In the words of ageless troubadour Neil Diamond: “Everywhere around the world / they’re comin’ to America / every time that flag’s unfurled / they’re comin’ to America.” Perhaps Diamond intended those words as a comment on the glory of the United States as a welcoming beacon of freedom for all those seeking refuge. However, it is equally possible that those words are in reference to that glorious, celebratory feeling that arises when a foreign film-festival favorite finally secures North American distribution. It’s a minor form of torture, hearing reports from writers abroad foaming at the mouth over movies that the groundlings won’t see for months, if that. And so when such films officially set a track for domestic shores (as two did today), it’s cause for rejoicing. It’s cause for Neil Diamond.
First up is Mr. Holmes, the newest film from Bill Condon, which played to a warm reception earlier this year at the Berlinale. Following Condon’s brief period in the studio-tentpole wilds as the helmer of the last two Twilight movies, and getting his sea legs back with the undercooked The Fifth Estate, audiences can hope that Mr. Holmes will bring Condon back to the promise he displayed with 1998’s Gods And Monsters and 2006’s Dreamgirls, which had Beyoncé.
Mr. Holmes is regrettably Beyoncé-free, but does have living treasure Ian McKellen as a 93-year-old Sherlock Holmes coming out of retirement to crack the case that shuttered his detective biz in the first place. As much as we may wish otherwise, McKellen is not Beyoncé, but early buzz indicates that he delivers a brilliant performance regardless. Miramax and Roadside Attractions will set Holmes on the trail for a July 17 North American release.
Today’s other import is Tokyo Tribe, the latest audiovisual sensory overload from Japanese madman Sion Sono, which first screened for audiences at the Midnight Madness sidebar at Toronto last fall. Because our dutiful reporters Noel Murray and Mike D’Angelo were unable to catch it during their time in The Big Gravy-Fry (a nickname for Toronto I just made up), for a statement, we turn to the Letterboxd entry from fellow festival attendee and occasional Dissolve contributor David Ehrlich: “God-mode Sion Sono made ‘Jet Set Radio’ into a Warriors-inspired martial arts rap opera pink film. Insert hyperbole here.”
While our own Scott Tobias was somewhat lukewarm on Sono’s most recent film, Why Don’t You Play In Hell?, I numbered it among my favorites of the year, and have been eagerly anticipating Tokyo Tribe since the earliest murmurs from Toronto. Sono-heads in America will not be forced to wait much longer; XLrator Media has acquired North American distribution rights for Sono’s newest, and will release it this fall under its Turbo Action imprint.
2014 was an exceptionally strong year for film, but 2015’s already looking like a worthy follow-up. We’ve received a breathtakingly stylized romance, an off-kilter vampiric laugh riot, an instant cult classic destined for a legacy of underground adoration, and the most terrifying horrorshow in recent memory, and it’s only March. With any luck, the two films outlined above will have what it takes to hang with the best of the still-young 2015.