Last year, DFW.com gave local moviegoers their first chance to see Precious, A Serious Man and An Education -- all three of which went on to earn Best Picture Oscar nominations.
This year, our annual film festival, Modern Cinema: Great Movies You Haven't Heard of ... Yet, Sept. 23-26, returns with an even more impressive lineup of nine new films. Among the highlights:
A powerful, fact-based drama starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts about one of the most controversial political scandals of the past decade.
A rousing, crowd-pleasing drama likely to earn Sally Hawkins a Best Actress Oscar nomination.
An epic thriller about notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal that was the highlight of this year's Cannes Film Festival.
Celebrating its sixth year, this special weekend festival is presented in partnership with the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, DFW.com and the Star-Telegram.
Christopher Kelly, film critic for DFW.com and the Star-Telegram, travels the festival circuit and selects films that have been scoring rave reviews. Tickets are $8.50, $6.50 for Modern members. Full festival passes are available now for $65, $55 for Modern members and $50 for Reel People.
Individual ticket sales begin two hours prior to each show. Members of Reel People at the Modern can purchase individual tickets in advance by calling the Modern at 817-738-9215.
Thursday, Sept. 23
Opening Night Reception
All are invited to kick off Modern Cinema 2010 at a cocktail reception in the museum's lobby. DFW.com will roll out the red carpet and be snapping photos. Inside, enjoy live music, complimentary snacks and a cash bar before embarking upon a weekendlong cinematic feast.
It's Kind of a Funny Story
After Half Nelson and Sugar, writer-director team Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden serve up another warmhearted, deeply humane effort, this time with a gentle comic twist. Based on the acclaimed young adult novel by Ned Vizzini, It's Kind of a Funny Story follows a depressed teenager (Keir Gilchrist) puzzling his way through an adult psychiatric clinic. Featuring Emma Roberts, Lauren Graham, Viola Davis and, in a revelatory, eloquent performance as a fellow patient, The Hangover's Zach Galifianakis. 101 minutes.
How I Ended This Summer
On a remote island in northern Russia, a pair of meteorologists pass the days monitoring the weather and recording data. But when a tragic accident happens back home, an unpredictable and strange game of cat-and-mouse ensues between the men. Directed by Aleksei Popogrebsky, this tense, slow-burning drama won prizes for its two lead actors and its shimmering cinematography at this year's Berlin Film Festival. 124 minutes; Russian with English subtitles.
Friday, Sept. 24
Last Train Home
Each New Year, millions of Chinese workers escape the city and undertake an arduous journey to their rural homes to spend the holiday with their families. Lixin Fan's astonishing, gorgeously observed documentary focuses on one such family -- the Zhangs -- hoping to reunite with a daughter they haven't seen in 16 years. It's a one-of-a-kind portrait of tenacity, hope and the human cost of becoming a global superpower. 85 minutes; Chinese with English subtitles.
A highly placed CIA operative stands by helplessly as her cover is blown by the very government she's supposed to be serving. It sounds like a cloak-and-dagger Hollywood fantasy, but it happened in real life to Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts) after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson (Sean Penn), began making public statements criticizing the Bush administration. This gripping, ripped-from-the-headlines melodrama, directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity), screens at Modern Cinema nearly two months before its national release. 106 minutes.
Let Me In
Modern Cinema's first "midnight movie" -- although we're showing it a little earlier in the evening. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) directs this assured, spooky, deeply affecting remake of the Swedish horror sensation Let the Right One In, about a lonely young boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee, The Road) who befriends the vampire next door (Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass). We're seeing it just one night after its U.S. premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin. 115 minutes.
Saturday, Sept. 25
Henri-Georges Clouzot's Inferno
It was supposed to be the crowning achievement of famed French filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot (Diabolique, The Wages of Fear). Instead, Inferno turned into a very literal hell, a chaos-plagued, out-of-control production that nearly killed Clouzot. In the tradition of Hearts of Darkness and Lost in La Mancha, Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea's documentary is a movie buff's delight: a behind-the-scenes look at a masterpiece that never was. 94 minutes; French with English subtitles.
What was John Lennon like as a teenager? That's the question asked by Sam Taylor-Wood's new biopic, which finds the 15-year-old Lennon (Aaron Johnson) torn between the aunt who raised him (Kristin Scott Thomas), the mother who abandoned him as a boy (Anne-Marie Duff) and his dreams of rock 'n' roll superstardom. A crowd favorite at the London, Sundance and San Francisco film festivals, this is a stylish, impeccably acted trip down memory lane. 98 minutes.
Sunday, Sept. 26
Made in Dagenham
Before Norma Rae and Erin Brockovich, there was Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins), a sewing machinist at the Ford Motor Factory in suburban London, who led a spirited labor strike for equal pay in 1968. Directed by Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls), this buoyant crowd-pleaser arrives in Fort Worth just two weeks after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it emerged as an instant front-runner for Best Picture and Best Actress Oscar nominations. 113 minutes.
The movie event of the year: a three-part, five-and-a-half-hour portrait of the notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal (Édgar Ramírez), directed with astonishing flair by Olivier Assayas (Summer Hours). This epic, pulse-pounding thriller -- the toast of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival -- is destined to become a classic; don't miss what might be one of your few opportunities to see it on the big screen. 319 minutes; screened with two intermissions.
Reel People Coffee
Sunday, Sept. 26, 1 p.m.
Members of the Modern's Reel People film club are invited to a private talk with film critic Christopher Kelly, who will discuss the films at this year's festival and answer questions. Complimentary coffee, tea and desserts will be provided.
Can You Survive 'Carlos'?
Sunday, Sept. 26, 4 p.m.
We know it's not easy to watch a nearly six-hour film, but then again, few films are as compelling and original as Carlos -- we predict you'll be glued to your seat for the entire evening. This special screening will include two intermissions, during which you can purchase a French-themed boxed supper and snacks. For menu information and to reserve a meal, contact Tina Gorski, firstname.lastname@example.org; 817-738-9215. And for those who make it through this cinematic journey, we'll be giving away door prizes at the end.