What big eyes you have . . .
. . . All the better to read Donald Clarke’s preview of Red Riding Hood and the other film highlights of early 2011
ONE COULD reasonably decry the way Hollywood now unleashes all its Oscar pictures at the end of the year in the US. Then again, this does mean that, here in the Rest of the World, we get an invigorating blast of prestige releases during the icy later months of winter. Such pictures as Black Swan, True Grit, The Fighter and The King’s Speech are all worth battering your way through snowdrifts for.
The gap between that happy period and the beginning of blockbuster season has, however, become increasingly difficult to summarise. One thing is apparent from this year’s spring preview: the studios are throwing a great deal of product at us. The notion seems to be that – unsure what makes money in the season that isn’t really a season – the distributors have decided to sprinkle a bit of everything through the schedules.
After all, who would have guessed that Alice in Wonderland, released last February, would take a billion dollars worldwide? It doesn’t look as if there’s a hit of those proportions in this year’s schedules. But that’s the thing about surprises – they surprise you. Hooper’s film details the efforts of King George VI to overcome his speech impediment as war looms. Nicolas Cage stars as a crusader coping badly with life in a plague-ridden land. It sounds a bit like The Seventh Seal, but it seems unlikely it will look much like that Bergman flick. Offering the first of two releases in as many weeks, Michel Gondry directs a documentary concerning his sprightly aunt, a teacher from rural France. Darren Aronofsky follows-up The Wrestler with a demented tale of demented ballet dancers being demented. Natalie Portman, quite brilliant in the lead, is currently favourite for the best actress Oscar. new picture is a terrifying drama following a smart kid as he gets dragged into gang violence. Uncompromising stuff. Javier Bardem gives a bravura performance in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s drama about a dodgy character confronting his failings as death looms. Gloomy and resonant.