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Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Indies You Must See (Part 5)

Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Indies You Must See (Part 5)

Indiewire’s epic summer movie preview is completed today with part 5 of our series highlighting 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 and to part 2 and part 3 and part 4 for the previous sets (all of which are, like below, listed in alphabetical order).

The Spectacular Now (August 2)

Director: James Ponsoldt
Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler
Distributor: A24

Criticwire Average: 23 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a “Must See”? This Sundance alum — one of the definite highlights of the fest — features an intriguing collaboration between James Ponsoldt, whose “Off the Black” and “Smashed” were keenly observed dramas, and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, whose “(500) Days of Summer” brought true independent spirit to the romantic comedy genre. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley — who won acting prizes at Sundance — help tell the story, adapted from the Tim Tharp novel, of a freewheeling high school senior and the nice-girl female introvert he attempts to “save” — with mixed results. A24 is releasing the film in August, continuing the distributor’s quest to be the go-to folks for quality youth based films. [Peter Knegt]

The film has yet to release a trailer.

Stories We Tell (May 10)

Director: Sarah Polley
Distributor: Roadside Attractions

Criticwire Average: 31 critics gave it a A average

Why is it a “Must See”? One of the most acclaimed films from this past fall’s festival circuit, Sarah Polley’s deeply personal documentary about her own family is coming to theaters this year care of Roadside Attractions. Polley uses home movies, new interviews and voice-over narration to explore secrets in her own family in the incredibly moving doc, which will give you yet another reason to love the Canadian child actress turned woman who can clearly do anything. [Peter Knegt]

Check out the film’s trailer:


Sun Don’t Shine (April 26)

Director: Amy Seimetz
Cast: Kate Lyn Sheil, Kentucker Audley, AJ Bowen
Distributor: Factory 25

Criticwire Average: 22 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a “Must See”? Former indie best-kept-secret Amy Seimetz is about to be everywhere. After years of making a name for herself in low budget films like Joe Swanberg’s “Alexander the Last,” Seimetz brought in 2013 with a starring role in Shane Carruth’s inherently discussable “Upstream Color,” landed a role on both AMC and Netflix’s resurrection of “The Killing” and HBO’s Christopher Guest comedy “Family Tree,” and later this month will see the release of her debut feature as a filmmaker.

“Sun Don’t Shine,” executive produced in part by Carruth, is a nightmarish, visceral noir set in a sweltering and scuzzy central Florida. Indie character actors and rising talents Kate Lyn Sheil and Kentucker Audley star as a couple on a tense and mysterious road trip.

The film was nominated for a Gotham Award this year after playing last year at SXSW, Edinburgh, Sarasota, and others, with the general consensus being that it’s a hellish trip worth taking. [Mark E.

Check out the film’s trailer:

V/H/S 2 (July 12)

Director: Simon Barrett, Adam Wingard, Eduardo Sanchez, Gregg Hale, Timo Tjahjanto, Gareth Huw Evans, Jason Eisener
Cast: Adam Wingard, Lawrence Levine, L.C Holt, Kelsy Abbott, Hannah Hughes
Distributor: Magnolia

Criticwire Average: 21 critics gave it a B+ average.

Why is it a “Must See”? If last year’s found-footage, short film amalgamation “V/H/S” was enough to satiate your horror appetite, then the follow-up looks to surely provoke screams. “V/H/S/2,” although less impressive than the sequel’s original title “S-V/H/S,” continues the precursor’s formula of various gruesome, demented murders captured on tape. Foregoing the task of following a single plot in a specific horror subgenre, the “V/H/S” films incorporate a little something for every scary movie lover. The original included everything from a cabin in the woods to demonic possessions to a boyfriend-killing lesbian. Like the first, the follow-up features a slate of promising indie horror directors including “The Blair Witch Project” helmer Eduardo Sanchez, Gareth Evans (“The Raid”), Jason Eisener (“Hobo With a Shotgun”), and more. Following its Sundance premiere “V/H/S/2” was said to be even scarier than the first, taking the blood-squirting to another level and this time, it involves kids. Leave your little ones at home because “V/H/S/2” may leave even the bravest with gorey nightmares. [Erin Whitney]

Check out the film’s trailer:


Venus and Serena (May 10)

Director: Maiken Baird, Michelle Major
Distributor: Magnolia 

Criticwire Average: 3 critics gave it a B+ average.

Why is it a “Must See”?  Fans of the tennis superstar sisters — or anyone just interested in an incredible story about overcoming adversities — should save the date for Maiken Baird and Michelle Major’s doc “Venus and Serena,” which is making its way to theaters this May after a successful run on the festival circuit. The film takes an honest look into the truly remarkable lives of the sisters and tennis legends, showing how they came to be and how they struggle to stay on top.

Watch the film’s trailer below:


Violet and Daisy (June 7)

Director: Geoffrey Fletcher
Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel, James Gandolfini, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Danny Trejo
Distributor: Cinedigm

Criticwire Average: 6 critics gave it a C average.

Why is it a “Must See”?  Geoffrey Fletcher — who won an Oscar for writing “Precious: Based o the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire” — makes his directorial debut with this tale of a pair of teenage assassins (played by Saoirse Ronan and Alexis Bledel), who find themselves with a target who isn’t who they expected (James Gandolfini). Coming to theaters after a premiere at 2011’s Toronto Film Festival, “Violet and Daisy” gives the assassin genre a nice dose of female energy. [Peter Knegt]

The film has yet to release a trailer.

The Way, Way Back (July 5)

Director: Jim Rash, Nat Faxon
Cast: Sam Rockwell, Steve Carell, AnnaSophia Robb, Amanda Peet, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, Liam James
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

Criticwire Average: 15 critics gave it a B+ average.

Why is it a “Must See”? The biggest buy at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Fox Searchlight has a lot riding on Jim Rash and Nat Faxon’s directorial debut “The Way, Way Back.” But the summer vacation family portrait should fit nicely as some midsummer counter-programming. The film follows 14-year-old Duncan (Liam James) as he spends summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her overbearing boyfriend (Steve Carell) in a resort town.  To escape the dysfunction of that scenario, Duncan takes a job offer from Owen (Sam Rockwell), the manager of the Water Wizz water park… And coming-of-age ensues. [Peter Knegt]

Check out the film’s trailer:

We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks (May 24)

Director: Alex Gibney
Distributor: Focus World

Criticwire Average: 3 critics gave it an A- average.

Why is it a “Must See”? Prolific documentarian Alex Gibney goes behind one of the world’s most important but elusive organizations, Wikileaks, to see what’s happened since the organization came under attack by governments all over the world.  The film, which focuses on the organization’s former de facto leader Julian Assange and follows the organization to its status today, still existing but under uncertain terms. Part of the film’s drama comes from attempts to gain access to Assange who is resisting extradition for sexual assault accusations in the UK. [Bryce J. Renninger]

Check out the film’s trailer:

What Maisie Knew (May 3)

Director:  Scott McGehee, David Siegel
Cast:  Alexander Skarsgård, Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan
Distributor: Millennium Films

Criticwire Average: 14 critics gave it a B+ average.

Why is it a “Must See”? While the works of Henry James wouldn’t necessarily seem to lend themselves well to being contemporized, it’s still surprising that his “What Maisie Knew” has never had a major film adaptation before, as it remains a pretty unflinching look at post-divorce child upbringing through the eyes of the title character. But now “Bee Season” and “Uncertainty” co-directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel are bringing James’ novel into the 21st century, with touted newcomer Onata Aprile as the titular six year old, observing the bitter custody battle between her aging rocker mom (Julianne Moore) and art dealer dad (Steve Coogan). The film played at Toronto last year, where the acting of everyone involved was praised, which isn’t surprising given the on-screen talent. [Mark E.

Check out the film’s trailer:

You’re Next (August 23)

Director: Adam Wingard
Cast: Sharni Vinson, Amy Seimetz, Kate Lyn Sheil, Joe Swanberg, Ti West
Distributor: Lionsgate

Criticwire Average: 16 critics gave it a B+ average

Why is it a “Must See”? Originally debuting at Toronto way, way back in 2011, “You’re Next” received a considerable amount of acclaim which has since turned into buzzy enthusiasm when the film was consecutively shelved, where it collected dust (and raves on horror blogs) until it screened at SXSW this year. Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, the team behind “A Horrible Way to Die” and the horror anthology “V/H/S,” have created a tightly-wound horror film with a refreshing goofy side, following a massacre at a family reunion in the wooded mansion of the family’s parents.

Among the hunted family members is pretty much every low budget “mumblecore” filmmaker/director currently working, from Joe Swanberg to Amy Seimetz to fellow horror auteur Ti West. Will it live up to the hype? At the very least, we can promise that it’s a highly entertaining and twisted survival tale. [Mark E.

Check out the film’s trailer:

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

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

READ MORE: Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Indies You Must See (Part 3)

READ MORE: Summer Movie Preview: The 50 Indies You Must See (Part 4)

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