In the midst of a summer packed with huge blockbuster features (Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and even Guardians of the Galaxy), it's often nice to take a seat and watch something that's a little less huge in scale. But the summer movie machine often has the effect of erasing all those independent or smaller-scale films that deserve audiences' attentions; in viewers memories, the little guys are all too often shoved aside to make way for another explosion.
And that's a shame, because the offerings at your local indie theater are particularly great this summer. Here's what's coming up, from buzz-worthy festival winners to under-the-radar pictures you've never heard of.
10. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
There's no one better to start off a list about slowing down for something small-scale than a director who makes films as intimate as Jim Jarmusch does. And with all the mass death that goes unspoken of in every disaster flick this year, we all need a little reminder of how death affects us all; whether that means living too long, having life cut short, or simply being the living dead. What Jarmusch presents us with, through the brilliant Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston, is a fascinating and meditative take on the vampire narrative. His characters don't even remotely embody the kind of bloodsuckers that pop culture has been barraging the world with lately, but it's exactly that fact that makes Only Lovers Left Alive one to look out for.
The film is currently showing at O Cinema, with the Miami Beach Cinematheque following soon after.
9. Young & Beautiful
François Ozon has made a living with films that investigate the psychosexual development of all sorts of people. Here, in a film that almost entirely reflective of his own career and all the experimentation with sexuality that it's done, his lens is focused on a budding young woman who moonlights as a prostitute. It's a simple, sensual film, and one that warrants a rewatch months after its premiere at the Miami International Film Festival.
The film is showing at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, Cosford Cinema, and Tower Theater.
8. Obvious Child
Another A24 release (I can't emphasize how great a distribution company they are), Obvious Child is one of few films this summer that is about and was written, directed, and produced by women. Gillian Robespierre's debut feature, adapted from her own short, is about an aspiring comedian who winds up pregnant after a one night stand and has to deal with everything that comes with it. All this already sounds promising, but the endlessly charming Jenny Slate -- who many will recognize from either Saturday Night Live& or Parks and Recreation -- in the lead role is even more exciting.
The film is set for release on June 6.
7. The Dance of Reality
If you've never had your mind blown away by the surreal prowess of a master like Alejandro Jodorowsky, there's no way you'll know what you're in for with his first work in twenty-three years: La danza de la realidad. Coming just after the release of the fascinating documentary about his failed attempt at making his vision of Dune a reality, it's the perfect follow-up work considering it's an autobiographical piece. Regardless, with a visionary like Jodorowsky, one can never begin to imagine where fiction begins and reality ends.
The film opens at the Miami Beach Cinematheque on June 6.
6. The Signal
With the kind of low-budget sci-fi masterpieces coming out of Sundance in recent years (take Shane Carruth's Primer and Upstream Color as great examples), it's a wonder how The Signal got past our radar until just recently. The vague IMDB synopsis -- a group of college students are lured to the middle of the desert by a hacker -- and the intriguing, visually appealing trailer, make it one to keep an eye out for this summer. Considering the disappointments that have been handed to everyone this year with regards to big budget sci-fi related flicks, this is a film we're hoping turns out as good as it looks.
The film is set to release on June 13.
There's something about psychological thrillers that gets me going, and when critics throw around comparisons to filmmakers like Michael Haneke, Luis Buñuel, and Giorgos Lanthimos, things become even more exciting. Borgman, which premiered at Cannes 2013, has finally made its way to the US through Drafthouse, and it's no wonder why it's one of the most exciting upcoming releases. The uncomfortable trailer already promises plenty with this tale of a homeless man who invades a home, and one can only wonder where this tale will take us.
The film opens at the Miami Beach Cinematheque on June 19.
Speaking of science-fiction films that haven't gotten nearly enough press in the states, Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer is easily one of the most anticipated flicks of the year. Any film as ambitious sounding as one about a dystopian society in which all remaining life on earth is crammed into a constantly-moving train automatically deserves attention. The fact that it's based on an already interesting French graphic novel, Le Transperceneige, loaded with talent (Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Ed Harris, Song Kang-ho), and helmed by one of South Korea's most talented filmmakers only sweetens the deal.
The film opens at the Miami Beach Cinematheque on June 27th, with a Bong Joon-ho retrospective featuring Mother, The Host, and Memories of Murder following in July.
3. The Rover
As boring of a year as 2010 was for the following Oscars, by no means was David Michôd's Animal Kingdom one of the best nominees involved. And yet, his latest project being distributed by A24, The Rover, looks like a damn interesting one. Its trailer is a simple one, simply showing glimpses of an anarchist society, but its enough to captivate the viewer with its showcasing of the Australian outback. Plus, as one of the few remaining fans of Robert Pattinson, especially after his great performance in David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, how could I not be excited?
The film is set to release on June 20.
2. Dormant Beauty
Is it truly possible for anyone to not want to watch a film that stars a talent like Isabelle Huppert? Maybe, but it's hard to imagine why, especially when she's in a drama alongside Toni Servillo (who many will remember from the Oscar-winning Italian film The Great Beauty). Even though it premiered in Miami in 2013 through MIFF, Bella Addormentata has finally garnered a limited release this year. The film takes place over the last six days of a woman who has spent 17 years in a vegetative state. Simply wondering what a filmmaker could do with that concept is enough to make it one worth anticipating.
The film opens at the Cosford Cinema on July 11.
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While this is last, it's certainly not the least, especially considering it's the most ambitious work on this entire list. It's hard not to find Richard Linklater's career fascinating, with works like Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise, A Scanner Darkly, and School of Rock (among many great others) in his oeuvre. To think that now, after 12 years of production, his project Boyhood is finally being unveiled is exhilarating. Other directors have attempted to capture small glimpses of performances over a long period of time, but the idea that there could be a film that tells the story of a couple trying to raise their son over a period of 12 years is just plain crazy. That concept alone should be enough to get anyone in theaters. It's certainly enough for me.
Boyhood is set for release on July 11th.