Sigmund Freud and the dying cat: The most promising movies of 2011

I wouldn't go so far as to say that 2010 was a disappointing year for movies, but I would say that there have been better years. As I mentioned in this blog a few weeks ago, cable television really packed a colossal punch with great seasons of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dexter, and Eastbound & Down. We also got treated to some great new shows: HBO's Boardwalk Empire, AMC's Rubicon (already cancelled) and The Walking Dead, FX's Justified, and FX's hilarious and profane animated spy series Archer, which starts back up in a few weeks.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to watch less television, but does that include movies too? As this is my first entry of 2011, I'm already preparing for my trip to Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival in two weeks—and yes, I'm looking forward to the Oscars on February 27, with Anne Hathaway and potential Academy Award nominee James Franco (127 Hours) taking on the hosting duties. But while I'm a tad curious to see who win Oscars and I'm always a bit more interested to see who is nominated, what I'm really most interested in at this point is what promising movies will be playing at our theaters in the Twin Cities over the next 360 days.

I thought I'd offer a preview of five movies I'm looking forward to seeing in 2011; not all film release dates have been announced and are always subject to change.

The Tree of Life, directed by Terrence Malick (Badlands, The New World). This was supposed to be ready for the Cannes Film Festival last year, but apparently Malick was still fine-tuning the film and original distributor Apparition folded. The film—starring Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, and Jessica Chastain—was picked up by Fox Searchlight and is scheduled to come out on May 27.

The Skin That I Inhabit, directed by Pedro Almodovar (Volver, Broken Embraces), is based on the crime novel Tarantula, but Almodovar has described his new film as a horror film. Starring Antonio Banderas, it's their first collaboration in 20 years. It could also be Almodovar's darkest film since Bad Education: Banderas plays a plastic surgeon searching for the men who raped his daughter. Always expect the unexpected from Almodovar. Coming November 18.

A Dangerous Method, directed by David Cronenberg (Eastern Promises, The Fly). Based on a play, The Talking Cure by Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons), this film will reunite Cronenberg with Viggo Mortensen, who plays psychiatrist Sigmund Freud. It also features Keira Knightley, Vincent Cassel, and Michael Fassbender (Inglorious Basterds) playing Carl Jung. The film takes a look at the intense relationship between Freud and Jung and the beginning of psychoanalysis. Currently has no release date but should be ready to premiere at Cannes in May.

The Future (above), directed by Miranda July, is her first film since the unexpected discovery that was 2005's You, Me and Everyone We Know. When a couple adopt a terminally ill cat, their lives begin to change dramatically in over the course of a month. The Future is also narrated by a cat—is it the terminally ill cat narrating? I don't know, but I'm hooked for the film's premiere at Sundance in a few weeks.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, directed by David Yates, brings the thrilling series to an end. It's been no secret that I've always admired the Harry Potter series, and loved the idea of splitting the last book up into two parts, but HPDH Part 1 was a bit uneven although it ended with a bang. I expect the second part to be action-packed from start to finish. Opening July 15.

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    Jim Brunzell III's picture
    Jim Brunzell III

    Jim Brunzell III (djguamwins [at] yahoo [dot] com) was born in the 70's, went to school in the 80's, played sports in the 90's, and has been writing on film for the Daily Planet since 2007.  He is also the Festival Director and programmer for the Sound Unseen Music/Film/Art festival in the Twin Cities, lead programmer for the Flyway Film Festival in Pepin and Stockholm WI, the creator of "The Defenders" series at the Trylon microcinema and has been working on a novel since finishing college.  You can follow Jim on Twitter at (@JimBrunzell_3).