Gilbey on Film: Highlights of 2011

What to look forward to in the year ahead, plus a few sneak previews.

What to look forward to in the year ahead, plus a few sneak previews.

Of the three films I singled out this time last year as titles I was particularly looking forward to seeing in 2010, one was moderately interesting but deeply flawed (The Killer Inside Me), another was a well-liked romp that hardly anyone went to see (Scott Pilgrim Vs the World) and the third ended up on DVD after unfairly scathing reviews and only a few days in cinemas (Gentlemen Broncos). So now, I'm casting my net wider. Surely one of the films below is going to go down well . . .

The Fighter

The unpredictable genius David O Russell (Three Kings) returns after the folly/triumph (delete as applicable) of I Heart Huckabees with a drama about a boxer (Mark Wahlberg) and his junkie brother (Christian Bale), who is also his coach. Just when you thought you'd seen everything Bale could do . . . (4 February)

Two in the Wave

A documentary about Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut; there's also a Truffaut season coming up at the BFI Southbank in February. (11 February)

Archipelago

The second film from Joanna Hogg, director of the marvellous Unrelated. Something tells me it's not going to be a screwball comedy. (4 March)

Restless

Gus Van Sant's first film since the Oscar-winning Milk stars Henry Hopper (son of Dennis) and Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right) as a crazy couple of mixed-up kids. He attends strangers' funerals! She's terminally ill! The trailer looks . . . cute. (11 March)

Ballast

I've deliberately avoided reading anything much about this 2008 US indie set in the Mississippi Delta but have still managed to notice the waves of acclaim and respect it has received. (18 March)

Attack the Block

Joe Cornish, one half of Adam & Joe, already deserves a place in film history for his alternative theme for Quantum of Solace. This year, he has writing credits on two pictures: Attack the Block (8 April), which also marks his directing debut, is an alien-invasion movie shot in Elephant and Castle, south London. It's not to be confused with Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (26 October) a motion-capture adaptation of Hergé, co-written by Cornish, Edgar Wright and Doctor Who's Steven Moffat.

Source Code

The second feature from Duncan Jones, director of Moon. No further enticement necessary, surely. (22 April)

The Tree of Life

Do I even need to mention that Terrence Malick has a new film out? Have a butcher's at the trailer, which is typically sumptuous, if ever-so-slightly redolent of a Malick pastiche, or the product of a computer programme that can generate its own trailers for imaginary Malick movies. The film, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn, is likely to premiere at Cannes before going on release soon after. It's the director's first since 2005's The New World but the six-year wait has been a mere toilet break compared to the two decades that elapsed between Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line. (May/June/anyone's guess)

Cowboys and Aliens

If this looks like a straight-faced Wild Wild West, that shouldn't preclude the chances of it being thrilling -- if you're going to trust any director with making a decent popcorn movie these days, it should be Jon Favreau (especially after Zathura and the first Iron Man). (12 August)

We Need to Talk About Kevin

All hail the return of Lynne Ramsay, with this adaptation of Lionel Shriver's provocative novel. Starring Tilda Swinton and John C Reilly as the parents of a boy gone ferociously astray. (2 September)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (16 September),Wuthering Heights and One Day (both 30 September)

Three literary adaptations to get the mouth (and, in two cases, the eyes) watering. TTSS is directed by Tomas Alfredson (Let the Right One In) and stars Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch , Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Stephen Graham -- every decent British actor, more or less, working today. The Brontë adaptation is by Andrea Arnold (Red Road, Fish Tank), who has attracted attention for the not-at-all controversial move of actually reading what the text says and casting a non-Caucasian actor as Heathcliff (that's newcomer James Howson). Meanwhile, One Day stars Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway as two university pals glimpsed on the same day each year over a two-decade period. Lone Scherfig (An Education) directs, David Nicholls adapts his own novel. I gobbled up the book -- didn't you?

On the Road

Walter Salles is still working on his film version of Jack Kerouac's Beat bible, starring Sam Riley (also to be seen in another literary adaptation, Brighton Rock, out in February), but it should be released before the end of the year.

There. I got all the way to the end of my 2011 list without admitting that I was looking forward to The Green Hornet.

Ryan Gilbey is the New Statesman's film critic. He is also the author of It Don't Worry Me (Faber), about 1970s US cinema, and a study of Groundhog Day in the "Modern Classics" series (BFI Publishing). He was named reviewer of the year in the 2007 Press Gazette awards.

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Leader: The unresolved Eurozone crisis

The continent that once aspired to be a rival superpower to the US is now a byword for decline, and ethnic nationalism and right-wing populism are thriving.

The eurozone crisis was never resolved. It was merely conveniently forgotten. The vote for Brexit, the terrible war in Syria and Donald Trump’s election as US president all distracted from the single currency’s woes. Yet its contradictions endure, a permanent threat to continental European stability and the future cohesion of the European Union.

The resignation of the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, following defeat in a constitutional referendum on 4 December, was the moment at which some believed that Europe would be overwhelmed. Among the champions of the No campaign were the anti-euro Five Star Movement (which has led in some recent opinion polls) and the separatist Lega Nord. Opponents of the EU, such as Nigel Farage, hailed the result as a rejection of the single currency.

An Italian exit, if not unthinkable, is far from inevitable, however. The No campaign comprised not only Eurosceptics but pro-Europeans such as the former prime minister Mario Monti and members of Mr Renzi’s liberal-centrist Democratic Party. Few voters treated the referendum as a judgement on the monetary union.

To achieve withdrawal from the euro, the populist Five Star Movement would need first to form a government (no easy task under Italy’s complex multiparty system), then amend the constitution to allow a public vote on Italy’s membership of the currency. Opinion polls continue to show a majority opposed to the return of the lira.

But Europe faces far more immediate dangers. Italy’s fragile banking system has been imperilled by the referendum result and the accompanying fall in investor confidence. In the absence of state aid, the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the world’s oldest bank, could soon face ruin. Italy’s national debt stands at 132 per cent of GDP, severely limiting its firepower, and its financial sector has amassed $360bn of bad loans. The risk is of a new financial crisis that spreads across the eurozone.

EU leaders’ record to date does not encourage optimism. Seven years after the Greek crisis began, the German government is continuing to advocate the failed path of austerity. On 4 December, Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, declared that Greece must choose between unpopular “structural reforms” (a euphemism for austerity) or withdrawal from the euro. He insisted that debt relief “would not help” the immiserated country.

Yet the argument that austerity is unsustainable is now heard far beyond the Syriza government. The International Monetary Fund is among those that have demanded “unconditional” debt relief. Under the current bailout terms, Greece’s interest payments on its debt (roughly €330bn) will continually rise, consuming 60 per cent of its budget by 2060. The IMF has rightly proposed an extended repayment period and a fixed interest rate of 1.5 per cent. Faced with German intransigence, it is refusing to provide further funding.

Ever since the European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, declared in 2012 that he was prepared to do “whatever it takes” to preserve the single currency, EU member states have relied on monetary policy to contain the crisis. This complacent approach could unravel. From the euro’s inception, economists have warned of the dangers of a monetary union that is unmatched by fiscal and political union. The UK, partly for these reasons, wisely rejected membership, but other states have been condemned to stagnation. As Felix Martin writes on page 15, “Italy today is worse off than it was not just in 2007, but in 1997. National output per head has stagnated for 20 years – an astonishing . . . statistic.”

Germany’s refusal to support demand (having benefited from a fixed exchange rate) undermined the principles of European solidarity and shared prosperity. German unemployment has fallen to 4.1 per cent, the lowest level since 1981, but joblessness is at 23.4 per cent in Greece, 19 per cent in Spain and 11.6 per cent in Italy. The youngest have suffered most. Youth unemployment is 46.5 per cent in Greece, 42.6 per cent in Spain and 36.4 per cent in Italy. No social model should tolerate such waste.

“If the euro fails, then Europe fails,” the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, has often asserted. Yet it does not follow that Europe will succeed if the euro survives. The continent that once aspired to be a rival superpower to the US is now a byword for decline, and ethnic nationalism and right-wing populism are thriving. In these circumstances, the surprise has been not voters’ intemperance, but their patience.

This article first appeared in the 08 December 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brexit to Trump