Thursday, August 1, 2013

Indie Watch: August 2013

Full monthly preview on Film.com
edited by @davidehrlich



 The Spectacular Now

This film from the director of “Smashed” comes a love story between a teenage alcoholic and the slightly nerdy girl he befriends after a bad senior year break up. While it may sound trite on paper, the festival darling (one of many hitting theaters in limited release this month) surprises with its deliberate lack of showiness, understated nature and simple, effective performances. Miles Teller and in particular Shailene Woodley shine with their nuanced naturalism and easy chemistry.
Although parts of the film feel too reliant on improv to achieve this realism, a rather rampant problem with a lot of indie filmmaking nowadays, the good ultimately outweighs the bad. And you’ll never look Coach Taylor the same way again. Since both Teller and Woodley appear in YA adaptation “Divergent”, and the film’s marketing focuses more on the teen love story than teen alcoholic story, expect high critical praise and potentially low cinema scores from the inevitably confused 13-18 year old set.

The Canyons
This movie!! Guys!! This movie!!  Lindsay Lohan, renaissance porn star James Deen, Bret Easton Ellis, and the inimitable Paul Schrader join forces to create this masterpiece/sh*t show, which is finally coming to theaters and VOD after what seemed like an eternity of gossip. In any event, nothing is keeping me from taking in this “contemporary LA noir about the dangers of sexual obsession and ambition,” so good job stoking the strange fires of controversy, this NY Times piece and this New York Magazine article!


Ain't Them Bodies Saints
Another one of those aforementioned festival darlings that wowed at Sundance, SXSW, and LA Film Fest, to name a few. This neo-Western set in 1970s Texas Hill Country, stars Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster and was developed through the Sundance Writing and Producing labs. David Lowery’s  film currently has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, but can this swooningly romantic drama break out from the art house audience?  At the very least, the Sundance US Dramatic Cinematography Award winner will be beautiful to look at, and allegedly features one of the most compellingly strange scores of the year.


The Grandmaster
As if a Wong Kar Wai movie would be opening and we *wouldn’t* put it in our movie preview. What, were you expecting? “Planes”? “Mortal Instruments”? PSHAW I SAY. “The Grandmaster” is yet another biopic about Ip Man, the legendary martial arts master who trained Bruce Lee, Wong’s take following the martial artist as his world collides with that of another kung fu master, Gong Er, during the Japenese invasion in 1936. Choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping, mastermind behind “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”, “Kill Bill” and “The Matrix”, “The Grandmaster” certainly promises to be a different and decidedly unique take on both biopics and martial arts movies.


You're Next
It has now been a solid TWO YEARS since “You’re Next” started playing the festival circuit to much acclaim, but finally the twist-on-the-home-invasion horror flick will be available for consumption nationwide. Opening weekend, grab a giant group of horror loving friends and get thee to a theater. Oh fun fact for you fellow geeks out there -  that cat mask you see in the trailer? Very popular random item floating around at Comic-Con, that was even discovered backstage by Michael Fassbender and shown off during his Comic-Con panel for “X-Men.”


Short Term 12
This little movie from director Destin Cretton won both the Grand Jury and Audience Award at SXSW, and then the Audience Award at LA Film Fest, and mark my words, will be making plenty of noise come Film Independent Spirit Awards time. Although the film was the second Cretton made, after “I Am Not A Hipster”, he began work on “Short Term 12″ long before, having worked with foster kids himself and becoming inspired to tell this story of the people who find hope in such facilities, whether they are the ones being cared for, or the ones attempting to do the caring. This beautiful, moving uncliched drama stars Brie Larson in a star-making role and an excellent John Gallagher Jr (“Newsroom”) as her sympathetic boyfriend.

Recommended: 
Europa Report (Aug 2nd, on VOD now)
In A World (Aug 9th)
Prince Avalanche (Aug 9th)
Drinking Buddies (Aug 23rd, On VOD now)
Afternoon Delight (Aug 30)

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