Adventures In Celluloid

Film critic Dominic Corry celebrates, clarifies and justifies his love for all things film.

Dominic Corry: Ten more exciting 2014 movies

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Dominic Corry investigates 10 movies coming out in 2014 that you may not have heard of.
Paul Schlase, Tony Revelori, Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Photo / AP
Paul Schlase, Tony Revelori, Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Photo / AP

In last week's blog about my most anticipated movies of 2014, I kept things firmly focused on the blockbuster/event movie side of things.

I did this not because I think these will necessarily be the best movies of 2014, but because these are the kinds of films that are the most fun to actually anticipate ahead of time. I love dramas, comedies, indie films and foreign movies as well, I just don't spend as much time thinking about them before they come out.

Unlike most blockbusters, which can evaporate from your mind seconds after the credits role, less bombastic films can have a much longer life in your head AFTER the movie has been released. Blue Jasmine rocked my world just as much as Gravity, but I didn't spend nearly as much time anticipating it.

That can be the joy of a great drama or smaller film - discovering its wonders during the actual act of viewing it.

Regardless, I got torn a new one in the comments for appearing to only care about blockbuster movies: Although there were plenty of supportive remarks, many were along the lines of, "Did your 15-year-old nephew pick these?", "What a lot of one dimensional, narrow target market stuff that appeals to an intelligence free zone!" and my personal favourite, "I bet you are single".

I remain unapologetic in my advance love of big stupid movies (and will stoically bear any resulting impact upon my romantic life). But in the spirit of responding pettily to harsh reader comments, I am now going to cite 10 further 2014 movies that have piqued my interest, with an attempt to not be so shallow this time.

Once again, I am excluding films from the current Oscar season.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
If ever there was a Wes Anderson film to be relished in advance of its release, it's this one, which takes place at the titular establishment and features the best cast this side of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I thought Moonrise Kingdom was about as Wes Anderson-ish as Wes Anderson got, but as the highly amusing trailer for this demonstrates, there's plenty more Wes Anderson where that came from. I love any film set in a hotel, and the symmetry alone on display in the trailer has my appetite whet. Throw in some whodunnit elements, and I'm feverish.

Under The Skin
Acclaimed music video director Jonathan Glazer has only made two movies: Sexy Beast (2000) and Birth (2004), and they're both haunting works with an assured visual style. He's finally made another movie, and appears to be as different to his two previous works as they were to each other. Under The Skin stars Scarlett Johannson as an alien who takes human form then cruises around Scotland. The bizarre trailer hints at all sorts of nightmarish delights. Glazer is one of those directors you just know constantly turns down studio work in favour of shaping his own vision. I can't wait to see what he does with this.

Magic In The Moonlight
I've talked much about my superlative love for Blue Jasmine in this space often so I'm naturally curious to see what Woody Allen does next, even if he does have a recent habit of following up a high-point with a stinker (Match Point/Scoop, Midnight In Paris, To Rome With Love). The presence of the word 'swindle' in the IMDb plot synopsis for the film excites me further; as does the participation of Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, Picnic at Hanging Rock) and awesome British character actor Simon McBurney (Friends With Money, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). Although as any longterm Kiwi Woody Allen fan can tell you, the release pattern for his films is wildly erratic in this country, so its difficult to know when to really cultivate the anticipation.

The Zero Theorem
Depending on who you ask, Terry Gilliam's recent work either points to an artist returning to form or a crazy genius who can't get himself together. Either way, The Zero Theorem looks like his most Brazil-esque exercise in years. And I love Brazil. Plus Christoph Waltz (with no hair!) seems like a great match for Gilliam's unique world view.

The Imitation Game
I love that Benedict Cumberbatch's film career is now in full swing. He's one of the most interesting leading men to come along in some time, and he always brings something unique to his films. He should have a grand ol' time sinking his teeth into the lead role in this film - that of real-life mathematician Alan Turing, who helped turn the tide of World War II by cracking the Enigma code, then was later persecuted for his homosexuality. His work provided the foundation for modern computing, but his historical significance has long been understated. With Morten Tyldun - the man behind break-out Norwegian hit Headhunters - behind the camera, it should be a quality enterprise and is bound to figure come the 2015 Oscars.

Ex Machina
The second drama of the year to focus on an ostensibly near-future portrayal of artificial intelligence (after Her), this intriguing-sounding film marks the directorial debut of Alex Garland, writer of The Beach; and screenwriter of 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Dredd. The cast of burgeoning talent - Inside Llewyn Davis' Oscar Issac,About Time's Domnhall Gleeson and A Royal Affair's Alicia Vikander (as a lady robot) ensures an interesting dynamic will form, and I look forward to seeing how Garland corrals the aesthetics.

Blackwood
The British haunted house movie has seen a mild resurgence of late with the release of respectful updatings like The Woman In Black and The Awakening. This film appears to cover similar territory - it's about a traumatised professor who relocates his wife and son to the titular remote country house, and starts experiencing spectral visions. Blackwood didn't set the world on fire when it premiered at last October's London Film Festival, but I enthusiastically lap up anything that taps into the British gothic chiller tradition. Here's hoping this one gets a theatrical release, or at least a local film festival run. Movies like this are always better in the theatre.

Winter's Tale
The trailer for this ambitious love story makes it seem pretty treacly, and director Akiva Goldsman wrote the legendarily bad Batman & Robin, but my appreciation for Cloud Atlas has made me much more open to this sort of thing. This sort of thing being an era-spanning love story about immortal souls or whatever, in this case starring Colin Farrell, Jennifer Connelly and Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey). Longtime screenwriter Goldsman is making his directorial debut with the film, and I like seeing what writers do when they make the jump to directing. Bottom line is, if you stick the girl from Labyrinth AND Lady Sybill in something, I'm going to get excited about seeing it.

The Raid 2: Berendal
This really should've been on last week's list - all my action movie hopes and dreams are resting on this follow-up to 2011's s***-kicking mind-blower, The Raid. Taking cues from all the best sequels, returning writer/director Gareth Evans looks to be offering up a faithful expansion of what made the first film so amazing. Evans is leading the charge of the ever-bubbling action movie renaissance. Fans of the original look like they're in for a treat.

Cyber (title TBC)
Okay this comes in early January 2015, but I'm squeezing it in here because I can't stop thinking about it. Any film from Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider, Collateral) is worth getting excited for, but I'm super ready for him to come back hard after the disappointment of his last cinematic effort, 2009's Public Enemies. Cyber's plot synopsis - "After a case of high-level computer hacking arises, American and Chinese military forces work together to stop it." - reads like that of a late '90s straight-to-video thriller, but that's a good thing I reckon. When it comes to Michael Mann films, the pulpier, the better. Public Enemies had pretentions. Working strictly within genre, he's truly an artist. See Collateral. If anyone can make a bunch of people staring at computer monitors cinematically interesting, it's this guy. Plus Kiwi cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano, Once Were Warriors), who did such fantastic work in Ben Stiller's underrated The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, is on hand to provide visuals.

* Okay a few blockbuster-y movies snuck in there. I just like 'em okay! Are you looking forward to any of these? What else? I like foreign movies too, honest. Comment below!

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