I don’t know about you, but I’m so glad it’s March. All this furor over various awards bodies being noninclusive, shallow, safe and marshmallowy all over AGAIN just makes me tired. Now that it’s all out of the way and we all realise just how little we really care about what one Academy thinks, the movie world can just get the heck on with it’s day. Well… year. I know it’s only the first quarter of 2016, but I think we have a contender for Best Month. That is unless the Coen brothers, Charlie Kaufman, and Ben Wheatley are going to release another film alongside a major superhero movie and the people behind Big Hero 6 later in the year, that is…
Hail, Caesar! – March 4th
I think it’d be an understatement to say I’m partial to the Coen brothers. The fact I can pretty much replay Miller’s Crossing scene-for-scene and recite The Big Lebowski from memory may give that away, but who can honestly say? So here’s another movie for me to memorize, the Coen’s snarky love-letter to the golden age of Hollywood: Hail, Caesar! According to legend, the Coen’s began work on this straight after finishing Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? with an idea and a single line of dialogue. 15 years later, here’s the finished product. Baird Whitlock (George Clooney) has been kidnapped from the set of his Roman epic, leaving studio goon Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) to gather a rag-tag team of indentured studio actors to find out just what the fudge happened.
The Witch – March 11th
I find it disconscerting that everywhere you look when it comes to The Witch, you find all manner of boilerplate review statements about “the scariest film ever” or “the new Shining” or whatever. That said, if you ever take anything movie posters say to heart then you live a far more innocent life than I. Regardless of what posters say, The Witch is still touted to be the next big horror, this year’s The Babadook, if you will. The Witch follows the tale of a Puritan family living in the New England territories in the 1630s, a job made all the more difficult when unnatural forces deep within the forest begin to rend the family apart, psychologically if not physically.
Kung Fu Panda 3 – March 11th
Okay, the first Kung Fu Panda was about as average an animated movie as animated movies can be, however the second one (which I wish was still subtitled The Kaboom of Doom) actually won me over with it’s story and characters gelling together better than expected, not to mention it’s secret ingredient: psychologically unhinged Gary Oldman. Now we have the inevitable threequel, which given the abundance of Sky-endorsed adverts feels like a bit of a shameless cash-grab. At least I think that until I remember J.K Simmons and Bryan Cranston are in it as Dragon Warrior Po’s (Jack Black) main villain and long-lost father respectively. Nothing with Simmons and Cranston can be all that bad, now can it?
Anomalisa – March 11th
I think Charlie Kaufman just exists to confound us regular-thinking humans. When not looking like a more sinister version of Seth Green, Kaufman has bestowed upon us the brain-scrambling genius of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Synedoche, New York. Admit it, you love at least ONE of those films. In any case, his newest feature Anomalisa (based on his play) is about as par for the course as you could expect given those other films. Michael Stone (David Thewlis) has become so disenfranchised with life that everyone looks and sounds like the same man (Tom Noonan), until he meets a woman in a hotel who has her own face, Lisa (Jennfer Jason Leigh). Oh, and it’s a stop-motion animation, if things weren’t trippy enough.
10 Cloverfield Lane – March 18th
Did anybody really expect a sequel to the 2008 found footage mess that was Cloverfield? Well this isn’t it. Or is it? Or was it? Well? Which one is it? That’s the thing, nobody really knows how this connects to that one film from 8 years ago but for my money that’s the sole weak thing about 10 Cloverfield Lane. Starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman and a guy nobody’s ever heard of before (John Gallagher Jr, anybody?), 10 Cloverfield Lane follows what happens when a young woman wakes up in a bunker after being told she was saved from a car crash prior to a major chemical attack. If John Goodman told you that, would you believe it? Maybe? Damn this movie is just questions on top of questions on top of questions, like some kind of enigmatic onion, isn’t it?
High-Rise – March 18th
Ben Wheatley makes me smile. I mean, his films make me unnerved beyond measure, but they do it so dang well that I can’t begrudge the man. Following the low-key, low-budget affairs that were A Field in England and Sightseers, Wheatley hits the big time with his ultra-cast of Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss. So what could a man do with so much, to quote Calculon, unholy ACTING TALENT? Well, adapt J.G Ballard of course. The titular skyscaper is the home of Hiddleston’s Dr Robert Laing, a fine, if amoral and hedonistic place to live. When the building finds itself cut off from the rest of society, it’s residents descend into a spiral of violence and mania the likes of which we probably shouldn’t watch, but are going to anyway.
Marguerite – March 18th
Ah Paris in the 1920s; the place where the fun-loving socialite was built and the perfect arena for anybody in the arts to flourish. But what if you’re one who wants to try their hand at the other? And what if you’re absolutely crap at it? In this cynical world we live in the answer is “don’t try”, but in Marguerite (based on the life of the notorious Florence Foster Jenkins) the answer seems to be “haters gonna hate, just keep doin’ what you doin’”. This inclusive and open tone is unapologetically feel-good, even if the struggle between passion and ability seems otherwise. If you’re up for a French period-piece of enthusiastic attempts at opera and commentaries on celebrtiy, then I think we’ve found your jam.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice – March 25th
Ah, that other superhero movie franchise. Whilst Marvel’s output of late has veered all the closer to the overstuffed and pudgey side of cinema, DC’s pantheon of superheroes were writing all the books on the small screen. Now that Marvel have caught up with the one-two punch of Netflix’s Daredevil and Jessica Jones, DC now need to up their game with this, the first in a potential series of Justice League films. Yup, according to director Zack Snyder this is less Man of Steel 2 than it is Sweet Jesus It’s Time for the Justice League. And I’m okay with that. Following the flagrant destruction of Metropolis at the end of Man of Steel, the U.S Government are kinda in a complicated relationship with Superman (Henry Cavill). A certain, bat-themed vigilante (Ben Affleck), however, isn’t quite so mixed about his feelings and designs to bring the last son of Krypton down a couple pegs. Jesse Eisenberg, Amy Adams, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter and Laurence Fishburne and a kitchen sink also star.
Zootropolis – March 25th
Part of me kind of wishes that this was called Zooniverse as I could then proceed to make as many references to The Mighty Boosh as I could cram into this preview. Alas, it is not, so my attempt at revelling in early 2000’s surreal British comedy shows must start and end there. It’s not all failed attempts at subtle left-field puns though, as Zootropolis comes to us from the minds behind Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, and Big Hero 6, some of the most legitmately enjoyable non-Pixar animated films out there. The gist of Zootropolis (also known as Zootopia in the States) is that in a city of anthropomorphic animals, the peaceful cohabitation of so many species is starting to break down as some citizens turn wild and feral. It’s up to a rookie cop rabbit (Ginnifer Goodwin) and a wily con artist fox (Jason Bateman) to save the day. I would also highly recommend finding the spoof posters Zootropolis made for some of 2015’s higher profile releases, like this, or this one, or even my personal favourite.
Eddie the Eagle – March 28th
As a Brit, I’m generally disposed to being the underdog in most things. Yes, I know the Empire used to rule an overwhelming percentage of the land and the sea back in the day, but I’m not talking about some creaky old institution that people need to stop harping on about, I’m talking about the Winter Olympics.
Yeah, I know how that sounds. Anyway, we love a good underdog story, and the story of Eddie Edwards is none more that. Despite being as athletic as a prolapsed bean bag, Eddie (Taron Egerton) pushes himself to become Britain’s first ski-jumper since 1929. In this version of events he befriends American ski coach Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) to help him overcome an insurmountable number of hurdles. Sometimes literally.