Blockbusters aren’t your thing? Explosions and half-naked women filling the screen each weekend definitely brings in the money for big studios, but what are some films that may slip under the radar? Here are twenty limited releases that I’m looking forward to. Amongst all the TFS writers, we have seen a majority of these films at festivals so the recommendations come with a special seal of approval. If you want to view the trailer click the synopsis below each film.
Animal Kingdom (David Michôd; Aug. 13th)
Synopsis: Tells the story of seventeen year-old J as he navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: A glimpse into the Melbourne underground, this powerful crime drama follows a seventeen year-old boy as he moves in with his hitherto-estranged family. The performances are outstanding, and the action that roars quick and furiously, leaving the audience shaking. It won the world cinema jury prize at Sundance this past year, and was my personal favorite film of the fest. – Kristen C.
Centurion (Neil Marshall; Aug. 27th)
Synopsis: A splinter group of Roman soldiers fight for their lives behind enemy lines after their legion is decimated in a devastating guerrilla attack.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: The Descent and Doomsday director Neil Marshall is back with a violent take on Roman revenge. Inglourious Basterds, Hunger and Fish Tank star Michael Fassbender leads this epic that will likely give us more buckets of blood than actual storytelling, but sometimes that isn’t a bad thing. – Jordan R.
Cyrus (Jay and Mark Duplass; June 18th)
Synopsis: A recently divorced guy meets the woman of his dreams. Then he meets her son.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: The Duplass brothers make their first studio feature. It’s all the charm and spontaneous humor of their low-budget mumblecore films (The Puffy Chair, Baghead), but with an amazingly strong cast. It’s the story of John, a depressed, recently divorced guy, who meets the girl of his dreams (Marisa Tomei), and then discovers she lives with her eccentric adult son (Jonah Hill). Much of the dialogue was improvised, which make for some unexpectedly hilarious moments. Definitely a film worth checking out. – Kristen C.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed (J Blakeson; Aug. 6th)
Synopsis: Two men fortify a nondescript British apartment so it can serve as a prison, and then kidnap a woman and tie her to a bed. Before there’s even time to react, we’re plunged into a very nasty situation, but not a simple one.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: This small budget British crime drama debut has been receiving excellent reviews and features a strong performance by Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia star Gemma Arterton. It also co-stars the always great Eddie Marsan (Sherlock Holmes, Happy-Go-Lucky). – Jordan R.
Dogtooth (Giorgos Lanthimos; June 25th)
Synopsis: Three children who live in a home with their parents and who have never left the premises and are given their own unique vocabulary, whose life of isolation is interrupted by the only outsider they’ve ever met, Christina. She is there to relieve the son’s sexual urges, but soon does the same for the sister. With the spread of this comes a rebellion of the children against their parents.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Having won the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes last year, this film has, in addition to acclaim from critics, a great premise that is sure to at least get a strong reaction from those who see it. – Nick N.
The Extra Man (Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini; July 30th)
Synopsis: A man who escorts wealthy widows in New York’s Upper East Side takes a young aspiring playwright under his wing.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: The American Splendor directors are back with this new comedy featuring an impressive cast of Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, John C. Reily and Katie Holmes. It’s been riding the festival circuit after its Sundance debut to good reviews. – Jordan R.
Get Low (Aaron Schneider; July 30th)
Synopsis: A movie spun out of equal parts folk tale, fable and real-life legend about the mysterious, 1930s Tennessee hermit who famously threw his own rollicking funeral party… while he was still alive.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: I was able to catch this film at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and it is a very heartfelt film about aging, grieving and forgiveness. Robert Duvall is the best he’s been in decades and the supporting turns from Sissy Spacek, Bill Murray and Lucas Black are stellar. This is a very unique film that will likely struggle to find an audience but those who do seek it out will be quite glad they did. – John L.
HappyThankYouMorePlease (Josh Radnor; Aug. 20th)
Synopsis: Captures a generational moment – young people on the cusp of truly growing up, tiring of their reflexive cynicism, each in their own ways struggling to connect and define what it means to love and be loved
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Josh Radnor’s directorial debut is a story of young New Yorkers, struggling to find love and make sense of their impending adulthoods. Radnor proves to have a talent in crafting dialogue and emotion, which results in a charming film that is pleasing to watch. Aside from Radnor, the cast also includes Kate Mara, Malin Ackerman, Tony Hale, and Zoe Kazan. – Kristen C.
I Am Love (Luca Guadagnino; June 18th)
Synopsis: A tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan. The film follows the fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: While this isn’t necessarily a great film, it stuck with me for weeks after seeing it. The cinematography is gorgeous and Swinton gives her usual great performance in a mesmerizing swirl of a film. – Jordan R.
The Kids Are All Right (Lisa Cholodenko; July 9th)
Synopsis: Two children conceived by artificial insemination bring their birth father into their family life.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Poised to be this summer’s big indie breakout hit, The Kids Are All Right has been gaining serious buzz since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film features Julianne Moore and Annette Benning as a lesbian couple who are reunited with the sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo) that fathered their two children. The film looks hilarious and hopefully it’s somewhat controversial subject matter doesn’t deter viewers. – John L.
The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom; June 18th)
Synopsis: A West Texas deputy sheriff is slowly unmasked as a psychotic killer.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Part crime story, part psychological exercise in identification, Michael Winterbottom’s adaptation of Jim Thomson’s novel is done in an intriguing noir style. Though, audiences attending should be aware there is a far amount of violence, as it provides an intimate glimpse into the criminal mind of a savage sociopath. It also showcases an impressive cast including Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Casey Affleck, ad Bill Pullman. – Kristen C.
Life During Wartime (Todd Solondz; July 23rd)
Synopsis: Friends, family, and lovers struggle to find love, forgiveness, and meaning in a war-torn world riddled with comedy and pathos.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Todd Solondz solidified himself as the heir to John Water’s filth crown with his 1998 black comedy Happiness. *The director has hit a few missteps along the way but his latest feature appears to be a return to form. He’s made a quasi-sequel to Happiness with all new actors taking over the roles from the original cast. His last feature, 2004’s Palindromes, tread similar water as a semi-sequel to his first feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse. – John L.
Micmacs (Jean-Pierre Jeunet; May 28th)
Synopsis: A man and his friends come up with an intricate and original plan to destroy two big weapons manufacturers.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: With Jeunet’s signature visual style and the inventive story, the film has won over critics and has been a hit at the various festivals it has been shown. This seems to be one to keep an eye out for. – Nick N.
Ondine (Neil Jordan; June 4th)
Synopsis: The story of an Irish fisherman who discovers a woman in his fishing net who he believes to be a mermaid.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Neil Jordan’s most honest, personal work in years, Ondine is Ron Howards’ ‘Splash’ taken seriously. And no, that is not a dig. Colin Farrell commands the screen as Syracuse, a down-on-his-luck ex-drunk fisherman who literally nets a beautiful woman one day, who may or may not be a sea creature. Whatever she is, her presence gives Syracuse, and his sick daughter, a new reason to live. Sure, it’s sentimental, but it’s sentimentality done right. – Dan M.
Perrier’s Bounty (Ian Fitzgibbon; May 14th)
Synopsis: A gangster named Perrier looks to exact his revenge on a trio of fugitives responsible for the accidental death of one of his cronies.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: I had the pleasure of seeing this comedy/crime/drama at TIFF last fall and it resulted in a hell of a good time. Cillian Murphy is one of my favorite actors and paired with Brendan Gleeson and Jim Broadbent, there is never a dull moment. – Jordan R.
Soul Kitchen (Fatih Akin; Aug. 20th)
Synopsis: In Hamburg, German-Greek chef Zinos unknowingly disturbs the peace in his locals-only restaurant by hiring a more talented chef.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Akin’s previous two features, Head-On and Edge of Heaven were equally fantastic. Now he is changing things up a bit from heavy drama to pure comedy. Hopefully the results are the same. – Jordan R.
Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn; June 4th)
Synopsis: 1000 AD, for years, One Eye, a mute warrior of supernatural strength, has been held prisoner by the Norse chieftain Barde.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Nicolas Winding Refn is one of the most exciting filmmakers working today. Each of his projects are wildly different and this is no exception. Although I was exhausted by the time I saw this at TIFF, I knew it was something I couldn’t wait to appreciate later on a separate viewing. The lush cinematography, pounding score and powerful performance by Mads Mikkelson are just a few great reasons to check this out. – Jordan R.
Wild Grass (Alain Resnais; June 25th)
Synopsis: A wallet lost and found opens the door to romantic adventure for Georges and Marguerite.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Alain Resnais has been making art in film since the first half of the 20th century, offering a masterpiece of romance and dialogue with Hiroshima, My Love in 1959. ‘Wild Grass,’ which marked a return Cannes after a near 30-year absence, tells a simple story about a lost wallet that leads to new found love. Well-received at the 2009 festival and long-gestating in distribution, it may be one of the final great works from one of film’s most original voices. – Dan M.
Winnebago Man (Ben Steinbauer; July 9th)
Synopsis: Jack Rebney is the most famous man you’ve never heard of – after cursing his way through a Winnebago sales video.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Someone actually made a feature length documentary on the viral video we all know and love. It also garnered quite positive reviews at Sundance, providing a more intimate look at something we don’t normally get; what happens after a viral explosion dies out. – Jordan R.
Winter’s Bone (Debra Granik; June 11th)
Synopsis: An unflinching Ozark Mountain girl hacks through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her drug-dealing father while trying to keep her family intact.
Why You Should Look Forward To It: Bringing home the top prize at Sundance this year, Winter’s Bone is a beautiful, bleak look at hillbilly life with incredibly fleshed out characters and tense drama. – Jordan R.
What limited releases are you excited to see this summer?