden, The Burning
Volume Two (C-E): Can You Ever Forgive Me?, Captive State, Caravan, The Cartel, The Catcher Was A Spy, Charming, Christopher Robin, Code 8, Cold War, Colette, Come Sunday, The Commuter, Crazy Rich Asians, Creed 2, Damsel, Dark River, The Darkest Minds, Deadpool 2, Dear Dictator, The Death & Life of John F. Donovan, Death Wish, Den of Thieves, Departures, Destroyer, Disobedience, Dog Days, Dogman, Domino, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, Dragged Across Concrete, Dreamland, Driven, Duck Duck Goose, Dumplin’, E-book, Early Man, Eighth Grade, The Equalizer 2, Escape Plan 2: Hades, Euphoria, An Evening with Beverly Luff Linn, Everybody Knows, Every Day, Extinction
Volume Three (F-H): Fahrenheit 451, The Family, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Farming, Fast Color, The Favourite, Fighting with My Family, First Man, First Reformed, Foxtrot, Freakshift, Friday’s Child, The Front Runner, A Futile & Stupid Gesture, Future World, Galveston, Game Night, Game Over, Man!, Georgetown, Ghosts of War, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Gloria, Going Places, Golden Exits, Gotti, Gringo, Guardians of the Tomb, Guernsey, Halloween, The Happy Prince, The Happytime Murders, Hard Powder, High Life, Hold the Dark, Holmes and Watson, Hotel Artemis, Hotel Mumbai, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, The House That Jack Built, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, The Hummingbird Project, The Hurricane Heist
Volume Four (I-L): I Am Mother, I Feel Pretty, I Think We’re Alone Now, If Beale Street Could Talk, The Incredibles 2, In Fabric, Inherit the Viper, Insidious: The Last Key, The Irishman, Isle of Dogs, Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, Johnny English 3, Journey to China: The Mystery of Iron Mask, J.T. LeRoy, Juliet Naked, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Keeepers, A Kid Like Jake, The Kid Who Would Be King, The Kid, Kin, The Kindergarten Teacher, Kursk, LAbyrinth, The Land of Steady Habits, The Last Full Measure, Lean on Pete, Leave No Trace, Let the Corpses Tan, Life Itself, Life in a Year, Life of the Party, Light of My Life, Like Father, Little Italy, Little Monsters, The Little Mermaid, The Little Stranger, Lizzie, The Long Dumb Road, The Long Home, Lords of Chaos, Loro, Love, Simon, Love Sonia, Luxembourg