* It's been a while since we've been excited about a mainstream wide release that we're not getting ages after the States, but Danny Boyle's new film TRANCE certainly piques our interest. Combining the heist film with hypnotherapy and copious violence, it stars James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson, and Vincent Cassel, and is adapted from the 2001 tv movie written and directed by Joe Ahearne (with some script doctoring by longtime Boyle collaborator John Hodge to bring it into 2013).
* We're also a bit excited about the Hong Kong historical war epic SAVING GENERAL YANG (忠烈楊家將 - which translates to "Valiant Legend") opens here simultaneously with its Asian release. So we've got pretty limited word of mouth, but we DO know that it's Ronny Yu's follow-up to the rather excellent Jet Li film FEARLESS - if you're not familiar with that, then perhaps you'll have seen BRIDE WITH THE WHITE HAIR, BRIDE OF CHUCKY, or FREDDY VS. JASON. The few people who've seen it so far have been quite enthusiastic, and this could very well be one of those films that you hear about later and get annoyed that you've missed out on seeing on the big screen. Or, you know, you could go see it now and not go through that heartbreak.
* Korea may be more well known by most for its vengeance and gangster films (and by one-half of the AC team for the soju-soaked multi-threaded tales of Hong Sang-Soo), but they also do their share of big-budgetish action films, and so we have THE TOWER (타워) exclusively at Sylvia Park Hoyts. Starring Kim Sang-kyung from 2003'a MEMORIES OF MURDER (살인의 추억), it's basically a Towering Inferno-type scenario set on Christmas Eve. Could be fun for those looking for a big blockbuster, although the general word of mouth is that it's about the effects first, script second. Also this is listed on Flicks but NOT on Hoyts' website ... not sure what's up there, but we'll keep you posted.
* Also on the way: the widely-reviled Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy comedy IDENTITY THIEF; the surprisingly well-received coming of age film THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, starring everyone from the teen trio of Hermione Granger, the Kevin we need to talk about, and Percy Jackson to an adult cast ranging from Paul Rudd and Joan Cusack to Melanie Lynskey and Tom Savini; the Bollywood comedy CHASME BADDOOR; and more weekend preview screenings of THE CROODS.
* And of course there's a lot of great films still out there: THE RED HOUSE, RUST AND BONE (DE ROUILLE ET D'OS), NO, AMOUR, and lingering on, ANNA KARENINA and DJANGO UNCHAINED. We might even try catch that IP MAN: THE FINAL FIGHT (葉問：終極一戰) this week, too...
REPERTORY / ONE-OFF SCREENINGS
* Academy Cinemas and Flicks are presenting a one-off screening of Peter Strickland's masterful BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO this Tuesday. Starring Toby Jones as a mild-mannered sound designer who gets pulled into working on an Italian horror film, it's a divisive film, but we're in the camp that it's a cinematic experience that deserves the big screen, with some of the best sound design you'll hear all year. Some found the story a bit slight and/or frustrating, but if you grooved on, say, AMER, you better not miss this. Also there's an exclusive and rather awesome poster available! So book yr tix now!
* Filmmakers Miriam Smith and Christopher Pryer are hosting a special one-off screening of HOW FAR IS HEAVEN Wednesday 6:30 at the Rialto as a fundraiser for their new film, THE GROUND WE WON, which is currently in production. There will be a Q&A afterwards.
* Film Society Monday 6:30 PM features the first film in the Claire Denis retrospective, BEAU TRAVAIL (1999). A genuine certified masterpiece, this retelling of Melville's BILLY BUDD, set largely in Northern Africa, stars Denis Lavant, over a decade before he picked up his accordion for Leos Carax.
* The Documentary Edge Festival will be showering us with films, but this Wednesday it starts at Q Theatre with its opening night film, the global warming/sea rising/charismatic and lovable guy taking on the world doco THE ISLAND PRESIDENT. If all goes to plan, we'll have a spectacular overview of the entire program before next Thursday. If.
* This one's a bit left-field and potentially exciting, if you, like us, enjoy ratcheting up the number of countries you've seen films from and haven't seen any Indonesian films, the Auckland Indonesian Film Festival this Saturday at Western Springs has two films playing; THE HOUSE WITHOUT WINDOWS (RUMAH TANPA JENDELA)(2011) and THE MIRROR NEVER LIES (LAUT BERCERMIN)(2012). They both look like kid's films, so you're not going to get the next LADY TERMINATOR, which is a shame. Have we mentioned yet that you should watch LADY TERMINATOR? It's really great.