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February 8, 2013

At the moment these are the three films I am most looking forward to seeing in 2013:

1) Upstream Color I love Primer, Shane Carruth’s 2004 time travel movie, and am also fascinated by the story of its making. Carruth was a Dallas software engineer who decided he was going to make a movie, so he did, doing almost all the work himself and keeping to a budget of $7,000. He’s an outsider artist who made a very polished and professional looking work that is still distinctly of its own provenance. Now he has finally finished a follow-up. I have avoided reading much of the reviews coming out of Sundance, just seeing enough to know that the word is good: this should be one of the most exciting and unique films of the year.

2)Under the Skin Whatever happened to Jonathan Glazer? This is something I have been wondering about for years now, often while brushing my teeth or waiting for water to boil. Since Birth, also from 2004 and only his second feature, we’ve seen nothing from him. He started out strong with Sexy Beast, and although Birth got a more divided response I am one of those who thinks it was one of the best movies of the decade. Someone once aptly described it as a mix of Henry James and Luis Buñuel, and in fact one of its writers was the great Jean-Claude Carrière, who collaborated on most of the films of Buñuel’s last two decades. Both films are beautiful, distinctive, well-acted, and original. Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johansson as an alien disguised as Scarlett Johansson who travels around Scotland eating people. Coming from Glazer, that sounds good to me.

3)Spring Breakers Of course the art striver and avant brown-noser James Franco got himself in a Harmony Korine movie. Word is that he’s pretty good in it too. I don’t really expect Korine to match the greatness that is Gummo ever again, and certainly not with this movie. But I do expect everything he does to be worth seeing. He’s got strange-and-strangely-beautiful-shit-you-want-to-look-at on tap. Even if Spring Breakers sucks it might be be better than most movies that don’t.  Also, I’ll be looking for the name of someone I know in the credits.

Given that all three of these are by directors who have left their audience waiting, it seems strange to leave Terence Malick off the list. Movie lovers waited twenty years between second and third film. But he has changed his ways and I feel apprehensive about that. To the Wonder opens in April and he has three more in post-production, to be premiered either by the end of this year or in the next. We know that working slow Malick makes consistent masterpieces. Can he do that at this pace? And apart from the possible effect of speed on his filmmaking, there is also an effect on our reception. Context matters and rarity is part of the context of Malick films. They feel like rare things, and knowing they truly are makes it easier to feel them. So I am uneasy. Yet on the other hand it seems ridiculous to complain about the chance to see more work by a director that you love.  I am looking forward to seeing To the Wonder and the rest, but not with quite such a simple enthusiasm as I feel toward the three movies above.

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