Six films in the diary

Posted by in Sidedoor

2015 has a movie agenda bigger than any in recent memory. It is a year of the biggest tent-pole releases imaginable. Pages upon pages will be dedicated to Avengers 2, Spectre, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mockingjay Part 2, a little something called Star Wars… to name but a few. Enough will be written about each of these.

There are many other releases scheduled that may slip under the radar but might just prove to be the real triumphs. I am going to tentatively suggest six that may be worth keeping an eye on.

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (Alex Gibney). Scheduled for release in March on HBO, Gibney’s overview of Scientology and its leadership has already garnered headlines from all sides. What makes this film so interesting is that it represents the first time a leading filmmaker has turned their eye towards the Church of Scientology. That the filmmaker is a master documentarian like Gibney heightens the anticipation further. From Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room to Mea Maxima Culpa, Gibney structures his films economically yet forensically. It is a safe bet to assume this will be both provocative and informative.

Silence (Martin Scorsese). This would seem to be a sudden change of pace after the electrifying and excessive Wolf of Wall Street. This tale of Jesuit priests returning to Japan to spread Christianity is adapted by Jay Cocks from a 1966 novel by Shusako Endo. It has been long in gestation but will finally make it to our screens towards the end of the year. Scorsese hasn’t been on vintage form since Casino in 1995 but it is fair to say that solid Scorsese – The Departed, Shutter Island, Wolf – remains more interesting than many of his peers at the top of their game.

Erran (Jacques Audiard). The triple hander of The Beat That My Heart Skipped, A Prophet and Rust and Bone have established him among the greats of contemporary cinema. While Erran is being kept under wraps, we do know it will revolve around a Sri-Lanka Tamil fighter who is a political refugee in France. He then works as a caretaker in an ‘unruly’ neighbourhood. This will probably lead to lots of bad things happening.

Crimson Peak (Guillermo Del Toro). I am looking forward to this for two reasons: Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone. I will always be indebted to Del Toro for those films. The rest of his output has been pretty…execrable. It was almost the point of no return with Pacific Rim but then you see Pan’s Labyrinth on the shelf and all is forgiven. Crimson Peak sounds much more promising. As far as we can tell, it is a gothic horror story centred on a woman whose husband may not be all he appears. Hopefully this marks a return to form for a director capable of the sublime.

Bad Words (Jason Bateman). Bateman has interestingly chosen this for his feature debut. He became something of a national treasure during the original run of Arrested Development and although his movie choices have been somewhat haphazard, his comic timing is impeccable and he has the best bemused face around. He is also intelligent and the synopses of this film make it seem a perfect fit. A subversive black comedy about an American institution has the potential to slip into cult moviedom like Bad Santa before it.

Altman (Ron Mann). Perhaps a strange choice for an anticipated film, this documentary on the legendary Robert Altman appears timely, at least in the realm of cine-literature. Under-appreciated regularly throughout his career, posthumously Altman has grown in stature. His landmark films – MASH, Nashville, The Long Goodbye, Short Cuts, The Player to name a few – are now recognised as the masterpieces they always were. The interweaving of narratives and the overlapping dialogues are just two streams running through the Altman cine-verse. Always his own man and stubbornly loyal to his films, this portrait of an American icon should make fascinating and rewarding viewing.