The Promised Land (Michael Winterbottom)
Synopsis: A drama set in Palestine at the end of World War II.
Why You Should See It: Michael Winterbottom’s drama has Colin Firth, Matthew Macfadyen, and Jim Sturgess attached, but may not see a release until next year. With his fast-working attitude, there is still a chance it will be finished in time. After the punch of The Killer Inside Me, I’m looking forward to see a WWII drama from the director. – Jordan R.
London Boulevard (William Monahan)
Synopsis: The story of a man newly released from prison who falls in love with a reclusive young movie star and finds himself in a duel with a vicious gangster.
Why You Should See It: Most, or just about all, UK critics weren’t too kind on William Monahan’s directorial debut a few months back. The buzz has been toxic for quite some time now, so why should anyone still be excited? Well, it’s Monahan’s first directorial gig and he’s got a great cast under his bent. The trailer looked like slick fun, so lets hope those Brit critics are wrong about this one. – Jack G.
At Swim-Two-Birds (Brendan Gleeson)
Synopsis: A playwright’s life begins to mingle with the fictional characters he has created.
Why You Should See It: Think of Brendan Gleeson’s directing/writing debut as the Irish Expendables, except it has the strong potential to actually be good. Michael Fassbender, Colin Farrell, Cillian Murphy, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and Gabriel Byrne topline this feature. – Jordan R.
Intruders (Juan Carlos Fresnadillo)
Synopsis: The horror thriller centers on an 11-year-old girl who is forced to confront childhood demons.
Why You Should See It: From the director of 28 Weeks Later comes a new horror/thriller starring Clive Owen. We’ve never seen the actor take full-on horror, so that is just part of the appeal for this one. The UK release is October, so expect a US date announced around the same time. – Jordan R.
Extraterreste (Nacho Vigalondo)
Synopsis: Everyone knows what to do if one morning the sky would be absolutely full of UFOs: run as fast as you can. However, what would happen if the invasion started while you are in the flat of the girl of your dreams, the one you have just met?
Why You Should See It: Further details are as scarce as they come concerning this Spanish film, but its writer/director alone is reason enough to be excited. Extraterrestre is Nacho Vigalondo’s follow-up to his excellent 2007 sci-fi mystery, Timecrimes, and if Vigalondo proves his early success wasn’t a fluke, we’re all in for a treat. – James B.
Bernie (Richard Linklater)
Synopsis: In small-town Texas, the local mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when he kills her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she’s alive.
Why You Should See It: It feels like Richard Linklater’s been gone for a while, in part because his last 3 films (Me and Orson Welles, A Scanner Darkly, Fast Food Nation) have gone underseen. ‘Bernie,’ a dark comedy about a mortician who kills a friend of his than attempts to pretend she’s still alive, may be weird enough to break the recent trend. – Dan M.
Higher Ground (Vera Farmiga)
Synopsis: A chronicle of one woman’s lifelong struggle with her faith.
Why You Should See It: Farmiga’s directorial debut brings a personal life-spanning look at family and faith. By injecting comedy with rich characters, it is a promising new area in her career. Sony Pictures Classics has picked it up for a release later this year – Jordan R.
Keep Coming Back (William H. Macy)
Synopsis: A young man living a sheltered life develops a crush on a stripper and joins her Alcoholics Anonymous group just so he can be in the same room with her.
Why You Should See It: It’s always interesting when a high-profile actor gets behind the camera and William H. Macy has now taken his turn. His directorial debut stars Topher Grace, Milla Jovovich, Steve Buscemi, and Anton Yelchin. – Jordan R.
Retreat (Carl Tibbetts)
Synopsis: Kate and Martin escape from personal tragedy to an Island Retreat. Cut off from the outside world, their attempts to recover are shattered when a Man is washed ashore, with news of airborne killer disease that is sweeping through Europe.
Why You Should See It: If Cillian Murphy is in a film, I’m there. Carl Tibetts, an editor who has worked on Harry Potter, Shaun of the Dead and Alien Vs Predator will be making his feature writing/directing debut with this thriller. – Jordan R.
St. Vincent (Walter Hill)
Synopsis: Hitman Vincent Novena goes deep undercover portraying a priest in an attempt to get close to his target, a gangland traitor.
Why You Should See It: Hopefully this is another Pierce Brosnan film in which the talented actor pushes himself further away from his Bond image, and a real chance for Walter Hill to make a solid actioner a la his films from the 70s and 80s. It has been a while for the man. – Dan M.
L.A.P.I. (Jody Hill)
Synopsis: An action-comedy centered on a beaten-down private investigator.
Why You Should See It: With the divisive Observe & Report being one my of my favorite dark comedies, the next project from Jody Hill is high on my most-anticipated list. With Danny McBride attached, this may see a release by the end of the year. – Jordan R.
Isopod (Barry Levinson)
Synopsis: Chaos breaks out in a small Maryland town after an ecological disaster occurs.
Why You Should See It: His best film in years (and years) was last year’s HBO mini-series ‘You Don’t Know Jack,’ suggesting that the old dog may have learned some new tricks. Add to that Levinson’s return to Maryland roots meshed an eco-disaster conflict he’s never attempted anything like, and it feels like the best of both worlds. – Dan M.
2 Days In New York (Julie Delpy)
Synopsis: French woman Marion (Delpy), has broken up with Jack and now lives in New York with their children. Her Parisian family come to visit her, but the cultural differences between her eccentric father and new American boyfriend will turn out to be explosive. Meanwhile, her sister has had the “good” idea of bringing an ex-boyfriend from Paris and there is the pressure of an upcoming photography exhibition.
Why You Should See It: 2 Days In Paris is one of the sharpest romantic-comedies in the last few years, so writer/director/actor Julie Delpy’s sequel holds a lot of promise. And with Chris Rock playing opposite to the French beauty, it’s clear the comedian’s taking step in a different, exciting direction.- Dan M.
Tyrannosaur (Paddy Considine)
Synopsis: A woman looks for a way out of her abusive relationship.
Why You Should See It: Wonderful British character actor Paddy Considine makes his feature length debut with a drama that received some of the best notices at Sundance this year. While it’s said to not be an easy watch, that’s also supposed to be one of its strengths as a drama; by not shying away from more brutal aspects, there’s a sense of authenticity to the proceedings. Definitely one of the smaller films of 2011 I’m anticipating the most. – Nick N.
Undying (Jon Amiel)
Synopsis: A lone P.I. recruited by a mysterious beauty soon finds himself immersed in a surreal underworld.
Why You Should See It: With his next feature after the divisive Book of Eli, writer Gary Whitta has tackled a noir thriller with Kurt Russell attached to lead. Amiel hopes to shoot soon for a possible release this year. – Jordan R.
Oranges and Sunshine (Jim Loach)
Synopsis: Tells the story of Margaret Humphreys, a social worker from Nottingham, who uncovered one of the most significant social scandals in recent times: the forced migration of children from the United Kingdom.
Why You Should See It: Ken Loach’s son has worked in the British TV industry for much of the past decade, and now he is delivering his first feature film. Starring Hugo Weaving and Emily Watson, we can only hope he has a percentage of his father’s skills. – Jordan R.
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