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Winter Arts: Film 

Wednesday, Jan 7 2015

Weltschmerz, the great German word for "world pain," describes the feeling that arises from noticing the differences between how the world is and how it might ideally be. It also seems to describe the animating spirit of most of the movies we're looking forward to in 2015. Sorry about that. But at least a few of them are comedies.

Blackhat (Jan. 16)

The new one from director Michael Mann, of Heat and Public Enemies and many other films about cocky dudes doing serious stuff, involves Chris Hemsworth as a hacker hunting down a cyberterrorist who has turned his clever code into something seriously malicious. If you'd rather cuddle up with Paddington, which opens on the same day, that's understandable.

Two Days, One Night (Jan. 23)

Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, the directing duo known for no-frills social realism of refreshing truthfulness, now have made a movie with Marion Cotillard as an emotionally unstable woman who runs a gauntlet asking former workmates to forgo their bonuses so she can get her job back. This is the Dardenne version of a high concept.

Project Almanac (Jan. 30)

It's never a good sign to be in the cinematic ossuary of "Fuck You, It's January," where movies go to die — I, Frankenstein and The Nut Job were dumped here in 2014 — and even less so for a movie that's already been delayed a year and renamed, as in the case of Dean Israelite's Chronicle-esque time-travel story, previously titled Welcome to Yesterday. But it still might not completely suck.

Jupiter Ascending (Feb. 6)

Famously postponed from last summer and barely avoiding the ignominy of a January release, this latest from Lana and Andy Wachowski is being touted as their first big sci-fi epic since the Matrix trilogy. It's an understandable marketing angle, considering the commercial failures of Cloud Atlas and the underappreciated Speed Racer, but hopefully Ascending is more straight-up The Matrix and less Reloaded or (ugh) Revolutions.

Lambert & Stamp (Feb. 6)

For as huge as they were at the time, The Who are seldom spoken of in the same breath as The Beatles and the Rolling Stones as seminal British bands of the 1960s, probably because their output was too idiosyncratic and they keep tarnishing their own legacy. But James D. Cooper's documentary about the two young filmmakers who created the group almost by accident may help to raise their profile again.

Fifty Shades of Grey (Feb. 13)

Oooh, controversy! A number of very intelligent people are still troubled by the original book, some (like local sexologist Carol Queen) because of the book's thorny take on the important issue of consent in sexual relationships, and others (like Salman Rushdie) because it's just really poorly written Twilight fan fiction. Chances are, this film adaptation will just make Nymphomaniac look that much better.

Leviathan (Feb. 20)

No, not the 1989 deep-sea thriller with Peter Weller, nor the experimental 2012 documentary on commercial fishing from Harvard's Sensory Ethnography Lab; this is Russia's latest official Oscar contender, which is interesting even sight unseen on account of it also being reportedly a quite confrontational dramatic exposé of Russian political and cultural corruption.

Maps to the Stars (Feb. 27)

After his brilliant Cosmopolis (2012's best film), Canadian director David Cronenberg continues his examination of America's rotting heart with this ensemble piece about broken souls in Hollywood. His fruitful collaboration with Robert Pattinson continues, but the real standout is Mia Wasikowska, who finally has a role that allows her to bring her vulnerability and pain to the surface.

Buzzard (March 6)

It's hard to summarize Michigan-based indie maverick director Joel Potrykus' unique, vital, unpretentious, rough-hewn, deadpan slacker-hesher comedy of disenfranchisement. But it's easy to be excited for the conclusion to the "animal trilogy" he began with 2010's Coyote and 2012's Ape, this one featuring Potrykus's strangely magnetic muse Joshua Burge as a decidedly unartistic scam artist.

While We're Young (March 27)

Let's put it this way: If there has to be a movie with Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a couple processing their midlife crisis through the befriending of hipsters played by Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver, you're going to want that movie to be made by Frances Ha's Noah Baumbach. Fortunately, this one is.


About The Authors

Sherilyn Connelly

Jonathan Kiefer

SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.


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