Up in the Air
George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Jason Bateman
Up in the Air
It must have been hard for Jason Reitman to follow-up Juno. After all, picking the right project after such a heralded sophomore effort (especially one with all the accompanying awards season acclaim) offers a keen insight into where a director thinks his career is headed. As for Paramount, they are apparently very pleased indeed. In fact, many are citing the recent move of Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island from this past October to March of 2010 as a way of giving this George Clooney comedy more Oscar play. Granted, the premise doesn’t sound that promising - our celebrated superstar is a corporate headhunter desperate to earn 10 million frequent flyer miles before he loses his job. His constant travel has left him lonely and disconnected. According to Reitman, the results are deeply personal and only marginally based on the Walter Kim novel from 2001. Interesting.
Columbus Short, Matt Dillon, Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, Skeet Ulrich, Fred Ward, Milo Ventimiglia
Nimród Antal is relatively new to the motion picture game, but the American-born, Hungarian-trained filmmaker has already made a major impact with efforts like Kontroll and 2007’s Vacancy. Now he’s been pegged by producer Robert Rodriguez to handle his update of the famed Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi action epic Predator. In the meantime, December audiences have his heist flick, Armored, to consider. The cast is top notch—everyone from Laurence Fishburne, Jean Reno, and Fred Ward to Matt Dillon and Columbus Short is involved—and the story centers on an armored vehicle inside job gone sour. With his flair for suspense and his ability to navigate complicated plotlines, this could be a decent mainstream entertainment in a month of more “meaningful” movies. It could also be an attempted misdirection, a chance to grab some of those holiday season dollars that aren’t automatically going to potential Oscar fodder.
Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Sam Shepard, Clifton Collins, Jr., Mare Winningham
In the ‘90s, Ireland’s Jim Sheridan reigned supreme. His films, including My Left Foot, The Field, In the Name of the Father, and The Boxer, gave international audiences a look at the ‘troubled’ country he grew up in. A move to the US inspired his last great effort, 2003’s In America, while 2005 saw him jump on the pop culture bandwagon to helm the less than successful 50 Cent biopic, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Now he’s taking on the Danish film Brødre with a remake featuring Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Tobey Maguire. The storyline centers on a Marine who goes missing while on yet another tour of duty in the Middle East. This devastates his wife and younger brother, leading to events that will shake up the entire familial structure. Sounds very intense and dramatic, and if anyone can handle such heartbreaking material, it’s the man who made Daniel Day-Lewis a household name.
Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Katherine Moennig
After the astounding success of his nostalgic love letter to movies, Cinema Paradiso, then 33-year-old filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore was looking for a worthy follow-up. After all, it’s tough to compete with a title that won a Special Jury Prize at Cannes and the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Still, Stanno tutti bene (translation: Everybody’s Fine) was warmly received, and is now being remade with Robert DeNiro stepping in for the opera loving civil servant character played originally by Marcello Mastroianni. British filmmaker Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine, Nanny McPhee) is behind the update, and it looks like he’s changed the storyline ever so slightly. Indeed, preview write-ups talk about DeNiro’s deceased wife, when Tornatore’s film used said status as a “twist” at the end (turns out Mastroianni isn’t reporting back to his spouse, but her grave). One fears this has been too “Westernized” to compete with the original.