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The films to watch in 2006

I started writing a top five list of the films due out in 2006 that I really thought would be worth seeing, and as I worked through the release schedules I found more and more being added on. When I looked at the huge list I realised I was going to have some job putting them in order so I've decided not to. Instead I'll give you a rundown of the movies that, so far, have a planned 2006 release and are already on my go see list.

This movie brings one of the biggest expectations of the year for me. Spielberg showing us an extremely strong real life movie. No animals, it's not all CGI, and no utterly loveable characters, this is taking a dark moment in history with real people, real angst, and some terrifying choices.

V for Vendetta
Despite the attached Production names giving me a large degree of concern, I hold out good hopes for this graphic novel adaptation. You see there's nothing cursed about videogame or graphic novel adaptations, any material can be made into a good movie as long as you have a good creative team to take it there, with the graphic novel and comic adaptations we've been shown that quite clearly, videogames just haven't had that winner yet. For those I think we'll be waiting for Halo and Splinter Cell.

Inside Man
I had no appetite for this movie until I saw the trailer, even then it was a struggle to see Denzel just playing the other side of the law from that awful film John Q and Clive Owen reliving his cheesy Sin City voice. Yet a couple of things came through for me and the most prominent was Jodie Foster. Having just seen her in Flightplan I was once again amazed at her talent, and here she looks set to play a character that is far from her normal range, someone who is perhaps a baddie. This movie promises not to be the usual heist flick, and Spike Lee has me intrigued.

Flight 93
There's a fascination with what actually happened on Flight 93 fuelled by the claims that the passengers fought back against the hijackers, it's an inspiring and selfless tale, one which although a great tragedy, provides us with a hope that we would all do the right thing in the same situation. That's how it is for me anyway, and as I am now half way through the official 9/11 report I like to think I'm a bit more educated about that day and the events that led to it, it's a strong belief to cling to that there are people who would sacrifice themselves to prevent a larger disaster. From all accounts Paul Greengrass is recreating the events from all the factual material available, and doing a very realistic and considerate recreation.

Mission: Impossible III
J.J. Abrams. Need I say more? I'm a mammoth Alias fan, and I love a good action movie. How can this not deliver action but also wads of intrigue and layers of storyline? If Abrams sticks with what he's done so far I think we'll all be amazed, however he has something big to conquer, the image of Tom Cruise is rapidly failing. There are other reasons to look out for this though, Simon Pegg, Philip Seymour Hoffman, to name but a few. This will be a big action movie with some intelligence...I hope!

X-Men 3
Well this movie brings us good news one day and bad news another. There's a huge cast, a string of fallen Directors, and that promise from the excellent trailer. Could this be the downpoint of the franchise, or raise it to a new level perhaps even wipe the cast slate clean for a whole raft of new mutants? Who knows. Whatever it's going to be, it's going to be watched. With spin offs coming and no end in sight to the franchise how can they do anything but fail?

Superman Returns
John has it at the top of his most expected list, and it's probably pretty high for me, but good or not this is touching on a much hallowed franchise and it has to really hit the mark to make it. There's concern too about the leaked plot details to date with many fans suggesting it's not in keeping with the Superman they know and love...I'm not so sure about that, but still I'm not hugely excited by this and it wouldn't be sitting number one for me, even with Bryan Singer up there.

Lady in the Water
Big fan of M. Night Shyamalan, and I'm looking forward to another tale from him. I do think that people confuse him with always having to deliver a huge movie with a big twist. Although there have been a couple they rely more on the journey there, and these twists have been getting much smaller. It's not all about the ending and sometimes I think people forget that. Particularly about this Writer\Director. However there's not much coming out about this to really make me excited yet, and it's all hinging on his name for me.

Untitled Oliver Stone/September 11 Project
I'm not looking forward to this as much as I am the other 9/11 projects, but interested none the less, and that's despite Nicolas Cage being in it. Oliver Stone can deliver hugely cinematic movies, there's no doubt about that, and word from the set is that he's doing just that as he recreates the aftermath of the attack in amazing detail. However the claims that this is going to focus on just two men and their struggle for survival has me concerned, this might just turn out to be an overly romanticised movie with a huge morality filled ending powered by a message of hope over adversity kind of thing...and that will just kill the movie for me.

The Da Vinci Code
I'll get to see Rosslyn on screen, which is a cool place not far from where I live, and it's made by Ron Howard, and it stars Sir Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, Jean Reno and Alfred Molina. Apart from those good points, the book was dire, childish and seemingly copied the whole premise from another book, then there's the worrying casting of Tom Hanks as the lead, something that concerned you all. I think this will be a big movie because of the book hype, and it will turn out to be not that bad after all. I'm sure if we can accept Cruise onscreen, we can suspend our disbelief for Hanks, and perhaps the story has been changed enough to make it a bit more intelligent and more suspenseful.

The Visiting
The "isn't a remake but a revisualisation" of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers...although we all know it's a remake with the story changed. Still, I'm keen to see where they are going with this movie, especially since they are so keen to distance themselves from Body Snatchers. It'll also be interesting to see how the bland Nicole Kidman comes across and the interesting Daniel Craig.

Snakes on a Plane
Do I even need to hint at why I'm interested in this movie? Really? Come on, "On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who's a witness in protective custody, let loose a crate full of deadly snakes." Surely that says it all? Oh, and not forgetting Samuel L. Jackson.

For Your Consideration
The new Christopher Guest movie, promising to be funny and very satirical at the same time. This should surely rip the preverbial out of the whole Movie Industry and the Oscars...well I'm hoping. Plus it's got Ricky Gervais, I'm interested to see if he can improve on his acting in Alias!

The Children of Men
From Alfonso Cuarón and an original novel about one pregnant woman amongst an unfertile planet who is transported under personal protection to a secret base to discover how she became pregnant and try and save the human race...Phew...This could be a big contender for "Worst Execution of the Best Plot" in the 2006 Movie Blog Awards, or it could be really good. However, strip away all the sci-fi elements and you have a common tale, one man transports another person single handed to destination against all odds. Sounds like Bruce WIllis in 16 Blocks? There are ups and downs in the cast too (Owen again), so although I'm not sure what to think, I am interested in the original idea.

The Good Shepherd
I heard a stern warning about this movie from Paul Schrader during the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2005. The man who was responsible for the Exorcist prequel farce as well as other movies is also financing this movie. At the EIFF 2005 he was very vocal about how this did not bode well for Robert De Niro's movie. However, that said, it's a very strong cast (Matt Damon, De Niro, Joe Pesci, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, Michael Gambon, to name but a few), and it's been De Niro's project for a very long time. Let's hope it comes through.

Yes, it's not been released yet in the UK, and I really am looking forward to this after seeing the trailer and teasers. The movie looks strong, and hopefully very realistic. It's based on the book of the same title written by an actual Marine in the Gulf, so I'm hoping to see some of what the troops are going through. Not only to find some understanding, but also to be entertained, and the trailers we've seen certainly show that. Tough, loud, and in your face, with a great performance from Jake Gyllenhaal I'm told.

Underworld: Evolution
Well I liked the original, I thought it was a very well developed world in which the story was created, and since then we've found out that while they were creating the universe for the original story to be set in they had enough material for multiple films, this being the first sequel and perhaps not the last. Fun entertainment, scares, big bangs, werewolves and vampires...oh yes, and Kate Beckinsale in leather. Real high brow stuff...ahem...but loads of fun.

The trailer has me very intrigued, although I did think Michael Haneke's previous work Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages (Code Unknown) was awful, I am interested in the concept behind this movie. A man receives a videotape on his front door step (surely it would be a DVD?) and it shows that someone is watching him, intimitely and secretly. More tapes arrive and...well, the Director has asked the press not to give anything away and so I've not heard much more than the trailer gives. Still, it looks interesting, and I enjoyed Daniel Auteuil in the excellent movie 36 Quai des Orfèvres, so I'll be looking forward to this and the surprise the Director has instore for me.

The Ice Harvest
John Cusack is an actor who I adore on screen, he's given me some of the most entertaining experiences in the movies for a long time, even as far back as The Sure Thing, and teamed up with Billy Bob Thornton with the excellent Oliver Platt and Randy Quaid, why wouldn't you want to go and see this? Oh, it also has Harold Ramis at the helm. The trailer we saw some time back gives us a good look at the film too, and it looks dark and funny, my favourite duo.

Walk The Line
Yup, another one that hasn't made it out in the UK yet. Although I'm no Johnny Cash fan, I have to see Joaquin Phoenix in the lead. I won't be able to compare him to Cash, but I do want to see the performance he gives us. I think Pheonix is a superb actor, sure he's been in some duds, but what about 8MM, Gladiator, his superb role in Buffalo Soldiers, Signs and The Village? This film just seems to suit Pheonix really well, and I'll be looking forward to seeing him absorbed in the character of Cash.

Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
From Chan-wook Park, the man who brought us Oldboy and Boksuneun naui geot (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance). Although I've yet to see the latter I've heard very good things both about that movie and for Lady Vengeance. I thought Oldboy was superb and I'm looking forward to this movie with as much relish.

Good Night, and Good Luck
It's interesting the way that George Clooney's career has moved. He's built a huge popularity and then used that to lever projects he's wanted to do, and now he's in the great position of directing and appearing in some excellent movies. I have to say I used to hate him onscreen, he'd do that bow head look up at you thing that he did every ten minutes in ER just to impress the ladies. That bugged me rotten, and it did get to the point that we were just seeing that character again and again. Then things changed, slowly, movie by movie. We saw some unusual performances. The Thin Red Line, Fail Safe, Solaris, and these changed my mind. Now he's coming at us with two really strong political thrillers, the first is this historical look at Edward Murrow and with another strong cast, the second is...

Strangely I don't know much about this movie and I'm happy to keep it that way. It's getting good reviews, although the one word user comment on IMDB sums them up quite well "Puzzling". The Writer\Director Stephen Gaghan brought us the excellent Traffic, and this movie has a similar feel to it.

Alien Autopsy
Okay so the writer William Davies doesn't promise much with scripts such as Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot and Johnny English, but he did also write Twins, but what's really got me into this movie are two stars of British TV, Ant and Dec. These guys are great together on TV and have a quality that just puts you at ease during their show, as though they're just chatting to you and having a laugh. They are natural and quite spontaneous onscreen, and very funny. I'm interested to see how this translates to film and if they've not been given a rotten script to work with.

Casino Royale
Come now, how could I not? There's been so much speculation around this movie from Bond to the villians and there's no sign of it letting up with continued rumour and guesswork about who will play the female lead. I'm quite frankly sick of it. However, it will be most interesting to see what this new Bond is all about, and I don't just mean the actor, I mean returning to the roots of what Bond was written as. This could do away with the "daft" factor of the previous Bond movies and give us something more gritty and realistic, after all there's a scene of torture in the book where Bond has his mansacks tortured...I wonder if we might see that a la The Serpent and the Rainbow?

Il Mare
Another Asian remake with the original Il Mare being reviewed as an extremely good and intelligent offering from Korea, and now it's being remade into a movie with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock together again. The story is slightly bizarre, and very interesting - a lonely doctor begins exchanging love letters with a frustrated architect through a mysterious letterbox, later discovering they are separated in time by two years - yet can this be anymore than a romantic romp when Bullock and Reeves are brought back together? I really hope not. Although I've yet to see this movie I don't want them to overpower it with their personas. I especially would like to see Reeves make an acting effort and Bullock turn out a performance akin to 28 Days or her amazing performance in Crash.

I really do like Lucy Liu and Michael Chiklis, although Liu has been subject to some typecast in the past and Chiklis has only really made his impression in the excellent The Shield, both have shown some good performances and they have a lot more to show us. This movie promises to look at a much used supernatural story from a different angle, Liu wakes up one morning to find herself in the morgue, as a victim. She's dead, or rather undead, and she vows revenge against the group that put her there. Sure, sounds a little like a female Blade, but do it right and you can either recapture that genre where that franchise fell on its arse, or take it all from a totally different angle. I9;m hoping it's the latter and with the writer being Sebastian Gutierrez who wrote Gothika (see also The Eye and Snakes on a Plane), there could be something more here than meets the eye (oh dear), or it could be just what it says on the tin.

The Departed
The much awaited and loathed US remake of Infernal Affairs directed by Martin Scorsese. This is another huge cast movie with Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Anderson, Ray Winstone and Alec Baldwin once more. There's been much made about the huge break from the original story and fans of the fantastic original movie are rightly concerned, and I'm one of them, yet I'll go and see it trying to leave any preconceptions behind. There have been major plot changes, which might actually work out well, after all remaking the same movie scene by scene wouldn't leave the big surprises and twists in there for those who have seen the original, perhaps this is a move to introduce some new twist to excite the original fans too? Who knows, we have to wait and see and hope that Scorsese hasn't made a mistake by picking a movie that is so good already it can't be improved on.

The Entity
The remake by Hideo Nakata. Despite his success outside the US and his three line-ups for this year (all of which are included here) there's a lot of pressure on him to break the mould of Asian stars falling to the Hollywood machine and produce something strong, innovative, and exciting. This is the remake of the eighties movie that was supposedly based on a true story of a woman who is repeatedly sexually abused by a demon. Hopefully Nakata will bring something new and exciting to this rather than just cheap thrills.

The Eye
Nakata is also set to remake the Pang Brothers excellent Jian gui (The Eye), although saying excellent it was an extremely strong movie but carried quite a weak ending. The Pangs have not been assigned to remake this movie, despite them also moving to Hollywood. Nakata has some excellent material here and it would be great to see it improved upon, yet I can't help but feel that this movie should just be left alone. Okay it does have a weak ending, but the rest of the movie has some stunningly scary scenes in it and I fear this might be tainted by the Studios and be forced to be more Western style scary with jumps galore. Again, I have much hope for Nakata holding out on this.

I read the book Out by Natsuo Kirino quite recently and was very surprised at just how good the story was. It had me eager to read as much as I could each time I opened the book and was almost avoiding sleep to get through it. This is the Nakata movie that I am looking forward to the most, it's original material, a Japanese crime thriller and an extremely strong story. Kirino has already written out some excellent scenes which I really hope make it to the big screen. The story is about four female factory workers who make a pact after one of them kills her abusive Husband. The story escalates time and time again, and the women find themselves in deeper and deeper trouble, facing off against a very strong male character. Although not many of you will have heard of this, I really am looking forward to the screen adaptation.



I've only seen Munich so far from your list Rich.

Here are the films I am so looking forward to this year:

Good Night, Good Luck
Walk the Line
Da Vinci Code
V for Vendetta
The Ice Harvest
The Good Shepherd
The Departed
The Fountain

For someone who doesn't get out much my list is somewhat short. If I only go to the flicks 3 times this year it'll be for:

Flight 93
Lady in the Water

Just saw "Capote" tonight, Philip Hoffman Seymour ABSOLUTELY deserved Best Actor this year. He was brilliant, just brilliant.

I do think that people confuse him with always having to deliver a huge movie with a big twist

I disagree. I think Shyamalan himself has got confused on that score. After the shark-jumping spectacle that was The Village, I wish he'd change tack and go back to the non-twisty movies he made before Sixth Sense (that almost no one seems to know of).

As for some of your others:

* Haven't read Da Vinci Code, but the lengthy summary/article in Fortean Times from a few months ago suggests I've missed nothing. I can't see the film being any good.
* Snakes on a Plane is one that I kind of can't wait for. I mean, that title. Possibly the greatest high-concept title since Andy Milligan's The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!
* Didn't know Christopher Guest had a new film on the way. Nice to see he's finally turning his attention to a target that actually needs the piss ripped out of it.
* Jarhead is quite good, although wildly uneven.
* I liked Syriana better than you seem to have done, although I think it packs far too much into far too short a time. Either simplify and cut out some plot strands or make it a mini-series if you can't cut them out.
* Caché is as dull as death. Probably my least favourite film of the year so far. It's not even worth spoiling.
* The Departed... hmmm. I don't know what to make of it. I didn't think the original film was as good as it's usually made out to be; it's good, but not much more really. Counting against the remake, for me at least, is the fact that Martin Scorsese's making it; I am not and never have been a Scorsese fan except for his documentaries, which I frankly wish he'd keep making and forget about fiction films.

For me:

The Hills Have Eyes
When a Stranger Calls (which I've seen)
Superman Returns
X-Men 3 (my most anticipated one)
The Da Vinci Code
Infernal Affairs (having watched the original I have high expectations from the Hollywood version)

James says "Snakes on a Plane is one that I kind of can't wait for. I mean, that title. Possibly the greatest high-concept title since Andy Milligan's The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here!"


I was leaning on skipping this film but this comment made me laugh so hard, I will watch it now just on that account. Cheers for that! *winks*

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Turkmen lawmakers back caretaker as new president..



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