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Wish List: Things We Want to See in 2013

Wish List: Things We Want to See in 2013

With the turn of a new year, the uncomfortably futuristic sounding 2013, comes twelve more months of cinematic gold, silver and bronzed offal. There will be Supermen, more Hollywood remakes of cult Korean cinema, at least one memorable meltdown and the continuation of Marvel’s epic campaign of terror against bewildered audiences. But amidst the blockbuster A-list and populist spotlight of public consciousness smaller things will be occurring, whirling cogs that are put in motion purely to make sure I get what I want. These are the things we want to see happen in film this year.

A year ago I hoped for five things and got two and a half, with Leo DiCaprio waiting for the last moment to shine as the villainous Calvin Candie in Django Unchained, while Megan Fox disappeared almost completely from our screens during a barren year and Taylor Lautner’s agent earned no calls aside from commitments in wrapping up the Twilight saga. Sadly De Niro and Pacino remain in the wilderness, 3D shows no signs of abating as it distracts from the quality of Life of Pi, and Gary Oldman belated first Oscar nomination didn’t produce gold.

Here’s hoping for an improved success rate this time round, and I encourage you readers to submit your personal wishes. Let’s start with…

Oblivion (Tom Cruise)

Tom Cruise plays a different character

Fact is, if you’re going to be a multi-billion dollar drawing face and one of the world’s most famous people you are likely to face backlash, regardless of bizarre behavior, terrifying veneer of poorly concealed psychotic rage and controversial religious views. For all that he is a superstar, Tom Cruise has just as many detractors as fans and each career move he makes is scrutinized by critics far too keen on allowing personal opinions and reservations to cloud professional judgment. That doesn’t mean, however, that the crazy little fellow should be immune to said criticism.

While the forgettable Jack Reacher did provide some entertainment and maintain Cruise’s place as Hollywood’s leading action man protagonist, it continued a worrying trend that for years has seen him, with very few exceptions, playing the same character. Let’s call that character Tom Cruise: Tom is a frustrated and slightly emotionally hurt/unavailable protagonist clearly not fulfilling his potential, with a colorful background which sees him well versed in survival when the going gets tough but means he is ultimately unfulfilled, though he maintains a sense of decency and humor allowing to be both amiable and yet aloof.

Sound familiar? That’s because he plays the part in four out of every five films he appears in; read Reacher, the Mission Impossible series, Knight and Day, War of the Worlds, Minority Report and so on. This year’s Oblivion, a sci-fi action flick of some budget, pits him in to a role which is all about this specific characterization. The frustration in this is that Cruise is actually at his best when playing the polar opposite of his clichéd typecast. Think Magnolia, think Collateral, think Valkyrie, think even Tropic Thunder and the otherwise poor Rock of Ages. These are the few exceptions that prove Tom should be just a little bit crazier, provided it’s on screen, in 2013.

Joss Whedon, Star Wars picture

Joss Whedon announced to head up Disney’s Star Wars Revival

There were two hugely significant connotations to Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm last year, both of them applying to a touted reboot of the Star Wars franchise. The first is that the existence of such plans suggests somebody actually wants to do it, and the second is that by the grace of all Gods of all creeds that person isn’t George Lucas. Having successfully obliterated his reputation as a filmmaker and undo all the good work of the iconic original trilogy with the horrific prequels, Lucas passed on the baton and frankly this should be good news to anyone.

What comes next is key, and if the fan boys and neutrals have any hope of watching sci-fi adventure reaching the same heights as the first trio of Star Wars films, they shouldn’t look any further than Joss Whedon, a creative force who has been auditioning for the role his entire career. Already a master of snappy witty dialogue and with a real fascination in the finer points of space set high jinks, Whedon has also displayed his ability to handle the pressure of blockbuster movie making with his excellent direction of Serenity and The Avengers. The youthful enthusiasm and snarky material of these works, not to mention the brilliantly scripted Cabin in the Woods and various other screenplays by the former TV producer, is, for lack of a better term, highly Star Warsian.

Of course, it is highly unlikely Whedon would drop any potential commitments to Marvel in order to pick up a project that appeals only on a romantically nostalgic level, but for the good of the audience one would hope for some fresh stories wiping out much of the canon from Episode I through III and banishing the memory of Kit Fisto, young Boba Fett and Hayden Christensen’s CGI ghost. For this job, Whedon is the man.

Andrezj Chryra

Andrezj Chyra gets into Hollywood

Cynical though it is, there is a very specific manner in which international actors with little clout can bring themselves to a greater level of attention and, crucially, finance. Acting is a job, after all. The success of the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in Sweden instantly bought Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist green cards and Hollywood roles, fellow Scandanavians Stellan Skarsgard and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau now have freedom to roam in LA and the likes of Diane Kruger, Penelope Cruz and Juliette Binoche have become household names after sailing Columbus-esque across the Atlantic.

Now, nobody is more aware than me of how badly ignored Polish cinema is. This is a film industry which doesn’t even get the luxury of second rate remakes starring paycheck scroungers, despite often producing excellent though invariably bitter material. And having stolen the show in various films over the last few years, from supporting parts in Katyn and Elles to leading man roles in We’re All Christs and alongside Olga Kurylenko in Land of Oblivion, highly versatile and charismatic chameleon Andrezj Chyra deserves a shot at being at the very least tinseltown’s latest in vogue ‘foreigner for hire’.

The odds of an increase in the amount of you who recognize his name within a year are not particularly prosperous or worth putting a bet on, but were natural justice to occur we would have a multi-talented new actor of interesting stock capable of being funny, terrifying and compelling in equal measure to play with. You heard it here first.

Dune Title card

Plans are announced for a two part Dune film adaptation

Having already gone in to some depth about the tormented relationship between Frank Herbert’s wonderful novel and the big screen since adaptation was first touted, from the attempts to bring Alejandro Jodorowsky’s psychedelic vision to film to the most recent collapse of a mooted re-do following David Lynch’s undisputedly poor incarnation, it’s of little surprise that this writer is still cheerleading for a possible take two. Now that Peter Jackson has proved films can be split into pieces for the sake of indulgence, it seems that now is the time to start banging the drum once more.

Sour grapes though it may be, it stands to reason that if a relatively modest novel such as The Hobbit can be stretched to breaking point as a trilogy packing in various filler additions and tinkering then an epic story too vast and complex to fit into a single blockbuster should be allowed a couple of movies to get it right. With a strong script with brevity as a priority following the works of Herbert, and a Director who understands the necessity of combining emotional weight and visual spectacle, such a double act may prove not just to work, but to flourish and create a new classic. So, Ang Lee or Christopher Nolan then. Sell it to the kids as Avatar meets Game of Thrones on a desert planet featuring giant sandworms and knife duels and the marketing virtually works itself out.

Alas, likely a pipe dream in the head of a devoted fan, one who should perhaps put his money where his mouth is and get working on a screenplay that works and raising the dollar to get it made. After all, if Tommy Wiseau can make a movie, can’t anyone?

50 Shades of Grey Book Cover

The 50 Shades of Grey movie falls through due to an outbreak of common sense

At the risk of sounding condescending, anyone harboring doubts that the full scale adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey will go ahead clearly doesn’t understanding how the film industry works. From the moment it became a momentously successful hit, turning author E.L James from a Twilight fangirl into a millionaire overnight, it was inevitable that a bloated story of long fingered ‘beautiful’ anti-villains manipulating…sorry, “seducing” naïve and vulnerable young women would end up getting a worldwide release complete with screeching harpies outside the premiere and starring the two most vapid younglings Hollywood could carve out of the thousand oaks hillside. And probably shot in 3D.

Something of a bidding war broke out last year over casting, with various unlikely actors and predictable actresses popping up all over the shop and clawing their way forward in the casting stakes for a movie that currently has no script. This, it seems, is the future of mainstream filmmaking, where concept takes prevalence over material, style over substance. Anyone taken aback by somebody with as much critical respect as Bret Easton Ellis voicing his interest in writing the dross should probably pay more attention to his barren recent history than his once upon time acclaim.

My main hope is that at some point somebody high up within Universal or Focus Features has a Howard Beale-esque breakdown and takes measures to ensure that nobody anywhere ever is given a shot at turning amateur dramatics fan fiction posing as modern literature into money guzzling, unedifying fetish popcorn fests the likes of which we can only dream of after too much bad cheese the night before. And, sadly, this awfulness not happening is the most optimistic point on my list.

Anyway, enough from me, what do you guys want to see happen?