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The 12 Indie Films You Must See This August

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire August 2, 2012 at 1:23PM

August is about to offer quite the selection to movie-goers, with over 40 films listed on Indiewire's August calendar.
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"Cosmopolis"

August is about to offer quite the selection to movie-goers, with over 40 films listed on Indiewire's August calendar.

As an extension of our  summer movie preview, Indiewire is offering the final of four monthly summer "must-see" lists to make cinematic decision-making as easy as possible this summer. We're even expanding it a bit beyond the usual 10 selections given what a remarkably strong month August is going to be for indie film.

From Robert Pattinson and Keanu Reeves to a fake Liberian Consul and the loneliest planet, check out Indiewire's picks for your 12 best options, and then check out August's full calendar, as there are many worthy films that didn't end up making this list.

1. Cosmopolis (August 17)

Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Paul Giamatti, Samantha Morton, Sarah Gadon, Juliette Binoche
Distributor: Entertainment One

Why is it a "Must See"? "Cosmopolis" might have premiered at Cannes to significantly mixed reviews (Indiewire's Eric Kohn said it "appeals to David Cronenberg fans and nobody else"),  but a new David Cronenberg film is still a new David Cronenberg film, and "Cosmopolis" offers a lot to chew on whether you end up being a fan of the film or not. Starring "Twilight" heartthrob and tabloid gossip magnate Robert Pattinson as an affluent executive, the film essentially takes place entirely in his limo as it drives across New York City en route to a haircut. Considerably more experimental than recent Cronenberg entries "A History of Violence" and "A Dangerous Method," it marks something of a return to the filmmaker's roots. It also marks a much more thought provoking star-powered cinematic option than almost anything else this summer (cough, "Snow White and the Huntsman," cough).

Check out the trailer below:

 

2. & 3. Sleepwalk With Me (August 24) and Compliance (August 17)

Directors: Mike Birbiglia ("Sleepwalk") and Craig Zobel ("Compliance")
Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn ("Sleepwalk"); Ann Dowd, Pat Healy, Dreama Walker, Bill Camp ("Compliance")
Distributor: IFC FIlms ("Sleepwalk"); Magnolia Pictures ("Compliance")

Why is it a "Must See"? Both among the best English-language film so far in 2012 on Indiewire's mid-year poll, "Sleepwalk With Me" and "Compliance" were major highlights of the second edition of Sundance's NEXT section (and the festival in general). The former is directed by, starring and co-written (alongside Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia and Seth Barrish) by Mike Birbiglia. Its  autobiographical narrative follows an aspiring comedian in denial about his girlfriend, his career, and, most significantly, his sleepwalking disorder. Also based on true events, the latter (Craig Zobel's follow-up to "Great World of Sound") focuses on a prank caller who pretends to be a police officer and convinces the manager of a fast food restaurant that one of her employees committed a crime. Both are definite must-sees this August.

Check out their trailers below:


4. 2 Days in New York (August 10)

Director: Julie Delpy
Cast: Chris Rock, Albert Delby, Alexia Landeau and Julie Delpy
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Why is it a "Must See"?  Julie Delpy's "2 Days in New York" premiered at Sundance earlier this year to somewhat positive reviews (Indiewire called it "fun by familiar"). Working as a sequel-of-sorts to Delpy's "2 Days in Paris," the film stars Delpy as Marion, a woman living in New York with a child from a previous relationship (see "Paris") and her new boyfriend (Rock) and his child.  When Marion's family arrives from France (including Delpy's actual father Albert), chaos ensues. While the "familiar" part noted in Indiewire's review is warranted (it follows basically the same formula as "Paris"), so is the fun. And who doesn't want to watch Julie Delpy and Chris Rock onscreen for an hour and a half?

Check out the trailer below:

5. The Ambassador (August 29)

Director: Mads Brügger
Cast: Mads Brügger
Distributor: Drafthouse Films

Why is it a "Must See"? Mads Brügger's follow-up to his Sundance Film Festival award winning "The Red Chapel," "The Ambassador" takes the director's remarkably hands on approach to investigative journalism a controversial step further. Brugegr makes his way to the Central African Republic, posing as a Liberian Consul by simply purchasing a diplomatic passport. Almost exclusively via hidden cameras, we watch as Brügger - with remarkable effect - dissappears into the character his new passport has brought forth: With a bizarre, almost Karl Lagerfeldian look, Brügger gives his diplomat the cover story of wanting to open a brand new match factory that will bring lots of jobs to the area. It's a risky setup, but Brügger pulls it off, allowing "The Ambassador" to become a unique entry into the sub-category of documentaries about African politics. How the many people and countries it exposes react as the film as it begins theatrical release remains to be seen (the Liberian Government is already pursuing legal action).

Check out the film's trailer:

6. & 7. Little White Lies (August 24) and Beloved (August 17)

Directors: Guillaume Canet ("Lies"); Christophe Honoré ("Beloved")
Casts: François Cluzet, Marion Cotillard, Benoît Magimel, Gilles Lellouche and Jean Dujardin ("Lies"); Catherine Deneuve, Chiara Mastroianni, Ludivine Sagnier, Louis Garrel, Paul Schneider, Milos Forman ("Beloved")
Distributor: MPI Media Group ("Lies"); IFC Films ("Beloved")

Why Are They "Must Sees"? French double feature! Each featuring impressive ensemble casts including everyone from Marion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin to Louis Garrel and Catherine Deneuve to Paul Schneider and Milos Forman (!), Guillaume Canet's "Little White Lies" and Christophe Honore's "Beloved" (which have both been out in France for over a year) hope to continue the trend of very successful recent French imports.  And both have a lot going for it: The former is a sort of French "Big Chill," while the latter is a romantic musical drama spanning three decades. What better ways to escape the August heat than either/or.

Check out the films' trailers below:

8. Chicken With Plums (August 17)

Director: Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud
Cast:  Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Eric Caravaca, Chiara Mastroianni
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Why is it a "Must See"? Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud have followed up their extremely acclaimed animated film "Persepolis" by veering into live action territory with "Chicken With Plums." Like "Persepolis," the film is adapted from one of Satrapi's own graphic novels. It follows Satrapi's uncle Nasser Ali (Amalric), a violinist who takes to his bed for eight days with the intention of dying after his prized violin is destroyed by his wife (de Medeiros). As the days go by and Nasser ekes closer to the end, scenes from his past, present and future are shown, revealing the tragic story behind his quest to bring an end to his life.

Check out the film's trailer below:

9. Side By Side (August 17)

Director:  Chris Kenneally
Cast: Keanu Reeves
Distributor: Tribeca Film

Why is it a "Must See"? Along with director Chris Kenneally, unlikely digital cinema historian Keanu Reeves interviews dozens and dozens of folks from the film industry -- from Lars von Trier and David Fincher to David Lynch and George Lucas -- asking about both the science behind the development of digital cinema technology as well as its effects. Thorough, accessible and entertaining (in large part thanks to Reeves' surprisingly effective interviewing skills), the film is a new take on film history.

Check out the trailer below:

10. Samsara (August 24)

Director: Ron Fricke
Distributor: Oscilloscope Labatories

Why is it a "Must See"? An extraordinarily different option than anything else on this list is Ron Fricke's non-verbal documentary "Samsara," a remarkable sensory experience filmed over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents (and shot on 70mm film). "The footage captured by Fricke is unlike anything you will ever see -- based simply on the sheer effort that it took to do so," The Playlist wrote in their review. "His signature and innovative use of camera movement over time-lapse photography is visually breathtaking, interspersed with stunning slow motion film-portraits of various subjects along the journey. It has a rhythm and flow that ebbs like the tides, and a score that pulsates with a human heartbeat." If that's not enough to get you in a theater, this trailer should help:

 

11. & 12. Celeste and Jesse Forever (August 3) and For a Good Time, Call... (August 31)

Directors: Lee Toland Krieger ("Celeste"); Jamie Travis ("Call...")
Cast: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Chris Messina, Ari Graynor, Will McCormack, Emma Roberts, Elijah Wood ("Celeste");  Ari Graynor, Lauren Anne Miller, Justin Long, James Wolk, Mark Webber ("Call...")
Distributor: Sony Classics ("Celeste") ; Focus Features ("Call...")

Why Are They "Must Sees"? Finally, some genuine fun times. Both alums of this year's Sundance Film Festival (and both starring Ari Graynor), "Celeste and Jesse Forever" and "For a Good Time, Call..." each out unique spins on the tired romantic comedy genre that Hollywood has been beating into the ground lately. Each written by duos of old friends (Rashida Jones and Will McCormack wrote "Celeste," Lauren Anne Miller and Katie Anne Naylon wrote "Call..."), both films offer sincere (and in the case of "For a Good Time," uniquely raunchy) alternatives to Hollywood's offerings.

Check out the trailers below:

Check out the trailers below:

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