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Random thoughts about sound and vision.

Coming Attractions

It's a New Year, so ahead stretches another 12 months of choices for us down the local multiplex. We'll know for sure on December 31st how the cinematic year actually panned out in terms of quality but at this point in time, it's blissfully unknown.

Here then are some of the movies I'm eagerly anticipating this year...

Let's start with a film I was looking forward to and have now seen. A Monster Calls is a fine way to begin 2017 - an emotionally tough but hugely satisfying telling of Patrick Ness' award-winning book. Lewis MacDougall is superb as the young boy having to come to terms with his mother's terminal illness. Liam Neeson provides the voice of the giant tree man that helps MacDougall in his quest. It's remarkable how little sentimentality there is in A Monster Calls and equally how much truth. Strongly recommended.

There's more to look forward to in January. The first quarter of a New Year is traditionally when the big Oscar contenders get a general release and 2017 is no exception. Silence, Manchester By The Sea and Fences are in the frame but the early consensus for a Best Picture Oscar is Damien Chazelle's La La Land. Paying homage to the Hollywood musicals of yesterday, La La Land looks like a gamble that's paid off.

I never expected they'd be a sequel to Trainspotting. The falling out between Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor over The Beach had surely closed the door on that possibility. But here we are - 20 years on from the original and director, writers and cast have reunited. If it's half as good as the trailer (which beautifully transitions from nostalgia for the original to the present) T2: Trainspotting will be something very special indeed.

Do we need another King Kong film? The 1933 original is a classic and the Peter Jackson '05 reboot wasn't too bad. However, the trailer for Kong:Skull Island puts a strong case why the big ol' ape should be revisited. 1970s setting, killer cast (Sam Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson) and a whole lotta Apocalypse Now-style imagery. 

And again - do we need another Alien film? More specifically, after the so-so Prometheus, do we need another Ridley Scott-directed Alien film? We'll know for sure in May but the trailer promises an increased number of buckets of blood and the reappearance of the xenomorph.

Staying with Mr Scott - it's been 35 years since his seminal classic Blade Runner. Ridley isn't back to direct the sequel but it's in safe hands - Denis (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival) Villeneuve directs Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. October can't come round quickly enough.

Director Ben Wheatley is rapidly building an impressive body of work - most recently with A Field In England and last year's High-Rise. He's assembled a great cast for Free Fire, a heist-gone-wrong thriller set in the '70s. It opens in the UK in March.

A new film by Christopher Nolan is always something to look forward to. Dunkirk - his project for summer of 2017 - doesn't buck the trend. A recreation on a huge scale of World War Two's Operation Dynamo, Dunkirk has Nolan regulars Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy leading an impressive cast, including Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance. And also Harry Styles from One Direction...

Finally, there are three new releases from Marvel Films in 2017 - Spider-Man:Homecoming (July), Thor: Ragnarok (October) and arguably the most anticipated, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, opening in April. The original Guardians exceeded both critical and commercial expectations. Will the sequel coast on goodwill from the first movie or step up to the challenge of producing a different kind of sequel? The teaser trailer indicates that director/writer James Gunn is on the right track.