Without further ado, here's part one of my list the ten films I'm most looking forward to this fall/winter, with a "honorable mention" section of films that might surprise me. Let's get the show on the road!
10 - Waiting For "Superman" - Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, It Might Get Loud) directs this documentary that examines the American public school system, how it is broken, what opportunities are available for the average student, and what steps could be taken to fix the myriad problems faced by today's kids and educators. The film follows a selection of promising kids as they struggle to gain the best chance for a quality education. Should be powerful, engrossing, and most all, a great generator for serious discussion of reform. (Sept. 24)
9 - Miral - Julian Schnabel (Basquiat, Before Night Falls, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) directs this film about Hind Husseini's attempt to found an orphanage in Jerusalem following the creation of the state of Israel. The story is told through the eyes of Miral, a young women in the late 1970s who leaves the shelter of the orphanage and falls for a politically active Palestinian man, leading to her becoming embroiled in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Schnabel is major league film maker of singular vision, so this may not be two hours of fun, but it should be affecting and bold. (Dec. 3)
8 - Black Swan - Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder and Vincent Cassel star in this thriller about two young ballerinas (Portman & Kunis) who find themselves in competition for the lead role in Swan Lake. Portman's Nina is an innocent, devoted to dance, but Kunis' Lily is more sensual and dark. Their rivalry warps into a twisted friendship, and then into something darker. Darren Aronofsky has long been poised to become one of the most gifted film makers of our generation, with some critical successes (Pi, The Wrestler), and some divisive films (Requiem for A Dream, The Fountain) under his belt. Here's hoping Black Swan is the one that truly confirms his promise. (Dec. 1)
7 - The Town - Ben Affleck directs and stars in this Boston-set crime film as a local bank robber who finds himself increasingly frustrated by the life he's chosen and aware that it doesn't have many positive end points. He sees his opportunity to change in his growing attraction to a former hostage (Rebecca Hall) who may or may not be able to finger him to a relentless FBI agent (Jon Hamm), while their relationship puts him at odds with his partner in crime (Jeremy Renner) and may endanger his life. Affleck proved with Gone Baby, Gone that he was more than a beefy pretty-boy who fluked into writing an Oscar-winning film. He has a real eye for this kind of gritty crime film, the cast is exciting, and the trailer looks great. (Sept. 10)
6 - Tron: Legacy - The first Tron didn't set the world on fire at the time of its release, but has since become recognized as one of the innovators in computer generated images and has achieved a cult following. That was enough to get Disney to green light this update, which follows the son (Garret Hedlund) of the first film's protagonist (Jeff Bridges) into the computer world, where Bridges has been lost for years. The footage and trailers that have been released look absolutely spectacular, and the story is still intriguing, if a little goofy. Still, could be a blast. (Dec. 17)
See you soon for Part 2!