Times selection of the fifty most exciting blockbuster films for the year ahead
2008 was something of a vintage year for popcorn-munchers (see our 2008 Top 50 here) . But is there a 2009 film that can equal the colossal success of The Dark Knight? Which hot franchises will step up to fill the spaces left by Batman, Bond and Indy?
We’ve taken a look through the studio schedules and picked out the most promising prospects for the coming year. History tells us that when times are tough, box office takings boom. Here’s our selection of the best films Hollywood has to offer us in 2009.
50: The Pink Panther 2 (February 2009)
Moviegoers might well be tempted by the impressive cast lining up for this wholly unnecessary sequel to a completely superfluous continuation of the once mighty comedy franchise. Steve Martin, Jean Reno, John Cleese and Andy Garcia may be acting greats, but for signing up to this they should hang their heads in shame.
Gisele Bundchen wears him on the runway, Johnny Depp wears him around his neck, and Benicio Del Toro becomes him in the new, highly acclaimed, two-part epic film from Steven Soderbergh, Che. Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the revolutionary who helped found communist Cuba, is the celebrity that celebrities adore. And be it Madonna, Rage Against the Machine, or Jay-Z, musicians really dig Che.
It’s something that baffles Cuban jazz legend Paquito D’Rivera. “Che hated artists, so how is it possible that artists still today support the image of Che Guevara?” Turns out the rebellious icon that emblazons countless T-shirts actually enforced aesthetic and political conformity. D’Rivera explains that Che and other Cuban authorities sought to ban rock and roll and jazz.
“Che was an inspiration for me,” D’Rivera tells reason.tv. “I thought I have to get out of this island as soon as I can, because I am in the wrong place at the wrong time!” D’Rivera did escape Cuba, and so far he’s won nine Grammy awards playing the kind of music Che tried to silence. But D’Rivera says Che’s crimes didn’t end with censorship. “He ordered the execution of many people with no trial.” Che served as Castro’s chief executioner, presiding over the infamous La Cabana prison. D’Rivera says Che’s policy of killing innocents earned him the nickname—the Butcher of La Cabana.
“We’re rightly horrified by fascist murderers like Adolph Hitler,” says reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie. “Why aren’t we also horrified by communist killers?” Certainly, Che’s body count isn’t anywhere near Hitler’s. But what about someone Che idolized, someone whom he might have liked to wear on his chest?
“Che, Castro, all the communist regimes idolized only one thing that Mao personifies—violence.” Kai Chen grew up in China under the reign of Mao Zedong. Although he won gold medals for China’s national basketball team, Chen’s was far from the celebrity life of an NBA star. Says Chen, “You have no right to talk, and you have no right to think.”
The punishment for questioning Mao’s authority was often death. The Black Book of Communism estimates that Mao is responsible for the deaths of 65 million people—a figure that dwarfs even Hitler’s body count. “Mao is a murderer,” says Chen. “The biggest mass murderer in human history.”
And yet, like Che, Mao’s image is becoming an increasingly popular way to move merchandise. You can buy Mao t-shirts, mugs, caps—you name it. Near Chen’s Los Angeles home there’s even a restaurant called Mao’s Kitchen. “Can you imagine a restaurant called Hitler’s Kitchen?” asks Gillespie.
Neither D’Rivera nor Chen understands why communist killers are considered Chic, but each finds his own way to have the last laugh on these anti-capitalist icons.
Closing music, “Che Guevara T-Shirt Wearer,” courtesy of The Clap.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Snoop Dogg, Harrison Ford, Julia Roberts, Ben Stiller, Will Smith, Steven Spielberg, Justin Timberlake, along with Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat, Zach Braf…