2011 looks to be a promising year if my long and arduous task of only selecting 11 films is any indication. This list is made up of what I expect to see next year. Some of these films have premiered already (at festivals etc.), some of these films don't have yet a release date, and some of these films I'm not 100% sure actually exist at all...
They're in alphabetical order and I've linked to a trailer where available:
THE BEAVER (Jodie Foster)
Curse alphabetical order for making me start with something that generates controversy! Mel Gibson stars as Walter Black, the CEO of a toy company who has a breakdown and begins to communicate with people only through a beaver puppet on his hand. Sounds demented, and I do love demented. Foster's first directorial effort in 15 years, this script topped the 2008 Black List for best unproduced screenplay. I'm sure plenty have had enough of Gibson but I'm still keen.
THE FUTURE (Miranda July)
Miranda July's debut feature ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW (where she also wrote and starred) was a strange delight back in 2005. I don't know a lot about this new film but here's what IMDb has to say: “When a couple decides to adopt a stray cat their perspective on life changes radically, literally altering the course of time and space and testing their faith in each other and themselves.” For any other synopsis I'd probably assume the use of the word 'literally' was erroneous but this is a Miranda July film! Expect whimsy and wonderment.
Please note that this Irish comedy thriller isn't written and directed by Martin McDonagh, responsible for the tremendously satisfying IN BRUGES, but instead John Michael McDonagh – his brother. I'm hoping a great sense of humour runs in the family! Brendan Gleeson [above] stars as an unorthodox Irish cop who teams up with a no-nonsense FBI agent (Don Cheadle). Seriously, read that sentence back to yourself. You know you want in on this! Selected for Sundance 2011, competing in the World Cinema Dramatic category.
A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE (Adam Wingard)
I met Wingard back in 2008 when his surreal, headfuck of a film POP SKULL came to the NZ Film Festival. He was very funny and affable and told a few stories that I could never, ever print (one involving Vincent Gallo, ask me about it in person...). Though I found his film to be fairly interesting and really unsettling, I wasn't quite sold on it. Since then I've been waiting to see what he'd come up with next. The wait seems to be over as A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE, about a woman whose serial-killer ex breaks out of prison, screened at Fantastic Fest in September. There it won Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay in the horror category.
Another film that played Fantastic Fest! Devotees will recognise that I have a strong love of Korean film and one of Kim Ji-woon's earlier works happens to be my favourite. Here he's reunited with his A BITTERSWEET LIFE star Lee Byung-hun and brings Choi Min-sik (star of OLDBOY) on board for a tale of sweet bloody revenge.
Trailer (no subtitles sorry).
Though I've never seen his first film THE CELL, his follow-up THE FALL remains one of my favourites. Wildly ambitious and beautifully shot, THE FALL needs to be seen by those who love a good adventure story with a rich mythology. His latest seems to also fit that category as Mickey Rourke [above], Henry Cavill and Freido Pinto star in a film set in ancient Greece concerning Gods and Titans. Will probably be the only 3D film I see all year (unless the 2D version is available).
Will this be ready next year? IMDb lists it as both 2011 and still being filmed. I have high hopes. Maddin's first feature since MY WINNIPEG will star Jason Patric, Isabella Rossellini and Udo Kier. That's right: German cult icon Udo Kier! Very keen. Knowing the synopsis for a Guy Maddin film usually doesn't get you very far until you actually see it. From what I gather it's about a gangster named Ulysses Pick (Patric) who has to make an odyssey from his backdoor, through every room of his house to his bedroom where his wife awaits (Rossellini). Yeah, not very far at all.
MEEK'S CUTOFF (Kelly Reichardt)
I was hoping this would be a film of 2010 for me but unfortunately it didn't travel very far after it premiered at Venice. I loved Michelle Williams in Reichardt's WENDY AND LUCY and I can't wait to see her in this. Set on the Oregon Trail in 1845 [above], this film has been pitched as a western that breaks all genre conventions. For those used to their widescreen Westerns it might come as a shock to know this is filmed in 'Academy' 4:3 aspect ratio. Sounds claustrophobic. Can't wait.
SCREAM 4 (Wes Craven)
I promise you, my choices haven't been intentionally esoteric... these are genuinely the films I'm looking forward to the most! Still, I'm aware I have a lack of superhero, franchise and big studio movies (which is probably a good thing if we're being honest). There is one outing that I can't wait for that ticks all of those boxes (ghostface is like a superhero, right?): the latest installment of SCREAM. Craven, writer Kevin Williamson, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette return for another meta-horror installment in the immensely entertaining series. Does part of me think that this could be a little, say, dumb? Yeah... watch the trailer to hear the phrase “2.0”. Let's face it though, the others were a little 'dumb' too, but it was a good 'dumb'. Hell, it was a great 'dumb'!
Trailer.SOURCE CODE (Duncan Jones)
The director of MOON returns for another sci-fi spectacle; trading low-tech models for high-tech CGI with SOURCE CODE. Sounds dangerous, but I have faith. The government has found a way to send a soldier (Jake Gyllenhaal [above]) into the body of a man who has eight minutes left to live before the train he's on explodes. He has to relive these moments over and over until he finds the terrorist responsible. I do love a good time-loop movie.
I had my list locked. I'd whittled it down from about 30. I was ready to start my write-up. Then a friend said “you know Béla Tarr has a new film?”. Goddammit, I can't ignore that! In 1889, philosopher Fredrich Nietzche saw a horse being whipped on the streets of Turin. He tried to protect the horse by throwing his arms around its neck. He then collapsed to the ground, suffered a mental breakdown and died the following year. This is the story of that horse. For anyone who can't understand why this film would get me so excited, I'd recommend hiring WRECKMEISTER HARMONIES. A truly unique filmmaker.
What other films were on my shortlist?
In no particular order: BLACK SWAN, HANNA, SUPER 8, JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME, THE MUPPETS, THE THING, GREEN HORNET, THE TREE OF LIFE, VAMPIRE, RED STATE, YOUR HIGHNESS, DRIVE ANGRY, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, TRUE GRIT, HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN.
What films have caught your attention?