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The 12 Indie Films You Must See This May

The 12 Indie Films You Must See This May

#1. “Heaven Knows What” (May 29)

(Film Page)
Directors: Ben Safie and Joshua Safdie
Cast: Ron Bruanstein, Eleonore Hendricks, Arielle Holmes, Caleb Landry Jones, Yuri Pleskun
Criticwire Average: B+
Why is it a “Must See”? Indiewire’s review of “Heaven Knows What” dubbed it a must-watch, with chief film critic Eric Kohn calling it, “A bold attempt to explore drug addiction through behavior.” The film comes from Joshua and Benny Sadfie (“Daddy Longlegs”), whose visions of New York City are as strange as they are inspired, and it was awarded the International Confederation of Art Cinemas prize at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

#2. “Slow West” (May 15)

(Film Page)
Director: John Maclean
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Rory McCann, Alex Macqueen, Brooke Williams
Criticwire Average: B+
Why is it a “Must See”? John Maclean’s beautifully lensed and powerfully acted modern western took Sundance by storm earlier this year, claiming the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema – Dramatic category. Words from critics used to describe the film have ranged from “terrific” to “impeccably crafted,” and you could do a lot worse than spending a few hours with the likes of Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn and Kodi Smit-McPhee.

#3. “Results” (May 29)

(Film Page)
Director: Andrew Bujalski
Cast: Guy Pearce, Cobie Smulders, Kevin Corrigan, Giovanni Ribisi, Brooklyn Decker, Anthony Michael Hall
Criticwire Average: B
Why is it a “Must See”? Indie favorite Andrew Bujalski (“Computer Chess”) has gathered a top-notch cast for his romantic comedy set in the world of personal trainers, with Guy Pearce and Cobie Smulders taking on the lead roles. Though considered the director’s most commercial effort to date, critics still found a lot to like in this one, from the affable performances to the consistent humor. As our own Eric Kohn put it, “‘Results’ shows the first indication of Bujalski’s ability to tell stories on a larger scale.”

#4. “Saint Laurent” (May 8)

(Film Page)
Director: Bernard Bonello
Cast: Gaspard Ulliel, Lea Seydoux, Jeremie Renier, Lisa Ulliel, Louis Garrel, Amira Cassar, Aymeline Valade
Criticwire Average: B
Why is it a “Must See”? Certainly considered the better of the two biographies about the famed fashion designer to premiere last year, “Saint Laurent” was a critical and commercial sensation in its country of origin, France. The film earned the most Cesar Award nominations of any movie last year, including for Best Film, Best Actor (Gaspard Ulliel) and Best Director (Bertrand Bonello).

#5. “Good Kill” (May 15)

(Film Page)
Director: Andrew Niccol
Cast: Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz, Jake Abel, Bruce Greenwood
Criticwire Average: B-
Why is it a “Must See”? Fresh off of his Oscar-nominated “Boyhood” performance, Ethan Hawke returns to the big screen in a film that’s more prescient than anything on this list. Director Andrew Niccol, best known as the scribe of “The Truman Show,” confronts the ethics and controversies of drone warfare by visualizing them through his protagonist, a drone pilot wrestling with his job’s morality. Though the film has earned mixed reviews, it’s among the first to engage with one of our time’s most complex debates.

#6. “Maggie” (May 8)

(Film Page)
Director: Henry Hobson
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson
Criticwire Average: B
Why is it a “Must See”? The zombie genre often includes a parent protecting their child against the dangers of the apocalyptic world, but what happens when said child gets infected? The psychological effects of this dynamic are explored in full in Henry Hobson’s “Maggie,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to favorable reviews. In a rare dramatic performance, Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as the Midwestern farmer who stays by the side of his beloved teenage daughter (Breslin) even as she slowly turns into a cannibalistic zombie. Come for the genre-bending narrative, and stay for world-weary shades of Schwarzenegger you’ve never seen before.

#7. “Far From the Madding Crowd” (May 1)

(Film Page)
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Juno Temple, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaerts
Criticwire Average: B+
Why is it a “Must See”? Based on the acclaimed 1874 novel by Thomas Hardy, “Far From the Madding Crowd” chronicles a beautiful young woman (Mulligan) and her relationships with three very different men. The cast couldn’t be more eye-catching or dramatically trained for such a sweeping romance, but it’s really the involvement of writer-director Vinterberg that has us most excited. The 45-year-old Danish filmmaker was one of the dominant figures in the Dogma 95 movement with explosive dramas like “The Celebration.” Although recent efforts such as the Oscar-nominated “The Hunt” have had bigger budgets and glossier aesthetics, the director hasn’t lost his affinity for exploring psychological themes with a rugged, unguarded intensity. If Vinterberg can maintain his Dogma sensibilities in the emotions of “Madding Crowd,” than the drama will easily be one of the more piercing period romances in quite some time.

#8. “Welcome To Me” (May 1)

(Film Page)
Director: Shira Piven
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Linda Cardellini, James Marsden, Wes Bentley, Joan Cusack, Tim Robbins
Criticwire Average: B
Why is it a “Must See”? “Welcome to Me” stars Kristen Wiig in another tremendously funny role, this time as a television obsessed young woman with Borderline personality disorder named Alice. The film follows Alice who wins $86 million in a lottery and decides to abandon her meds, live in a casino and spend all of her earnings on a TV show about herself. “Welcome to Me” is a dark comedy which explores our desire for fame and our deeper need to be heard.

#9. “The D Train” (May 8)

(Film Page)
Director: Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel
Cast: James Marsden, Jack Black, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike White, Kyle Bornheimer
Criticwire Average: C+
Why is it a “Must See”? In this delayed coming-of-age comedy, Jack Black stars as Dan Landsman, an insecure family man who is in charge of planning his high school reunion. After spotting his former popular classmate Olive Lawless (Marsden), Dan flies to L.A. to convince him to attend the reunion in hopes of fulfilling his adolescent dream of getting noticed by the cool kid. According to Indiewire’s review, “‘The D Train’ is a lesson in self-acceptance, posing the question of whether lying your way to external validation is worth it, or whether you’re better off living your own truth — whoever you happen to be.”

#10. “Sunshine Superman” (May 22)

(Film Page)
Director: Marah Strauch
Cast: Jean Boenish, Carl Boenish
Criticwire Average: A-
Why is it a “Must See”? Directed by first-time feature filmmaker Mariah Strauch, “Sunshine Superman” is a remarkable, complex portrait of Carl Boenish, known as “The Father of BASE Jumping.” The pulse-racing documentary incorporates jaw-dropping footage of the jumps into an intimate exploration of Boenish’s personal life. “Sunshine Superman” follows Boenish’s journey as its filled with incredible achievements and daunting setbacks, as the possibility of death looms over him.

#11. “Reality” (May 1)

(Film Page)
Director: Quentin Dupieux
Cast: Alain Chabat, Elodie Bouchez, Jon Heder, Jonathan Lambert, Kyla Kenedy, Eric Wareheim, John Glover, Lola Delon, Matt Battaglia, Susan Diol
Criticwire Average: B+
Why is it a “Must See”? Director Quentin Dupieux (“Rubber,” “Wrong”) returns for another wild, surrealist comedy. According to the film’s official synopsis, “Jason (Alain Chabat), a quiet cameraman, dreams of directing his first horror movie. Bob Marshal (Jonathan Lambert), a wealthy producer, accepts to finance his movie one condition: Jason has 48 hours to find the perfect scream in the history of film. During his search, Jason gradually gets lost in a nightmare.” As the lines between fact and fiction are blurred, Dupieux’s latest will leave you scratching your head as you leave the theater.

#12. “I’ll See You In My Dreams” (May 15)

(Film Page)
Director: Brett Haley
Cast: Blythe Danner, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Malin Akerman, June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place
Criticwire Average: B+
Why is it a “Must See”? With sensitivity and subtlety, Blythe Danner stars as Carol, a retired schoolteacher and longtime widow. After the death of her beloved dog, Carol is inspired to find her way out of her depression by immersing herself in new experiences. The widowed Carol soon finds herself propelled into the dating world for the first time in 20 years. “I’ll See You In My Dreams” is a funny and heartwarming meditation life, loss and how our friendships and relationships change as we get older.

READ MORE: The 10 Indie Films You Must See This April

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