2011 Coming Soons to Be Curious About (Updated/Redux) 


Myth/genre-driven dramas. Links are trailers:

The Tree of Life (Highly recommended. Simply one of the best films produced and distributed in years. Keep in mind that this is an experimental film with narrative elements and not vice versa. See this film in a good theater and give yourself the rare gift of the experience and the opportunity to love or hate it. Seriously it is worth traveling a couple of hours for a showing. Don't read anything about it, check out the trailer and go!)
Sleeping Beauty (Almost a solid literary film. The filmmaker needed to revise small portions of context during the screenplay's body in order to make the last scene fit and achieve her theme, much less give it the intended punch. As is, the film is subtly interesting yet frustrating. Afterward your mind will work to fill in the gaps for what was not adequately presented in hopes of deciphering a coherent intention.)
Melancholia(Highly recommended. As with 'Tree', here is a film that is larger than the rest of this year's offerings. The title coupled with the tagline, "A beautiful movie about the end of the world" is accurate. To contrast the romanticism of the setting and design, the director filmed the majority of the film handheld. So if films with swishy pans make you motion sick, be prepared. I'm sensitive in that regard, and yet I will watch this film again. Sad and lovely with a sense of freedom for some and loss for others, and, as with most films on this list, you do yourself a favor in seeing it at a good cinema. The opening Phantom cam overture is hauntingly awesome.)
Another Earth(Recommended. "Another Earth" means "Another Chance" in this independent drama-romance. The scifi aspect is thematic and poetic, much like in 'Melancholia', instead of a plot-driven. The film is therefore terrestrial. It's a keen fit for a sleepless night and the ending is just right. Although scientifically a stretch, repeating visuals of Earth II in the sky makes the hanging globe a character in itself, and one of the more memorable filmic images of the year.)
The Sleeping Beauty


Plus, a drama with hints of magical reality and a comedy with hints of fantasy:

The Future (A lonely drama with hints of magical reality about borderline dysfunctional adult adolescence and narcissism. Young Adult, also out this year, addresses similar themes. Miranda July is always quirky and it's clear that she's making choices, but in the case of this film, I can't say that I always find those choices to be the best possible or the most persuasive.)
Midnight in Paris (Highly recommended. Charming and surprisingly--well, I won't say too much. The trailer is wonderful. It piques interest and is true to the film but gives nothing away. Best trailer I've seen in years. If you read reviews you will be spoilered.)

I haven't yet settled on how to categorize this:

The Last Circus

Additionally, a few non-fiction works:

If a Tree Falls (Recommended. A look at motivation, protest and the relativism of the term "terrorist". Battlestar Galactica raised these ideas via fiction. Here we see them prompted and questioned in real life.)
General Orders No. 9

You'll recall that we are also interested in fresh offerings related to art production and media analysis:

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop (Recommended. A look at Conan's recovery from being shafted by the NBC/corporate media conglom culture. In my own way I can identify with his desire to always be "on" and there for audiences, while at the same time being exhausted, which is a struggle.)
Page One (Recommended. A focused look at news, the editorial process and original, high-quality creation in the age of digital parasites and aggregators. The information here is both accessible and important. Did you know that production on a Pulitzer-worthy investigative journalism project costs around an estimated 400k? Typically those are the news pieces that save communities and lives, and confront corruption.)
Miss Representation

Additional films of any genre which may prove solid enough:

Young Adult (Dark comedy-drama, slightly quirky, depressingly accurate movie about narcissistic adult adolescence. Trailer contains most of the funny parts.)
The Artist
Shame
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Pina (Two days before production on a documentary about her work, choreographer Pina Bausch died. Her dancers convinced director Wim Wenders to continue with the film. Was the result the most technical and creative memorial service in existence? I don't know. But it's crafted for film; intimate yet public. Criticism I've read says the uncomfortableness of her work was left out in favor of lighter, dance-driven performances. I'm not familiar enough with her work to confirm, but I did note that the edgy-ness and boundary pushing that typically elevates artists like Bausch was missing. Perhaps this kind of editing is human nature when remembering a loved one. This is an easy first taste of modern dance crossed with physical acting for those unfamiliar, especially as the movie shows short segments of longer performance pieces. 3D was technically fine and subtle, but unnecessary. The trailer is representative of the movie.)
The Descendants (Recommended. By now it's old news that this film is solid. It also happens that I liked the film far more than I'd have guessed. Avoid the trailer as it gives away too many of the film's setups.)
Drive (Recommended. Stylish, moody anti-hero drama-actioner. The heist story is nothing new. You'll get no twists or epiphanies, and replacing the already well-liked cast would make the flaws more glaring. There's nothing audacious here. Yet the filmcraft is keen and ultra-cool, and the character study gripping and defendable. The director lets the story breathe just right. Personally, I dug it. I dug the font, score, way the city was shot, use of stunts and lighting... Useful recommendation for expanding the tastes of folks who mainly watch garbage studio action and comic-adaptation blockbusters. Avoid the trailer as it is basically the entire film!)
A Separation

(this entry will be updated/ongoing)


*Film still courtesy of New Rose Window, Inc.

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