What I’m Looking Forward To In 2006 (Movies Edition)

Superman Returns

2005 is almost over, which means it’s time to start looking ahead to see what 2006 offers. Every year it’s the same — I despair that I’ll ever find anything that will interest me. But as the list below shows, it turns out that’s not the case at all. This list is far from exhuastive, and the films are in no particular order, but these are definitely on my list ​“to see as soon as possible”.

  • The Fountain — The one should have come out years ago, but it ran into a series of snags (namely Brad Pitt’s departure). However, Darren Aronofsky would not be denied — he went back, retooled the script, reduced the budget, and brought onboard Hugh Jackman. I’ve purposefully tried to avoid spoilers, but the little snippets that I have read make this sound like it’s the hardcore, mature sci-fi movie so many of us have been waiting for. Oh, and the wonderfully ambiguous, Kubrick-esque trailer certainly does nothing to reduce my curiosity.
  • V For Vendetta — Alan Moore’s work has historically translated poorly onto film (i.e. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen), but the buzz on this one after its screening at Harry Knowles BNAT festival was huge, so it looks like the Wachowski Brothers might have got this one right. The trailers look great, Hugo Weaving apparently just owns the role of V, and if nothing else, it’ll be very interesting/​amusing to see how a movie where the titular character is a terrorist trying to bring down a fascist Britain in the near future will play with the Fox News crowd. The was originally supposed to come out on November 5, 2005 (if you’ve read the graphic novel, you’ll know why), but it was pushed back to 2006 due to delays in post-production.
  • X-Men 3 — I’ll admit I’m somewhat wary, considering that Bryan Singer jumped ship to do Superman Returns and the reins were handed to Brett Ratner (whose best-known for the Rush Hour movies). Singer built the franchise to a incredible moment with X-Men 2, using your standard superheroes-in-spandex set-up to deliver on some powerful themes, not to mention great action sequences. It’ll be interesting to see how Ratner fairs. One definite criticism of the film, however… no Gambit!
  • Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest — It doesn’t get more mainstream and blockbuster then Pirates of the Caribbean, but guess what? I don’t care one bit. The first movie was immensely enjoyable, pure popcorn entertainment that’s absolutely perfect in the summer season. The whole gang’s back in this one, with the focus being on Jack Sparrow attempting to keep the Cthulhu-esque Davey Jones from claiming his soul. Johnny Depp? A villain who looks like an H.P. Lovecraft monstrosity? And more pirate action? Sign me up.
  • Welcome To Dongmakgol — Technically, this film came out in 2005, setting all sorts of Korean box office records. However, I won’t get to see it until 2006, when the Limited Edition DVD comes out (the standard DVD release came out on Christmas Eve). The film, which is South Korea’s entrant for Best Foreign Film, is set during the Korean War, where soldiers from the North and South run into each other in a remote village seemingly untouched by the war. The movie stars one of Korea’s best actors (Shin Ha-Kyun), the soundtrack is by Joe Hisaishi, and the film is being called a ​“live-action Miyazaki”. Why aren’t you interested yet?
  • Sympathy For Lady Vengeance — Another 2005 film that I won’t see until 2006. Park Chan-Wook has been on a meteoric rise with Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance and OldBoy, and Lady Vengeance, which follows a woman as she leaves prison and hunts down the man who framed her for murdering a child, is the final act in his ​“Vengeance” trilogy. It’s difficult to imagine how Park could possibly top OldBoy, but apparently, Lady Vengeance is a strong and fitting end to the trilogy. I can’t wait to decide for myself.
  • Shinobi — Yes, it’s another 2005 movie. No, it’s not an adaptation of the classic video game. Rather, it’s a Japanese film focusing on the struggle between two ninja clans, and young lovers from both clans who try to remain together without having to chuck shuriken at each other instead. So I guess it’s like Romeo And Juliet, but with ninjas! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a good ninja movie, and this one looks like it might fill the bill. The trailer is packed with gorgeous visuals, the cast is strong (it stars Joe Odagiri, best known as the lead in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Bright Future), and it’s got freakin’ ninjas in it!
  • Tony Takitani — In 2005, I finally discovered the literature of Haruki Murakami, and became absolutely hooked on his surreal, melancholy musings on alienation and whatnot. Although Murakami has resisted letting his books be made into films, Tony Takitani is based on a short story of his. The movie focuses on a lonely, withdrawn jazz lover who works as an illustrator who gradually begins to fall in love. I was tempted to pick up the Japanese DVD, but a domestic release comes out in January, so I’m holding off until then.
  • Superman Returns — I was never a huge fan of the Richard Donner’s Superman movies, maybe because the scenes of Krypton’s destruction scared the crap out of me when I was a kid. But I think I’ve finally recovered from my youthful psychoses, because I can’t wait to see it. Sure, it’s directed by Bryan Singer, who proved he could do superhero films right with the first two X-Men films. And the storyline, which deals with Superman’s return after a long absence, could make for some powerful storytelling. But really, what hooked me was the teaser, which sends chills down my spine everytime I see it.
  • Munich — Technically, this movie opened in 2005. But those of us unfortunate enough to not live in a major metropolitan area will have to wait until January 6. The film, which is already raising a fair amount of controversy, follows a group of Israelis tracking and assassinating those who planned the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, and the mental and spiritual toll their mission takes on them. After the disappointing War Of The Worlds, it looks like Spielberg is rebounding completely, the the film’s study of violence and terrorism looks to be quite appropriate in this day and age.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children — This shouldn’t be on the list. This should’ve come out months ago. But for some reason, the folks at Square keep pushing it back. It’s now due out in January, but it might be pushed back again. Sigh… the film takes place 2 years after the events of the classic Playstation game, with Cloud fighting a bunch of Sephiroth wannabes and trying to track down a cure for a mysterious illness that is affecting children everywhere. I can understand folks being suspicious of another Final Fantasy movie, after the lacklustre The Spirits Within, but from what I’ve heard from those who have seen it, it’s lightyears ahead. The computer animation looks absolutely incredible from the trailer, and if you’re like me, any chance to revisit the world of Final Fantasy VII is welcome.
  • Tom Yum Goong — Tony Jaa, the world’s next Bruce Lee and/​or Jackie Chan and/​or Jet Li. I don’t know about that. But I do know that noone kick ass better onscreen than Jaa does. Tom Yum Goong is the follow-up to the amazing Ong-Bak, and while it apparently suffers in the storyline department, it absolutely excels in the only area that matters — handing out beatdowns. Really, do you want to watch a Thai kickboxing movie for plot, character development, etc.? Or do you want to watch it for serious ass-kicking? I think we all know the answer…
  • Tiger Blade — I really don’t know much about this film, other than it’s about some cops who use magic to track down some criminals who also use magic. But how can you go wrong with a tagline like ​“When Kick Ass Cops Can’t Get The Job Done… Bring In The Kick Ass Magic”?
  • Lady In The Water — I know some folks really can’t stand M. Night Shyamalan right now, and see him as overhyped and always relying on the same bag of tricks. But I’ll freely admit that everything surrounding Lady In The Water has me very intrigued. If done right, this could turn out to be the sort of modern fairy tale we’re so desparately in need of. Plus, it stars Paul Giamatti, one of the best actors in the business today.
  • Cars — So far, Pixar has an absolutely impeccable record. The Incredibles was easily one of my faves of 2004, if not my my favorite film of 2004; it’s certainly the one 2004 film I’ve watched the most this year. However, this one looks a little suspect. Nothing in the trailers has really grabbed me. But it is Pixar, and if anyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, they do.
  • Cache — My first exposure to the films of Michael Haneke was 2003’s Time of the Wolf, a shattering film about a family trying to stay together in the aftermath of an apocalypse (which became even more poignant and wrenching when seen in light of this year’s hurricanes). Cache is about another family, this one trying to figure out who has been sending them videotapes of their home. Everyone I know who saw it at Toronto was absolutely chilled by it, so I’m very intrigued.
  • Invisible Waves — I daresay that Pen-Ek Ratanaruang’s Last Life In The Universe has become one of my absolute all-time fave films. There’s something haunting and alluring about it; every time I watch it, I fall completely under its spell. Very little has come about his follow-up, only that it stars the always great Tadanobu Asano as a man who murders his girlfriend, becomes consumed with guilt, and travels to Thailand, only to fall into great peril. The film also stars OldBoys Kang Hye-jeong. It was supposed to come out in 2005, but was pushed back.
  • Allegro — Christoffer Boe’s Reconstruction was a mighty fine film, doubly so considering that it was a debut. And from all indications, Boe’s next film, Allegro, looks like it continues along the same surreal, ominously atmospheric bent. The film follows a pianist who returns to Copenhagen, where he journeys to a mysterious zone in the center of the city to regain his past memories.
  • Hanging Garden — Toshiaki Toyoda is a director to watch. His past films have each been better than the last, and his most recent film, 9 Souls, is simply stunning. If nothing else, it proved he knew how to do ensemble films full of interesting and compelling characters. Which definitely bodes well for Hanging Garden, the tale of a family slowly falling apart beneath the veneer of their idyllic existence.

So… what are you looking forward to?