Its only January and already it’s been an excellent year for auteur and independent filmmakers. While many new projects by some of our favorite unique filmmakers are upcoming later in the year, there is also much in the way of retrospectives and celebrations regarding some of these talents, or even just a joyous anticipation for some who have been away for too long. It seems that everywhere you look the focus is more on independent and innovative filmmaking more than on the tired old Hollywood blockbuster sequels and reboots – also evidenced by the fact that some of the serious Oscar contenders this year were hardly box office smashes or prestige projects. So in celebration of the return of artistic endeavor in popular film, here are some works by some very distinctive filmmakers that you can look forward to in 2015 (and in one case 2016).
While we haven’t seen a full length feature from Lynch since 2006’s Inland Empire, he’s hardly been idle in the meantime. Lynch has directed several shorts, music videos, and commercials and has produced several albums of his own music. He designs furniture, has written a book, has a regular voice role as Gus on The Cleveland Show, and has acted in his daughter’s feature film debut released later this year. Unbelievably, it has recently been announced that Lynch is producing a new series of his famous cult classic Twin Peaks, and featuring most of the original cast. The series is due to premiere next year, but in the meantime there is a delightful Q&A with Lynch at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where an exhibit of his work is being shown.
Alejandro González Iñárritu
If you haven’t seen this year’s Best Film Oscar nominee Birdman, you are seriously missing out on one of the best movies of 2014. I know I say that like an Oscar nomination doesn’t automatically mean quality – and that’s because it often doesn’t. Birdman, on the other hand, is outrageously good and wonderfully unique. The quality of the film and the accompanying nomination has fans and critics alike looking forward to Iñárritu’s next film, The Revenant (starring Tom Hardy, Leonardo DiCaprio, Domhnall Gleeson and released in the US next Christmas), an 1820s era revenge western. Sounds like a lot of fun to be had with an exemplary cast.
Just after the end of WWII, Hitchcock was commissioned to consult on a film project to document the conditions of the concentration camps as the prisoners of war were released. With much of the footage deemed too disturbing for the general public, the film was never finished or released and to this day languishes uncompleted and the footage only rarely screened. But now, thanks to HBO, Brett Ratner, and André Singer, a new documentary entitled Night Will Fall chronicles the story of Hitchcock’s unfinished masterpiece, featuring clips of the original footage, and eye witness interviews. The documentary premieres on HBO Monday night with VOD available the following day.
To think that we nearly didn’t have a Tarantino movie this year because someone leaked the script for the upcoming The Hateful Eight. Aside from being an awesome title, the movie is another western about a couple of bounty hunters sheltering against a storm and was nearly ruined when Tarantino’s knee jerk reaction to the leak was to trash the script and the movie. It’s been a mere three years since we’ve had a film from Tarantino (Django Unchained, 2012), which by his methodical standards is a pretty quick turn around. I say take it while you can get it, because you never know when there will be another six year gap between films.
Now I’m not a huge fan of Terrence Malick. I find his movies usually overbearing, condescending, and self-indulgent – but the fact that he has two films coming out this year – and both starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, and Natalie Portman – is a somewhat unique occurrence in not just Malick’s career, but by any director’s standards. One of the films is currently untitled and is about two intersecting love triangles, while the other is called Knight of Cups, about a screenwriter living in Los Angeles. Chances are these two movies will be interlinked in some way, either directly or by theme.
Did you know Daivd Lynch’s favorite Werner Herzog movie is Stroszek (1977)? If you’d watched that Q&A, you’d know Lynch has absolutely no hesitation on this point. Herzog is perhaps best known for his documentaries, particularly Grizzly Man which documented the life and death of activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard, who were killed while living among grizzlies in Alaska. At the time, the event was a hot ticket news item and the story just the mix of absurdity, hopelessness, and human determination that Herzog adores. His latest feature, however, is Herzog’s first narrative feature since 2009’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, starring the ridiculous Nicolas Cage. This one is called Queen of the Desert, stars Nicole Kidman, Robert Pattinson, and James Franco, and chronicles the life of Gertrude Bell. The film is a desert epic and features Pattinson as T.E. Lawrence and Franco as Henry Cadogan. The exact release date is currently unknown, but is set to premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February.