After a somewhat lackluster first two months, March is about to give 2011 a significant dose of excellent specialty cinema, including few of the big winners at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, a pairing of two of France's most legendary actors, and the second and third films for American indie filmmakers Cary Fukunaga and Tom McCarthy. Check out indieWIRE's picks for your eight best options (c'mon, that's only two a week), and then check out March's full calendar, as there are many worthy films that didn't end up making this cut.
1. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (March 2)
What's The Deal? Apichatpong Weerasethakul's sixth feature film, the wonderfully titled "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" follows its title character's final days. Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend them surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside, where the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form.
Who's Already Seen It? 33 critics gave "Uncle " an average of A- on the film's criticWIRE page.
Why is it a "Must See"? A meditative and existential take on themes like transformation and memory (and a whole bunch of other things), "Uncle Boonmee" might be a tough swallow for some, but for many it should prove a quite magical experience. It certainly did for Tim Burton and his fellow jury members at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, where it became the first Thai film to win the Palme D'Or. That in itself should be enough of a stamp of approval for any film lover.
Check out the trailer below:
2. The Certifed Copy (March 11)
What's The Deal? Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami ("Taste of Cherry," "The Wind Will Carry Us") returns with his first feature film to be shot and produced outside Iran (which has been banned from being screened within Iran). Starring Juliette Binoche and British opera singer William Shimell, the Tuscany-set film follows a couple who may or may not have just met for the first time.
Who's Already Seen It? 24 critics gave "Copy" an average of B+ on the film's criticWIRE page.
Why is it a "Must See"? Another alum from the 2010 Cannes Film Festival (this is a bit of trend here), "Certified Copy" is heading to America with strong critical backing. Binoche - who won the best actress prize in Cannes during a particularly good year for female performances - gives some of her best (and most effectively comedic) work and Kiarostami - without any of the restraints he's had while filming within Iran - continues to prove himself one of international cinema's great filmmakers. Check out the trailer below:
3. Jane Eyre (March 11)
What's The Deal? Cary Fukunaga follows up "Sin Nombre" with an adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's classic novel "Jane Eyre," assembling an impressive cast including Mia Wasikowska, Michael Fassbender, Jamie Bell and Judi Dench.
Who's Already Seen It? No one yet, but check back with the film's criticWIRE page in the coming weeks.
Why is it a "Must See"? Well, we don't actually know for sure if it is or not. But Fukunaga impressed iW once before, the source material is clearly worthy, and that cast is downright swoon-worthy. Why it didn't screen at Sundance or Berlin is perhaps a cause for concern, or perhaps not.. We'll find out soon enough, and you can watch the trailer below:
4. I Saw The Devil (March 4)
What's The Deal? South Korean director Kim Ji-woon ("The Good, the Bad, the Weird") gives us this intense portrait of a maniacal serial killer who drives a yellow school bus and preys on young women.
Who's Already Seen It? 9 critics gave "Devil" an average of A- on the film's criticWIRE page.
Why is it a "Must See"? Ultra-violent, "Devil" is not for the faint a heart, but most anyone who saw the film in Toronto (where it premiered) or Sundance agree it's an awesome addition to recent Korean cinema, and definitely worth it - even if it requires a few hand over eye moments. Check out the (NSFW redband) trailer:
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5. Le Quattro Volte (March 4)
What's The Deal? It's hard to summarize in a couple sentences, but Michelangelo Frammartino's stunning film more or less takes on ideas of life and death through four almost dialogue-free stories involving among other things, a lot of adorable goats.
Who's Already Seen It? 13 critics gave "Volte" an average of B+ on the film's criticWIRE page.
Why is it a "Must See"? Relative newcomer Frammartino (it's his second feature) won the top prize in the Director's Fortnight section of Cannes last year, and it's not hard to see why. A sort of mythic pseudo-documentary, this charming fable is unlike anything else in movie theaters this March (though "Uncle Boonmee" makes for a existential counterpart). Check out the trailer below:
6. Nostalgia For The Light (March 18)
What's The Deal? Patricio Guzman's documentary is yet another Cannes alum, and yet another difficult film to summarize. It follows a group of astronomers in Chile's Atacama Desert, where they look into the cosmos in search for answers concerning the origins of life. Nearby, a group of women sift through the sand searching for body parts of loved ones, dumped unceremoniously by Pinochet's regime. It all comes together in one of the most acclaimed documentaries of last year's festival circuit.
Who's Already Seen It? 9 critics gave "Nostalgia" an average of A- on the film's criticWIRE page.
Why is it a "Must See"? Winner of best documentary at the European Film Awards, "Nostalgia For The Light" is a remarkable - and extremely difficult to market - film that warrants your attention. Check out a clip below:
7. Potiche (March 25)
What's The Deal? Francois Ozon reunites French legends Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu (who co-starred in André Téchiné's "Changing Times" and François Truffaut's "The Last Metro") in this comedic adaptation of the eponymous play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy. Set in 1977, the film tells the story of a submissive wife who ends up successfully running her husband's umbrella factory after the employees rebel against their tyrannical boss.
Who's Already Seen It? 8 critics gave "Potiche" an average of B on the film's criticWIRE page.
Why is it a "Must See"? Perhaps the most fun option on this list, the equation of Ozon+Deneuve+Depardieu should be enough to get in the theater. Check out the trailer:
8. Win Win (March 18)
What's The Deal? The only American indie on this list, "Win Win" is Tom McCarthy's third feature (after "The Station Agent" and "The Visitor"), and teams him up with Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan and Bobby Cannavale. It follows a disheartened attorney (Giamatti), who moonlights as a high school wrestling coach. When he stumbles across a star athlete (Alex Shaffer) through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family, his life unravels in an effectively Tom McCarthy kinda way.
Who's Already Seen It? 9 critics gave "Win Win" an average of B+ on the film's criticWIRE page.
Why is it a "Must See"? Heartwarming and funny, "Win Win" is a film typical of Fox Searchlight in the best sort of way, winning over audiences at its Sundance premiere earlier this year. Check out the trailer below: