Somewhere is a film of sparseness and excess.  Stephen Dorff plays Johnny Marco, an actor drifting through life at the Chateau Marmont, whose self centered existence is interrupted when confronted with having to take care of his 11 year old daughter.  The first thing that may strike you watching the trailer, (other than it being unmistakably a Sofia Coppola film), is that there is almost no dialogue.  You’d think this is just an artful teaser but it’s actually fairly representative of the film. 

The photography is beautiful but there are some shots that go on way too long.  The opening features Dorff driving his car around a race track.  After 2 or 3 rounds I had gotten all I needed from that scene but the car proceeded to go around 4 more times.  There are a handful of moments like this in the film that go beyond a leisurely pace and really just call attention to themselves.  Not that they’re even boring, just that you start to wonder why the film is drawing so much attention to them when it could have easily cut each shot in half and acheived the same effect.

The film doesn’t have the typical structure you might expect from a more commercial film.  I had expected Dorff’s character to be more of a “bad” guy, or at least “bad dad” who gets reformed by his daughter, conventional arc satisfied.  But that’s not what happens.  Dorff’s character is self-involved, but not a bad guy at all.  He’s good with his daughter and generally pretty nice to most people.  Elle Fanning is great in the film, (though it’s hard to believe she’s only 11), and the two have a good father/daughter chemistry that really anchors the film.

Towards the end, I kept thinking that every shot might be the last one.  Because the film steered so far away from cliches I hadn’t expected any grand emotional resolutions at the end.  So I was surprised when there were a few moments that attempted some catharsis, and disappointed when they fell flat.  I still love Sofia Coppola, but have found with her last two films you have to take the good with the bad.

Most Anticipated Fall Movies 10

September is here which means the dismal Summer movie season is winding down and it’s time to start looking forward to all the movies coming out between now and the end of the year.  Here we go…

1. TREE OF LIFE (Unknown) Not much more is known about reclusive director Terrence Malick’s fifth film than it was when I wrote about it at the beginning of this year.  Supposedly it "will change the language of cinema" and (even though there is still no release date) will supposedly open by the end of the year.

2. BLACK SWAN (December 1) Watch the trailer and tell me this doesn’t look amazing.  You can’t.  Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Winona Ryder star in Darren “Requiem for a Dream” Aronofsky’s psychological thriller about rival ballet dancers. 

3. THE SOCIAL NETWORK (October 1) Yes, “the Facebook movie”.  The trailer is brilliant and early word is that the movie might actually live up to it.  David Fincher shows he isn’t concerned with replicating reality as he magnifies events to near-operatic levels.  It’s a movie about computer nerds but shot like Se7en, what’s not to like?  

4. SOMEWHERE (December 22) Sofia Coppola returns with a film that looks like it could be a spiritual sequel to her breakout Lost In Translation.  Again, a fantastic teaser gives you glimpses of this story about a bad boy actor and his daughter living in the Chateau Marmont. 

(December 25) The Coen Bros, who seem to be alternating between shit movies (Burn After Reading) and great ones (A Serious Man), can hopefully put one more in the “win” column here. Their first western is about a US Marshall helping a young woman track down her fathers murderer.  It reunites them with “The Dude” himself, as well as Josh Brolin and first-timer Matt Damon.

6. NEVER LET ME GO (September 15) Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and (future Spider-Man) Andrew Garfield star as kids who grow up in a “seemingly idyllic” boarding school.  Unfortunately the trailer gives away a pretty significant twist in the “seemingly boring” setup, but without spoiling I’ll say it’s vaguely sci-fi and you will probably cry.

7. THE FIGHTER (December 10) David O. Russell jumpstarts his comeback with this true-life story about boxer “Irish” Mickey Ward.  Stars Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo mean the studio is probably counting on some awards here and luckily Russell is one of 3 directors who can direct Wahlberg to a good performances. 

8. HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART I (November 19) I’ve never read the books but the movies have become consistently entertaining and the trailer for the latest and penultimate Potter film looks like the final installments are going to be EPICI’m probably not the only one excited for this. 

9. TRON: LEGACY (December 17) I’ve never seen the original but am interested in this one for the art direction alone.  CG Jeff Bridges looks worrisome and I’ve heard that lead Garrett Hedlund’s performance might not be exactly award-worthy but Daft Punk did the score and it looks visually stunning so they’re probably getting my money anyway.

10. LET ME IN (October 1) On the surface, remaking one of the best horror films of the last decade would be a huge mistake.  But damn if it doesn’t look like they’ve gotten it right.  Cloverfield director Matt Reeves seems to have a lot of reverence for the novel as well as the original film so maybe it’ll be possible to love both?

11. THE TOWN (September 17) I’m still getting used to the idea of Ben Affleck the director, but Gone Baby Gone was a really good movie.  And he’s assembled an interesting cast for his sophomore effort: Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner and Blake Lively star in this heist-gone-wrong film.  I’ve actually avoided the trailer because I heard it was too spoilerful so I’m excited to see this one blind.

12. 127 HOURS (October 22) I’ve always been a Danny Boyle fan and (barring Sunshine) have enjoyed all his films.  Slumdog Millionaire may have been overrated (certainly it wasn’t Best Picture) but it was cute and enjoyable.  James Franco stars in his latest, about real life mountain climber Aron Ralston’s attempt to save his own life after being trapped for *titular line* 127 hours.

See how last year turned out.

Listomania: My Most Anticipated Films of 2010

I may still be finalizing my Top 10 List for 2009 but that doesn’t mean I can’t start looking forward to all the films coming out this year. For many of these films, very little is known about them so it’s possible by the time they’re released I’ll be much less/more interested in them, and very disappointed/surprised shortly after. But right now any of these could be a masterpiece. Here is 2010.

1. Inception
dir: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, The Prestige, Memento)
First, watch the teaser. Mind blown, right? While the exact plot is still a mystery, the film has been described (countless times) as a “contemporary sci-fi actioner set within the architecture of the mind.” Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who is clearly on a roll with Batman Begins, The Prestige and The Dark Knight, I’m pretty sure I already love this movie, I just have to see it to confirm. Also: if this has anything to do with the film, I’m going to need a fresh pair of underpants.

2. The Tree of Life
dir: Terrence Malick (The New World, Days Of Heaven, Badlands)
Reclusive director Terrence Malick has made 4 movies in the past 37 years, so when he makes one it’s probably time to pay attention. Though I haven’t been a huge fan of his recent films, I have a feeling his latest might be the one to win me over. Also cloaked in mystery this film stars Brad Pitt & Sean Penn in a "cosmic epic, a hymn to life". Also: this might be two movies, they might be shot/shown in IMAX and there might be dinosaurs involved.

3. Black Swan

dir: Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, The Fountain, Requiem For A Dream)
I can remember seeing Requiem For A Dream opening night and walking out of the theatre pretty shaken, so as a longtime fan of director Darren Aronofsky I’m pretty interested in anything he does. Coming off his Oscar nominated The Wrestler, so will everyone else. His latest stars my 2 movie crushes Winona Ryder and Natalie Portman (along with Mila Kunis) as rival ballet dancers in a supernatural thriller loosely based on the ballet Swan Lake.

4. Somewhere
dir: Sofia Coppola (Marie Antoinette, Lost In Translation, The Virgin Suicides)
It’s been a long time since Sofia Coppola’s last film Marie Antoinette failed to capture the same attention as her previous films. I was mixed on Marie as well, but as a huge fan of her first two features I think it’s pretty safe to say she’s my favorite female director. In it, Steven Dorff stars as an actor living at the Chateau Marmont whose 11 year old daughter shows up unexpectedly. Described as "brighter, warmer and funnier" than her previous work, I’m hoping for the best.

5. Your Highness
dir: David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Snow Angels, All The Real Girls)
Director David Gordon Green has undergone a major career transformation from moody somber dramas (George Washington, Snow Angels) to stoner comedies (Pineapple Express, HBO’s Eastbound & Down). His latest appears to fall into the latter category as a medieval comedy starring James Franco & Danny McBride as two princes on a mission to save their land and two princesses (Natalie Portman (again!) and Zooey Deschanel) who end up saving them. I think they also fight dragons.

6. Never Let Me Go
dir: Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo)
Mark Romanek was my favorite music video director back when there was a such thing as music videos. While he’s only made one film, 2002’s somewhat disappointing One Hour Photo, I still have faith that he will make great long form films. Originally attached to the upcoming Wolf Man remake, (he left over creative differences), instead decided to make this sci-fi film about a trio of boarding school kids who grew up with no knowledge of the outside world. Supposedly footage from this film made Spike Jonze cry.

7. The Social Network
dir: David Fincher (Zodiac, Fight Club, Se7en)
Facebook: The Movie. Actually it’s the true story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and the creation of Facebook, as well as becoming one of the richest men in the world. If David Fincher weren’t attached to this film I’m not sure if I would have any interest at all, but knowing what an odd fit of director to material, (script by Aaron “The West Wing" Sorkin), makes me curious what he sees in it.

8. Toy Story 3 
dir: Lee Unkrich (co-director Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. Toy Story 2)
I love the Toy Story films, but rewatch them today and you will see a very different Pixar from the studio that released the more adult Up, Ratatouille and The Incredibles. I’m interested in seeing if they attempt to add more depth and subtlety to the new film or to recreate the tone of the first two films (which might put me out of their target audience)? As much as sequels worry me, Pixar have proven themselves once already with Toy Story 2, one of the greatest sequels of all time. I hope they can do it again.

9. Kick-Ass
dir: Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Layer Cake)
Based on a comic book by Mark Millar about a high school student who decides one day (without any super abilities) to become a super hero. The film premiered at AICN’s Butt-Numb-A-Thon festival last month to a rapturous response from geeks so it shot immediately up on my list. I know I shouldn’t put too much faith in geek-hype, I’ve been burned before, but I’m trying keeping my expectations reasonable. Also: Nic Cage is in this, which is always a good thing.

10. Shutter Island
dir: Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Goodfellas, Taxi Driver)

This was on my list last year, and I’m still excited. I’m hoping the film isn’t made or broken by a twist ending that the trailer seems to be leading towards. Still, the cast is great, the film looks beautifully shot and it looks like this is the closest Martin Scorsese has gotten to making a horror film.

11. The Fighter
dir: David O. Russell (I Heart Huckabees, Three Kings, Flirting With Disaster)
Originally, this was to be Darren Aronofsky’s follow-up to The Wrestler, his shoes have surprisingly been filled by the very different David O. Russell.Christian Bale & Mark Wahlberg star as half-brother boxers. Russell is one of 3 directors who has been able to draw a great performance out of Mark Wahlberg, (PT Anderson & Scorsese are the others), and Christian Bale is always great so this should be one to watch.

12. Greenberg
dir: Noah Baumbach (Margot At The Wedding, The Squid & The Whale, Kicking & Screaming)
I hated Margot At The Wedding, but the trailer for this won me over instantly. LCD Soundsystem contributes new music!

13. Cemetery Junction
dir: Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant (co-creators of “The Office”)
(Real) Office is one of the most brilliant television shows of all time. Co-creators Gervais & Merchant direct (but don’t star) in their debut film about a group of friends in 70’s London "joking, drinking, fighting and chasing girls". Please be brilliant.

14. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

dir: Edgar Wright (Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead)
Shaun of the Dead is one of the best horror-comedies of all time, as well as one of My Top 25 Films of the Decade. Writer/director Wright returns in his first film without Shaun/Hot Fuzz stars Simon Pegg & Nick Frost. Based on a series of comics Michael Cera stars as Scott Pilgrim who meets the girl of his dreams and must fight off her 7 evil ex-boyfriends. I’m trying to wrap my head around what the tone of this will be and I can’t yet.

15. The Green Hornet
dir: Michel Gondry (The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
Seth Rogen is The Green Hornet. Michael Gondry directs Seth Rogen as The Green Hornet. It’s so crazy it just might work.

Also Released: Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland, Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2, Greg Mottola’s Paul, Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs, Todd Phillip’s Due Date, Matt Reeves Let Me In, David Yates Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part I, Adam McKay’s The Other Guys, Alexandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful, Anton Corbijn’s The American, Tron: Legacy, The Wolf Man, A Nightmare On Elm Street and more.