British film 2009 preview

Written by James Rocarols on . Posted in Distribution

Peter Capaldi in the precursor to In The Loop , The Thick Of It

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.

The Boat That Rocked

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.

The poster for Richard Curtis' The Boat That Rocked

 

The poster for Richard Curtis' The Boat That Rocked
 
An Education

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 festival.
No release date confirmed yet.

Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan in An Education

 

Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan in An Education
 
Good

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 drama.
Released in the UK on 17th April.

Viggo Mortensen as John Halder in Good

 

Viggo Mortensen as John Halder in Good
 
1939

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.

Stephen Poliakoff, director of 1939

 

Stephen Poliakoff, director of 1939
 
Creation

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.

Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly and Charles Darwin

 

Paul Bettany, Jennifer Connelly and Charles Darwin.
 
The Damned United

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.

Michael Sheen as Brian Clough in The Damned United

 

Michael Sheen as Brian Clough in The Damned United
 
Sherlock Holmes

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.

Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes

 

Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes
The Best Of The Rest

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.

Peter Capaldi in the precursor to In The Loop , The Thick Of It

Peter Capaldi in the precursor to In The Loop, The Thick Of It

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