Ocean Heaven
Notes: Martial arts action star Jet Li stars in this Chinese-Honk Kong drama as a terminally ill father trying to “ensure the well-being of his autistic adolescent son.” Li, hoping to stretch his abilities as a dramatic actor (there are no fight sequences in this story), took a drastic pay cut to appear in this film. It also co-stars Taiwanese actress Kwai Lun-mei, who previously starred in Jay Chou’s Secret. First-time director Xue Xiaolu wrote and directed the film for 7 million yuan (or the equivalent of one million U. S. dollars). She is a teacher at the Beijing Film Academy, volunteering for the last 14 years with Beijing Stars and Rain, a non-governmental educational organization for autistic children. She wrote the story based on her personal real life and experiences. The movie premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival in June, , where it won “Best Film”, “Best New Director” and “Best Action” (for Wen Zhang).
IMDB User Rating: 7.9 (345 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no reviews yet
Flixster User Rating: 71% (96 user ratings)
Release: I’m not sure when this movie will be released in the US, but it appears to be available on DVD (Region 1) through Amazon.
Official Synopsis:

The story of a father’s tireless love for his autistic son. A terminally ill father’s attempt to teach his autistic son the necessary life skills to survive on his own before he passes away. It is also a poignant tribute to the infinite love that parents have for their children and their unending desire to take care and look after them to their best abilities, no matter the struggle, no matter the effort.

Trailer:

Super
Notes: Directed by Slither helmer James Gunn, Super stars Rainn Wilson as a man who decides to become a super hero after a series of events which include his wife (played by Liv Tyler) leaving him, literally being touched by the finger of God in a dream, and seeing a morally-preachy superhero named the Holy Avenger (played by Nathan Fillion) on catholic television. Ellen Page, who usually plays the know–it-all smart ass, has a wonderful turn as a annoying know-nothing immature vulgar comic book clerk who helps Wilson “research” and later begs to become his kid sidekick. I screened the movie at the Toronto Film Festival Midnight premiered, and while I liked the movie, I wanted more from it (read/watch my review here).
IMDB User Rating: 7.9 (182 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (6 reviews)
Release: IFC Films snapped up the movie at the Toronto Film Festival premiere, and will release the dark, strange comedy in theaters on April 1st, 2011.
Official Synopsis:

When Frank’s (Rainn Wilson) wife leaves him for a seductive, psychopathic drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), Frank is transformed and the Crimson Bolt is born. With a hand-made suit, a wrench, and a crazed sidekick named Boltie (Ellen Page), the Crimson Bolt beats his way through the mean streets of crime in hopes of saving his wife (Liv Tyler). The rules were written a long time ago: You are not supposed to molest children, cut lines or key cars; if you do, prepare to face the wrath of the Crimson Bolt! Written and directed by James Gunn (Slither), the film also stars Nathan Fillion, Gregg Henry and Michael Rooker.

Clip:

Hesher

Hesher
Notes: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rainn Wilson, and Natalie Portman star in this independent drama from commercials and music videos director Spencer Susser, who is best known for a beautiful zombie short film we’ve featured previously on the site, I Love Sarah Jane. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out right now. It was screened at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, and many regional film festivals around the world. And aside from being awesome, it is notable for featuring Mia Wasikowska, who has gone on to become Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.
IMDB User Rating: 7.9 (244 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (6 reviews)
Release: The film premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and was originally set for release in January 2010 by Newmarket Films. I’m not sure when the movie will hit theaters, but I’d assume sometime this year.
Official Synopsis:

“After the tragic loss of his Mother, 13-year-old T.J., Along with his pill popping father (Wilson), are forced to live with his elderly Grandmother. A young man with with a troubled past named Hesher (Levitt) assumes the role as both mentor and tormentor, leading T.J into troubles he could never have imagined. A young grocery clerk named Nicole (Portman) steps in to protect T.J from a vicious attack, and becomes the object of T.J’s fantasies. And Hesher moves into Grandma’s home, although uninvited, he is somehow accepted.”

Clip:

Another Year

Another Year
Notes: Filmmaker Mike Leigh’s (Secrets & Lies, Vera Drake, Happy-Go-Lucky) new movie premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival to very high acclaim. It’s a wonderfully well-written character piece with great performances from the entire ensemble cast, a meditation on growing old, family, legacy, marriage. That said, I found myself unable to relate to the subject matter, and thus found the movie rather dull and borring.
IMDB User Rating: 7.9 (1,036 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 90% (61 reviews)
Flixster User Rating: 84% (1,384 user ratings)
Release: The film is now in limited release.
Official Synopsis:

Mike Leigh returns with a new portrait of British domestic life—seemingly familiar stories that have a resonance beyond their surface. The happily married Gerri (Ruth Sheen) and Tom (Jim Broadbent) are at the center of a whirling cast of family and friends in Another Year. In simplest terms, the passing of a calendar year is marked by Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. For those who are in the orbit of Gerri and Tom, a year is defined by family and friendship. Love and warmth. Joy and sadness. Hope and despair. Companionship. Loneliness. A birth. A death. Time passes… Leigh’s domestic tale is illuminated through the relationships of Gerri and Tom’s son Joe (Oliver Maltman), Gerri’s lonely work colleague Mary (Lesley Manville), Tom’s boyhoood friend Ken (Peter Wright), Joe’s new partner Katie (Karina Fernandez), Tom’s brother Ronnie (David Bradley), and Ronnie’s estranged nephew Carl (Martin Savage). Imelda Staunton makes a very memorable appearance too.

Trailer:

Elektra Luxx
Notes: Gothica/Snakes on a Plane/The Eye screenwriter turned writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez’s comedy about a pregnant recently-retired porn star whose “life is thrown into disarray when a flight attendant with ties to Elektra’s past approaches her for a favor.” The film is a sequel to Gutierrez’s 2009 directorial debut Women in Trouble (available on Netflix instant). The cast includes Carla Gugino, Adrianne Palicki, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Malin Akerman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Vincent Kartheiser, Julianne Moore, Timothy Olyphant, Alicia Silverstone, and Marley Shelton.
IMDB User Rating: 7.9 (159 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: no reviews yet
Release: The film premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2010, and does not yet have a US release date.
Official Synopsis:

Picking up one month after the events in Women In Trouble, ELEKTRA LUXX follows its title character (Carla Gugino, Watchmen) through one chaotic day as the recently retired porn superstar tries to make it in the straight world. Flight attendants, jilted fiancées, mysterious detectives, best selling authors and even the Virgin Mary all make appearances as Elektra tries to come to terms with her impending motherhood and her split from the porn world. From writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez comes this comedy follow-up featuring a star-studded cast, including, Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood), Malin Akerman (Watchmen), Joseph Gordon-Levitt ((500) Days of Summer), Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13), Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage), Justin Kirk (Weeds) and Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights).

Clip:

Peepli Live
Notes: Peepli Live is India’s official entry for the 83rd Academy Awards Best Foreign Film category. This 2010 Indian comedy explores “farmer suicides”, and the subsequent media and political response. Anusha Rizvi’s directorial debut stars Omkar Das Manikpuri, Naseeruddin Shah, Raghubir Yadav, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shalini Vatsa and Malaika Shenoy. The first film from India to compete at the Sundance Film Festival (in 2010), it was also named the Best First Feature Film at the 31st Durban International Film Festival in South Africa.
IMDB User Rating: 7.9 (1,975 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (23 reviews)
Flixster User Rating: 72% (2,056 user ratings)
Release: The film was released in limited theaters on August 13th 2010, earning $757,951 domestically and $8.7 million internationally. Peepli Live is available on Netflix Instant.
Official Synopsis:

On the eve of national elections in the Indian village of Peepli, two poor farmers, Natha and Budhia, face losing their land over an unpaid government loan. Desperate, they seek help from an apathetic local politician, who suggests they commit suicide to benefit from a government program that aids the families of indebted deceased farmers. When a journalist overhears Budhia urge Natha to “do what needs to be done” for the sake of their families, a media frenzy ignites around whether or not Natha will commit suicide.

Trailer:

You Don’t Know Jack
Notes: This made-for-HBO television movie tells the story of the life and work of doctor-assisted suicide advocate Jack Kevorkian. The movie was nominated for fifteen Emmys (winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for Al Pacino and Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Dramatic Special) and two Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture Made for Television and Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture Made for Television for Al Pacino. The film co-stars John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Danny Huston, Brenda Vaccaro, Delaney Williams, and Eric Lange.
IMDB User Rating: 7.8 (4,703 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (3 reviews)
Release: Available now on DVD.
Official Synopsis:

Angel of mercy… or murderous “Doctor Death”? Jack Kervorkian is one of the most polarizing figures in modern American history, a man whose passionate belief that people have the right to die has brought him both praise and vilification. Oscar®- and Emmy®-winning actor Al Pacino brings “Dr. Death” to life in an all-new HBO Films presentation: You Don’t Know Jack, directed by Oscar®-winner Barry Levinson.

Trailer:

Confessions
Notes: This Japanese psychological dramatic thriller follows “a grieving mother turned cold-blooded avenger with a twisty master plan to pay back those who were responsible for her daughter’s death.” Based on Kanae Minato’s 2008 best selling novel “Kokuhaku”, and written for the screen and directed by Tetsuya Nakashima (2004′s Kamikaze Girls).
IMDB User Rating: 7.8 (370 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 100% (1 review)
Flixster User Rating: 91% (359 user ratings)
Release: Released in June 2010 in Japan, and has made over $22 million internationally. No US release has been announced, but a UK release is set for February 18th 2011 and the Japanese DVD/Blu-ray release is in January 2011 (so expect to see it sooner than later).
Official Synopsis:

Middle school teacher Yoko Moriguchi’s (Takako Matsu) life comes crashing down after the murder of her 4 year old daughter. Eventually Yoko Moriguchi suspects some of her own students to have been responsible for her daughter’s death. An elaborate plan for revenge then ensues, including forcing students to drink HIV tainted milk …

Trailer:

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