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Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Indies You Must See (Part 2)

Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Indies You Must See (Part 2)

Indiewire’s epic summer movie preview continues today with part 2 of our 5 part series highlight 50 indie films we think you should see this summer. Head back over to part 1 for a full introduction and the first batch of films (which, like below, are listed in alphabetical order).

Dead Man’s Burden (May 3)

Director: Jared Moshe
Cast: Barlow Jacobs, Clare Bowen, David Call
Distributor: Cinedigm

Criticwire Average: 5 critics gave it a B average

Why is it a “Must See”? This appears to be the summer that indie film goes genre, with Jared Moshe’s microbudget, naturalistic Western “Dead Man’s Burden” fitting in nicely beside “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints” as a new revision to the genre. Shot by Robert Hauer on 35mm, the film is filled with sweeping, gorgeous visuals of its Civil War south setting, earning a great deal of praise when it debuted at the LA Film Festival. Starring a trio of indie-approved character actors, the slow burning “Burden” should hopefully breath some life into the Western filmmaking. [Mark E. Lukenbill]

Check out the film’s trailer:

Drinking Buddies (August 23)

Director: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston
Distributor: Magnolia

Criticwire Average: 8 critics gave it an A- average

Why is it a “Must See”? When the cast for mumblecore vet Joe Swanberg’s newest film leaked this summer, it certainly raised a lot of questions. Had the ever-prolific Swanberg (“Hannah Takes the Stairs”) finally gone Hollywood? Not exactly. Even with its starry, game cast and the presence of “Beast of the Southern Wild” cinematographer Ben Richardson, “Drinking Buddies” remains perfectly Swanberg.  Following the intertwining relationships of two juvenile best bud brewery workers, played by Olivia Wilde and “New Girl’s” Jake Johnson, “Drinking Buddies” is a fresh and goofy standout in Swanberg’s behemoth of a filmography. When it premiered at SXSW most of the accolades were directed at WIlde’s comedic performance, which is enough to make you forget that her “Burt Wonderstone” played at the same festival. [Mark E. Lukenbill]

A trailer for the film is not yet available.

The East (May 31)

Director: Zal Batmanglij
Cast: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard, Ellen Page, Patricia Clarkson, Shiloh Fernandez
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Criticwire Average: 10 critics gave it a B+ average

Why is it a “Must See”? Two years after “Another Earth” and “Sound of My Voice” catapulted her to indie-icon status at Sundance, Brit Marling is back with her latest writing-acting effort, “The East.” Directed and co-written by her “Sound of My Voice” collaborator Zal Batmanglij, the Fox Searchlight thriller centers on an ex-FBI agent (Marling) who infiltrates an anarchist collective known as The East suspected of attacking corporate CEOs. Once embedded within the group, however, she soon finds herself on their side. [Nigel M. Smith]

Check out the film’s trailer:

The English Teacher (May 17)

Director: Craig Zisk
Cast: Julianne Moore, Greg Kinnear, Michael Angarano, Nathan Lane, Lily Collins
Distributor: Tribeca Film

Criticwire Average: The film has yet to receive grades, but check back here.

Why is it a “Must See”? Craig Zisk makes his directorial debut after working on numerous television series (“The Big C,” “Weeds”) with “The English Teacher,” which is currently premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival before hitting theaters on May 17th. The film stars Julianne Moore as the titular teacher, who lives a solitary existence in a small town until a former student (Michael Angarano) comes back and the two begin to collaborate on a school play. It’s a great cast (Greg Kinnear and Nathan Lane also star) and offers some nice counterprogramming to the likes of “The Hangover Part III” and “Fast and Furious 6” (which both open a few days later). [Peter Knegt]

Check out the film’s trailer:

Fill The Void (May 24)

Director: Rama Burshtein
Cast: Hadas Yaron, Yiftach Klein, Irit Sheleg, Chaim Sharir, Razia Israely, Hila Feldman, Renana Raz, Yael Tal, Michael David Weigl, Ido Samuel, Neta Moran, Melech Thal
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics

Criticwire Average: 19 critics gave it a B+ average

Why is it a “Must See”? Israel’s submission to last year’s Academy Awards, Rama Burshtein’s “Fill The Void” hits American theaters nine months after it won the best actress award at last year’s Venice Film Festival (for star Hadas Yaron). The film follows a well to-do family in Haredi Jewish community in Tel Aviv, Israel that suffers a tragedy when his daughter Esther dies in childbirth. As a result the family’s younger daughter is pressured by her mother to marry her deceased sister’s husband (hence the title). In a review back in September, Indiewire said the film’s storytelling is “deliberate, nuanced and memorable, but don’t expect anything reassuring.” That might not sound like an optimal summer night at the movies, but trust us “Fill The Void” is worth your while. [Peter Knegt].  

Check out the film’s trailer:

Frances Ha (May 17)

Director: Noah Baumbach
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner, Adam Driver
Distributor: IFC Films

Criticwire Average: 38 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a “Must See”? Greta Gerwig gives her most appealing performance yet in Noah Baumbach’s seemingly effortless black-and-white comedy that, yes, does share a lot of similarities to Lena Dunham’s hit HBO show “Girls.” Centered on the bumbling life of Frances (Gerwig), a struggling post-modern dancer living and loving in the Big Apple, “Frances Ha” doesn’t tell a story, so much as force you to get to know the protagonist. As written by both Baumbach and Gerwig, Frances is a hot mess, but an endearing, awkward and hilarious one. [Nigel M. Smith]

Check out the film’s trailer:

Fruitvale Station (July 26)

Director: Ryan Coogler
Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O’Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Criticwire Average: 10 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a “Must See”? The film formerly known just as “Fruitvale” heads into its release with the considerable status of having won both the grand jury prize and audience award at the Sundance Film Festival. The Weinstein Company — who acquired the film at the fest– pushed up its date from October to July, a strategy that certainly helped last year’s big Sundance winner “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (which also went to Cannes before heading to theaters, which “Fruitvale Station” will do next month). The film tells the story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, and his experiences on the last day of his life, before he was fatally shot in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. Of all the films on this list it’s perhaps the one most likely to be remembered come Oscar season time (save maybe “Before Midnight”), particular for the standout performances of Jordan, Octavia Spencer and Melonie Diaz. [Peter Knegt]

A trailer for the film has yet to be released but check back.

Girl Most Likely (July 19)

Director: Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman
Cast: Kristin Wiig, Annette Bening, Darren Criss, Matt Dillon
Distributor: Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate

Criticwire Average: 9 critics have it a C average.

Why is it a “Must See”? Another film with a title change, “Girl Most Likely” was “Imogene” when it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last fall. Picked up by Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate, the film — from directing team Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (“American Splendor”) — stars Kristin Wiig as a moderately successful New York playwright who stages a fake suicide attempt in order to win back her ex-boyfriend — only to end up being forced into the custody of her gambling-addicted mother (Annette Bening) who is also boarding a cute boy (Darren Criss) in Wiig’s old room. Sold. [Peter Knegt]

The trailer’s not yet available but check out this Q&A from its Toronto premiere:


The Grandmaster (August 23)

Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Cast: Tony Leung, Ziyi Zhang, Chang Chen
Distributor: The Weinstein Company

Criticwire Average: 11 critics gave it a C+ average

Why is it a “Must See”? Match the stunning, bold visuals of Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai (“In the Mood for Love,” “Chunking Express”) with martial arts and you’ve got both a beautiful and thrilling summer film. “The Grandmaster,” starring none other than Wong’s usual frontman Tony Leung (“In the Mood for Love,” “2046”), tells the story of the famous Wing Chun martial artist Ip Man who went on to train Bruce Lee. The film, which Indiewire’s Eric Kohn called a “visual marvel” in his Berlin review, opened in Hong Kong and China earlier this year and became the director’s highest-grossing film yet. For kung-fu lovers, Wong fans, and those who just want to be dazzled in the cinema, “The Grandmaster” is definitely a film to look forward to. [Erin Whitney]

Check out the film’s trailer:

Greetings From Tim Buckley (May 3)

Director: Dan Algrant
Cast: Penn Badgley, Imogen Poots, Ben Rosenfield
Distributor: Tribeca Film

Criticwire Average: 7 critics gave it a B- average.

Why is it a “Must See”? The first of two planned Jeff Buckley films, “Greetings From Tim Buckley” has been described as more than a biopic and instead an examination of father and son through music. The film stars Penn Badgley (“Gossip Girl”) as Jeff Buckley, the singer-songwriter of the ’90s who died at age 30. He was the son of the great American musician Tim Buckley, played by newcomer Ben Rosenfield. The film — which screened at Toronto last year — leads up to Jeff’s famous 1991 singing debut at his father’s tribute concert in St. Anne’s Church in Brooklyn. Jeff struggles with his bitterness toward his father who abandoned him and died at age 28 in 1977. The film charts both Jeff in 1991 as he prepares for the concert and falls in love with Allie (Imogen Poots), and Tim in the ’70s during his son’s birth. [Erin Whitney]

Check out the film’s trailer:


READ MORE: Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Indies You Must See (Part 1)

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