We all love robots, superhero tights, mutants, sequels, 3D, and overblown CGI, right? Well, this summer seems to have an excess of each with each passing weekend. To breath a little life (and brains) into the summer line-up, we’ve highlighted the best limited releases to check out. It may look like your standard Sundance Film Festival line-up (and most of the titles are coming from that fest), but rest assured, there is something special to be found with each one of these picks. Check out the list below in chronological release date order and let us know what you are looking forward to.
Everything Must Go (Dan Rush; May 13th) (trailer)
Synopsis: When an alcoholic relapses, causing him to lose his wife and his job, he holds a yard sale on his front lawn in an attempt to start over. A new neighbor might be the key to his return to form.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Will Ferrell heads back into dramatic territory with this praised script, from a Raymond Carver short story, adapted and directed by Dan Rush. I saw it during its TIFF premiere last fall and the noteworthy performances matched with the smart script elevate the standard direction. Check out our recent Tribeca review here. – Jordan R.
Hesher (Spencer Susser; May 13th) (trailer)
Synopsis: Hesher is a loner. He hates the world and everyone in it. He has long greasy hair and homemade tattoos. He is malnourished and smokes a lot of cigarettes. He likes fire and blowing things up. He lives in his van, until he meets TJ.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: It has gotten divisive reviews since its 2010 Sundance premiere, but the strong cast of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, and Rainn Wilson piques my interest. Add in a script from Animal Kingdom’s David Michod, and this is definitely one to check out. Read our SXSW review here. – Jordan R.
Midnight In Paris (Woody Allen; May 20th) (trailer)
Synopsis: A romantic comedy about a family traveling to the French capital for business. The party includes a young engaged couple forced to confront the illusion that a life different from their own is better.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: After a pair of duds Woody Allen is back with this ensemble feature, premiering to very strong reviews at Cannes Film Festival this month. He’s also gathered some fine actors including Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Michael Sheen, Owen Wilson, and Adrien Brody for this romantic comedy. – Jordan R.
The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick; May 27th) (trailer)
Synopsis: The life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Terrence Malick’s long-awaited epic is finally hitting theaters and it is firmly at the top of my most-anticipated films of the year. Under another director this sprawling tale of life and the universe itself might crumble under its own ambitions, but with the guidance of one of our greatest visual storytellers, I predict a staggering achievement. – Jordan R.
Tuesday, After Christmas (Radu Muntean; May 27th) (trailer)
Synopsis: Paul Hanganu loves two women. Adriana his wife and the mother of their daughter, the woman with whom he’s shared the thrills of the past ten years, and Raluca the woman who has made him redefine himself. He has to leave one of them before Christmas.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: This recommendation comes solely from our viewing at NYFF last fall where we described the film as “another staple of the blossoming Romanian New Wave….along the same line as The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, avoiding the politics of 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and instead finding the comedy in an incredibly dramatic situation.” – Jordan R.
Beginners (Mike Mills; June 3rd) (trailer)
Synopsis: A young man is rocked by two announcements from his elderly father: that he has terminal cancer, and that he has a young male lover.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Beginners isn’t as great as Mike Mills‘ first film, Thumbsucker, but it still contains many of the stamps that made his debut fantastic. Mills’ tale of people finding love for the first time is sweet, sad and, at times, poignant. Its experimental, stylish flourishes don’t always work, but there’s enough beauty here to make its lesser successful touches less bothersome. And Melanie Laurent is both lovely and raw here, a truly excellent performance. Check out our SXSW review here. – Jack G.
Submarine (Richard Ayoade; June 3rd) (trailer)
Synopsis: 15-year-old Oliver Tate has two objectives: To lose his virginity before his next birthday, and to extinguish the flame between his mother and an ex-lover who has resurfaced in her life.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Coming-of-age movies are an easy thing to screw up, but early word indicates that Richard Ayoade has covered the territory well in his feature debut. My expectations for it are pretty high, but that’s mostly because it looks like it was made for me. The fact that it’s a limited release kind of kills me, but it seems like it has the commercial appeal to play to wide audiences. – Nick N.
The Troll Hunter (André Øvredal; June 10th) (trailer)
Synopsis: A group of students investigate a series of mysterious bear killings, but learns that there are much more dangerous things going on. They start to follow a mysterious hunter, learning that he is actually a troll hunter.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: First-time filmmaker André Øvredal breathes new life into the found footage subgenre with his crafty monster movie. More mockumentary than horror flick, The Troll Hunter defies the current trend of snarky cinema by making believers of its jaded 20-something heroes as they come across monsters of myth, thereby luring even the most cynical moviegoer along for the ride. It’s a rollicking adventure that boasts bold and well-crafted special effects and grounded and winsome performances from its cast, chief among them Otto Jespersen‘s beleaguered but brilliant troll hunter. It’s a limited release you should seek out, as its fun for crowds. Check out our review here. – Kristy P.
The Trip (Michael Winterbottom; June 10th) (trailer)
Synopsis: When Steve Coogan is asked by The Observer to tour the country’s finest restaurants, he envisions it as the perfect getaway with his beautiful girlfriend. But, when she backs out on him, he has no one to accompany him but his best friend and source of eternal aggravation, Rob Brydon.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: A wild departure from his last film, The Killer Inside Me, director Michael Winterbottom opts for a quiet look at comedy and the life of performance, in this low-key “adventure” film. The sum doesn’t add up to its parts, but there is enough in this cut-down BBC series for fans of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon to seek out. Check out our Tribeca review here. - Jordan R.
Buck (Cindy Meehl; June 17th) (trailer)
Synopsis: A truly American story about an unsung hero, BUCK is about an ordinary man who has made an extraordinary life despite tremendous odds.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: One of the big films coming out of Sundance Film Festival this year is the story of Buck Brannaman, the perfect American cowboy. Cindy Meehl‘s documentary picked up the Documentary Audience Award to rave reviews. This is a definite must-see. – Jordan R.
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