The winter months for films

The film industry tends to be cyclical and we are now in a special time of year for the movie business. In the winter months the studios all release their serious, artistic films, the dramas and the historical efforts, the more distinctive fare. The best films of the year are released in the winter or at least that’s the idea! This leads the way towards the awards ceremonies at the start of next year, chiefly the Oscars which are due in February 2017.

2016 has had a strong enough summer for the business, with the most profitable films being animation, superhero films and sequels. The summer was essentially a solid effort in terms of profits and ticket sales and Hollywood would likely consider it as a win. Now that the summer is long gone and most of the blockbusters have been released, we enter the “art” section of the year.

A lot of high quality films are set for release in the next month or so. There are some interesting movies coming to cinemas soon. Not all of them are art films, actually, as there are some entertainments coming in December. The success of The Force Awakens has altered the industry slightly, and Hollywood has become more open to a winter premiere for blockbusters.

Anyway these are some of the films which look noteworthy and attractive to me. Some of these films might be good, some of them might be bland Oscar-bait, the only thing they have in common is that they are about to premiere.

La La Land is a film which has already had a lot of acclaim and hype. The film is a musical about the film industry, following a musician and an actress in Los Angeles. The picture follows two people who are trying to make it in the entertainment industry and looks at the pressures which come with that. It is also a look at the city of Los Angeles itself and the environment which burgeoning artists find themselves in. For every person who has success in Hollywood there are others who struggle and there is a lot of frustration at times.

La La Land has charmed viewers through having its own vision, a musical with its own specially written songs and soundtrack, coming at a time when musicals aren’t exactly dominant. It was made by the team behind Whiplash. It has had very good reviews and people are delighted with it. It already seems to be a highlight of the year.

Gold is a film which is directed by Stephen Gaghan who some time ago made the pictures Traffic and Syriana. These were both serious adult dramas about the drug and oil trades respectively. His next effort Gold features Matthew McConaughey and is about characters who are searching for gold in the jungles of Indonesia. The popular actor plays a US citizen who goes to the region and wants to mine it.

Gaghan is a talented writer and this film is his newest work. It is nice to have films which are aimed at adults and which have a story to tell so a film like this is welcome. Gaghan’s writing is intelligent and considered and this should be an intriguing piece of film-making.

Neruda is a film about the poet Pablo Neruda and looks at a period in his life when he was in danger and had to go into hiding. Neruda is a poet of huge renown but he was also involved in politics in his country of Chile. At one point his political opinions were not aligned with the leader of his country and this made things difficult for him. He had to flee and stay with his friends for a while or risk arrest.

Neruda focuses on this period and dramatizes it with what should definitely be called dramatic license. This film is interesting and is doing something different. Now, the film industry makes a lot of biographical films about famous people, from history or art. There are lots of those types of pictures – a whole sub-genre of film, in fact. Neruda is a subversion of that genre and is playful and does all sorts of things with the facts of the situation. It starts with the historical facts and then invents its own scenes and characters and forges its own way of retelling it. The film is unlike average historical fare, with a new approach of looking at a famous artist. It has had a lot of buzz and seems to be worth seeing.

Fences is a film about race and is set in 1950s America. It is about a man who has had a lot of frustration in his life after his baseball career didn’t work out. Denzel Washington plays the lead and also made the film himself. It is an examination of thwarted dreams and the disappointment which plays out over an individual’s life, all interpreted from the perspective of black America.

This has been in the works for a long time and finally made it into production this year. It is based on the play of the same name. Washington is a versatile actor and seems to have done nice work with this film, which has already enjoyed good reviews. It is a character study with a lot of observation and thought to it.

These films all look quite interesting to me and could be worthwhile. The winter season often throws out a few surprises so who knows what the gems are or what is going to excite audiences. It is likely that some of these are going to be good and may even win something at the Academy Awards. The winter kicks off with the release of La La Land on December 9.

Title image – Ryan Gosling.  Author – discutivo at Flickr.


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