Yes its the killer tire movie. I don’t think I have to say any more!
29) Rabbit Hole
John Cameron Mitchell is one of my heroes. His 2001 glam-rock musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch is my favorite film of the past decade, and his sophomore experiment Shortbus featured real sex and was still popular enough to play at multiplexes across America. Rabbit Hole, an adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play (recently staged at Jobsite), is his first stab at the mainstream. It stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as a married couple grieving over the loss of their young son. Mitchell is said to be drawing from his own experiences with loss and avoiding every Hollywood melodrama cliché in the process.
28) Another Year
Year after year Mike Leigh (Happy-Go-Lucky, Secrets and Lies, Topsy-Turvy, Vera Drake) always makes a brilliant film. His latest is no different. Expected to be an Oscar shoo-in for Best Picture, Leigh’s story follows a middle class family through the course of on year. It’s not so much about what happens in that year but how they decide to live it. The film stars Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton, Ruth Sheen and Lesley Manville (said to be a sure fire Oscar contender here).
27) Animal Kingdom
Dubbed the Australian Goodfellas, David Michôd’s directorial debut won the Sundance World Cinema Dramatic Competition prize. And they sell the movie better than I Could:
“Welcome to the jungle known as the Melbourne underworld. Animal Kingdom uses this edgy locale to unspool a gripping tale of survival and revenge.
Pope Cody, an armed robber on the run from a gang of renegade detectives, is in hiding, surrounded by his roughneck friends and family. Soon, Pope’s nephew, Joshua “J” Cody, arrives and moves in with his hitherto estranged relatives. When tensions between the family and the police reach a bloody peak, “J” finds himself at the center of a cold-blooded revenge plot that turns the family upside down.
Wielding a formidable cinematic lexicon, writer/director David Michôd shows complete command of every frame as he shifts between simmering intensity and gut-wrenching drama. There isn’t a false note in the film as it follows through on the tantalizing promise displayed in his short films and unleashes a fierce new voice in Australian cinema.”
The film stars Guy Pearce, Ben Mendelsohn, and Joel Edgerton.
This years SXSW may have been the most exciting yet for movies. Were starting to get a taste of the possibilities of low-budget filmmaking in the digital age. Mars is just one of many raising the bar. Here we get the a lot of the same Mumblecore themes or twenty-something alienation, and complicated love affairs. This time we get an ironic backdrop of a surreal mission to mars. The film looks reminicent of Richard Linketter’s classic Waking Life.
25) I’m Still Here
Early last year we had no idea what the hell Joacqin Phenix was up to. This doc by Casey Affleck is supposed to capture his new “career” in hip-hop and his recent bizarre antics. And judging from the trailer the movie looks more strange and mysterious than once thought. I just assumed it would be a standard moc-umentary, but it might be getting at something else. We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.
Critics have been gushing about Romainia’s new film movement for years. Many of their films are now considered modern classics (4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, 12:08 East of Bucharest, Police, Adjective, The Rest is Silence). That tradition continued at this years Cannes with two ambitious new films.
The first, Aurora, is Cristi Puiu’s long awaited follow-up to the art-house sensation The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. This one is a bit more challenging than its predecessor. Its a three-hour opus about a man’s existential crisis. He wanders around a city’s bleak industrial landscape. I know, not a fun way to spend three hours. But still the film has been celebrated for its length and the hypnotic spell it casts over the audience.
The 2nd is Randu Muntean’s portrait of adulatory Tuesday, after Christmas. It follows a man who is in love with both his wife and a new lover who offers a glimpse into a new exciting life. And such circumstances arise where he must leave one of them by Christmas.
23) Meek’s Cutoff
With 2008’s Wendy and Lucy Kelly Reichardt took a simple story about a girl searching for her lost dog and turned it into one of the most moving film experiences in recent memory. She re-teams with Michelle Williams, who co-stars with Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood, Shirley Henderson and Zoe Kazan. Instead of filming one of her intimate present-day dramas, Reichardt has opted for a historical western centered on famed American mountaineer Steven Meek. The IONCINEMA synopsis:
“The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon team of three families has hired the mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants must face the scourges of hunger, thirst, and their own lack of faith in each other’s instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as the natural enemy. “
Yes we may have Oregon Trail the motion picture here!
Also the film has premiered at Venice to some of the best raves of the year.
22) Film Socialisme
“NO COMMENT” Those were the final words shown at the very end of Jean-Luc Godard’s latest (and possibly last) film. It premiered at this year’s Cannes with much puzzlement. The legendary filmmaker cancelled his appearance last minute and the film was considered by many to be completely incomprehensible. There was even discussion concerning the accuracy of the English subtitles. The film has already polarized many (some call it a masterpiece and others have completely dismissed it). If theres one thing everyone agrees on its unlike anything else and it’s nice to know Godard is still trying to push the limits of cinema as he approaches 80.
21) Tiny Furniture
This may sound strange but Iv’e watched the SXSW trailer for Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture probably more times than probably any other trailer this year. There is something about Dunham’s comic timing and self-deprecating humor that I find brilliant. She wrote, directed and starred in this coming of age comedy about coming home from college and having no clue of what to do with your life.
I know thats just the same premise for everyone of those insufferably twee indie films flooding film festivals. This one feels different. It feels personal and most especially real. Dunham cast her real life mother and sister in the film. And on an ultra low budget cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes is able to create some striking images. Very few comedies look this gorgeous.
20) The Town
After 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, Ben Affleck became not only a respectable filmmaker, but someone who has the potential for greatness. His follow up, The Town, looks like the ambitious Boston crime saga I hoped for and it features one of the best casts in recent years (Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, and Chris Cooper). The film follows a bank robber (Affleck) who falls in love with the bank teller connected with one of his heists. But this could lead to the downfall of him and his crew. The buzz so far from early screenings is very positive.
19) The Grand Master
Wong Kar Wai is simply one of the greatest working filmmakers. His 2000 film In the Mood for Love was chosen by many critics as the best film of the decade and you can make the same case for is 90’s classics Happy Together and Chungking Express. His latest is a biopic about the martial arts master Ip Man, who is most well known for being the man trained Bruce Lee. China’s two biggest stars Tony Leung and Zhang Ziyi head the cast. Unfortunately filming for this one has gone well behind schedule. But as far as I know the December 2010 release date in Hong Kong still stands and if the film is good enough there may be a small Oscar qualifying release followed by a wider early 2011 release.
18) Blue Valentine
Derek Cianfrance’s movie has gotten glowing reviews at both Sundance and Cannes. But it does have its detractors. The film is an examination of a marriage (between well-dressed hipsters), features an original Broken Social Scene score, as well a fractured narrative. All red flags that your movie is more style over substance (one reviews said it’s “like the Notebook only more artsy and pretentious.”) While that might be true it also features two of todays best actors (Ryan Gosling and Michele Williams) in some damn good roles. And thats enough to have me buying a ticket.
Romain Gavras (Son of the legendary Greek filmmaker Costa-Gavras) burst on to people’s radar earlier this year with the controversial M.I.A. video Born Free. And now he has completed his first major feature film (starring the great Vincent Cassel no less). The Toronto synopsis is extremely vague, but it make the movie seem all the more intrigueing:
“Redheaded teen Rémy (Olivier Barthélémy) is bullied by his soccer teammates and drawn into fights with his younger sister and mother in their cramped apartment. After a flare-up of domestic violence, he flees home and is tracked down by a bitter guidance counsellor, Patrick (Vincent Cassel), also a redhead. Patrick looks upon Rémy’s sullen insolence with both sympathy and disdain and decides to toughen him up. The two redheads realize that they are out of place in twenty-first century France. They have no country, no people and no army. Together they plot to take on the world in a hallucinatory quest for a land of imagined freedom.”
Unfortunately it will be a miracle if this bizarre movie gets any kind distribution before the end of the year (if ever). Hopefully it could land a V.O.D. release.
16) Never Let Me Go – Director Mark Rommak is responsible for some of the most Iconic Music Videos of all time (Jay-Z – 99 Problems, Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way, Johnny Cash – Hurt, Madonna – Bedtime Story, k.d. lang’s Constant Craving, Nine Inch Nail’s Closer, Janet Jackson’s Got till its Gone). The List goes on and on. Unfortunately he hasn’t gotten big film career like his contemporaries (David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry).
The film follows a love triangle among twenty somethings in a very strange alternate universe that looks like the british countryside circa 1970’s. As time goes on they begin to realize the larger more tragic picture of their existence. Stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley, Sally Hawkins and Andrew Garfield.
The trailer may oversell the product like a thriller or a horror film but don’t be fooled. Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost’s doc is a lot more complex than that. Its an examination of online obsession vs. reality. The film was the one of the breakout docs at this years Sundance.
Gareth Edwards’ low budget sci-fi thriller has been touted as this year’s District 9 (unfortunately without the expensive marketing campaign). Its been getting raves at the Genre fests all over.
Heres the imdb synopsis:
“Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life form began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain “the creatures”…… Our story begins when a US journalist agrees to escort a shaken tourist through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.”
13) Cold Weather
The absolute breakout hit at SXSW this year is was Arron Kattz’s (Dance Party USA, Quiet City) sugests a Mumblcore twist on Arthur Conan Doyle. It follows a man who moves back to Portland, Oregon and becomes obsessed with the mystery of his ex-girlfriends disappearance.
The ultra low budget film was shot with the now revolutionary RED One Cam in ultra hi-def. Many at the festival were speculating weather Cold Weather would mark a new era in independent film, one where filmmakers with a budget under six figures can now make aesthetically beautiful and elegant films. The street set ballet NY Export: Opus Jazz also ginned up similar discussions.
12) Black Swan
The name Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler) attached to a movie instantly makes any movie fan take notice. And after the release of the brilliant trailer buzz has reached ridiculous heights. Its a ballet film that seems to carry elements of All About Eve, Rosemary’s Baby, Mullholand Dr. and a hint of David Crontenburg-sqe body horror.
And word from Venice has been very positive. Its also confirmed that the film is as lurid, trashy, and creepy as the trailer lets on and that Natalie Portman gives the best performance of the career (and doing all her own ballet). The cast also features Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbra Hershey, and Winona Ryder.
11) True Grit
The Coen Brothers follow up to their unconventional Best Picture nominee A Serious Man (also one of their very best) is a remake of the John Wayne classic. Jeff Bridges steps into the legendary role of Rooster Cogburn, an alcoholic Texas Ranger that reluctantly helps a young woman track down her fathers murderer in Indian territory. I find it hard to believe that the Coens would play this one straight after casting Jeff “the Dude” Bridges as a drunk. It will be damn interesting to see how this one plays out. Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld round out the cast.