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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The government's air quality plan at a glance

This plan is largely a plan to make more plans.

Do you plan on living in a small, rural hamlet for the next 23 years? Or postponing having children till 2040? For this is when the government intends to ban all new petrol and diesel cars (and vans) - the headline measure in its latest plan to tackle the UK's air pollution crisis.

If the above lifestyle does not appeal, then you had better hope that your local authority is serious about addressing air quality in your area, because central government will not be taking responsibility for other restrictions on vehicle use before this date. Former Labour leader Ed Miliband has tweeted that he fears the ban is a “smokescreen” for the weakness of the wider measures. 

Here’s an overview of what the new Air Quality plan means for you (Health Warning: not much yet).

Will the 2040 ban end cars?

No. Headlines announcing the “end of the diesel and petrol car” can sound a pretty terminal state of affairs. But this is only a deadline for the end of producing “new” fossil-fuel burning vehicles. There is no requirement to take older gas-guzzlers (or their petrol-head drivers) off the road. Plus, with car companies like Volvo promising to go fully electric or hybrid by 2019, the ban is far from motoring’s end of the road.

So what does the new plan entail?

This plan is largely a plan to make more plans. It requires local authorities to submit their own initial schemes for tackling the issue by the end of March 2018 and will provide a £255 million Implementation Fund to support this process. Interventions could include retrofitting bus fleets, improving concessionary travel, supporting cyclists, and re-thinking road infrastructure.  Authorities can then bid for further money from a competitive Clean Air Fund.

What more could be done to make things better, faster?

According to the government’s own evidence, charges for vehicles entering clean air zones are the most effective way of reducing air pollution in urban areas. Yet speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Michael Gove described the idea as a “blunt instrument” that will not be mandatory.

So it will be down to local authorities to decide how firm they wish to be. London, for instance, will be introducing a daily £10 “T-charge” on up to 10,000 of the most polluting vehicles.

Does the 2040 deadline make the UK a world leader?

In the government’s dreams. And dreamy is what Gove must have been on his Radio 4 appearance this morning. The minister claimed that was in Britain a “position of global leadership” in technology reform. Perhaps he was discounting the fact that French President Emmanuel Macron also got there first? Or that India, Norway and the Netherlands have set even earlier dates. As WWF said in a press statement this morning: “Whilst we welcome progress in linking the twin threats of climate change and air pollution, this plan doesn’t look to be going fast or far enough to tackle them.”

Will the ban help tackle climate change?

Possibly. Banning petrol and diesel cars will stop their fumes from being released in highly populated city centres. But unless the new electric vehicles are powered with energy from clean, renewable sources (like solar or wind), then fossil fuels will still be burned at power plants and pollute the atmosphere from there. To find out how exactly the government plans to meet its international commitments on emissions reduction, we must wait for the 2018 publication of its wider Clean Air Strategy.

Will the plans stand up to legal scrutiny?

They're likely to be tested. ClientEarth has been battling the government in court over this issue for years now. It’s CEO, James Thornton, has said: “We’re looking forward to examining the government’s detailed plans, but the early signs seem to suggest they’ve still not grasped the urgency of this public health emergency.”

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.