Film: The Future
Director: Miranda July
Cast: Miranda July, Hamish Linklater
Synopsis: A quirky, adorable couple in their thirties decide to adopt a cat. After realizing they’ve made a commitment to tend to this cat for the next several years, they start to examine their overall choices about their futures.
Reason It’s the Best: Let’s face it, we all think of 35 as that year in our lives when hopefully we’ll have shit figured out – we’ll know what career path we’re taking (if we’re taking one), who our significant other will be, where we’ll want to live – the whole shebang (just me?!?). But how do you know if any one thing is the right thing for you if you haven’t tried everything? And how do you ever really know if you have a future with someone or something? Maybe when you’re in the middle of the relationship you can point back and say “Well, we got through the beginning, so we’ll be able to stick together no matter what.” But what if you’re just in the middle of the beginning? With surrealist elements, eccentric characters, and a lovable talking cat, this movie explores these themes. Plus, if you’ve seen this film you’ve “seen the future” har har.
Film: Le Quattro Volte
Director: Michelangelo Frammartino
Cast: Giuseppe Fuda, a baby goat, and a tree
Synopsis: Set in a remote and archaic Italian village in Calabria, the film looks at the meaning of life and nature in three sections (the fourth to be filled in by the viewer as the credits roll): the life cycles of an old shepherd, a newborn kid (y’know, the goat type), and a fir tree.
Reason It’s the Best: Michelangelo Frammartino’s bravery to 1) make a film without a single word of dialogue uttered; and 2) dedicate one-third of the running time to the life of a tree (which, I shit you not, you genuinely feel for). That kinda says it all.
Watch Le Quattro Volte on Netflix HERE
Film: Silver Bullets
Director: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Ti West, Amy Seimetz, Joe Swanberg
Synopsis: Joe Swanberg plays a lo-fi art-film director. Ti West plays a horror film director. Jealousy and werewolves ensue.
Reason It’s the Best: Silver Bullets is only one of the six films Joe Swanberg completed in 2011 – an amazing achievement. Swanberg, however, sees this prolific period simply as practice – a means to experiment, get better, so that in his fifties he’s making “great films.” Well, damn, you seem to be on the right track, Joe. And, for me, this collection of films adds up to certainly the most impressive work of the year.
Buy: You can purchase a subscription to a year of Joe Swanberg’s work from 2011, released by Factory 25, HERE
Film: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Director: Werner Herzog
Cast: The dreams and memories indicative of the human condition
Synopsis: Herzog gets exclusive access to the oldest cave paintings known to man. Deep musings about the nature of humanity, perception, and representation ensue…IN 3-D!!!!
Reason It’s the Best: Let Uncle Werner sit you down and tell you a visually arresting story about cavemen. Herzog does the smart thing by letting the rare and beautiful paintings dominate the running time with only a few contextual interruptions. The 3-D really does heighten the experience as opposed to just heightening the ticket price- considering it’s unlikely the average person will ever see these paintings up close it’s great to able to appreciate their magnificence and craft seemingly close enough to touch. Plus, special cameo appearance by mutant alligators!
Film: Like Crazy
Director: Drake Doremus
Cast: Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin
Synopsis: While studying abroad at a program in LA, Ana, a young British girl, falls in love with fellow American student Jacob. A few months into their passionate relationship it’s time for Ana to go home…
Reason It’s the Best: Young director Drake Doremus deftly depicts a long distance love story, without slipping into clichés. He manages to capture both the complexity of any long distance relationship and the simplicity of a first love. Plus, there is an added sense of authenticity, as most of the acting is improvised.