Little White Lies Magazine by David Jenkins, Sophie Monks Kaufman, Adam Woodward

25 Films To Look Forward To In 2015

Eden

Released 24 July

We’re going to have whole lot more to say about this movie in the very near future, but for now let’s just say that our 2015 year-end list has possible front-runner. Mia Hansen-Løve’s fourth feature, her follow-up to 2012’s haunting teen romance Goodbye First Love, takes a long hard look at the ’90s club scene in Europe and the US, with the director purloining the memories of her ex-House DJ brother, Sven, and channelling them into a bittersweet saga of existential ebbing and flowing. It’s a film whose perspicacity massively exceeds the suggestions of its hushed, stripped-back styling, as it charts a DJ attempting to hold on to the music he loves while the world around him has made a decision that giving up and moving on is the order of the day. David Jenkins

The Hunger Game: Mockingjay – Part 2

Released 20 November

How will it end? Cinematically, what does director Francis Lawrence have up his sleeve to round off the fourth film in the lucrative dystopian franchise? Jennfier Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen must – after three films worth of Kat-and-mouse – finally go woman-y-mano with the Capitol’s President Snow. The story has come a long and winding way since it was focused on the core hunger games concept. Since then we’ve seen air-powered escape, revolutionary practices, media wars and, in the middle, a teenage girl with a list of traumas that grows along side with her arrows-fired count. Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffmann joined the cast for satirically brilliant Mockingjay – Part 1. We’re looking forward to seeing more of them as well as old reliables Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks.  It virtually goes without saying that the prospect of watching Lawrence pouring raw emotion into the role that made her name is also kind of a draw. Sophie Monks Kaufman

Bridge of Spies

Released 6 November

Steven Spielberg’s first film since his award-winning 2012 Lincoln biopic sees Tom Hanks slip into espionage mode in order to tell the true story of a CIA-corralled insurance lawyer tasked with negotiating the release of U-2 spy pilot Francis Gary Powers from the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. Sound meaty enough for you? Bridge of Spies also co-stars Amy Ryan and Alan Alda, and was given a script spitshine by the Coen Brothers. Fans of Munich, Spielberg’s Eric Bana-starring Black September barnstormer from 2005, won’t want to miss this one. Adam Woodward

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Crimson Peak

Released 16 October

Don’t you hate it when people start a piece of writing with the words, “let’s not mince words here,”? But guys, let’s not mince words here, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim was the most glorious blockbuster of the 21st century. For realsies. And so, to say that we’re excited for the director’s follow-up, a move back to the haunted house movie he perfected so well with his early Spanish-language works like The Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth, would be a gigantic understatement. That he has managed to hook in the top-line talent of Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Tom Hiddleston (looking like a dashing bastard in a silk top hat) just makes the prospect that much sweeter. From its early trailers, it looks like it’s riffing on Jack Clayton’s eerie 1961 classic, The Innocents, but by the end, it’s seeming a little bit more akin to the blood-seeping-from-the walls madness ofgiallo, Hammer and even The Shining. Everyone knows that horror movies are terrible, but this one looks like it could break that ugly mould. DJ

Suffragette

Released 30 October

The suffragette movement is way overdue for cinematic exploration. While it’s easy to take potshots at films that wear their prestigious aims in a sash across their bodies, there is something to be said for those that dearly try to channel universal truths about the social order. Carey Mulligan stars as an unknown footsoldier of the movement and is supported by acting grand dames Helena Bonham-Carter and Meryl Streep (as Emmeline Pankhurst). We’re hardly expecting social realism with a cast like this, rather – a kind of mythological retelling of a key story from early feminism. The support cast includes Anne-Marie Duff – who’s not had a film role worthy of her talents since 2002’s The Magdalene Sisters – Brendan Gleeson and Ben Whishaw. SMK

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Released 7 August

Boasting a prestigious festival run which saw it premiering at Sundance earlier in 2015 and then pit-stopping at various British events, Marielle Heller’s The Diary of a Teenage Girltakes place in San Francisco during the seventies and episodically charts one girl’s auto-archived sexual awakening. Actress Bel Powley knocks it out of the park as Minnie, the girl who recounts her various trysts, many of which are actually with her mother’s quaterback-like boyf, played by Alexander Skarsgård. It’s a supremely laid-back movie which doesn’t attempt to make grand moral statements about growing up or exploring sexuality. What it does do is show that love can’t be compartmentalised and explained, so why not just do it and ask questions later? DJ

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Released 18 December

Full disclosure: we’re not the biggest Star Wars fans in the known galaxy. But that doesn’t mean we’re not intrigued by the prospect of another episode of George Lucas’ epic space saga. For starters The Force Awakens boasts a name director in JJ Abrams with a proven track record when it comes to reviving a major sci-fi franchise, plus an exciting young cast featuring John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Adam Driver. Themost recent trailer is pretty sensational, too. So while we’re not exactly counting down the seconds, we’re still eager to see how this one turns out. AW

3 1/2 Minutes, Ten Bullets

Released 3 October

Ever since Dogwoof released a trailer in April for 3 1/2 Minutes, a documentary about a murder caused by “thug music”, our anticipation’s been a’stoking. There’s something about films that strive to tell the truth to power that whets our appetite even when the subject is tragic. Marc Silver’s doc focuses on a crime that took place in Florida in 2012. Following an altercation over music, a white man opened fire on a car of four black teenagers. One of them, Jordan Russell Davis, was killed. Marc Silver’s previous film, Who is Dayani Cristal? was a fact/fiction hybrid starring Gael Garcia Bernal that acted as a heartfelt eulogy to anonymous would-be migrant workers that die in the desert while trying to make it to America. If there is as much empathy in 3 1/2 Minutes then it’s going to be a layered and moving viewing experience. SMK

Horse Money

Released 18 September

One of the greats of contemporary cinema, Pedro Costa, returns with his first feature since 2006’s astonishing Colossal Youth, a bone dry comedy (that generic placeholder is used in the loosest possible sense) about abject poverty and poetry in a Portuguese slum in the process of transitioning into a soulless housing project. Its central character, Ventura, returns in the astounding Horse Money, now hospitalised and destined to face off against the ghosts of his tumultuous past. It’s tough to describe the film any further, as Costa’s mode is one that favours a purposeful barrage of stark imagery, shocking juxtapositions, baroque compositions and oblique references to the classic Hollywood films he reveres so fervently. It’s post-punk filmmaking, and it’s fucking extraordinary. DJ

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Jane Got a Gun

Released 4 September

The fact that Jane Got a Gun has been delayed since 2013 following director Lynne Ramsey’s removal from the project doesn’t fill us with much confidence. But let’s focus on the positives: Gavin O’Connor’s previous film, Warrior, was a muscular sibling relationship drama, and his latest sees Natalie Portman packing heat as a frontier woman defending her outlaw husband from a troublesome gang. After John Maclean’s smooth-sippin’ Slow West, we’ve got a thirst for another atmospheric, action-packed western, and this looks just the ticket. AW

Inside Out

Released 24 July

By now most film fans are aware that Inside Out is being hailed as top-tier Pixar. The psychology-driven animation even has the power to win over new fans – such is the coherence of its world building and the sophistication of its philosophising. Let’s not forget the laughs and the larks and the hi-jinx either. Amy Poehler is Joy, the dominant emotion in an 11-year-old girl’s brain centre – which is nice but we all know joy gets a rough ride during adolescence (and the rest of life). During a LWLies visit to the Pixar lot, our man was told how long is spent on each Pixar film (read all about this in our July/August issue). The laborious man hours show in the creative detail of each set piece and dedication to rendering the colourful hues of all emotional spheres. SMK

Read our Cannes review of Inside Out.

Dear White People

Released 10 July

Essentially an American campus comedy drama, Justin Simien’s debut feature is less radical than its name would suggest. Nonetheless it cashes its comedic chips along a variety of observational lines that – at peak – call white people out for ‘Oh we’re past racism, relax’ dismissiveness. The world that Simien presents at his fictional Ivy League college is driven by student politics and takes a stance against absolutism however it manifests. Sam (Tessa Thompson) – the DJ with the titular show – wants to make everything about race. The smarmy son of the school principal thinks it’s ridiculous to act radical at a time when black people are getting jobs on popular entertainment shows. Still,Dear White People isn’t interested in sticking a flag in where it thinks US race relations are or should be and has a more over-riding interest in showing that identity lies behind political posturing. SMK

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45 Years

Released 28 August

The spirit of Ingmar Bergman lives on in 45 Years, a dramatic two-hander which easily earns the vaunted nomenclature of “psychodrama”. Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay both deliver performances which strike us as being in the upper echelons of each’s illustrious acting CV, playing an ageing couple whose docile existence is rocked when a letter arrives in the post containing a dark echo from the past. Over the course of the film, writer/director Andrew Haigh drip-feeds revelations, though he makes the film about communication in the present, about why we keep secrets rather than the secrets themselves. Definitely set to be remembered as one of 2015’s best British movies. DJ

Love & Mercy

Released 10 July

We love Paul Dano and we love John Cusack and have no doubt that both will show mercy in their characterisations of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. Dano plays Wilson in ’60s during the Pet Sounds era while Cusack takes the baton for the ’80s, a time at which the combination of psychotropic drugs and an abusive childhood have played havoc with his mental stability. As creepy as it sounds we are looking forward to seeing Paul Giamatti as the shady shrink, Dr Landy, who incrementally weasles his way into a seat of power. Giamatti too often plays the shuffling sadsack and the prospect of him sinking his character actor teeth into a villain is at once exciting and terrifying. SMK

Taxi / Closed Curtain

Released 30 October / 4 September

Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi is currently under house arrest and saddled with a filmmaking ban in his home country, but this monstrous injustice has not prevented this ultra-industrious filmmaker from producing some of his finest work. Accepting the confines of his situation and allying that with the fact that filmmaking technology is now completely ubiquitous, Panahi has now started making movies which riff on his own incarceration. Closed Curtain is surreal, self-reflexive fiction work about a man and a dog holed up in a country house, while Taxi – which won the Golden Bear at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival, sees the director himself ensconce himself in the driver’s seat of a taxi, picking up local residents, driving them around and having a good natter. DJ

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Southpaw

Released 24 July

On the surface of things, Southpaw looks like yet another boxing movie that isn’t really about boxing. Which is kind of disappointing. Don’t get us wrong, we love a good sports flick that’s concerned with staging compelling drama outside of the ring as well as inside it. It’s just that we’ve had our fill in recent years thanks to the likes of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, David O Russell’s The Fighter and Peter Segal’s Grude Match (okay, maybe not that last one so much). Still, this stars a beefed-up Jake “The Snake” Gyllenhaal as a fictional champion middleweight who hits the self-destruct button following an accident involving his wife (Rachel McAdams) – all the makings of a pulsating character drama. Special mention to the recently departed James Horner, whose final score will grace Antoine Fuqua’s film. AW

The Martian

Released 2 October

Okay so, ‘looking forward to’ is mild hyperbole in the case of Ridley Scott’s next flick which sees Mark Watney (Matt Damon) mistakenly left for dead and abandoned by his crew in that most lonely of environs: outer space. “It’s space, it doesn’t cooperate,” says Damon punchily to no one at all in the first trailer. It’s not the only snippet of action-movie dialogue that we’re privy to. There’s another doozy in there. While it is possible that laughing at ridiculousness may be the best that The Martian has to offer. Given Sir Riddles’ recent track-record, the absence of the po-faced seriousness that made Exodus feel like it had been playing since the dawn of civilisation is a tonic. SMK

Regression

Released 9 October

Spanish writer/director Alejandro Amenábar, whose 2001 period chiller The Others gave this writer a serious case of the heebie-jeebies, is back with what looks like another pleasingly opaque domestic thriller. Regression stars Emma Watson as a young woman who accuses her father (David Dencik) of having sexually abused her as a child, a crime he admits guilt to despite being unable to recollect the incident in question. As the case becomes a matter of national interest, it’s left to the dynamic duo of David Thewlis and Ethan Hawke, playing a psychologist and detective respectively, to sort things out and separate the conspiracy theories from the truth. We’re not expecting David Fincher levels of suspense-filled social commentary, but we’ve got a sneaking suspicion this could be one of year’s surprise hits. AW

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Iris

Released 31 July

Albert Maysles died in March 2015 with two completed films in the pipeline. His documentary about nonagenarian fashion icon, Iris Apfel – she of the large, round black-rimmed spectacles – is the first to be theatrically released in the UK (In Transit does not as yet have a release date). It seems set to celebrate the individual qualities of a lady who has made her own way in the world with style but without one big and fetishised social asset – the ineffable yet unmistakable thing that is marketable beauty. We were excited to learn that this isn’t purely a one woman show either. The word is that the love that has been by her side for 70 years is given the credit that real soul support merits. SMK

Steve Jobs

Released 13 November

Whether this is doomed to oblivion due to the infamous email exchanges by Sony execs regarding the casting of this potentially “hot” biopic, or whether critics and audiences will be able to extract themselves from all that revolting hub-hub is a question that will be answered on 13 November, when Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs is released into cinemas. This is the director’s first shot at a biopic (unless you count 127 Hours?), and he’s taken as his subject the late Apple innovator and industry leader who is being played by Michael Fassbender. It’s hard to see how this human treetrunk-of-an-actor will fare playing one of the late twentieth century’s most beloved nerds, but that stunt casting in itself is part of the reason that we’re actually quite excited to see how this one plays out. DJ

Gemma Bovery

Released 21 August

Much better than one thinks it will be after learning firstly, that the director is Anne Fontaine (whose last film, Adore, sank despite the high-wattage pairing of Naomi Watts and Robin Wright), and two, that the synopsis references a “well-heeled hipster passionate about Gustave Flaubert”. That hipster turns out to be a provincial baker played by Fabrice Luchini who has left behind his Parisian profession as a literature professor, but has not – and never will – abandon his obsession with Flaubert’s classic novel, Madam Bovary. So he absolutely loses his shit when an English couple with the same names as the novel’s leads move in next-door and it’s not long before he’s projecting the arc of the novel’s doomed heroine and interfering, driven to prevent life from imitating art. Gemma Arterton’s Gemma Bovery is in fact her own, flawed but balanced, modern woman. Luchini is a great comic actor and has the perfect straight woman in Arterton who gently refuses to be shaped by his literary baggage. SMK

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Released 4 September

Teen cancer comedy may not sound like the most harmonious assortment of plot keywords, but trust us, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s double Sundance winner is a rare gem of a film. Principally it tells the story of a narcissistic high schooler (Me), his childhood friend (Earl) and a leukaemia patient (the Dying Girl) whom the former is begrudgingly forced to befriend. The subsequent feeling of mutual attachment that forms between Greg (Thomas Mann) and Rachel (Olivia Cooke) throws up some funny and tender moments, but it’s the big emotional payoff delivered in the film’s penultimate scene that really makes it sing. At times Gomez-Rejon’s sincere, spritely coming-of-ager is almost quirky to a fault (the two male protagonists spend their spare time making sweded parodies of Criterion Collection films), but crucially its heart is always in the right place. AW

A Girl at my Door

Released 18 September

South Korean writer/director July Jung’s debut feature premiered at Cannes Film Festival 2014 where it competed for the Camera d’Or and has been quietly gathering plaudits ever since. Asian megastar Bae Doona plays a character named Young-nam, a promising police academy graduate that encounters scandal on her first day and is subsequently transferred to a small seaside village. Here she falls into a relationship with a 14-year-old girl called Do-hee (Kim Sae-ron) who is being oppressed by her drunken step-father. This is all the plotting we’ve allowed ourselves to research and we can all but feel the tense atmosphere and the burgeoning feelings of determination and empowerment growing between the two females. Critics have praised the delicate atmosphere that manages to steer the action, whatever it may be, away from melodramatic territory. SMK

The Wolfpack

Released 21 August

The subject of director Crystal Moselle’s documentary falls squarely into the you-couldn’t-make-it-up category: six brothers born and raised inside a modest Manhattan apartment with almost no access to or experience of the outside world, save the Hollywood movies they rabidly consume and recreate using an impressive miscellany of handmade costumes and props. Having lived such secluded lives, the Angulos (nicknamed “The Wolfpack”) are an undeniably weird bunch, but they’re also well-mannered and anything but camera shy, meaning we quickly warm to them. Less so enigmatic patriarch, Oscar, whose tyrannical approach to parenting is sure to spark a flurry of think pieces around the time of the film’s release. AW

Sicario

Released 6 November

The dark drone of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s score menaces throughout Denis Villeneuve’s drug cartel drama, reverberating especially dramatically as Roger Deakins’ aerial shots capture cars beetling across the desert towards danger. Emily Blunt as straight-laced FBI agent, Kate, has been drafted in to join a DEA posse of moral relativists determined to make progress in the war on drugs. Blunt, Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro each bring their A-game to play wildly different characters with agendas that compete amid the escalating tension. Grimness unfolds in the corpse-ridden cartel capital that is Juárez, Mexico and we feel the confusion of a woman being pressured to discard her core professional and personal beliefs against the persuasive presence of witnessing brutality. Blunt and del Toro’s arcs bring them to a climactic exchange that is way more moving than a genre movie of this ilk should be able to swing. SMK

What films are you most looking forward to for the remainder of this year? Let us know@LWLies


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