When the economy is down in the dumps the number of movies made naturally goes down as well, and subsequently hollywood mega-hits become even more plotless and safe (you know, “lowest-common-denominator” thinking). And unfortunately, that is the story of 2011 for the most part, at least that’s what the box office is looking like as of July. But despite what Michael Bay and his crew of Wal-Mart filmmakers would have you believe, there’s some hope for 2011. Here are six films either out or coming out that give cinemaphiles a reason go to the movies in 2011|
Of God’s and Men (2010)
Director: Xavier Beauvois
Made in 2010, it will be coming to central Illinois for the first time later this summer (Sept 10-11) at The Normal Theatre. About a monastery under siege in Algeria, Of Gods and Menhas been getting critical praise including the Grand Prize at Cannes last year. Be on the lookout for the American release of the film, I have high, high hopes.
Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011)
Director: Warner Herzog
Anything by Warner Herzog is worth a look, and his newest documentary about a cave in south France full of ancient, well-preserved cave paintings is sure to be noteworthy. Knowing Herzog, expect a hyper-visual, (possibly forced) existential experience. S0 if nothing else, it should be some quality eye-candy. Oh yeah, and it’s in 3D, so we will see how this turns out Mr. Herzog, we will see. And for all of my Central Illinois readers, Cave of Forgotten Dreams will also be at the Normal Theatre in the upcoming months.
Director: Mike Mills
Directing his sophomore feature, Mike Mills is making critical waves with Beginners, with Paste calling it the best film of 2011 so far and Roger Ebert likes it enough to give it 3.5/4 stars. Mills’ first movie was… odd, but with an interesting enough plot and some critical hype, I’ll check it out if it comes to town. Closest it will be to central Illinois as of now is The Art Theatre in Champaign.
13 Assassins (2011)
Director: Takashi Mike
I might have missed my shot to see this one until it comes out on DVD, as it was playing at the Art for most of June and I think it’s been replaced by Hobo With a Shotgun. But regardless, this is something to look forward to, a Kurosawa-esque samurai flick by the guy who made Ichi The Killer. Oh my. This should be unbelievably violent and cool.
Midnight in Paris (2011)
Director: Woody Allen
Whenever you give Owen Wilson a good director, he absolutely knocks it out of the park (Example: Bottle Rocket, The Royal Tenenbaums) so I am extremely excited to see what Woody Allen will do with Wilson in this film. And despite all Woody Allen’s personal woes, he is a heck of a director, and I’m glad to see him back at it. I’ll be looking to find this one playing near me.
The Tree of Life (2011)
Director: Terrance Malick
This is the only film on this list that I have seen so far, and with out exaggerating the impact of this film on me, I would say that after driving to Champaign twice to see it and sitting on it for a few weeks it is the best film I have seen in years. The film in surreal, sublime and grand. Now beware, if you aren’t used to Malick’s style or non-traditional narratives, this film will frustrate you to no end, but if you let this film wash over you, you will come away with a one-of-a-kind movie-going experience. Critics are going bi-polar over The Tree of Life, some (like Roger Ebert and Peter Travers) calling it a masterpiece, and some (like Peter Hammond) calling in total crap. But if this is playing near you, see it, as soon as you can. Read my full review of the film here.