Some people will say 2011 isn’t a great year for movies. I would tend to disagree with that sentiment. It’s true the number of great films (so far) in 2011 are fewer than 2010 but the ones we do have in 2011 are pretty spectacular and worth watching and discussing. There are movies like Gore Verbinski’s “Rango” or Joe Wright’s “Hanna” are among the favorites of general audiences, just looking at the critical response and box office receipts, but there are also smaller movies that seem to have been forgotten like Cary Fukunaga’s adaptation of “Jane Eyre” and Tom McCarthy’s comic gem, “Win Win”. All of these titles are worthy for entries for the best of 2011. Here are two of my favorites.
Terrence Malick’s “The Tree of Life”
This is probably the most controversial movie of 2011 by dividing audiences and critics, alike. And I do get it, it’s not a very accessible film. It is long and boring and nothing “really” happens. It’s quite and pretensions and only film snobs like it. But there is something to be said about this film, no matter how you feel about it, you can agree you’ve never seen anything quite like it. Terrence Malick is known as a reclusive filmmaker, making movies once a decade, and since 1975 has become more and more abstract. “The Tree of Life” for me is a celebration of life and movies, and what can be done with the medium of film. After 100 years or so, cinema still has the capability to change, transform and transcend audience’s expectations and limitations into something more truley spiritual. “The Tree of Life” is a very challenging film and for those who are up for that challenge will walk away from this film with something rewarding.
Joe Cornish’s “Attack The Block”
This can be seen as somewhat of a cheat, “Attack The Block” doesn’t officially come out in the US until July 29th but I’ve felt compelled to express my love for this movie. This small movie from the UK is just a joy to watch. It’s exciting and fun and no popcorn film like this deserves to be made this well. It makes me think why can’t more popcorn movies be made so tightly, sharply and as funny like “Attack The Block”. The story of an alien invasion in the very urban and poor South London as taken the UK and festival circuit in the US, by storm. It’s not often we get movies with actual lovable characters in daring and exciting situations, that allows an audience to have as much fun and terror as the people on the screen. This is the first feature film from writer and director Joe Cornish, who has an exciting career ahead of him. Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tin Tin”, due out this December, was co-written by Joe Cornish, along with Edgar Wright. So far in 2011, this is my #1 movie of the year. A MUST SEE!!
“Attack The Block” Trailer
It wouldn’t be a year in movies without having a few awful movies. Luckily, most of the bad stuff is far behind us being released in January and February, but here’s to hoping the worst is behind us. Some movies that have been released were, in my opinion, unfairly categorized as bad like Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch,” which is a movie that’s not bad but just has no direction. Todd Philipps “The Hangover Part 2” is just lazy, recycling what worked in the first film and shoehorning them into the second, at least there were some genuine laughs. But the two movies I will mention were just too painful to watch and endure.
David Gordon Green’s “Your Highness”
This has to be the most disappointing movie of the year. I love David Gordon Green. His career started out with small, more personal indie films like “George Washington” and “Undertow” and has recently evolved into more Hollywood fare. I am a big fan of his crossover movie, “Pineapple Express”. A movie that is a perfect blend of a stoner comedy and an 80s action film. In “Your Highness,” we got a lazy, uninteresting and painfully dull movie from a talented cast and crew. A movie written by Danny McBride and David Gordon Green should have been clever. A movie starring James Franco, Danny McBride, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel and Justin Theroux should have been more charming and witty instead of being so unbearably drab.
Gregory Orr’s “Recreator”
I don’t know what to say about this movie. I don’t even know if it is fair for me to say anything bad about this film because there is no release date for a theatrical, DVD or VOD release. This sci-fi/horror mashup about a group of teenagers on a camping trip, to be later cloned by a mysterious mad scientist is simply awful. The characters are dull and cliched, the narrative is disingenuous and passionless, I wonder why this movie was even made. I can understand a passion project from a first time filmmaker, at least, that passion can be seen on the screen and in the actors but this effort is so soulless, I wonder if it was meant to be a heartless clone as the name suggests. It feels like a pure money grab for small time producers who are just out of touch with who this movie is targeted for. Fair warning, this is premiering at San Diego Comic Con this year, go for the unintentional laughs this will sure create. Actually, don’t.
With half of the year behind us, I look forward to the rest of the summer and fall movie releases. Award season is coming upon us and there should be undoubtedly wonderful films to be excited for.
Bennett Miller’s “Money Ball” (September 23rd)
I am a huge fan of Aaron Sorkin. I believe no other writer can capture world building and character just through dialogue and character interaction like Aaron Sorkin. On top of that, his words are so distinct, you can’t help but notice. “Moneyball” is the story that embodies the phrase, “inside baseball,” when in fact it is about insider baseball. How the Oakland A’s of the early to mid 2000s built a championship caliber team with very little money. Based on the bestseller by Michael Lewis, “Moneyball” is sure to be a home run.
David Fincher’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” (December 21st)
The much anticipated new film from modern day auteur, David Fincher has the movie blogging world going crazy. Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Swedish writer, Stieg Larsson, this movie will be sure to engross general audiences. Sure there is already a movie based on this book from Sweden but David Fincher is such a big named director, you have to take notice. So much buzz was already generated by the “leaked” trailer, that you have to think this might be the best picture of the year. Also, it’s Fincher’s followup to last year’s “The Social Network” and it would be interesting to see what he does with this one.
“The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” Trailer