All this week, Indiewire
will be rolling out our annual Summer Preview, including offerings that span
genres, a close examination of various trends and special attention to all the
new movies you need to get through a jam-packed summer movie-going season.
Check back every day for a new look at the best the season has to offer, and
clear your schedule, because we’re going to fill it right up.
Indiewire’s Springboard column profiles up-and-comers in the film industry worthy of your attention.
“Holy Hell,” May 27
Will Allen’s Sundance documentary initially hit the annual festival’s lineup without a director’s name attached, handily furthering the narrative that the intimate look at an insidious cult was something to be feared. Now bolstered by the producing talents of none other than Jared Leto, the crazy story of Allen’s misspent youth frittered away in a West Hollywood organization with some strange aims is about to go wide. The film is framed by not only Allen’s experiences, but that of his family, along with plenty of behind-the-scenes footage that couldn’t be gathered by anyone else. It’s a personal story, but also a brave (and nutty) one. Here’s hoping Allen can find another documentary subject to keep his hot-as-hell career on track (and here’s double hoping he doesn’t need to spend too much time investigating from the inside, the guy has done his time).
“Weiner,” May 20
Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s award-winning deep dive into the world of Anthony Weiner alternately delighted and horrified audiences at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where it debuted to packed houses and ultimately picked up the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary. It’s not just that the film goes almost embarrassingly deep inside Weiner’s ill-fated bid for New York City mayor (but, man, does it do that) or that Weiner himself seems woefully unaware of how he is coming across (that’s there too), but that Kriegman and Sternberg manage to keep the whole thing ticking along with calm and ease, even as the action they are documenting is going wildly off the rails. It’s an eye-popping, heart-stopping look inside not just the political machine, but a man who can’t seem to exist without it, no matter how often it grinds his life to a half. We can’t wait to see what Kriegman and Steinberg tackle next.
“The Fits,” June 3
Anna Rose Holmer’s genre-bending smash hit is the kind of rare gem you can only hope to unearth when you hit a film festival. A blend of coming-of-age story, sports parable and unnervingly tense thriller, the film follows young Toni (Royalty Hightower, a huge breakout start on her own) as she struggles to embrace her desire to move from boxing training (with her big brother) to dancing with a very popular local troupe (populated by lots of potential gal pals). Toni’s story is moving enough, but when her new friends start suffering from a mysterious affliction, the film takes a turn into unique territory. Powered by stunning sound, on point choreography and impressive turns from a mostly green cast, “The Fits” is one of the big indie finds of the year.
“Swiss Army Man,” June 24
No other film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival raise a bigger stink than Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert’s ruthless original buddy feature. Known around the festival as the “farting corpse” film, the Paul Dano- and Daniel Radcliffe-starring feature sets them up as very unlikely pals (one of them is dead, one of them is suicidal, we mean it when we say “unlikely”) who come to rely on each other during the year’s strangest survival story. It’s the duo’s first feature film, and it’s the kind of calling card no one else would have had the guts (rotting or not) to make. For better or worse, this is the most original comedy of the year.
“Equity,” July 29
Director Meera Menon first garnered acclaim with her wild 2013 coming-of-age story “Farah Goes Bang,” but it’s her next move that might be more interesting. Menon is at the helm of “Equity,” billed as the first feature to focus solely on the women of Wall Street, a glossy and tense financial thriller that weaves the normal pressures of financial wheeling and dealing with the unique expectations of the few women who are in the game. Starring Anna Gunn as a senior investment banker balancing a huge deal with personal issues, the film is major move forward for both Menon and the underserved females-in-finance demographic it handily portrays.
“Southside With You,” August 26
For his feature directorial debut, filmmaker Richard Tanne took on a subject both very personal and oddly public, writing and directing a feature that imagines (both through creative license and in-depth research) the content of Barack and Michelle Obama’s first date. Tanne’s idea, initially scoffed at my many, eventually blossomed into a charming, Linklater-esque romance with some uncanny true-life touches. Tanne’s ability to humanize larger-than-life public figures and craft a sweet romance around them should serve him quite well in further ventures, giving him the skills to do a wide range of tones and gernes, all thanks to one (pretty great) date.
“The Intervention,” August 26
Clea DuVall has been a familiar face in movies and on TV since she was in her teens (she recently told Indiewire that her schooling mostly came from her working experiences, not high school or college), and she’s finally made the jump to directing with a Sundance breakout that spins “The Big Chill” into unexpected new directions. Starring a cast of other big indie names (many of which she considers to be close friends), DuVall mixes together an amiable group to tell a tricky story, with pretty charming results. The film’s plot centers on a long-time group of friends who decide to stage an eponymous intervention on two of their own, convinced that they need their assistance in breaking up a toxic marriage. It’s funny and sweet and wonderfully easy to watch, and DuVall natural talent behind (and in front of) the camera shines through in every frame.