Features

Movies Not to Miss: January 2015

Writer: Casey Lee


Which of these are you going to watch?

A New Year is upon us and while it is customarily assumed that the first months of the new year is when we deal with the stale leftover titles that the studios were too embarrassed for us to see, that would definitely not be the case for Malaysian cinemas. If you have been left wondering if we will see any of the award contenders before the Oscars, then you've got a very busy month ahead of you to cramp it all in. Not that we are complaining for any more reasons why we need to go the movies.

So to start off another great year of movies, here are the movies you will not want to miss for January 2015!

A Fantastic Ghost Wedding

Believing herself to have been visited by the spirit of her late son, a former singer sets to find a bride for him to be married in the spirit world. With the help of a child medium and his father, the unusual preparations made for the ghost wedding leads to many revelations for both the departed's mother and the medium's father.

If you've enjoyed Singapore comedies starring Mark Lee, then his first collaboration with Hong Kong comedy actress Sandra Ng is just too irresistible not to miss, even if it is about such a taboo subject. However, rather than seeing both comedy stars running scared of ghosts, we expect director Meng Onn to deliver something more for his second feature that may be more heartwarming than sending chills down ones spine.

General Release Date: 1 January

Love On The Cloud

A man in China hooks up with a car model that he met on a chat app. After having a one night stand, his begins making moves on her for a more serious relationship, but also begins asking himself if knowing random strangers from an app can lead to true love.

While this romantic comedy does seem out of touch of the romance dramas ("Love for Life") that director Gu Changwei has made so far, but the subject of finding love in the age of smartphones is one that is timely that we would like to see him explore. Never mind that Angelababy is starring in it.

General Release Date: 1 January

Taken 3

When life is starting to become good again for Bryan Mills, it is turned upside down when he is framed for the murder of his ex-wife and now he has every enforcement agency on his tail to stop him. But that won't stop Mills from finding Lenny's real murderers while he keepa his daughter safe from any harm.

You will either groan or grate with excitement on the prospect of seeing Liam Neeson being a badass dad with his special set of skills, but for us here we are always eager to see Neeson going back to the series that made him an action star after a rather up-and-down year for him in 2014. Fans of the previous installment will have something to look forward to with director Olivier Megaton returning for this possibly last sequel, and we can expect the chase to be much more thrilling this time with Mills not just up against a disgruntled family of terrorists.

General Release Date: 8 January

The Rewrite

When award-winning screenwriter Keith Michaels is hit by a terrible slump, he is forced to taking a teaching job at a high school in order to keep himself afloat. There he stumbles onto single mother Holly Carpenter, who is resuming to finish her education and has joined his screenwriting class.

Back for their next collaboration since 2009's "Did You Hear About the Morgans", director Marc Lawrence now couples his best man Hugh Grant with Marisa Tomei in this romantic comedy that might appeal to those who writes for a living, or if they can't get over Grant's fumbling mumble charms.

General Release Date: 8 January

Theory Of Everything

Set in the 1960s as Stephen Hawking is beginning to develop the theories that would be published in his seminal book "A Brief History of Time", "The Theory of Everything" also focuses on his romance with arts student Jane Wilde, and how their marriage stood through the trials and tribulations, both physical and emotional, that Hawking had to endure to reach his breakthroughs about time and space.

Based on the memoirs of Jane Wilde Hawking on her relationship with Stephen Hawking, this adaptation directed by James Marsh as already been touted as one of the potential award contenders. We have read many praises about the great performance put out by Eddie Redmayne as Hawking and Felicity Jones as Wilde that would be worth noting in their respective acting categories. Even so, we believe that this story is one that is inspirational about overcoming challenges that is as paralysing as one suffered by Hawking.

General Release Date: 8 January

Big Eyes

Based on the true story of artist Margaret Keane who went to court against her then husband Walter Keane when he had fraudulently claimed her Big Eyes paintings to be his. When Margaret's paintings began earning recognition in the 1950s, Walter had convinced her to let him take the credit for them and build a merchandising empire in the 1960s.

After seeing so many of Tim Burton's whimsically fantastic and wildly imaginary works since "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", it was almost easy to forget that Burton had once did semi-autobiographical movies that were satirical and enjoyable before with "Ed Wood". "Big Eyes" could wash away the bad taste he has left in recent years (before he puts it back into our mouths with that upcoming sequel to "Alice in Wonderland"), and we think that Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz will have a big part to play with that, if not winning a few awards along the way.

General Release Date: 15 January

Villa Nabila

Based on the urban legend of the haunted Villa Nabila in Johor, a crew documents the men who have been tasked to demolish the mansion while interviewing those who were involved with the supernatural cases surrounding the house.

If you are in for a shock rather than satire found in haunted houses, then you would find it in director Syafiq Yusof's "Villa Nabila". What had pique our interest for this shocker is the part documentary, part fictional, and part found footage style that Syafiq is adopting that would certainly stand out from any local horrors that have come out so far. We certainly applaud any effort of trying something new and experimental in this genre and maybe it will push Syafiq's further as a director.

General Release Date: 15 January

Into The Woods

A baker and his wife are cursed to be childless by a witch unless they enter into the woods and bring her items that are carried by the characters from the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Based on the much acclaimed musical by Stephen Sondheim that weaves together an original tale with the characters from "Rapunzel", "Cinderella", "Red Riding Hood" and "Jack and the Beanstalk", director Rob Marshall returns to the genre he is best known for after that misstep with the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise. Whether Meryl Streep or Emily Blunt can stretch those vocal chords is one thing (but we have not doubt about Anna Kendrick or Johnny Depp), but we are just glad that 2015 would not be without a musical unlike 2014.

General Release Date: 15 January

A Most Violent Year

During the statistically most violent year of New York in 1981, immigrant Abel Morales does whatever it takes in order to provide for his family and expand his business with the opportunities from the ensuing chaos that comes with the violence in the city.

Director-writer J.C Chandor has been one on the rise from his feature debut "Margin Call". After a mostly silent outing in "All Is Lost", Chandor is ripping us through with his sharp writing for his third feature that already has Jessica Chastain nominated for a Golden Globe that could possibly lead to the Oscar that has eluded her from "Zero Dark Thirty" and "The Help". Expect the slow burning pace that Chandor is used to, but also some hard-hitting performances from Chastain, along with Oscar Issac and David Oyelowo.

General Release Date: 15 January

Blackhat

When an unidentified hacker has hacked into the global financial institutions, the enforcement agencies of America and China are on the job to hunt down the hacker. To do that, they will need the help of a Nicholas Hathaway, a convicted genius hacker himself who agrees to help on the terms that his sentence would be commuted if he is able to lead to the arrest of the blackhat hacker.

The world has not seen a Michael Mann crime thriller since 2009's "Public Enemy" and now he has found his new criminal villain in the cyberworld; fitting, considering the interconnected world that we live in today. Apart from having a curious mix of cast that has Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Tang Wei and Wang Leehom, Malaysians will have a special reason to watch this because part of it was actually shot in Malaysia. So don't forget to try and spot the locations if your mind isn't too occupied trying to brain the razor edged plot of Mann.

General Release Date: 15 January

Birdman

Riggan Thomson is a washed-up actor who is best known for once playing a superhero during his peak. As Riggan is on the verge of opening a new play to relaunch his career, his must overcome the voice inside him as he battles against his ego, saves his family, sort out his life and find new meaning in his career.

Ever since this premiered in competition at the Venice Film Festival in August last year, it was almost as if director Alejandro González Iñárritu's surrealist black comedy had taken the world by a storm. Showered with praises for its direction, writing, cinematography (there's promise of having many long takes) and the performances by Michael Keaton (who you may remember played as Batman if you get the poetic irony), Edward Norton and Emma Stone, "Birdman" has already secured many wins in critic circles around the United States, and is currently up for seven awards at the Golden Globes. That is highly expected be the case when Oscar nominations are announced. We could not be more happy to hear that "Birdman" is spreading its wings to Malaysia, even if we are a few months behind its American release.

General Release Date: 15 January

Mortdecai

When a painting believed to contain the codes of a bank account containing Nazi gold is stolen, respectable aristocrat and roguish art dealer Charlie Mortdecai is hired to find and recover the painting. As he travels around the world wherever his lead takes him, Mortdecai uses his sharp wits, unguarded charm and submission to his wife to find the painting and stave off dissolution of his estate.

Based on the novel series by Kyril Bonfiglioli, "Mortdecai" is setup to be new franchise for Johnny Depp (after failing to have liftoff with "Dark Shadows"), this time with a blonde pointed mustache rather than with a bandana and scraggy clothing. If you are not caught by the charms of Depp's Mortdecai, then you could be charmed by the exquisite cast that has Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Munn, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany and Jeff Goldblum.

General Release Date: 22 January

The Water Diviner

When the three sons of Joshua Connor did not return to Australia after the Great War, it left their mother to die heartbroken. Vowing to find his sons before her grave, Connor travels to Turkey where they were last fighting on the battlefield of Gallipolli to find any leads as to their fate, with the help of the manager at the hotel he is staying in Istanbul.

It is not everyday that we get movies from the Down Under, the last being "The Rover" we saw last year. This one is noted for being the directorial debut by Russell Crowe and from the trailers we think he has done an admirable job. We could certainly use more movies from Australia and we are glad that we will be watching this ahead of the UK and the United States.

Project Almanac

When a group of teens find plans to build a time machine in one of their late father's workshop, they use it to rewrite the past for the benefit of their futures. However, they soon realised that altering the past had cause a catastrophic ripple effect and now they have to find a way to set things the way they were.

January is not without its dose of sci-fi movies and we were just as intrigued by the premise of "Vice", starring Bruce Willis, but the straight-to-video like quality was worrisome on whether it would pay for its price of admission. Even "Project Almanac" was postponed for over almost year (formerly known as "Welcome to Yesterday"), we are still keen on seeing how a time travel story can be told through the found footage format in this feature debut of director Dean Israelite.

Cinema Online, 31 December 2014



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