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20 Limited Releases To See This Summer

Written by on May 1, 2013 

While a certain Marvel blockbuster rings in the summer blockbuster season this weekend, anyone who has been in a theater or on the internet in the past year is likely well aware of the studio offerings in the next four months. So, as we do every year, we’ve rounded up a batch of must-see limited releases to keep on your radar as they hit theaters and expand throughout the summer.

With a variety of options, including festival titles from last year to 2013 Sundance, SXSW and Cannes debuts, we’ve already seen the majority of these, so be sure to read our reviews in the write-ups. A great deal will also be arriving on VOD, so make sure to check with each distributor on their release plans. See the rundown below, in chronological order, and let us know what you are most looking forward to in the comments.

Something in the Air (Olivier Assayas; May 3rd)

One of the better films I saw in 2012 — finally hitting theaters and VOD in only a matter of days — Olivier Assayas’ follow-up to the engrossing Carlos is a smaller, no less assured, more personal tale of the anxieties experienced in his own youth. A convincing rendition of period aside, Something in the Air shows his typical understanding of tone and character, most crucially in how these two are secured through his roving camera, keeping everything on its toes from start to finish. And that’s not even to mention its setpiece, a riot sequence sure to prove more thrilling than almost any showstopper studios will have spent millions on this summer season… – Nick N.

Sightseers (Ben Wheatley; May 10th)

In Ben Wheatley’s third film Sightseers, the British director, known for taking scenes of normalcy and then spiking them with extreme violence, continues his streak of creating memorable unconventional cinema. The biggest difference compared to his two previous films, Down Terrace and Kill List, is the focus on comedy — in particular, the dark kind. It’s a slightly different genre for Wheatley to explore, but he does so admirably, creating a film that is equal parts absurd as it is berserk. Read our Cannes Film Festival review. – Raffi A.

Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley; May 17th)

Sarah Polley‘s Stories We Tell is an exquisite, elegant rebuke to the standards that define so many of our most popular filmic narratives: three-act structures that begin with an inciting incident and move, breathlessly, to a cathartic climax; a lovable protagonist with an easily graspable character arc; endings that confirm the universe as a place in which change is possible, where people react to conflict and tragedy by altering their lives significantly and not by simply living through the pain, repressing it to maintain the consistency of their daily routines. The hushed, sneaky audacity of Stories We Tell lies in the fact that Polley doesn’t allow us to leave that blindness: even at the end, when it seems like the answers are there, we’re still compromised by time, memory, and perspective. Read our ND/NF review. – Danny K.

Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach; May 17th)

I can’t wait to see Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha land on critics’ lists this year once it finally starts hitting theaters this summer. A brilliant gem shot in black and white, Baumbach’s usual egotistical offsprings of affluence and social standing have once more been molded as the flawed and endearing creatures we need them to be. Where Margot at the Wedding and to a lesser extent Greenberg found them off-putting and mean, Frances (the luminescent Greta Gerwig) and Sophie (Mickey Sumner) are accessible extensions of everyone who ever strived for more in life and love. This is the auteur I remember from The Squid and the Whale. Read our TIFF review. – Jared M.

Before Midnight (Richard Linklater; May 24th)

The perfect end to a near-perfect trilogy, Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight once again stars Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as Jesse and Celine, two lovers working through the dos-and-don’ts of life. If it sounds like a general description, it’s deceivingly so. These films, simple as they are, speak to many truths, painful and otherwise. Read our Sundance Film Festival review. – Dan M.

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