Many of this year's foreign and indie releases showed up on some of the more obscure top ten lists of 2008, and will no doubt be rolling out across the country in various irregular patterns all year long. For example, Steven Soderbergh's Che turned up on more than half a dozen lists that I saw (including our own James Rocchi's), yet most people haven't seen it yet. I have seen it, and I doubt it'll be sticking around long, though I greatly admire it. It's a deliberate attempt to subvert the current biopic formula, and though it's somewhat cold and ultimately a bit one-sided, it's also endlessly mesmerizing. Silent Light, the newest drama by the great and peculiar Mexican director Carlos Reygadas (Battle in Heaven) is also due to show up this month. Matteo Garrone's Italian gangster movie Gomorrah and Steve McQueen's British based-on-a-true-story drama Hunger have also placed well on several top ten and awards lists, and will be turning up in February and March.

The two-time Cannes champs Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have a new one, Lorna's Silence, which I haven't seen, but that has a very nice poster. (It's supposed to be coming around in June.) And James Gray (The Yards, We Own the Night), who for some mysterious reason is quite beloved in France, opened his new film, Two Lovers -- starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Joaquin Phoenix -- there to great acclaim. It's due here in February. And one of my contacts tells me that Roy Andersson's outstanding deadpan Swedish comedy You, the Living, which I saw early in 2008, will finally open to theaters sometime in 2009. I'm still waiting for a release date for Kathryn Bigelow's war film Hurt Locker, but it has enough buzz that I'm not worried. I'm a little more concerned about John Woo's Chinese epic Red Cliff, which will hopefully return that master to his former glory; so far there's no U.S. release date -- and no indication that the entire, uncut film will make it over here.


Finally, I'm happily surprised that a wonderful little San Francisco romance, Barry Jenkins' Medicine for Melancholy, will be opening this month. It's one of those rare movies that breathes and takes its time, following a young couple as they get to know one another on the lazy day after their one-night stand. Otherwise, I can't wait to see Amy Adams in Christine Jeffs' Sunshine Cleaning, as well as Tatia Rosenthal's $9.99, Atom Egoyan's Adoration, Rian Johnson's The Brothers Bloom, Marc Webb's 500 Days of Summer and Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles.