All entries for Monday 05 January 2009

January 05, 2009

The films to see in 2009.

Some time last year I promised to give you a list of the ten films I’m most looking forward to in 2009. It took a little longer than I’d planned, but here it is.

10. Star Trek
I’m not even remotely a ‘trekkie’ – you’d have to pay me to watch the old films or the TV series. But one thing’s different about the 2009 reboot: J.J. Abrams. He’s a fantastic director and writer, and he might just make this weird old thing watchable. The trailer looks a little Transformers but I think it’ll be pretty good nonetheless.

9. The International
Filling the void left by Jason Bourne and James Bond this year, Clive Owen brings down the world financial system (oops… he’s too late!) with help from Naomi Watts. It’s in danger of being a rip-off, with rooftop chases, European city settings and overhead shots of spiral staircases (a la Greengrass) but the trailer leaves me optimistic it’ll be an entertaining film.

8. Valkyrie
Forget about Tom Cruise. Erase him from your mind, if that’s not too Minority Report for you. This film has a brilliant cast, including Eddie Izzard, Kenneth Branagh and Bill Nighy. Just don’t mention the guy in the lead role who will grab all the headlines. It’s too early to tell whether the film’s any good, but the early reviews have been mixed. The trio of British stars should at least make it superbly acted.

7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Brad Pitt’s first decent shout at an Oscar in many years, this film sees him age in reverse. He begins as an old man and ends the film as a baby. Budget constraints apparently mean we won’t literally see his face on a CGI baby, but it’ll come pretty close. Hopefully there’s a good enough plot to match the interesting premise.

6. Angels and Demons
If J.K. Rowling is the McDonalds of book publishing (as I believe she is), then Dan Brown must be Burger King. I doubt I’ll ever read one of his books, but The Da Vinci Code was an entertaining film, with Ian McKellen and Tom Hanks pulling together all the silliness into something pretty entertaining. This prequel, set in the Vatican (which they rebuilt in Hollywood), will be just as silly, but hopefully just as entertaining.

5. State of Play
John Simm, David Morrissey and Bill Nighy starred in this TV miniseries a few years ago. It was simply brilliant, and was widely appreciated as being one of the best pieces of British television in years. This film could go either way. It’s been through several casts and writers, but now sits in the more-than-capable hands of Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck and Helen Mirren. It won’t be as good as the TV show, and the trailer suggests it might have lost something in translation to Washington, but I still think it’ll be good. Same director as The Last King of Scotland, too.

4. Avatar
Almost no-one has any idea what this film is about, but let me put it like this. James Cameron, who made the biggest film ever – Titanic – has spent the best part of a decade making this, using purpose-built cameras and shooting in 3D. The plot might be a nonsense, but it might just change cinema as we know it.

3. Revolutionary Road
I said, after watching Body of Lies, that Leonardo DiCaprio has quietly become one of my favourite actors. Sam Mendes is one of my five favourite directors. And Kate Winslet isn’t exactly dragging them down in terms of quality. So while this might be a ‘quiet’ film (i.e. not much happens) it’ll still be beautifully acted and shot, which is enough for me.

2. Frost v Nixon
Films about journalism rarely go wrong – given the right treatment it’s a pretty thrilling topic (eg All The President’s Men). The theatre production of this was superb – the film, in familiar hands, should be just as good.

1. Slumdog Millionaire
In 2008, the best film of the year (imho) was also one of the first, There Will Be Blood. I don’t see 2009 being any different. All of the buzz suggests British film Slumdog Millionaire is going to be sublime. Director Danny Boyle (Sunshine, Trainspotting) hasn’t really done a bad film, but the reviews suggest this is his first with a realistic shot at picking up an Oscar or six. The trailer (below) makes my spine tingle and I can’t wait until this weekend to see it.

EDIT: Dammit! I missed Defiance and The Boat That Rocked. Go see them too!

All hail homogeneity

It’s a sad day for radio today. The first of several dozen local radio stations are losing their identity and becoming Heart.

Global Radio bought GCap Media last year, and today some of the former GCap stations start using the new name.

I’ll be particularly sad to see Chiltern FM go. I grew up listening to it in the years that Radio 1 was full of loud rubbish. From today, it’s just Heart.

The changes go beyond the name though. There’ll be less local news, fewer local presenters and more ‘networked’ programming. The long and short of it is that it’s less likely the next Chris Moyles or Scott Mills will come from commercial radio.

Moyles presented a brilliantly funny show on Chiltern around ten years ago. Today a presenter on the station wouldn’t be allowed to talk for more than thirty seconds between songs, let alone try to be funny.

I’m not upset that Heart, as a national brand, is coming into being. It should have happened years ago. Commercial radio would have had a much more successful decade if it had a national, contemporary music station broadcasting on FM. All it has had up to now is Classic FM.

But using local radio frequencies to create this national brand is sad, and not what they were designed for. They might have been full of local people trying to imitate Radio 2, but at least they were local.

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