This month, the effect of the Chinese New Year is clearly apparent as festive films in keeping with the spirit of good cheer and well wishes dominate cinema screens.
A number of such holiday films, such as I Love Hong Kong, Mr & Mrs Incredible, the homegrown Homecoming, and All's Well that Ends Well 2011, the sixth film to carry this timeless name, opened February – and the lunar calendar’s Year of the Rabbit – with a bang.
As we look ahead to the rest of this month, we see several films with more than a hint of romance with Valentine’s Day just around the corner.
We also note the presence of several Oscar-nominated works on the release schedule as the biggest awards of the season are set to take place on 27 February 2011.
Who’s worthy of honours, and who’s not? You be the judge.
Week of 10 February
The Stars: Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Nicole Kidman, Heidi Montag
The Story: Eligible bachelor and successful plastic surgeon Danny (Sandler) scores with beautiful women by pretending to be an unhappily married man. When he meets the girl of his dreams (Decker), he needs a less dreamy woman to pose as his soon-to-be ex-wife. Desperate, he asks his office manager (Aniston) to just play along. Expectedly, unintended consequences ensue.
The Buzz: Originally titled Pretend Wife and based on the 1969 romantic comedy Cactus Flower, this film – the sixth collaboration between Sandler and director Dennis Dugan (Grown Ups) – generated plenty of buzz with the paparazzi going gaga over Aniston during the shoot, as she showed off an enviable bikini bod.
The heavy attention on her was somewhat surprising given the fact that Decker, wife of tennis star Andy Roddick, is a swimsuit model of some repute: she has frequently appeared in the Sports IllustratedSwimsuit Edition magazine since 2006 and was the 2010 issue cover model.
inSing.com says: There’s little reason to expect anything other than the usual Adam Sandler comedy man-boy shenanigans, although it is impressive that he managed to draw ‘serious’ actress Kidman into his realm. Watch out for musician Dave Matthews as well.
Also opening:Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, which has Oscar nominee Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis as rival ballerinas; The King’s Speech, which features Best Actor hopeful Colin Firth as a stuttering monarch; The Rite, a supernatural thriller with Anthony Hopkins as a priest; and Zhang Yimou’s Cultural Revolution tale Under the Hawthorn Tree.
Week of 17 February
The Stars: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Sandra Oh
The Story: A happily married couple’s life is turned upside down when their son is killed in a car accident. Husband (Eckhart) and wife (Kidman) struggle with the aftermath and make unexpected choices that will impact the fate of their marriage and their lives.
The Buzz: Both leads have garnered marvellous reviews for their performances, with Kidman outshining her co-star in terms of awards notice. Her Oscar nomination for this role marks the third time she’s been considered in the Best Actress race, following Moulin Rouge! in 2001 (nominated) and The Hours in 2002 (won).
The film was based on the 2005 play of the same name, a production of which saw Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon win a Tony award, by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire. He also wrote the adapted screenplay for the film.
inSing.com says: A relatively low-budget independent film, this is a drama with a capital D. Credible actors in the cast, including Wiest and Oh, will ensure this is a gripping study of two characters in the throes of grief and tragedy.
Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, with Oscar nominee (and co-host) James Franco as a stricken mountain climber; No Strings Attached, a friends-with-benefits rom-com with Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher; Daniel & Ana, about siblings changed by a kidnapping; and What Women Want, an Asian remake of the Hollywood film, with Andy Lau and Gong Li.
Week of 24 February
Movie details | Photo gallery
The Stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper, Hailee Steinfeld
The Story: A young girl (Steinfeld) joins two lawmen (Bridges, Damon) on the hunt for the fugitive (Brolin) who killed her father. Their quest takes them into hostile American Indian territory, and into the company of shady characters.
The Buzz: This is the second film adaptation of the Charles Portis novel of the same name. The 1969 film starred John Wayne and garnered the screen icon his only Academy Award.
A first Western by the Coen brothers (No Country for Old Men notwithstanding), this film has brought Bridges, last year’s Best Actor for Crazy Heart, back-to-back Academy Award nominations and his sixth overall. Should he receive the coveted golden statuette – again – he will join Spencer Tracy and Tom Hanks as the only actors to achieve consecutive wins.
inSing.com says: The star power on show here makes this one of the must-see films of the year. Keep an eye out for young Steinfeld, as she and fellow up-and-comer Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) are both first-time Oscar hopefuls.
Also opening:Never Let Me Go, a fantasy drama based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s acclaimed novel, with Keira Knightley and Carey Mulligan; Biutiful, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu and starring Javier Bardem; The Kids Are All Right, an ensemble drama led by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore; Unknown, a Liam Neeson identity-crisis thriller; and the teen sci-fi flick I Am Number Four.
The film was directed by Arthur Penn, who was also known for his 1967 classic Bonnie and Clyde, and features a soundtrack by jazz legend Stan Getz.
(Note: All release dates are subject to change; all information correct as of press time.)
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