I’ve just finished my AFI Fest 2011 Preview Series over at Twitch consisting of three 10 to Watch features. Check them out with the links below and don’t forget to let me know if you’re heading to the fest!
I’ve also got my interview with AFI Festival heads Jacqueline Lyanga and Lane Kneedler up on Twitch. Check it out here:
AFI Fest 2011: Twitch Chats with Jacqueline Lyanga and Lane Kneedler
There has certainly been a lot of buzz for Steve McQueen‘s Hunger follow-up, though most of it has been around the film’s NC-17 rating and the member of the cast that likely causes it. While it is likely the film’s intensely sexual subject matter more than any particular body part to blame for the rating, no one can deny Michael Fassbender‘s talent. The first real must-see film of the awards season, Shame‘s big LA premiere is bound to be the toughest tickets of the fest.
Michael Hazanvicius‘s black, white and silent love story has had audiences from Cannes to Toronto applauding. With the awards machine of the Weinsteins behind it, this is an early fave for big success on Oscar night.
Review | Trailer
Post-trailer buzz for Clint Eastwood‘s latest awards-bait has been pretty negative due in part to star Leonardo DiCaprio‘s rather scary makeup job. However early iffy buzz isn’t always the worst thing for a film pretty much no one has yet to see. We’ll know a whole lot more after the world premiere of the film at AFI’s opening night gala.
Michelle Yeoh is the majestic Burmese democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi and David Thewlis the man she loves in Luc Besson‘s epic that is as much about one family’s personal battles as it is a nation’s.
Trailer | Teaser
THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN
The idea of an all new franchise headed by Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson (Spielberg is helming this one but there is talk they’ll reverse roles for the second) is a pretty exciting prospect. Throw in the writing team of Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block) and now you’ve got me really excited. The film has been out in the Old World for a week or two but we’ll get the North American premiere as AFI Fest’s closer.
Review | Footage | Trailer
I MELT WITH YOU
This Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe and Thomas Jane starring flick is ostensibly about a gang of old friends heading up to Big Sur to blow off some midlife steam. Then shit gets really crazy. Pretty much off the radar since its what-the-hell-was-that reaction at Sundance, music video director Mark Pellington‘s best film since Arlington Road is pretty bizarre – but worth a watch for its sheer audacity.
JEFF WHO LIVES AT HOME
Every time I hear about a new Duplass Bros. film, I hope it can be as funny as brother Mark‘s hit show The League. They usually aren’t – but that’s a pretty high bar to set. Mark’s wife and hilarious The League co-star Katie Aselton is in their latest film alongside Jason Segel and Ed Helms – so that can’t hurt.
Lars von Trier‘s end of the world psychological drama is one of the most divisive films of the year (shocking for LvT, right?) but I’m in the huge fan category. Kirsten Dunst masterfully plays a newlywed watching her sanity tumble off the cliff after shacking up with Alex Skarsgaard. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling and Udo Kier each turn in noteworthy performances alongside KiKi.
Review | US Trailer | UK Trailer | Teaser
Woody Harrelson stars as a cop on the edge, trying to sort out wrong from right as a police scandal puts him in the media’s crosshairs and pushes his family out the door in Oren Moverman‘s follow-up to 2009’s The Messenger.
MY WEEK WITH MARILYN
Director Simon Curtis may be better known for his work in television, but his big screen debut already has awards buzz for the performance by Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe. Judi Dench, Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper and Kenneth Branagh co-star.
Other notable titles in the Specials and Galas program include Lynne Ramsay‘s Tilda Swinton starrer WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN, Werner Herzog‘s death row docu INTO THE ABYSS, and Roman Polanski‘s film adaptation of the hit play (God of) CARNAGE.
One of the big hits from this year’s Fantastic Fest, Jean-Baptiste Léonetti‘s French dystopian science fiction tale is weird, poetic and wonderful. Bring along your best croquet gear.
Trailer | Clips & Clips | Trailer
Alrick Brown‘s film set during the Rwandan genocide has found fans everywhere it has played – not to mention winning the World Cinema Audience Prize at Sundance. Having missed it there, this is one of my top picks for AFI Fest.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA
Turkey’s entry for the Foreign Language Oscar is Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s landscape heavy slow burn police mystery.
Asghar Farhadi‘s Iranian family drama took home the top prize at Berlin and is a heavy fave for a Foreign Language Oscar nomination.
From the director of last year’s Dogtooth, Giorgos Lanthimos, comes this modern Greek tale of death and grief.
Review | Clip | Teaser
Spanish wild man Nacho Vigalondo follows up Timecrimes with this sci-fi romance about a potential alien invasion of Madrid.
Special Review | Regular Review | Teaser
THE FORGIVENESS OF BLOOD
Joshua Marston grew up in Beverly Hills, went to college in New York, made his first film about Colombia (Maria Full of Grace), and now comes to AFI Fest with this intense family drama about obscure Albanian retribution rituals. What a long, strange trip it’s been.
Completing a triumvirate of strong Belgian cinema at this year’s fest (along with THE KID WITH THE BIKE and BULLHEAD), Nicolas Provost uses great artistry to tell his story of an African immigrant who washes up on European shores.
Review | Clip
THE TURIN HORSE
Hungarian epic filmmaker Bela Tarr‘s Foreign Language Oscar submission (and supposed final film) is this rural black and white period piece inspired by Nietzsche.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI
David Gelb implements contemplative camera work and a minimalist score by Philip Glass to tell the story of 85 year-old sushi sensei Jiro Ono in one of the fest’s few documentaries.
Other notable films in the World Cinema program include Chantal Akerman‘s (another Belgian!) Joseph Conrad adaptation ALMAYER’S FOLLY, Kim Ki-duk‘s semi-autobiographical semi-documentary ARIRANG, and Canadian Jean-Marc Vallée‘s C.R.A.Z.Y. follow-up CAFÉ DE FLORE.
OSLO, AUGUST 31ST
Without a doubt one of my favorite films of the year, Norwegian master Joachim Trier‘s Reprise follow-up is a brilliantly subtle tale of addiction that celebrates the beauty of life. The performance by Anders Danielsen Lie is quite simply stunning.
Review | Clips | Trailer
One of the real discoveries of the year for me is Belgian director Michael Roskam and his dairy farm underword tour de force. Remember that name (and the film’s star Matthias Schoenaerts‘s) and go see this film.
Review | Trailer
Ben Wheatley‘s follow-up to his debut hit Down Terrace is a contract killer thriller that starts steady on the rails and then goes careening off to crazytown. If you like that kind of thing, you’ll love this movie.
Review | Trailer
Justin Kurzel‘s Australian serial killer drama covers some pretty shocking territory – but does it without any flare of exploitation. This one will stay with you.
Review | Trailer
BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW
Panos Cosmatos‘s 80s throw back sci-fi lo-fi is pretty damn difficult to accurately describe – so I’ll let Associate Director of Programming Lane Kneedler’s words speak for themselves: “I can’t wait until they put out a VHS tape of it and I’m just gonna have it on in the background of my office all the time.”
Tristan Patterson‘s doc looks to tell the story of its skate punk subject with ton of SoCal style.
Review | Trailer
Morten Tyldum‘s Norwegian art heist actioner was one of the big hits of Fantastic Fest. It also co-stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, better known to audiences on these shores as Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones.
Review | Trailer
Although it didn’t make much of a splash at Toronto, Uzbeki-Korean director Ruslan Pak‘s police thriller set in Uzbekistan is one of the most mysteriously interesting sounding films of the fest.
THE LONLIEST PLANET
Gael Garcia Bernal stars in Julia Loktev‘s film about a couple out for a hike in Georgia’s (the country, not the state) Caucasus Mountains.
Sophia Takal‘s debut feature tells the story of a woman struggling with insecurities when she moves to the country with her city dweller boyfriend. A very Mumblecore production, Kate Lyn Sheil and Lawrence Michael Levine star alongside Takal.
A few more features in these sections include Clay Liford’s substitute teacher comedy which stars Nate Rubin alongside Arrested Development‘s Tony Hale in WUSS, Bill Morrison‘s avant-garde assembled footage rendition of Frankenstein, SPARK OF BEING, and Markus Schleinzer‘s subtle Austrian pedophile creeper MICHAEL.