Oh, thank you Film Gods. After years of what seemed to be a string of wishy-washy, lowest-common-denominator, what-was-the-plot-again? movies over the festive season, the heavyweights in Hollywood have done a cinematic U-turn and are bringing us a feast of films this Christmas. From Anne Hathaway's Oscar-worthy performance in Les Mis to film adaptations of the cult books Cloud Atlas and Life of Pi, we're heading for a whole lot of big-screen drama this holiday season. Get the popcorn ready.
Right from Anne Hathaway's first, memorable note of I Dreamed A Dream, this movie sets the tone for an extraordinary tale of broken dreams. Based on the famous story of tragedy and passion set during the French revolution, Les Misérables stars Aussies Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe, along with Helena Bonham Carter (always need Helena in a period piece) and Amanda Seyfried (Mamma Mia). All of the dialogue is sung, but it doesn't seem to be as tiresome as you'd imagine. Even ol' Russ is pretty good at carrying a tune. Anne Hathaway is being tipped for an Oscar, and it's easy to see why: she's magnificent in the trailers alone. Released December 25. Trailer here and website here
Cloud Atlas is a very, very complicated story. It's also a very long story. If you're not someone who can sit in a cinema seat for three hours, don't bother. But you'd be missing what appears to be a brilliant movie. Tom Hanks and Hugh Grant are entirely out of their comfort zone, Halle Berry and Susan Sarandon are as gorgeous and as skilled as always, and the rest of it is a visual extravaganza. The adaptation of David Mitchell's beloved bestseller was always going to be ambitious, but thankfully it seems to have worked. A film to make you think. Recently released. Trailer here and website here.
I'm in love with New Orleans at the moment. (Have you seen the new book out from Assouline?) And in the hands of Quentin Tarantino, this modern western set in the South comes alive – even with all the deaths in it. Jamie Foxx is the slave-turned-bounty hunter and Leonardo DiCaprio is the plantation owner, and there's a lot of blood-stained, cotton field-covered Mississippi backcountry, but there's also a lot of humour and fresh perspectives. Another Tarantino success. Released December 25. Website here.
LIFE OF PI
I never managed to read this highly acclaimed and bestselling novel by Yann Martel, so I shall wait the movie and then tackle the book. It's the wrong way around, I know, but with Ang Lee as director, this is one film that's bound to be beautiful. It's very different to Lee's other films, such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain, but it's a magical journey of love, loss, hope, faith and spirituality nonetheless. It's a complex, mulit-layered tale, often told through cultural symbology, so it may pay to read up on some reviews before you see it so you don't miss the many references. Recently released. (January 1 in Australia) Trailer here.