There’s no need to worry about the falling temperatures when you can stay warm inside the cinema as a ton of great films head to the big screen this month. Many of last month’s Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) features are moving on to general release, giving you another chance to catch what you might have missed. It’s also a big month for book lovers as works by the likes of Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy and Irvine Welsh all get the movie treatment.
By Christopher O’Keeffe (Main image: Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips)
Tom Hanks walked the green carpet at The Tokyo International Film Festival last month in support of his latest action thriller Captain Phillips. The film depicts the real-life hijacking of an American cargo ship, a story first told in the book, A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea. Hanks stars as merchant mariner Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage when his ship, the Maersk Alabama, was attacked off the coast of Somalia. At the helm is director Paul Greengrass who is more than capable of tackling intense action and drama, having previously steered The Bourne Ultimatum and United 93 to success. To shoot the movie nine weeks were spent at sea, all aboard a ship almost identical to the one which was originally hijacked. Watch out for Somali-American actor Barkhad Abdi, who turns in a striking performance as the leader of the pirates and who has already been tipped for Oscars success. Hanks himself is no stranger to Oscars glory: he won the Best Actor award for two consecutive years, first in 1993 for Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia and then in 1994 for Robert Zemeckis’s Forrest Gump. Hanks shares this rare back-to-back feat only with Spencer Tracy.
When a film is based on a novel by author Irvine Welsh it should give you an idea of what to expect. Trainspotting, Welsh’s tale of heroin-addicted friends became a cult classic when Danny Boyle converted it into a film in 1996. Now director Jon S. Baird is having a go at turning Filth into a similar hit. James McAvoy, who will be reprising his role as Professor X in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, plays the corrupt and bigoted Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson who will stop at nothing to get a promotion and beat his similarly scheming colleagues. Sex, drugs and violence abound in this grubby tale of filthy cops. Jamie Bell and Jim Broadbent co-star.
Brian De Palma’s 1976 film Carrie is a stone-cold classic of horror cinema and its infamous pig-blood prom finale once seen isn’t soon to be forgotten. Based on Stephen King’s first novel, this remake was intended to be a more faithful adaptation of the original book. Reprising the role made famous by Sissy Spacek is young up-and-comer Chloe Grace Moretz who rose to fame after playing eleven-year-old super hero Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass. Carrie is a student approaching the final few months of high school, where she is the subject of vicious bullying. When the troubled youngster starts to manifest telekinetic powers it leads to devastating results after a prank at the school prom pushes her over the edge. Julianne Moore plays Carrie’s religious fanatic mother.
The Tale of Princess Kaguya (Kaguyahime no Monogatari) will be the second Studio Ghibli release of the year after July’s The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu). Until this work was delayed the two films were originally planned to be released together, for the first time since the joint release of Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro all the way back in 1988. This animated feature will be directed by Isao Takahata, the man who co-founded the Ghibli company with animation legend Hayao Miyazaki. The director’s first film in 14 years is based on the classic Japanese folktale, “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter” and tells the story of an old man who finds a baby girl inside a stalk of bamboo. Visually the picture is most similar to Takahata’s previous feature My Neighbors the Yamadas.
The Counselor is the latest from director Ridley Scott from a screenplay by Cormac McCarthy, the Pulitzer prize winning author of No Country for Old Men and The Road. The film boasts an impressive cast led by Michael Fassbender in the title role with support from the likes of Brad Pitt, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Javier Bardem. Fassbender plays a greedy lawyer, known only as The Counselor, whose life quickly spirals out of control after he gets involved in a drug deal that goes wrong. With the talent behind it, it’s hard to see how this dark and witty crime thriller can fail. Check out the impressively slick trailer below:
Few sporting heroes’ achievements transcend the game they play and make a mark on history but Jackie Robinson is one of those few. The player, number 42, was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers by general manager Branch Rickey in 1946 when there was an unofficial code that black players would not be signed to Major League teams. Instead they played in separate leagues informally known as the “Negro leagues.” Robinson suffered abuse from players, fans and even teammates as he broke the color barrier, but he showed tremendous courage by not reacting to the hate thrown his way. Instead, he let his performance do the talking. 42, written and directed by Brian Helgeland, is a biographical sports drama based on Robinson’s life, and it focuses on his move from the Negro league Kansas City Monarchs to his first season with the Dodgers. Television veteran Chadwick Boseman stars as the great player with screen veteran Harrison Ford taking the role of GM Rickey. Keep an eye on Boseman as he gets ready to play James Brown in the biopic Get On Up, set to film next year.
Originally aired as a TV movie on HBO in the US, Behind the Candelabra proved a huge ratings success and has gone on to theatrical release around the world to much critical acclaim. It premiered at the Cannes Festival this year where it competed for a Palme d’Or, and it was among the films shown last month in the Tokyo International Film Festival’s “Special Screenings” section. The film is an account of the life of renowned pianist Liberace and his relationship with Scott Thorson, on whose autobiography (Behind the Candelabra: My Life with Liberace) the film is based. Liberace was an icon of Las Vegas, where he performed for decades, and the film is directed by Steven Soderbergh—a man who knows his way around the casinos of Las Vegas from his time directing the Ocean’s Trilogy series. Matt Damon plays Thorson, an animal trainer who becomes the lover of the famous showman who escorts him into a world of opulent wealth and sensual excess. Liberace himself is played by Michael Douglas, who is in top form as the over-the-top and out-of-this world performer.