Arts & Events

New movie releases to keep in mind for the final weeks of 2011

By the time this goes to print, we’ll all be done with class and gearing up for finals. As the semester comes to a close, so does 2011, and with that, the end of yet another Hollywood movie cycle.

This year was especially notable for the record-breaking number of sequels produced: 27.

Looking at the top ten highest grossing movies of the year, only two were not sequels, The Smurfs and Rio, and only one was a new IP. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides all broke $1 billion in the global box office, while the other seven were situated a bit closer to $500 million a piece.

So what’s left? With a bit less than a month left in the year, and just one week of school to look forward to, I’m sure many a Logger will visit the theater at least once over break. Here’s a list of some of the more compelling movies to look forward to while at home.

Although it has been in theaters since Nov. 11, Melancholia sounds like a must-see for avid film-lovers. Directed by Lars von Trier and premiered at Cannes Film Festival in May, Melancholia stars Kirsten Dunst and Kiefer Sutherland in a film about two women and their reactions to Earth’s cataclysmic collision with a rogue planet.

Von Trier conceived the idea while suffering from depression, when he learned that depressed people are more likely to remain calm in stressful situations because they assume bad things will happen regardless of their actions.

Already bolstered by critical acclaim, The Descendants was also released earlier in the fall, on Nov. 18. Directed by Alexander Payne, The Descendants is a comedy-drama starring George Clooney and Shailene Woodley based on the novel of the same name. The film was shot on location in Hawaii and features music by Hawaiian artists. Currently the film holds a 90 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Released on Nov. 23, Hugo marks Martin Scorsese’s first foray into the world of digital animation and 3-D film. Based on the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the movie is set in Paris, and tells the tale of a young boy who builds clocks with his uncle who is trying to fix an old machine. A far cry from his older works, the film stars Chloë Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen and Jude Law.

Also released on Nov. 23, A Dangerous Method is David Cronenberg’s latest film and features his third consecutive collaboration with Viggo Mortensen.

Alongside an ensemble cast featuring Vincent Cassel, Keira Knightley and Michael Fassbender, A Dangerous Method is based on Sigmund Freud (Mortensen) and Carl Jung’s (Fassbender) fragile relationship with Sabina Speilrein (Knightley), who becomes involved in their work. This is, to my knowledge, one of very few Cronenberg films lacking his signature violence, as he exemplified best in his 2005 film, A History of Violence.

Another film to keep in mind over winter break is Shame, which released on Dec. 3. In this Steve McQueen directed film, Michael Fassbender plays a sex-obsessed yuppie living in New York. McQueen also directed the 2008 film Hunger, which received an impressive amount of international acclaim.

Shame is rated NC-17, so it will likely be difficult to track down, but may very well prove worthy. Notable film critic Roger Ebert said of Shame, “…this is a great act of filmmaking and acting. I don’t believe I would be able to see it twice.” Apparently entertained, Ebert gave the film four stars.

Set to release just in time for Christmas on Dec. 21, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is David Fincher’s latest film and stars Daniel Craig as detective Mikael Blomkvist, alongside Rooney Mara as the titular character, Lisbeth Salander.

The film marks Fincher’s second collaboration with Nine Inch Nails’ frontman, Trent Reznor, who composed the score for the film and also won an Academy Award for last year’s work with Fincher on The Social Network’s soundtrack.

The film is based on Stieg Larsson’s novel, which was also made into a Swedish film in 2009 and led to its explosive international success. However, Fincher has made it clear that his film is not intended to be a remake of the Swedish film.

Fincher, who also directed monumental dramatic thrillers such as Fight Club, Seven and Zodiac, is probably the most apt American filmmaker to accomplish the challenge of improving  upon the exceptional Swedish film that already exists.