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The 11 Indies to Watch on VOD This October

The 11 Indies to Watch on VOD This October

1. “Automata Oct 10 
Antonio Banderas plays a investigator of accidents in “Automata,” a thriller that looks at a point in time — 40 years from now — where robots have caught up to humans. Directed by Gabe Ibañez, “Automata” examines the relationship between humans and robots at a time when the world is at the brink of ecological collapse. 

2. “Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead”
Oct 7 (Film Page)
“Dead Snow 2” delivers more gore, action, firepower, and laughs than the first film. Like its predecessor, “Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead” heaps entrails and endless liters of blood onto the screen as straight-faced actors combat a Nazi zombie uprising. Director Tommy Wirkola blissfully rebels against some typical horror rules—don’t mess with the kids, animals, and seniors. And, just like the original, the overall craftsmanship—not least of all the practical effects—is top-notch.

3. “Camp X-Ray Oct 17 (Film Page)
A young woman (Kristen Stewart) joins the military to be part of something bigger than herself and her small-town roots. Instead, she ends up as a new guard at Guantanamo Bay, where her mission is far from black and white. Surrounded by hostile jihadists and aggressive squadmates, she strikes up an unusual friendship with one of the detainees. “Camp X-Ray” fixates on the pair’s strange relationship as it unfolds through half-hearted exchanges and arguments about culpability. Ostensibly innocent of whatever crime has been leveled against him, Ali (the prisoner) seems to view Stewart’s character as both a target for venting and catharsis.

4. “Horns
 Oct 3 (Film Page)
When small town resident Ig Perrish (Radcliffe) discovers that his girlfriend (Juno Temple) has been raped and killed, he’s faced with allegations from the neighborhood and the media that singles him out as the main suspect. But the grief-stricken Ig is mainly lost in his thoughts and driven by blind rage to find the real murderer. His quest takes a bizarre turn when he wakes up one morning to find a pair of devilish horns poking out of his forehead that forces anyone in his immediate vicinity to blithely confess their true feelings. Certainly the weirdest movie of Radcliffe’s career, “Horns” obtains compelling direction whenever it gets away from the details of the plot and instead foregrounds the alternately humorous and intense powers that Ig magically possesses.

5. “Listen Up Philip”
 Oct 21 (Film Page)
Employing voice-over narration and an episodic structure that recalls the chapters of a book, Perry’s third directorial effort marries the best of showing and telling. Its titular character is a cantankerous novelist played by a hirsute and well-styled Jason Schwartzman. Petty, self-obsessed, and fixated on a very recognizable form of success, Philip’s increasing solipsism is defined by his relationships with those around him. Importantly, the protagonist disappears for a sizeable chunk of the film’s mid section (a device Perry borrowed from William Gaddis’ novel, “Recognitions”) and we learn as much about him in absentia as we do from being in his overwhelming presence. A languorous yet methodical comedy, “Listen Up Phillip” unfolds like a sociological proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity.

6. “Nas: Time is Illmatic
Oct 3 (Film Page)
“Time is Illmatic” provides a slim overview of the conditions behind the recording of rapper Nas’ seminal debut album “illmatic” on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. The debut feature of multimedia artist One9 does justice to the record’s significance for the hordes of fans that have consumed it over the course of a generation. But by almost entirely focusing on the album’s conception, it offers only a sliver of appreciation for Nas’ career or the broader climate under which it came together. Like a gesture from the rapper acknowledging his crowd, “Time Is Illmatic” is competent bait for Nas fans that leaves the door open just wide enough for newcomers to appreciate the fuss from afar.

7. “Open Windows
 Oct 2 (Film Page)
Oscar-nominated Spanish director Nacho Vigalondo returns to theaters for the first time since 2011’s “Extraterrestrial” with his new cyber-thriller, “Open Windows.” Elijah Wood stars as Nick, a young man whose hopes are dashed when a dinner date prize with his favorite action star (Sasha Grey) gets canceled. But when Nick seizes the opportunity to constantly view the celebrity via their computers, the virtual voyeurism leads both characters down a dangerous path. Bolstered by two great lead performances, “Open Windows” has enough thrills, laughs, technical smarts and comprehensible layers to not be a blemish on any of the CVs from the involved talent. And that counts for Vigalondo, as well. While the execution may occasionally falter, the obvious effort and thought put into making the concept work is more than worthy of a look.

8. “Young Ones Oct 17 (Film Page)
The barren futuristic world of writer-director Jake Paltrow’s “Young Ones” is a dusty landscape where the value of water is as good as currency and attracts a cult-like aura to those who can procure it. One such man is Ernest Holm, played with reliable determination by Michael Shannon, a father of two (Kodi Smit-McPhee and Elle Fanning) who spends his days procuring the land in hopes of rejuvenating the soil while defending it from oncoming bandits, one of whom is his daughter’s boyfriend (Nicholas Hoult). Similar to cinematic triptychs like “The Place Beyond the Pines,” this ambitiously told science fiction western is told in three chapters and mixes the deep values of the American West with the tragic layers of Greek drama. Not as much concerned with the specifics of what created this bleak landscape (filmed on location in South Africa), “Young Ones” is a post-apocalyptic movie where the biggest featured destruction is the dissolution of a family. The way it reaches to find the humanity in a place devoid of hope yields an admirable attempt at a singular vision.

9. “V/H/S ViralOct 23 (Film Page)
 While blockbuster horror franchises such as “Saw” and “Paranormal Activity” have worn out their welcome in mainstream multiplexes, the utterly terrifying “V/H/S” series continues to thrive amongst indie-horror fans. “Viral,” the third installment in the found footage series, follows a group of fame-obsessed teens that become stars of the next internet sensation. While past installments have featured segments directed by Ti West and Joe Swamberg, the latest entry finds Marcel Sarmiento (“ABC’s of Death: D”), Gregg Bishop (“The Birds of Anger”), Justin Benson (“Wrecked”) and the aforementioned Nacho Vigalondo (“Open Windows,” see above) taking turns behind the camera. Given the gruesome scares of the first two “V/H/S” films, expect nothing but nightmares from this latest chapter.

10. “1,000 Times Good Night” Oct 24 
After premiering at the Marrakech Film Festival last year, Erik Poppe’s English-language debut finally reaches On Demand platforms. The wonderfully talented Juliette Binoche stars as Rebecca, one of the world’s top war photographers who is injured while photographing a female suicide bomber in Kabul. The injury leads her husband (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of “Game of Thrones” fame) and young daughters to give her a potentially shattering ultimatum: her work or her family. Director and co-writer Poppe was a conflict photographer for many years and brings his years of experience to this gritty portrayal of photojournalism and the sacrifices we make for family. With both Poppe’s photographer eye helping elevate the conflict sequences, and a typically committed and occasionally fierce performance from Binoche, “1,000 Times” successfully blends professional and personal quandaries. 

11. “Nymphomaniac Director’s Cut” Oct 2 
As if Lars Von Trier’s sexually explicit magnum opus couldn’t get more NSFW, here comes the Director’s Cut, uniting both features into one four-hour epic study of how sexuality is discussed and understood. Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg in an emotionally fearless performance as Jo, the film plunges us into the titular character’s sexual torment with humorous academic allusions and biting monologues from a diverse ensemble, including Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin, Christian Slater, William Dafoe and Uma Thurman. While both parts of “Nymphomaniac” have been available On Demand for quite some time, the chance to catch Von Trier’s singular experience in all its explicit glory should be quite the unforgettable experience, especially since the film is more intelligently constructed than the title leads one to believe. 

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