Friday, March 30, 2012

Movie Review: Wrath of the Titans

Wrath of the Titans has the virtue of being the first big-budget Hollywood action extravaganza of this summer, and is completely dependent on balls-to-wall CGI. The follow up to 2010’s unintentionally hilarious but immensely profitable Clash of the Titans re-teams action figure Sam Worthington and Greek beasts, and it is still quite terrible, but in an endearing sort of way. 

Director Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles) adds to Hollywood’s endless supply of sequels, and Wrath of the Titans actually qualifies as his best film to date. Intentional or not, the film plays like a ludicrous satire of Hollywood’s own sloppy, over budgeted, hammy productions, and is so over-the-top that it’s mildly fun. The story picks up a few years after the events of the previous film, and is as ridiculous as it can get. One day Perseus (Sam Worthington), now a single father, is visited by his dad Zeus (Liam Neeson). Zeus warns him that men have stopped praying, because of which the Gods are losing their power, and that Cronos, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston) are conspiring to bring about the end of mankind.  Perseus’ mission: to round up his men and enlist the help of Andromeda (Rosamund Pike) to save people from the wrath of the titans and prevent mankind’s extinction. 

Along the way Perseus fights dozens of famous mythological beasts and the film is stuffed to the brim with a gigantic helping of visual badassery – there are Cyclopses, Chimeras, Minotaurs and whatnots - for those who like their action movies with gratuitous CGI and zero intellect, Wrath of the Titans delivers. Liebesman goes crazy with the fight scenes and the visual effects give new meaning to the word overload, with the non-stop green screen action lasting for a little more than 90 minutes. He throws everything that's wrong with Hollywood into Wrath of the Titans, and the effect is often that of guilty pleasure. 

The 3D isn’t nearly as migraine inducing as in Clash of the Titans but is still jarring. It doesn’t help that the epic fight between the Minotaur and Perseus is shot in the dark with a shaky camera – reducing it to a frustrating mess. Also, not a single shot lasts more than five seconds – but that becomes helpful seeing as most of the actors here ham to the hilt. Rosamund Pike wears Miranda Otto’s costume from Lord of the Rings while Fiennes and Neeson try their best not to giggle through their dialogues. Edgar Ramirez fumbles along as Ares, teetering between being serious and silly while Bill Nighy as Hephaestus has his tongue firmly in his cheek. Action figure Sam Worthington, in his super solemn avatar and long locks comes across as a bizarro Danny McBride. Toby Kebbell as Agenor is fun but Cronos takes the entertainment cake here – a big improvement from the underwhelming Kraken sequence from the previous film. 

Wrath of the Titans is much better than the preceding movie, it has enough CGI fun to make the campy story and acting tolerable. Director Liebesman is still a scourge on filmmaking but this movie shows that he's capable of at least minimal good. 

(First published in Mid Day)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Movie Review: Agent Vinod

The good news – Agent Vinod taps the Don films on the shoulder and asks them to piss off. The bad news – the film is not as smart and entertaining as it thinks it is.

Starring Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, Agent Vinod runs around aimlessly with a collection of goofy illogicalities. But that would have been fine had the film completely devoted itself to being a tacky tongue in cheek garish comedy thriller the way the 1970’s film of the same name was. Unfortunately this film seems like an unappetizing byproduct oozing out of a blender stuffed with Sunny Deol’s Hero: The Love Story of a Spy, Anubhav Sinha’s Dus and Akshay Kumar’s Mr Bond. The fact that director Sriram Raghavan has made the excellent Ek Haseena Thi and the magnificent Johnny Gaddar gives one the impression that the final cut of Agent Vinod is not the film he originally wanted to make. It’s beautifully shot, but it clumsily dances on the line between the merely passable and the completely boring. In fact even the much acclaimed trailer of the film was misleading, because most of the good stuff doesn’t even appear in the movie. 

The story is hideously convoluted - Agent Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) is a super spy in a super-secret Indian intelligence agency. He escapes from Afghanistan from the clutches of terrorist leader Huzefa (Shahbaz Khan from Chandrakaanta) and is handed a new assignment by his boss (BP Singh, the creator of CID) – to stop an escalating terror attack in the country. The mission takes him (and us) through all sorts of snazzy places including Latvia, Russia, Morocco, Delhi and even Karachi, where he meets strange farcical characters like a drug running African sheikh (a hamming Prem Chopra), his personal doctor (Kareena Kapoor), a faux Indo-Russian warlord (a hilarious Ram Kapoor, speaking in Russian accent), various clandestine conspirators (Dhritiman Chatterjee, Adil Hussain, Gulshan Grover). The locales are gorgeous, but that doesn't necessarily make for a smart movie. Moreover, the second half and finale are so clichéd that even a novice moviegoer would know exactly what would happen twenty minutes in.

There are a few action scenes, but they’re poorly choreographed and shot – it is impossible to make out what’s going on. It doesn’t help that some of the CGI is dubious. Product placements are a plenty – most of Agent Vinod feels like being stuck in a never-ending commercial starring a glamorous real life couple. Saif and Kareena reprise the chemistry that they shared in Tashan, but sadly the soulless hangover from that movie seems to have carried on in Agent Vinod. The film at times breaks into trippy segments that are juxtaposed to classic Hindi songs and out of place sound effects. These actually work because of Raghavan’s sheer visual artistry, but the problem is that these sequences keep going away to make way for the trite formula found in most Abbas Mustan movies. The film’s best moment involves a stunning single shot scene to the backdrop of ‘Raabta’ – it truly makes you wish Raghavan was given more control of the script and editing.  

Agent Vinod doesn’t explode – it fizzles with a damp whimper. Unless you like your whacky spy thrillers in heavy-handed doses, you’re better off watching the real thing – superstar Balakrishna’s Vijayendra Varma on YouTube.   

(First published in Mumbaiboss)

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

The young-adult fiction series The Hunger Games follows the huge success of the Twilight franchise with a film adaptation, but unlike the latter, this first installment is actually well made and entertaining. The film also happens to be the one that would transform the lovely and talented Jennifer Lawrence into a massive movie star. 

A sober mixture of the insane Japanese movie Battle Royale, Jason Statham’s Death Race and the Steve Austin movie The Condemned, The Hunger Games is essentially a teen-tween story but intriguing enough to leave you mesmerized by its commitment to deliver a mature, emotional yet thrilling story. Apart from the fully dimensional lead heroine, the film features various well written characters that make up for the ludicrous story it tells.

The premise of The Hunger Games is bizarre enough to kill a few million brain cells while watching it. Based upon the first of the three books by Suzanne Collins, the film is set in a dystopian future where the world is split into two groups – a lavish metropolis and the destitute ‘Districts’. The ones from the metropolis wear brightly colored wigs and sport weird facial hair and makeup. They also enjoy a morbid reality TV show called ‘The Hunger Games’ where a bunch of contestants fight to their death, and the last man standing gets rich. The 16-year-olds Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are chosen from District 12 for the games; Katniss is a skilled archer and hunts, and mentally stronger than Peeta. She’s a bit like the titular character from Hanna. And just like that movie, The Hunger Games ignores its unoriginal concept by standing out as a rewarding drama. 

The film works because its cheesy bits are compensated by the excellent acting and a surprising expanse of directorial flair. Director Gary Ross, who last made Seabiscuit nine years ago employs a gritty, subdued style of storytelling. It could easily have gone the campy way like Twilight but Ross mines the drama well enough to make us care for the central characters and their predicament. Incidentally, Steven Soderbergh served as the second unit director here, and a hard boiled movie buff can easily make out his shots.  

Those who aren’t already in love with Jennifer Lawrence will jump aboard the bandwagon. At 20, she became the second youngest actress to receive an Oscar nomination (for Winter’s Bone); she followed it up with an excellent turn in Like Crazy and the mainstream X Men: First Class. And she is just incredible here – coming across as an ode to the 90’s Hollywood young megastar while simultaneously flaunting a reminder of her modern indie roots. She is the anti-Kristen Stewart. The Hunger Games may be billed as an adventure, but it really is a chance to spring up alongside Lawrence and spin around a cinematic dance floor with her. 

(First published in Mid Day)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Prometheus - Leaked, Spoiled and Dissected

When director Ridley Scott proceeded to make a new sci fi film, it started off as a prequel to the seminal hit Alien. Later, writer Damon Lindelof (Lost) and Scott claimed that the script evolved into something much more ambitious and fascinating, and that the movie will be a completely new story and will only have 'the DNA of Alien'.

Fast forward a few months, and tiny details began to trickle out. The story was titled Prometheus, and Scott said that the film will expand upon an unexplored element of the original Alien – the SPACE JOCKEY – aka the remains of the gigantic guy that Ripley and co find on the Derelict space ship on planet LV-426. This guy:

The Space Jockeys were an indigenous race on the planet, human-like but much bigger in size. The one found in Alien had its chest ripped apart – a Xenomorph had burst through it. 

A few weeks ago a viral video emerged that featured Guy Pearce as Peter Weyland, of the villainous Weyland-Yutani Corp of the Alien films. Weyland is shown at a TED conference boasting about how his firm could dole out ground breaking technology in the next few years that would bridge the gap between science fiction and reality. The TED video (directed by Scott’s son Luke) is set much before the events of Alien; and in its sequel, the W-Y Corp sends Ripley back to Planet LV-426 to retrieve a sample of the alien Xenomorphs, so it could harvest them as biological weapons. 

So are the Space Jockey and the Weyland-Yutani Corp the only 'DNA connections' between Alien and Prometheus? Nope.

A couple of days back we received the full length trailer of Prometheus. 

Without a doubt, the trailer is much more spectacular than most of the recent Hollywood films, but it is a trailer that should've ideally come with a 'spoiler' tag. Because it nearly gives away the entire plot, and it also confirms that Prometheus is but a prequel to Alien.

Allow me to hold you by the pinkie finger and take you through the trailer. 

0:19 A waterfall on a unknown planet, a huge object, possibly an alien ship is seen departing.

A human is shown – he is infected with some alien material that has corrupted the veins on his body. 

0:41 RIPLEY 2.0 (Noomi Rapace) and SCIENTIST MAN (Logan Marshall) have found some drawings in a cave. 

We're shown a conference room where they give a futuristic PowerPoint presentation about some artifacts - "These were ancient civilisations. They were separated by centuries and yet the same drawings were found in every one of them"

0:50 RIPLEY 2.0 and Scientist Man decide to travel to the Planet LV-426 (the same one that we saw in Alien and Aliens) in the ship 'Prometheus'. According to her, "Those aliens want us to come and find them. It’s an invitation"

1:04 The 'invitation' is from the folks in this LV-426 mountain - a massive structure that has text carvings we didn’t see in the first two Alien films. Which is exactly where Ripley 2.0 and her crew (CORPORATE SCUMBAG Charlize Theron, PILOT Idris Elba, ANDROID Michael Fassbender etc) go.

1:11 Inside the mountain we see Ripley 2.0 standing in a farm of alien eggs, just like in the first Alien. But these seem to be metallic urn-like ‘weaponised’ eggs, and not the feral natural ones of the first two films. These urn-egg shells contain the same weird text carvings – further proof that they were ‘engineered’ by someone.

1:17 Eerie secretions on walls, a clear nod to Alien and Aliens.

1:34 One of the eggs is opened and we see Android Fassbender peering at the contents – a strange gooey living creature. 

1:35 The same sentient goo is also found on the ceiling.  

1:36 One of the crew members touches the goo with his fingers, he probably becomes the first of the infected members.   

1:37 There's a life-sized dummy of the Xenomorph from the Alien movies carved on a wall.

1:39 The crew members find The Derelict, aka the ship that Ripley and co find in the original Alien – the one which contained the Space Jockey and the wild eggs with the face-huggers.

1:42 The Derelict is seen taking off from planet LV-426. 

A panic stricken Idris Elba says "They’re leaving"

Ripley 2.0: "To go where?"

1:44 “Earth,” replies Elba, as Fassbender is shown discovering something fantastic, with a mildly evil expression on his face.

1:48: Ripley 2.0 exclaims "We were so wrong" - David’s helmet cam POV shows the crew running away from something. Traveling to LV-246 was a mistake.

1:50 Charlize Theron shouts "Take us back home"

Ripley 2.0 screams “We need to stop it, or there won’t be any home to go back to” with shots of the ground opening up, presumably a hatch opening for the Alien ship (Derelict) to take off.

1:55 Ripley 2.0 is seen in Ripley’s underwear, completely freaking out, as someone off camera painfully screams "Cut it off, cut it off".

1:59 Inside the Derelict, an entirely infected person, aka SPACE JOCKEY is shown fiddling with some green navigational instrument. 

2:02 Two crew members aboard the Prometheus burn some of the Alien goo with flamethrowers. 

2:03 An infected, partially transformed crew member attacks another member by jumping on him.

2:03 SPACE JOCKEY has activated the navigation and proceeds to seat himself on the control chair – which is probably the steering wheel of the Derelict. It also looks exactly like a baby Xenomorph.

2:04 A face-hugger attacks Ripley 2.0 in a medical chamber – finally sealing the prequel deal.

2:07 Idris Elba is seen crashing their ship Prometheus with the alien Derelict ship. That’s right, the black guy always dies in Hollywood. 

2:09 A partially infected Ripley 2.0 (after getting rid of the face-hugger) is seen struggling to get to some weapon or clothing.

2:10 The Derelict comes crashing down on the planet LV-246.

2:11 CORPORATE SCUMBAG Charlize Theron is seen entering the emergency escape pod in total panic.  

2:13 SPACE JOCKEY has seated on the control chair, with some sort of traveling suit exoskeleton, ready to carry out the master plan.

2:15 Ripley 2.0 screams as she faces some threat. 

2:16 This is the threat.

2:19 ANDROID Fassbender whispers 'Big things have small beginnings' – a line that will presumably be followed by Fassbender facing the camera and whispering 'Yes this is an Alien prequel'.

As per Greek mythology, Prometheus is the guy who stole fire from Zeus to give it to humans. As punishment, Zeus condemned Prometheus to an eternity of torture. An eagle swoops down on him and eats his liver, which grows back the next day only to be eaten again, and so forth every day. Soon after, Prometheus's brother Epimetheus married Pandora – because of which the woman opened a jar full of pure fucking evil. While one brother gave humans light, the other was responsible for humanity's destruction.  

The trailer of Prometheus gives away the direct allegory of its name – both the Space Jockey and the humans dealt with urns of pure fucking evil. The space ship is Prometheus, which gave mankind a chance to see beyond the blackness of space. Its crew is the younger brother Epimetheus. Noomi Rapace who plays Ripley 2.0 is Pandora – who opens the urn containing the alien goo. 

This brings me to why the trailer is more or less the entire film. We're shown that the 'invitation' from the alien civilization turns out to be a trap. We're shown that the life forms in the urns infect the humans and turn them into the Space Jockey aliens. We're shown that the aliens' master plan was to bait the universe’s species to come to LV-426, read the data of their ships and send The Derelict towards their planet to colonize it. In this case, they would do this by shipping millions of Xenomorph eggs on The Derelict and dropping them on the Earth, exterminating mankind in the process. 

Coming to the mother of all spoilers, we're also shown that the humans foiled this plan by ramming their own ship into the Space Jockey’s ship, blowing up the Derelict in the process. As pictured above (2:07), Idris Elba is shown indulging in this noble sacrifice. 

During the finale, the remaining humans on the planet would either die of hunger or lack of oxygen, or would be killed by (or turned into) the Xenomorphs on The Derelict. The ship wreck containing the eggs would lie there dormant, until Sigourney Weaver and her crew find it years later after receiving a bait signal from the planet.

Way to spoil the mystery, Mr Trailer Man. Also, with the heavily orchestral music, Prometheus is quite different from the original movie, and is in fact more Avatar than Alien, despite the trademark 'Bhaaawww' sound cue from the trailer of the 1979 film.

Of course, I could be wrong. The trailer could just be the first half of the movie. You could tell me that it didn't spoil anything that wasn't already known to fans of Alien and its sequels, and that those who aren’t familiar with the films wouldn't catch the plot. And I'd agree with you – raging fans of the franchise who have read the comics would know that the Space Jockeys used the sentient goo and eggs as bomb-like weapons to colonize planets. Moreover, 'mission goes horribly wrong' isn't exactly a spoiler for a sci fi film. It’s hard to blame Ridley Scott because a director has little control over what his film’s trailers look like – it’s the studios that sell the movie. 

But I do hope that Prometheus would have much more than what was offered in the trailers. The greatest accomplishment of Alien was the fact that until halfway through the film, you have no idea what the creature is, and when it does show up it not only lives up to the suspense but also scares the liquid feces out of you. If Prometheus can manage even a fraction of that achievement, it'd be a triumph.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Movie Review: This Means War

This Means War is like a young, dumb illegitimate progeny of True Lies and Get Smart. The film is a slick but overly manufactured goofy mess – while half an hour of this nonsense would have been a laugh riot, an hour and a half is a bit of an eye roll. 

Director McG, who made the horrendous Terminator: Salvation and the idiotic Charlie’s Angels films relies heavily on sight gags and his stars’ (Tom Hardy and Chris Pine) sheer screen presence for laughs, and for the most part he succeeds. While the writing is mostly uninspired, there are some hilarious lines, like when a female character compares a man’s insufficient nether organ to a poltergeist. 

Coming to the story, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are best friends and top CIA super spies who’re on the hunt for an international gangster (Til Schweiger). Both FDR and Tuck are rich, suave, handsome, sophisticated, but single. Along comes the equally desperate singleton Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) and they both fall in love with her; and Lauren goes ahead and dates both of them. Neither FDR nor Tuck want to let go of Lauren, and each uses CIA high tech gizmo resources to survey Lauren’s dates with the other. The two go so far as to creating their own rival spy teams for the same. What follows are silly, slapstick, cringe inducing, at times hysterical scenes where one tries to outwit the other, all leading to a clumsy climax featuring a big action scene straight out of Speed.

The film works in parts because of its delightful leads Hardy and Pine – in fact the two share more chemistry than individually with Witherspoon. If they can be extremely likable in a shoddy movie like This Means War, they’d really bring the house down if they’re paired in a better written action comedy. 

But Reese Witherspoon here looks and behaves like she agreed to take another Legally Blonde role and her heart didn't. She plays the same old standard Hollywood heroine who is single and humiliated in front of an ex despite being super-hot. To add to the stereotype, she even feels guilty for dating two guys simultaneously and is advised by a scrappy best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Incidentally, if you love potato chips, you will be forever averse to them when you see how Trish and her husband eat them. There is also CIA boss Angela Basset, who is given a grand total of one minute’s screen time in what seems like a larger role edited off. 

This Means War is riddled with clichés but has a crackerjack of a lead duo to (almost) make up for where it lacks. It’s mindless, screwball, fun escapist entertainment.

(First published in Mid Day)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The 26 other Most Anticipated Films of 2012

Back in December I did a post on the 35 mainstream films I want to watch this year, so here's a follow up that features a bunch of World Cinema and indie titles, all of which I am desperate to watch. I didn't include these films in the earlier post because they were either not announced then or were not confirmed to release this year.

26 - The Grandmasters

Presumably named after its own director Wong Kar-Wai, The Grandmasters is an ultra-ambitious super duper slick action movie about IP Man, the guy who trained Bruce Lee. If the star cast of Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang doesn’t impress you, then this trailer certainly will. It remains to be seen how well Kar-Wai handles action, since his forte is very strong character based dramas.

25 - The Place Beyond the Pines

After taking Cannes by storm in 2010 with the heartbreaking Blue Valentine, director Derek Cianfrance reunites with star Ryan Gosling in a Drive-esque story of a motorbike stuntman who gets embroiled in a crime. The film also stars Hangover’s Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes and Ray Liotta.

24) [REC 3]: Genesis

The original [REC] by Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza redefined the zombie horror genre with tense, atmospheric, raw found footage thrills. They followed it up with the more action packed [REC 2] which nicely built up a twisted mythology. [REC 3]: Genesis is a quasi-prequel made by Plaza that jumps both forwards and backwards in time, and leads up to Balaguero’s finale [REC 4] that arrives next year. The final fifteen minutes of the first [REC] were by far the most frightening images captured on film, and though I doubt that [REC 3] would be as good, there’s no denying that I’d camp outside the hall to watch it.

23 - Ramin Bahrani’s Next

The director of the magnificent Chop Shop and Goodbye Solo is back with a new yet untitled movie that finished filming last year and is reportedly in post-production. Bahrani would most likely keep his signature minimalistic style here, but the only problem seems to be its unspectacular mainstream cast of Dennis Quaid, Zac Efron and Heather Graham.

22 - Elefante Blanco

Starring the excellent Ricardo Darin whom I like to call the Stellan Skarsgard of Argentina, Elefante Blanco centers on two priests who survive an attack in Central America and team with a woman, Luciana, to fight corruption. Those not familiar with director Pablo Trapero should watch his lovely Carancho, which is currently being remade in Hollywood.

21 - Room 237

Tailor-made for film critics and ravenous film buffs, Room 237 is an intriguing experimental documentary that dissects and explores the dozens of theories and the hidden meanings in Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining. The film is directed by Rodney Ascher and has received insane buzz around the festival circuits with some reviews claiming it to be a fanatical, wonderfully freaky and at times hilarious analysis.

20 - The Imposter

The Imposter is an interesting documentary drama about the real life antics of Frédéric Bourdin, a 23-year-old French man who posed as the 16-year-old son of an American family who had been missing for three years. Most reviews have been positive, and as per this one, The Imposter is a surreal, stupefying film that manages to be entertaining while appalling at the same time. 

19 - Sinister

Director Scott Derrickson made the entertaining The Exorcism of Emily Rose a few years ago and followed it up with the horrid remake of The day the earth stood still. However his latest Sinister arrived out of nowhere and is getting some great reviews, thanks partly to its secret SXSW screening. The film, starring Ethan Hawke is apparently a fun twist on the found footage genre and is clever and creepy enough to rise above the genre’s dreck.

18 - Marley

A documentary on Bob Marley wouldn’t be so intriguing had it not been directed by The Last King of Scotland and State of Play director Kevin Macdonald. Even if it doesn’t carry the emotional pizzazz of last year’s Senna, it’s sure to have an excellent soundtrack. Mcdonald also edited last year’s dazzling experiment Life in a Day, and as per the trailer Marley looks like an equally snazzy film.

17 - 28 Hotel Rooms

This film grabbed a lot of eyeballs at Sundance a couple of months ago, and my interest levels only increased after watching this amazing (NSFW) trailer. The movie features just two characters, a novelist and an accountant who meet for a one night stand at a hotel while traveling for work. The entire movie is literally set in hotel rooms as the characters’ relationship develops into something much more complicated over 28 nights. Reviews suggest that the film is 'endlessly intriguing'.

16 - Safety Not Guaranteed 

Starring Aubrey Plaza (the geeky comedienne from Funny People), Safety Not Guaranteed is supposedly a weirdly entertaining mix of (500) Days of Summer, Back to the Future and Donnie Darko made like a John Hughes film. The movie got some people roving crazy at SXSW and looks like it might be this year’s 50/50.

15 - Rust and Bone

Director Jacques Audiard’s follow up to the brilliant A Prophet stars Marion Cotillard. Nothing much is known about the film but that may change when it screens at the upcoming Cannes film festival.

14 - The Tall Man

Pascal Laugier made a splash when he splashed dozens of liters of blood and violence upon our faces in the stunning Martyrs, the mad man is back with another horror thriller called The Tall Man. The story revolves around a mother searching for her lost child who has been abducted by some monster out on the streets. The film stars Jessica Biel, but with Pascal at the helm it would be hard not to be unsettled and entertained in the most nightmarish way possible.

13 - Cogan’s Trade aka Killing them Softly

Starring Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini and Sam Shepard, Killing them softly is directed by Andrew Dominik who made the underrated The Assassination of Jesse James. The film was shot over a year ago and is supposedly ‘pure pulp entertainment’ in the form of an action comedy mob heist movie. 

12 - Welcome to the Punch

Welcome to the punch is a thriller about an Icelandic crime lord who arrives in the US after a botched heist, only to team up with a London detective who had been chasing him to uncover a large conspiracy. The film stars the awesome James McAvoy and the even more awesome Mark Strong – Eran Creevy’s script was part of the famous Brit List. 

11 - Nero Fiddled

Could Woody Allen possibly top last year’s enchanting Midnight in Paris?  Could be possible because Allen has rounded up a cast of Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, Robert Begnini, and himself in a new film set in Rome. Not much is known about the story, apart from the fact that it is a romantic comedy split in four parts and that all the tales are interwoven.

10 - On The Road

The Motorcycle Diaries director Walter Salles is back with another road trip drama, this time with an all-star cast of Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard and more. On the Road is based on the famous Jack Kerouac novel that was among Time’s 100 best English novels of the 20th century. The other draw of On the Road is that Gustavo Santaolalla has composed the music.

9 - The We and the I

Legendary director Michel Gondry failed at commercial mainstream with Green Hornet but that was a blessing in disguise seeing as he has gone back to his indie low-fi roots. The We and the I revolves around a group of school kids who travel into the future by mistake and discover a machine that keeps people younger. The film was shot last year and Gondry is already busy with his next movie Mood Indigo with Audrey Tautou, Romain Duris, Léa Seydoux, and Gad Elmaleh.

8 - Only God Forgives

Nicholas Winding Refn reuinites with his Drive star Ryan Gosling for an even more explosively violent slicing and dicing swordplay movie set in Thailand. Gosling plays a boxing club owner who also runs his family business of running drugs and gets entangled in a vengeful bloodthirsty quest to find the killer of his brother. The film takes place mostly at night and is apparently a combination of Refn’s Drive, Bronson and Valhalla Rising in terms of tone and lighting.

7 - This is not a Film 

Acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been jailed and banned by the Iranian government from making films because he had spoken against the country’s regime in 2009. In 2010 when he was under house arrest Panahi shot this film that chronicles his own life of house arrest and the lack of creative freedom in the country. The film was shot secretively on small cameras and even an iPhone, and was smuggled out of the country as a USB stick hidden in a cake. Panahi's risky work has paid off because reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

6 - The Raid

A Welsh filmmaker and a Thai producer saw Tropa De Elite and thought 'heck, we can do better than this'. Behold The Raid - an action film that has been described as a nonstop action bonanza that will kick you in the head and make you like it. Martial arts actor Iko Uwais could just be the next Tony Jaa, and director Gareth Evans has already begun work on a sequel. Still not convinced? Watch THIS trailer and have your mind blown.

5 - Sleepless Night

Frederick Jardin’s French film Sleepless Night has been described as a sort of Die Hard (in a nightclub) meets Taken - the claustrophobic film is set in one night and revolves around an undercover cop who is desperate to get back his son who is kidnapped by a drug-dealing nightclub owner. The movie got glowing reviews at last year’s TIFF and has been hailed as the best French action movie of the decade. 

4 - Zero Dark Thirty

Initially titled Kill Bin Laden, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty chronicles the Seal Team 6 and the mission that they were sent on to find and kill the man in Abbotabad. The movie stars Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Mark Strong, Edgar Ramirez, and has begun shooting after months of extensive prep. A part of the film was to be shot in India but problems arose when a right wing Hindu group protested against a Chandigarh set doubling as Pakistan. The film is scheduled to release on December 19, and if you’d like to know how the film would play out, you can read about the entire Bin Laden mission in detail here.

3 - V/H/S

V/H/S is a horror anthology found footage movie that has been described as ‘genius’, ‘utterly terrifying’ and that it reinvents all kinds of genres. The plot is suitably intriguing as hell – a bunch of thieves are hired by a mysterious person to rob a deserted house, where they stumble across a VHS tape containing footage that is beyond their wildest nightmares. The segments are directed by cult filmmakers Ti West (House Of The Devil), David Bruckner (The Signal), Glenn McQuaid (I Sell The Dead), Joe Swanberg (Hannah Takes The Stairs), Adam Wingard (You’re Next).

2 - Holly Motors

The ingenious Leos Carax, the Terrence Malick of France makes a return to cinema thirteen long years after his deliciously crazy Pola X. Holly Motors stars Denis Lavant, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue and is about a man who can travel between multiple parallel lives – including a murderer, a beggar, a CEO, a monster and a father. The sci fi romantic drama seems like an amalgam of his masterpiece Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and the futuristic Bad Blood.

1 - Stoker

The granddaddy of them all – Korean maestro Park Chan wook makes his English language debut with Stoker, a strange tale of a man who after his brother’s death moves in to stay with his niece and her mentally unstable mother. Mia Wasikowska plays the girl with Nicole Kidman playing her mother and Matthew Goode as the mysterious estranged uncle with a creepy secret. With a resume that reads Oldboy, Thirst, The Vengeance films, Chan wook’s new film becomes the other side of The Dark Knight Rises as my most anticipated movie of the year.

Honorable Mention: Pieta. Director Kim Ki-duk does one film every year, and if you’ve seen 3-Iron, The Isle, Bad Guy, Spring Summer, you’d know that it becomes impossible to not want to watch his movies.