Exit Through the Gift Shop
Notes: The first feature film by graffiti artist Banksy premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. The film is one of the best reviewed movies of the year (97% on Rotten Tomatoes) and went on to become one of the highest grossing documentaries of the year. Its one of my favorite movies of the year — avoid spoilers, don’t read plot descriptions or even watch the trailer — JUST WATCH IT!
IMDB User Rating: 8.2 (5,354 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 98% (96 reviews)
Flixster User Rating: 92% (10,422 user ratings)
Release: Available now on DVD/Blu-ray or Netflix Watch Instantly.
Official Synopsis:

EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP is the inside story of street art — a chaotic brew of illegal self-expression that exploded into a global phenomenon — and what happens when an eccentric shopkeeper-turned-amateur-filmmaker named Thierry Guetta sets out to produce the ultimate documentary on the art form. After spending five years recording many of the world’s most infamous vandals at work, he met Banksy, a camera shy British stencil artist who felt Guetta himself would make a more fitting subject for a documentary.Turning the camera back on its owner with wildly unexpected results EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP is a brutal and revealing account of what happens when fame, money and vandalism collide. One of the most provocative films about art ever made, Banksy tells the incredible true-life story of what happened when Guetta transformed himself into street art sensation Mr. Brainwash. By turns shocking, hilarious and absurd, this is an enthralling modern-day fairytale… with bolt cutters.

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Inside Job
Notes: This documentary from Academy Award nominated filmmaker Charles Ferguson (No End In Sight) “provides a comprehensive analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, which at a cost over $20 trillion, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes in the worst recession since the Great Depression, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse.”
IMDB User Rating: 8.2 (817 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 97% (91 reviews)
Flixster User Rating: 88% (2,722 user ratings)
Release: Now in theaters.
Official Synopsis:

The first film to expose the shocking truth behind the economic crisis of 2008. INSIDE JOB is a Sony Classics Picture that runs 120 minutes and is MPAA-rated PG-13 for some drug and sex-related material. The global financial meltdown, at a cost of over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Through extensive research and interviews with major financial insiders, politicians and journalists, INSIDE JOB traces the rise of a rogue industry and unveils the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia. Narrated by Academy Award® winner Matt Damon, INSIDE JOB was made on location in the United States, Iceland, England, France, Singapore, and China.

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Let the Bullets Fly
Notes: The Chinese action comedy is directed by Jiang Wen, and stars Chow Yun-fat, Jiang Wen and Xiaogang Feng. The film has already been optioned for a big budget American remake. Twitch called the movie “a rip-roaring comedy thriller committed to delivering smart dialogue through great performances and almost entirely free of any underlying political agenda.”
IMDB User Rating: 8.2 (322 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no reviews yet
Flixster User Rating: 83% (30 user ratings)
Release: Released in China and Singapore in December 2010, earning a total of 400 million yuan (60 million dollars) in its first 11 days of release. No date for the US release.
Official Synopsis:

Set in China during the warring 1920s, notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor, an identity that he had hijacked from Old Tang, himself a small-time imposter. Hell-bent on making a fast buck, Zhang soon meets his match in the tyrannical local gentry Huang as a deadly battle of wit and brutality ensues.

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GasLand
Notes: An HBO-produced documentary is an expose about the largest domestic natural gas drilling campaign in history, which is currently sweeping the country and promising landowners a quick payoff. The film won the Documentary Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
IMDB User Rating: 8.0 (783 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (23 reviews)
Release: Broadcast on television on June 21st 2010. GaslandAvailable now on DVD.
Official Synopsis:

When filmmaker Josh Fox received an unexpected offer of $100,000 for the natural gas drilling rights to his property in the Delaware River Basin, on the border of New York and Pennsylvania, he resisted the urge to accept. Instead, he set off on a cross-country journey to investigate the environmental risks of agreeing to the deal. Part verité road trip, part exposé, part mystery and part showdown, GASLAND follows director Fox on a 24-state investigation of the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing. What he uncovers is mind-boggling: tap water so contaminated it can be set on fire right out of the tap; chronically ill residents with similar symptoms in drilling areas across the country; and huge pools of toxic waste that kill livestock and vegetation. GASLAND is Fox’s urgent, cautionary and sometimes darkly comic look at the largest domestic natural gas drilling campaign in history, which is currently sweeping the country and promising landowners a quick payoff. This shocking exposé shows that America’s zeal to produce homegrown natural gas, often touted as “clean burning,” may be poisoning the water and air. The timely documentary won the Documentary Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

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I Saw the Devil
Notes: From Ji-woon Kim, the director of A Tale of Two Sisters, A Tale of Two Sisters and The Uninvited, comes a crime thriller starring Byung-hun Lee (Three… Extremes, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra , The Good, the Bad, the Weird) as a secret agent who tracks a serial killer who murdered his fiancée. I screened the film at Fantastic Fest this year, and it’s brutal and merciless.
IMDB User Rating: 8.0 (1,059 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet
Release: The movie will be released in the US on March 4th, 2011 in theaters and on demand.
Official Synopsis:

Lee Byung-hyun (The Good, the Bad and the Weird) stars as Dae-hoon, a special agent whose pregnant wife becomes the latest victim of a disturbed and brutal serial killer, captivatingly played by Oldboy’s Choi Min-sik. Vowing revenge, Dae-hoon blurs the lines between hunter and hunted and good and evil, eventually becoming a monster himself in his twisted pursuit of revenge. From Korean genre master Kim Jee-woon (The Good, The Bad and The Weird and A Tale of Two Sisters) I SAW THE DEVIL is shockingly violent and stunningly accomplished, transcending the police procedural and pushing the boundaries of extreme Asian cinema in surprising and thrilling new ways.

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Blue Valentine
Notes: This film premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival to huge acclaim. The film is the story of a failed relationship with powerful performances from Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling. Nominated for two Golden Globes, Best Performance nominations for the two leads.
IMDB User Rating: 8.0 (846 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 92% (79 reviews)
Flixster User Rating: 79% (14,279 user ratings)
Release: Now in theaters (limited).
Official Synopsis:

BLUE VALENTINE is the story of love found and love lost told in past and present moments in time. Flooded with romantic memories of their courtship, Dean (Ryan Gosling) and Cindy (Michelle Williams) use one night to try and save their marriage.

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Armadillo
Notes: The documentary spends six months following the lives of young soldiers situated less than a kilometer away from Taliban positions, at Armadillo army base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. The movie has been playing the film festival circuit.
IMDB User Rating: 8.0 (1,274 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (1 review)
Release: No US Release yet announced.
Official Synopsis:

In February 2009 a group of Danish soldiers accompanied by documentary filmmaker Janus Metz arrived at Armadillo, an army base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. Metz and cameraman Lars Skree spent six months following the lives of young soldiers situated less than a kilometer away from Taliban positions. The outcome of their work is a gripping and highly authentic war drama that was justly awarded the Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique at this year’s Cannes film festival. But it also provoked furious debate in Denmark concerning the controversial behavior of certain Danish soldiers during a shootout with Taliban fighters. The filmmakers repeatedly risked their lives shooting this tense, brilliantly edited, and visually sophisticated probe into the psychology of young men in the midst of a senseless war whose victims are primarily local villagers. Yet more disturbing than scenes in which Taliban bullets whiz past their cameras is the footage of the young soldiers as each tries, in his own way, to come to terms with putting his life constantly on the line.

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The Troll Hunter
Notes: The Norwegian horror thriller is a hand held found footage tale of a group of students investigating a series of mysterious bear killings, who learn “that there are much more dangerous things going on.” The film was one of the most talked about films at the 2010 Fantastic Fest, and is set to play at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
IMDB User Rating: 7.9 (749 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no reviews yet
Flixster User Rating: 72% (45 user ratings)
Release: Will be released by Magnet on VOD and theatrical in April 2011.
Official Synopsis:

THE TROLL HUNTER is the story of a group of Norwegian film students that set out to capture real-life trolls on camera after learning their existence has been covered up for years by a government conspiracy. A thrilling and wildly entertaining film, THE TROLL HUNTER delivers truly fantastic images of giant trolls wreaking havoc on the countryside, with darkly funny adherence to the original Norwegian folklore.

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