British film 2009 preview
The ever excellent BBC Film Network (when will it join iPlayer fullscreen flashness?!) has recommendations (republished below) of some of the British films to look out for this year, including Lone Sherfig's Sundance buzzed An Education, Richard Curtis' Radio Caroline biopic The Boat that Rocked, Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes and Armando Ianucci's first feature In The Loop - a film version of hilarious Westminster expose, The Thick of It.
If any film seems destined to press the buttons of
ageing middle England this year, it will be this one. A thinly
disguised portrayal of the era of Radio Caroline, the offshore pirate
station that introduced rock ‘n’ roll to the UK and launched the
careers of Tony Blackburn and Kenny Everett et al, this one looks set
to spin the decks of the nation’s once rebellious baby boomers. The
fact that it's written and directed by the rom-com master himself -
Richard Curtis - shouldn't do its chances any harm either. Also along
for the voyage are cast members Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bill Nighy,
Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh.
Released in the UK on 3rd April.
Emma Thompson also appears in this version of Lynn
Barber’s memoir, adapted for the film by best-selling author Nick
Hornby. Peter Sarsgard and Sally Hawkins (who won many admirers for her
work in Happy-Go-Lucky)
round off the cast of this coming-of-age tale set in early 1960s
London. Director Lone Scherfig, with her first English-language film,
has been nominated for a Grand Jury prize at this year’s Sundance
No release date confirmed yet.
From the sounds of it, Good, like The Reader,
offers a plot with complex moral ambiguities that is likely to be well
received. Viggo Mortensen plays a German doctor whose benign ideas on
compassionate euthanasia are seized upon and corrupted by the ascendant
Nazi hierarchy in pre-war Germany. Mortensen will probably give it his
all, after landing - at age 50 - a leading role in this worthy, serious
Released in the UK on 17th April.
Another pre-war tale, this time set in Britain, 1939
is a rare cinematic foray from Stephen Poliakoff, the writer-director
whose work usually debuts on TV. Poliakoff’s singular style, often
focusing on rich eccentrics, may divide audiences, so it will be
interesting to see how well he translates to cinema after mixed results
during an earlier attempt in the nineties (Close My Eyes, Food Of Love).
Poliakoff certainly has secured some top drawer talent, including Bill
Nighy, Christopher Lee, David Tenant and Julie Christie.
No release date confirmed yet.
Released to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, this biopic focuses on the period when the naturalist was writing his earth-shatteringly controversial evolution study, The Origin Of Species. Paul Bettany stars as the bearded scientist, along with his real-life wife Jennifer Connelly, who plays Darwin's wife, Emma. Released in the UK on 25th September.
Michael Sheen is currently Britain’s hottest actor, so
all eyes will be watching to see if his chameleonic properties can
extend to Brian Clough, the autocratic, eccentric football manager who
bestrode the British game during the 1970s. The film charts Clough’s
disastrous 44-day spell as manager of Leeds United in 1974, a club
which he previously professed nothing but contempt for.
Disappointingly, the film won’t mark the third collaboration between
Sheen, screenwriter Peter Morgan and director Stephen Frears(following The Deal and The Queen), since Frears pulled out of the production. Hopefully Tom Hooper can fill his shoes admirably.
Released in the UK on 27th March.
Yes, it’s probably a perilous activity to recommend a
Guy Ritchie film as one to look out for in 2009, but whatever the
outcome of his re-imagining of the classic detective character, it
should clearly signpost the future for Guy Ritchie – either it will be
his magnificent comeback or it will be the very final nail in his
filmmaking coffin. Arguably, either outcome would be good news for the
British filmmaking industry. The film is being kept tightly under wraps
at the moment, but Robert Downey Jr, who rarely strikes a duff note,
has confirmed that he’s taken up the deerstalker for the title role.
Jude Law also appears as Doctor Watson, so whatever might be said about
Ritchie, his powers of persuasion must be second-to-none.
Released in the UK on 20th November.
Here we will highlight some of the less prestigious
films coming our way which may also be of interest. In the
Brit-gangster stakes, we’ve got something called 44 Inch Chest, starring Ian McShane and Ray Winstone, plus Nicolas Winding Refn’s account of the life of Britain’s most dangerous prisoner, Bronson.
We can also look forward to several horror films after the notable successes of recent years. James Cordon and Matthew Horne are already trying to deflect comparisons to Shaun Of The Dead when discussing their forthcoming Lesbian Vampire Killers, while Jake West directs Danny Dyer in Doghouse, which is apparently about a plague of man-hating female cannibals.
Finally, a couple of comedies to look out for, Debbie Isitt follows up Confetti with another improvised comedy – Nativity, and this time they’ve roped in improv expert John Sessions to help out with proceedings. Also Armando Ianucci, the genius behind I’m Alan Partridge and The Day Today, finally gets the chance to direct a feature-length political satire. It’s called In The Loop and it stands an excellent chance of being that rarest of beasts – a quality British comedy.