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35 Limited Releases To See This Summer

Written by , on May 3, 2012 at 12:43 pm 

20. Searching For Sugar Man (Malik Bendjelloul; July 27th)

Instead of: Step Up Revolution and Neighborhood Watch

Synopsis: Two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 1970s rock ‘n’ roller, Rodriguez.

Why You Should See It: To me, the best documentaries illuminate topics and subjects we had zero prior knowledge of. This looks to fit that mold. Those who’ve actually seen Searching for Sugar Man attest that it’s a comprehensive, illuminating examination of “Rodriguez” – and, again, the fact I’m getting a comprehensive, illuminating examination of this total unknown means quite a bit. – Nick N.

19. Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley; June 29th)

Instead of: G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Magic Mike, People Like Us and Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection

Synopsis: A happily married woman falls for the artist who lives across the street.

Why You Should See It: Sarah Polley established herself as a true creative voice with Away from Her several years ago, and most have indicated that Waltz doesn’t serve as a disappointing follow-up. Seth Rogen and Michelle Williams look to pair up rather nicely, while Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman should round out the cast rather nicely. Check out our review from last year. – Nick N.

18. God Bless America (Bobcat Goldthwait; May 11th)

Instead of: Dark Shadows

Synopsis: On a mission to rid society of its most repellent citizens, terminally ill Frank makes an unlikely accomplice in 16-year-old Roxy.

Why You Should See It: While his follow-up to World’s Greatest Dad is not as successful as that dark comedy, comedian Bobcat Goldthwait is still strikingly on point when it comes to picking a part the atrocious nature of pop culture. It can feel a bit sketchy and preachy at times, but there’s enough good here to be well worth a watch. One can also check it out on VOD. – Jordan R.

17. The Loved Ones (Sean Byrne; June 1st)

Instead of: Snow White and the Huntsman and Piranha 3DD

Synopsis: When Brent turns down his classmate Lola’s invitation to the prom, she concocts a wildly violent plan for revenge.

Why You Should See It: I rarely get disturbed by horror films as of late, but this Australian flick is thoroughly unsettling as it mixes 16 Candles with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was first screened nearly three years ago, winning the top award in the midnight section at Toronto International Film Festival, but now Paramount is finally pushing it into theaters this summer. With the rest of this year’s horror slate looking pretty tame, here is one that should get you rightfully scared. – Jordan R.

16. Dark Horse (Todd Solondz; June 8th)

Instead of: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and Prometheus

Synopsis: Romance blooms between two thirty-somethings in arrested development: an avid toy collector and a woman who is the dark horse of her family.

Why You Should See It: If you like your cinema uncomfortable, awkward and breaking social boundaries, Todd Solondz usually delivers just that. Since premiering on the fall festival circuit, this follow-up to Life During Wartime takes a look at an unusual relationship with a cast including Jordan Gelber, Selma Blair, Christopher Walken, Mia Farrow, Justin Bartha and Aasif Mandvi. – Jordan R.

15. Sleepwalk With Me (Mike Birbiglia; August 24th)

Instead of: The Apparition and Premium Rush

Synopsis: A burgeoning stand-up comedian struggles with the stress of a stalled career, a stale relationship, and the wild spurts of severe sleepwalking he is desperate to ignore.

Why You Should See It: The best of comedian Mike Birbiglia, and much more. This is a surprisingly moving, modest motion picture about chasing dreams and leaving people behind, and how hard it is to do both. Especially at the same time. It also features a montage powered by a Backstreet Boys song, which is kind of incomparable. Check out our Sundance review. – Dan M.

14. Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris; July 25th)

Instead of: Step Up Revolution and Neighborhood Watch

Synopsis: A novelist struggling with writer’s block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence.

Why You Should See It: Putting Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris behind the camera for the first time since their Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine six years ago is enough to give this film a mountain of high expectations, but my sight-unseen intrigue revolves more around the eclectic cast, which fuses together such disparate personalities as Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, and Elliott Gould. And then there’s Paul Dano at the center of things, an actor whose post-There Will Be Blood development into a leading-man type has irked as many as it has pleased. I quite liked his reserved foil to Robert De Niro’s outspoken Being Flynn portrayal, and look forward to seeing what he’s up to here. – Danny K.

13. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Lorene Scafaria; June 22nd)

Instead of: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Brave

Synopsis: As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.

Why You Should See It: A comedy about the end of the end of the world. Unless you really took Melancholia’s Udo Kier scenes to heart, Seeking a Friend is bound to be unlike any genre entry in a long time. So there’s already a slight feeling of unsureness about the basic concept, but I’m also insanely curious to see how Steve Carell and Keira Knightley – an unlikely pairing, if you ask me – create onscreen chemistry. The excellent trailer leaves me both confident and with a desire for more. – Nick N.

12. Samsara (Ron Fricke; August 24th)

Instead of: The Apparition and Premium Rush

Synopsis: Filmed over a period of five years in twenty-five countries on five continents, and shot on 70mm film, Samsara transports us to the varied worlds of sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial complexes, and natural wonders.

Why You Should See It: Mark my words: Samsara will be this summer’s greatest visual feast. Forget the CG worlds of all those big blockbusters; director Ron Fricke traveled the world over the course of five years and, with a 70mm camera, captured everything from stunning ancient architecture to the life of babies. When projected in its proper format, the experience is bound to be one you’ll never truly forget. – Nick N.

11. Shut Up and Play the Hits (Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern; Summer TBD)

Synopsis: On April 2nd 2011, LCD Soundsystem played its final show at Madison Square Garden. Documenting this once in a life time performance and an intimate portrait of James Murphy as he navigates the lead-up to the show, the day after, and the personal and professional ramifications of his decision.

Why You Should See It: If I was more than impressed by quick, unprofessional snatches of video from LCD Soundsystem’s final show, officially commissioned, HD renderings of that same terrific performance will alone make this worth seeing. But I’m also looking forward to seeing how James Murphy handled such an immense moment in his career; it’s that sense of finality which helped make The Last Waltz the best concert film of all time, and it’ll be welcome here. Check out our Sundance review. – Nick N.

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