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The 9 Indie Films You Must See This October

The 9 Indie Films You Must See This October

There’s a whopping 33 films listed on indieWIRE’s October calendar. From Pedro Almodovar and Hunter S. Thompson to a dirty girl and another one of those pesky human centipedes, check out indieWIRE‘s picks for the nine best options, and then check out the full calendar or iW’s fall movie preview; there’s many worthy films that didn’t make this list (including notable studio efforts like “The Ides of March”).

1. & 2. Martha Marcy May Marlene (October 21, Fox Searchlight) and Like Crazy (October 28, Paramount Vantage)

What’s The Deal? The narrative MVPs of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival make their way to theaters this October with directing winner “Marlene” and Grand Jury Prize winner “Crazy.” They’re very different films: The former details a young woman’s experiences during and after a stint in an abusive cult, and the latter is a largely improvised long-distance love story. But together, they’re the great hopes of the sales surge that was Sundance 2011, and Fox Searchlight and Paramount Vantage clearly have very high expectations.

Who’s Already Seen Them? 31 critics gave “Marcy” an average of B+ on the film’s criticWIRE page; 17 critics gave “Crazy” an average of B+ on the film’s criticWIRE page.

Why They’re Must Sees: Despite significant plot differences, the films do share one major thing in common: Both star one of this year’s breakout indie actresses in Elizabeth Olsen (“Marlene”) and Felicity Jones (“Crazy”). Oscar campaigns for both are all but assured, giving “Iron” Meryl some fresh indie meat to contend with. Beyond that, they’re both thoughtful, original American indies in the truest sense and deserve your attention amidst the more established field that surrounds them.

3. The Skin I Live In (October 14, Sony Pictures Classics)

What’s The Deal? The first collaboration in 21 years between Pedro Almodóvar and Antonio Banderas, “The Skin I Live In” (“La piel que habito”) has been described by Almodóvar as “a horror story without screams or frights.” It follows a eminent plastic surgeon (Banderas) who has long been interested in creating a new skin that would have saved his dead wife when she was burned in a car crash.

Who’s Already Seen It? 26 critics gave it an average of B on the film’s criticWIRE page.

Why It’s a Must See Two words: Pedro Almodóvar.

4. Hell and Back Again (October 5; Docurama Films)

What’s The Deal? One of the most acclaimed docs to come out of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival (and winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography in its world doc competition), Danfung Dennis’ directorial debut chronicles the life of an injured Marine returning home from Afghanistan to his wife and everyday life.

Who’s Already Seen It? Five critics gave it an average of A- on the film’s criticWIRE page.

Why It’s a Must See Besides all those awards? Well, “Hell and Back Again” offers what is truly one of the most honest portrayals of the physical and mental fallout war can have on an individual.

“Martha Marcy May Marlene.” Fox Searchlight.

5. Le Havre (October 21; Janus Films)

What’s The Deal? This Finnish import from Aki Kaurismaki (and the country’s official submission to the Academy Awards) won raves in Cannes for its story of a shoe shiner who tries to save a refugee.

Who’s Already Seen It? 19 critics gave it an average of B+ on the film’s criticWIRE page.

Why It’s a Must See “With its bouncy soundtrack, deadpan humor and good-natured disposition, Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki’s ‘Le Havre’ is an endearing affair,” Eric Kohn write in indieWIRE‘s review. “Combining his clownish storytelling with a life-affirming plot, Kaurismaki churns a fundamental scenario through his own unique narrative tendencies, yielding a product both heartwarming and irreverent, two qualities that should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with his distinctive touch. Beyond that, it also introduces an element of political commentary to the director’s work that deepens its impact.”

6. The Rum Diary (October 28, FilmDistrict)

What’s The Deal? For his first film in almost 20 years, Bruce Robinson (“Withnail and I”) reunited Johnny Depp with Hunter S. Thompson with this adaptation of Thompson’s novel about an itinerant journalist (Depp) who tires of America under the Eisenhower administration and travels to Puerto Rico to write for The San Juan Star.

Who’s Already Seen It? No one yet. But check back with the film’s criticWIRE page closer to the film’s release.

Why It’s a Must See Long delayed and skipping the festival circuit, buzz hasn’t exactly been strong. However, the combination of Robinson, Depp and Thompson really should be enough for us all to have a little faith.

7. Being Elmo (October 21; Submarine Deluxe)

What’s The Deal? Constance Marks’ crowd-pleasing profile follows how puppeteer Kevin Clash – the man behind Elmo – came up through the ranks on sheer ambition and ingenuity to become one of the best in the business.

Who’s Already Seen It? 12 critics gave it an average of B+ on the film’s criticWIRE page.

Why It’s a Must See “Elmo” has been melting hearts on the festival circuit since premiering at Sundance this year, where it won the Special Jury Prize. It’ll likely do the same to anyone who catches it in theatrical release.

8. Dirty Girl (October 7; The Weinstein Company)

What’s The Deal? The specialty market gets raunchy with the directorial debut of Abe Sylvia, a 1980s-set teen comedy that details the story of smart, slutty Danielle (the transformative Juno Temple) and overweight, gay Joel (newcomer Nicholas D’Agosto), teenagers who end up on a road trip together that evolves into a life-changing experience for both.

Who’s Already Seen It? 14 critics gave it an average of C on the film’s criticWIRE page.

Why It’s a Must See Though unlikely to win over critics in a big way, “Dirty Girl” is October’s best bet for dirty retro fun.

9. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence (October 7; IFC Films)

What’s The Deal? Tom Six’s follow-up to his 2009 cult hit involves – if you have the stomach for the synopsis alone – a bite-sized British security guard takes his fetishization of the first movie to maniacal extremes, gathering 12 victims and enacting an elaborate and much gorier centipede of his own.

Who’s Already Seen It? Our own Eric Kohn gave the film a B on the film’s criticWIRE page.

Why It’s a Must See Clearly not for everyone, as indieWIRE‘s review notes, this second round of human centipedery will likely satisfy anyone satisfied the first time round: “For those unfamiliar with the original, the act in question (devised by a mad German scientist) calls for the sewing together of three victims, bluntly put, ass to mouth. With four times as much centipede this time out, the gory expectations have exponentially increased. Less outright horror than relentless in-your-face physical insanity, the premise is self selecting: It invites only those viewers up for the task.”

The full fall calendar:
September 2011 | October 2011 | November 2011 | December 2011.

Peter Knegt is indieWIRE’s Associate Editor. Follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

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