Well, here we are, already in the second month of 2016, and I’m not even done with 2015 yet. But we’ll get there. In the meanwhile, the year is hopefully going to get revved up here pretty quick: obviously anything could turn out to be bad, but two of my most-anticipated titles for the whole calendar year are soon to be upon us. It’s still the winter, and that means plenty of dodgy crap, but even some of that looks maybe possibly okay. Fingers crossed.
First and above all: new Coen film. Hail, Caesar! finds them returning to the world of classical Hollywood, where they set my most beloved of their films, Barton Fink; it contains one of the most interesting ensembles they’ve ever assembled, with Josh Brolin leading off a list including Coen vets (George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton), and exciting newbies (Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes). And as one of those weirdos who adored Burn After Reading and happily ranks it as top-tier Coen brothers, I’m extremely happy to see them moving back into pure comedy. Again, things can go wrong, and the lack of reviews this close to the release date is not great. But the Coen brothers have one of the best track records in modern cinema, and that is that.
As a warm-up to Valentine’s Day, there’s the requisite new Nicholas Sparks adaptation, The Choice, which lost the lead actors lottery in a big way: Teresa Palmer and Benjamin Walker are the latest people attempting to wrestle human feeling from Sparks’s torrid prose. Also, our culture finally has its date with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a joke that got out of hand and never should have come to this point, but there’s no use crying over it now.
Actual Valentine’s Day comes along with one of those ensemble romantic comedies that nobody ever seems to publicly cop to enjoying, How to Be Single. Step 1 is live in New York, so to hell with that.
More acerbically, Deadpool is positioning itself as the ironic anti-Valentine’s choice, among many other things. The R-rated gag-driven superhero film starring Ryan Reynolds is surely going to be one of the year’s most idiosyncratic major studio films, and probably not any damn good at all; but as one of the two 2016 releases that’s apparently trying to something actually different with the superhero genre, I’ll admit to being excited. “Excited” in scare quotes, maybe. At least it will be different, and sometimes that’s enough.
Also: Zoolander 2. Comedy sequels ten years past their sell-by date are always the best idea!
There’s a movie about racing that’s also a movie about racism, you guys, and you know what it’s called? It’s called Race. Oh my God, it’s so clever! Almost as clever as positioning ultra-white Jason Sudeikis as the lead in a film that at least conceivably wants to be a Jesse Owens biopic. I eagerly anticipate a massive shitstorm that brings a hopelessly inept film to much greater prominence than it can possibly deserve.
More promisingly – only in this context – is Risen, the story of the resurrection of Christ done up as a costume drama police procedural, with Joseph Fiennes as the Roman hunting for Jesus’s body. Sure, why not. Maybe it will be enjoyable gaudy. Incidentally, if you combine Race and Risen, you get Rasen, the first sequel to the original Japanese Ring, a movie that I’d much rather watch then any of these.
Meanwhile, that other wide release film I’m looking forward to? It’s The Witch, the latest wildly-hyped horror indie. Probably over-hyped, but the trailer, anyway, looks intensely gorgeous. I’m trying not to learn any more about it than is seemly
Man, Gods of Egypt is just going to be so unbelievably fucking terrible, and that makes me sad. Director Alex Proyas has a real spotty track record, but all of his films at least look interesting and carefully worked-out – even the dismal I, Robot – but Gods of Egypt? It looks like chintzy made-for-Syfy trash. And then factor in the controversy about its decision that, for the most part, the gods of Egypt are a bunch of white guys, and it’s just going to be a trainwreck, top to bottom.
The weekend also bears witness to Eddie the Eagle, an Inspirational Sports Biopic cross-bred with a Wacky English Rural Types comedy, starring Hugh Jackman as his character from Real Steel, only it’s for a skier played by Taron Egerton instead of robots. And just like that, Alex Proyas whitewashing ancient Egypt looks like a much safer bet. There’s also something called Triple 9, about which I have heard nothing whatsoever, but it’s directed by John Hillcoat and features Kate Winslet and Casey Affleck, and I like all of those people. It also provides a weird bookend to the month, as the other Teresa Palmer starring vehicle of the month.