Tuesday, February 03, 2009

"We Can't Wait" 2009 Preview

Tomorrow the blog will begin to be invaded by brief peeks at 20 films we're excited to see in 2009 (at least at this writing -- trailers could change our pre-viewing feelings). Who is "we" you ask? This year I did the anticipatory mindmeld with Whitney of Dear Jesus, Fox of Tractor Facts, Joe of Low Resolution and JA of My New Plaid Pants to come up with the top 20. I am horrified to inform you that these so called "friends" did not help me place Stephen Frears Chéri on the list. The plentiful posts I've already done on the matter will have to be enough until its Berlinale premiere later this month. The other highest ranking "orphans" from my own personal list function as an accidental Natalie Portman Double Feature.

Brothers is from actor-friendly director Jim Sheridan (In America, In the Name of the Father) and its based on the Danish film by Susanne Bier which I've recommended for rental many times. In the original film Connie Nielsen (in a terrifically engaging and warm star turn) is an army wife whose husband (Ulrich Thomsen) has been shipped off to Afghanistan. His troubled brother (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) helps her out around the house and they form a makeshift bond in his absence. If the plot sounds similar it's because Bier herself didn't stray far from its distraught wife and uncomfortable romantic triangle that also characterized the plot of her English language debut Things We Lost in the Fire.

In the American remake Natalie Portman plays the tearful wife. The title characters are Tobey Maguire as the soldier hubby and Jake Gyllenhaal as the ne'er-do-well brother. I'm interested to see what mojo Portman can work on both of them. Think of how bewitched bothered and bewildered Clive Owen, Jude Law (twice!), Timothy Hutton and Jason Schwartzman have become in her presence onscreen. Even wooden Hayden Christensen was thrown by her. He was haunted by the kiss she should never have given him [gag] !

17 Photos of Isabel comes from writer/director Don Roos and I think he proved with The Opposite of Sex and Happy Endings that he definitely has his own voice as a filmmaker. It's a voice worth hearing from time to time. He's also the filmmaker we can thank for Lisa Kudrow's best performance (The Opposite of Sex) and even, arguably, Maggie Gyllenhaal's (Happy Endings) which is saying a lot. The film is about a woman who is having trouble with her stepson but I don't know who plays whom. Neither Kudrow (returning for a third round with Roos) nor Portman are playing a character named "Isabel". The working title was Love and Other Impossible Pursuits.

Did you like Roos' previous films? Do you share my intermittent Portmania?

The Official "We Can't Wait ~ Top 20 of 2009" kicks off tomorrow @ Noon. You can see other "orphans" at Low Resolution, Tractor Facts and My New Plaid Plants

In case you missed any entries they went like so...
We Can't Wait:
#1 Inglourious Basterds, #2 Where the Wild Things Are, #3 Fantastic Mr. Fox,
#4 Avatar, #5 Bright Star, #6 Shutter Island, #7 Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
#8 Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, #9 Nailed,
#10 Taking Woodstock,
#11 Watchmen, #12 The Hurt Locker, #13 The Road, #14 The Tree of Life
#15 Away We Go, #16 500 Days of Summer, #17 Drag Me To Hell,
#18 Whatever Works, #19 Broken Embraces, #20 Nine (the musical)
intro (orphans -didn't make group list)



Anonymous said...

Don Roos, yes!!

Rich Aunt Pennybags said...

I doubt the new Bonnie and Clyde with Hilary Duff even gets made let alone comes out this year. I just thought this was the best place to comment on the war of words that is developing between Faye Dunaway and Hilary Duff in case you weren't already aware. I'm sure you would have a field day with it if you do cover it.

For the record, I'm Team Faye all the way. I was also Team Lindsey during her feud with Hilary Duff. Both sides seemed pretty silly, but at least Lohan had a lot more talent than Duff.

DL said...

Don Roos is one of my favourite underappreciated writer/directors. The Opposite of Sex and especially Happy Endings are much better films than a lot of people give them credit for, and Boys on the Side (which he wrote) will always hold a very special place in my heart, if only because it introduced my young impressionable mind to the brilliance of Mary-Louise Parker...

Andres said...

Hey man, great idea, i just started my own blog, which i actually write in spanish , cause i live in Perú and believe me. we don't know shit about good films.
But thats partly beacause we dont get all the films projected at the movies. So the ones who really care about Cinema, have to find another way...
if you know what i mean.
Anyway, I'll post a link to your website and hopefuly i'll get some readers. I'll try to send a top 50 comming soon movies. I actually think you should encourage people to send their top 2009 movies.

Ok I'm out, and Kudos for the Blog.

Neb said...

Right back at you.


Anonymous said...

This is off topic, but I was thrilled to find out that Meryl Streep Day exists! Watch this interview of Meryl on Ellen:


Her Bronx accent is hysterical.

Anonymous said...

You forgot to mention Christina Ricci gave her best performance by Don Roos as well!

Anonymous said...

Love Don Roos. However I'd venture to say that Lisa Kudrow's best performance (does TV count?) is on "The Comeback". And she wasn't bad in Happy Endings either. I love that film.

Don't forget that Don Roos also pulled a hella-good performance from Tom Arnold!?!

This man is underrated and I hope his day comes.

Cinesnatch said...

I thought Opposite of Sex was cute.

Happy Endings ... was amazing. I thought Kudrow was a revelation, as well as Maggie Gyllenhaal. It's sad that this film didn't get the attention and distribution care it deserved.

And Natalie Portman kicks ass. She's one of the few young actors who can do good SNL. So adorable in Garden State. She also seems like she's a really cool person. What about the clip of her, her friend and all the little chicks?

Sam Brooks said...

Lisa Kudrow! That woman has amassed so much goodwill from me from The Opposite of Sex, Happy Endings and yes, Friends.

And Don Roos gets a pass so easily from me. Keep making those kinds of movies, please.


Kent... i almost went there but then i remembered that there's a lot of "best" christina performances ;)

Anonymous said...

My fave Ricci performance is from Black Snake Moan.

Glenn said...

Mine is Addams Family Values! Bliss.

I didn't know Don Roos had a new film coming out. It may have made my top 50 if I did, especially since whenever he works with Lisa Kudrow there are some special results.

Anonymous said...

Kudos for the write-up on N.Portman, Nathaniel. Been a fan of hers since 99, living on a tiny rez watching "Beautiful Girls" over and over again, the skating scene is a personal classic. Being a fresh teen at the time just totally related to Marty and that was the beginning of my Portman love. Had a pic of her on my wall the entire Oscar season of 04, secretly hoping she'd upset C.Blanchett & V.Madsen. :) personal faves beyond the obvious "garden state"/"closer" would have to be "V For vendetta" and my guilty pleasure "where the heart is". Never seen " the professional", a glaring omission, I don't even know if I can call myself a true fan considering that. Definitely excited for this coming year, a little nervous about the "brothers" remake but I think she can pull it off. "17 photos of isabel" is on my MUST-SEE this year for sure. Roos, Kudrow and Portman, how can you go wrong with that?

Anonymous said...

here's the new teaser poster of Tsai Ming-Liang's "Face (Visages)":


Anonymous said...

I'm really really excited about Julie Delpy's "The Countess". Can't wait to read the first reviews when it premieres at the Berlinale.
Btw, there's a new poster here:

Oh, and did I mention I'm a little in love with Nikolaj Lie Kaas? I don't have a lot of faith in the remake...

Anonymous said...

Bleh. I am wary of most remakes as a rule, but positively hate the trend of remaking brand new films for subtitlophobes. Not only does it provide amunition for the "Holywood is out of ideas" pessimists, but also is ultimately so patronizing towards other cultures ("Oooh, we liked your story but we can't relate to the characters because: they talked funny! Let us fix it!"). Shame on Scorsese and Academy for "legitimizing" it with The Departed.

So while I share your Portmania and would love to see Maguire get back to serious acting, I am glad Brothers didn't make it to the list.


anna regarding Nikolaj... you and me both.

notluke good point. I guess i was excited about it (even though I'm always asking people to watch the original) because I was anxious to see whether Portman could handle such a grown up womanly role (it's not girlie unles she/they change it) and it's the type of role I'd really love to see Jake G do and see if he can find some inner edge we haven't seen.

I'm in it purely for the acting !

Runs Like A Gay said...

This is one of my favourite parts of the new year, the new year being after the Oscar noms are annouced and Nat tells us what he's looking forward to this year.

Really confused about some of the omissions - Ondine looks like it might be OK, and Brothers is probably worth a look, but no Cheri. WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?

It's this sort of subversive talk that will send La Pfeiffer stomping off for another 3 year break from the movies.

I demand a recount.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I may get shot for admitting this, but the Don Roos film that I love and was seemingly forgotten by the rest of the world is "Bounce" with Gwyneth and Ben Affleck. I'm not sure that anyone else likes it at all, but something about the script and the performances strikes a cord with me. It was the last movie that I truly loved Ben in and is one of the only reasons that I allow Gwyneth to keep working.

So yes, I am pumped for the Natalie-Kudrow-Roos combination!

Lucas Dantas said...

haven't seen "the opposite of sex" yet, but "happy endings" just breaks my heart everytime i watch it. it was one of my fave movies back in 2007 and maggie gylenhaal singing "just the way you are" is PERFECTION!

Anonymous said...

Up didn't make the list? But why?


it wasn't on enough lists. it actually wasn't on mine. I'm weird with Pixar. I always love them but i never think about being excited for them BEFORE they come out ;)

Anonymous said...

Natalie Portman is one of those performers that will win her Oscar when all the planets align...the right script, director, and role for her is out there somewhere. I just do not think "Brothers" is it. She probably needs something that exploits just how whip-smart she is. Come on, Hollywood...help a girl out!

Anonymous said...

let's see her pairing with Jake G.
How the chemistry will come to them. Coz I already love Portman with Law in every single movie they starred together.