Consider this a companion piece to our Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2011. Screen Daily released their own list of exciting over-seas prospects (subscription only), and while a good deal of it was stuff that we already covered – “The Turin Horse,” “The Grand Master,” “Set Me Free” (which they still have listed as “Untitled Dardenne Brothers“) – the buffet was stuffed with plenty of fresh, delicious motion pictures worthy of everyone’s palate. We’ve collected the best and most interesting projects and threw them into an easily digestible round up below. Feast your eyes on what this new year will have to offer, and know that we will refrain from using any phrases or words related to food from this point on.
Quite possibly the most exciting for this writer is the prospect of a new Nuri Bilge Ceylan joint, director of the daunting “Climates,” which portrayed the break-down of a marriage so well that it’s hard to believe that its stars- the director and his wife- are still together, happy and healthy. The Turkish photographer-turned-filmmaker will follow his Tarkovskian humanist drama/thriller “Three Monkeys” with “Once Upon A Time In Anatolia.” Little is known about the project other than the fact that it is his “biggest production yet” and that the entire movie will be set in the Anatolia steppe, a vast ecoregion between the Mediterranean and Black Sea that takes up most of Turkey. The grassland plains and prominent sky seems right up NBC’s alley, and we’re excited to see whether this leans toward his early slice-of-life non-narratives or the more genre-focused ‘Monkeys.’
Release Date: Cannes premiere is a definite possibility.
Vincent Cassel will play a troubled monk struggling with temptation in Dominik Moll’s (“Lemming“) new thriller “The Monk.” We reported this back in August 2010, but some new stills have emerged to reignite anticipation. Based on the book by Matthew Lewis, the story begins with Ambrosio (Cassel) compromising his beliefs by partaking in sexual acts with a young girl. It’s all downhill from there, leading to murder, torture, incest, and many other unholy practices. We’re not familiar with Moll’s work but there’s definitely potential here for something unnerving, let’s hope he just uses restraint as things could easily get out of hand and go over-the-top.
Release Date: June 16th (FRANCE)
“The Man Without A Past” and “Lights in the Dusk” were sweet little movies by Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki; he returns in 2011 with dramatic comedy “Le Havre,” set in France and focusing on a shoe-shiner and the refugee child he saves. We’d be more nervous of sentimental overload if this wasn’t the same guy who did those aforementioned dead-pan pictures, but Kuraismaki’s penchant for making charming, nostalgia-tinted movies is too strong to count out.
Release Date: March 4th (FINLAND)
Its been awhile since 2004’s “My Summer of Love,” the teen romance drama that won Pawel Pawlikoswki critical favor and some decent awards (Best British film of the year, thank you BAFTA). Since then the director has dropped frequent collaborator Paddy Considine in favor of Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas for “The Woman in the Fifth,” which finds the filmmaker in “supernatural thriller” territory. Following a writer (Hawke) who becomes involved with a widow (Thomas) who may or may not be involved in a number of mysterious murders, it sorta seems like this is out of the director’s wheelhouse. Hopefully he’ll find something more to pull out of this rather typical-sounding genre picture.
Release Date: Being saved for Cannes. (Doubtful, unless it’s that much better than its synopsis)
Lou Ye might be more famous for the various instances of the man (China, actually) keeping him down. There was his two-year government imposed filming ban after “Suzhou River” and the forced withdraw of “Summer Palace” from the 2006 Cannes competition, both of which are more memorable to some than his latest effort, the very digital and very dark “Spring Fever.” That’s not to say that he is bad by any means, his style and depiction of China are more than welcomed outside of his home country but he’s so far failed to make a big imprint. That might change with “Love & Bruises,” the Paris set tale starring Tahar Rahim (“A Prophet“) and Corinne Yam in a violent love affair described as “Last Tango in Paris” a la Lou Ye. Rahim’s terrific and should get the extra eyes that Ye deserves.
Release Date: Cannes competition is likely – they probably feel they owe him one after he was yanked.
One of the many gods in Tarantino’s eyes, Tsui Hark is remaking his own “Dragon Inn” as “The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate,” complete in jaw-dropping 3D thanks to the RED camera. Jet Li, Chen Kun, and Xun Zhou will star in this $35 million martial arts epic. Though it kind of missed the wave started/ended by “Hero“/”Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon“/”House of Flying Daggers,” this guy’s one of the longstanding greats in the niche so it should prove to be a worthwhile venture. And 3D!!
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Radu Mihaileanu’s “The Concert” started off well but lead to a borderline pathetic second half, and we can’t imagine his new movie “The Source,” a battle-of-the-sexes comedy/drama, faring any better. Oscar-nominated director Eran Kolirin is prepping “The Exchange,” which involves a man revisiting things he has taken for granted or never noticed. His previous picture was “The Band’s Visit” which wasn’t terrible but definitely felt too neat, tidy, and had “Foreign Oscar pic” written all over it. Unless his mindset has completely changed, expect his newest to follow an overly precious and meaningful path. We can’t seem to muster up anything other than a shrug for “Black Gold,” another Jean-Jacques Annaud epic, this time starring Antonio Banderas and Mark Strong. Tahar Rahim stars too, but he can’t save everything. Finally, “[REC]” director Jaume Balaguero puts down the overwrought found-footage aesthetic to focus on a depressed peeping tom doorman who becomes enamored with joyful tenant Clara in “Sleep Tight.” Blaguero claims he will refrain from using brutal violence for this picture, he also seems to be abstaining from including anything remotely interesting.