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35 Limited Releases To See This Summer

Written by on May 3, 2012 

10. Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton; June 15th)

Instead of: Rock of Ages and That’s My Boy

Synopsis: Iris invites her friend Jack to stay at her family’s island getaway after the death of his brother. At their remote cabin, Jack’s drunken encounter with Hannah, Iris’ sister, kicks off a revealing stretch of days.

Why You Should See It: Emily Blunt has been on most people’s radar, but this is the movie to prove she’s the real deal. It’s a year’s best type of performance. When she smiles in this film, you smile. When she cries, you cringe. Watching Blunt, Mark Duplass, and Rosemarie DeWitt play off each other is incredibly watchable. For the first two acts, Lynn Shelton‘s film is fantastic, thanks in large part to pitch perfect casting. Check out our Tribeca review.  – Jack G.

9. To Rome With Love (Woody Allen; June 22nd)

Instead of: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Brave

Synopsis: A story about a number of people in Italy, some American, some Italian, some residents, some visitors, and the romances and adventures and predicaments they get into.

Why You Should See It: Woody Allen is set to continue his European odyssey – which has so far included trips to London, Barcelona and Paris – this time travelling to Italy’s capital for another ensemble romantic comedy. Last year’s Midnight in Paris was fantastical, both in its story and its dazzling representation of location, so here’s to hoping he does the same with his follow-up. With one film a year, Allen has a tendency to be hit and miss, but with the stellar cast he has assembled here, including Jesse Eisenberg, Ellen Page, Greta Gerwig, Penelope Cruz, Alec Baldwin and even a role for himself, perhaps he will set Rome alight. – Jack C.

8. Beyond the Black Rainbow (Panos Cosmatos; May 18th)

Instead of: Battleship, The Dictator and What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Synopsis: Despite being under heavy sedation, Elena tries to make her way out of Arboria, a secluded, quasi-futuristic commune

Why You Should See It: I saw this psychedelic ‘80s trip over a year ago and still think about it often – the imagery, the sounds, and how Panos Cosmatos beautifully combines them to create an unsettling sensory experience. Since that’s exactly what the film is, those not willing to go down the experimental route may as well turn back. If you’re willing to give yourself over to it all, at least you won’t come away thinking it felt too familiar. Check out our review from last year’s Tribeca Film Festival. – Nick N.

7. The Intouchables (Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano; May 11th)

Instead of: Men In Black 3 and Chernobyl Diaries

Synopsis: After he becomes a quadriplegic from a paragliding accident, an aristocrat hires a young man from the projects to be his caretaker.

Why You Should See It: Already set for a US remake, it’s easy to see what’s so enticing about this French hit. While the premise could make for an overtly melodramatic film, The Intouchables is quite the opposite. An excellent dynamic between our two leads provides one of the most touching, often hilarious dramas of the year thus far. Check out our review for a complete take on the film that has racked up nearly $400 million worldwide thus far, the highest grossing non-English language film. – Jordan R.

6. Sleepless Night (Frédéric Jardin; May 11th)

Instead of: Dark Shadows

Synopsis: A drug heist goes wrong, as Vincent, a wounded lieutenant, ends up with a huge bag of coke. The bag of coke belongs to a powerful mob boss/nightclub owner named Jose, who kidnaps Vincent’s son in hopes to reclaim his property. Vincent has until the end of the night to return the stash and save his son.

Why You Should See It: I had problems with Sleepless Night’s scattered screenplay, but this French action picture is both fun and better than almost all other entries into this genre being cranked out by American studios nowadays. Filled with gorgeous direction and brutal action beats – while also being anchored by a confident lead performance from Tomer Sisley – you’d be well-advised to check this one out. Especially before the damn American remake trots itself into theaters. Check out our positive TIFF and Tribeca reviews.  – Nick N.

5. Compliance (Craig Zobel, August TBD)

Synopsis: When a prank caller convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee, no-one is left unharmed.

Why You Should See It: In Craig Zobel‘s Compliance, the relatively young filmmaker is able to expertly illicit uncomfortable and unpleasant emotions while events unfold on screen. Its done in a manner so effective, that its hard not to praise the film for its cold calculating presentation of a disturbing true story. Without giving away too much, the plot centers around a group of fast food employees whose day suddenly goes awry after a phone call shatters the perception of control and serves as a sobering reminder of the power of authority. In the wrong hands this film could have turned disastrous, but Zobel should be praised for his restraint in direction along with the superb performances he elicits from the cast. – Raffi A.

4. Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier; May 25th)

Instead of: Men In Black 3 and Chernobyl Diaries

Synopsis: One day in the life of Anders, a young recovering drug addict, who takes a brief leave from his treatment center to interview for a job and catch up with old friends in Oslo.

Why You Should See It: Joachim Trier has already accrued quite the bevy of acclaim for his sophomore effort, and that, frankly, is enough to get me on board. Still, the concept sounds heart-wrenching and compelling enough, as is, to justify legitimate interest, without having even seen a trailer. Check out our glowing TIFF review. – Nick N.

3. Lawless (John Hillcoat; August 31st)

Instead of: 7500 and The Possession

Synopsis: Set in the Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by authorities who want a cut of their profits.

Why You Should See It: John Hillcoat has already established himself as an accomplished director of harsh, gritty subjects with The Proposition and The Road. This time he is taking on the world of bootlegging, and the debut trailer was extremely promising. With the potential for a dark, multi-layered story, this film could be a strong hit should it strive to avoid clichés. The acting will no doubt be of the highest quality, with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Jessica Chastain amongst the participants, and hopefully the experience is as immersive and gripping as the trailer suggests. – Jack C.

2. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin; June 27th)

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

Synopsis: Faced with her father’s fading health and environmental changes that release an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy leaves her Delta-community home in search of her mother.

Why You Should See It: Because everything you’ve heard about this top-prize Sundance winner, from the searingly poetic imagery to the extraordinary child performance of Quvenzhané Wallis, is stone-cold truth. If last year’s acclaimed, Sundance-born debut, Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, is ultimately a tighter, more seamless vision, this one from Benh Zeitlin takes the upper hand in terms of fiery ambition. Meanwhile, on the distributing side of things, this is yet another commendable example of Fox Searchlight’s recent trend of backing challenging, ambitious — and potentially quite divisive — art-house filmmaking. Check out our Sundance review. – Danny K.

1. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson; May 25th)

Instead of: Men In Black 3 and Chernobyl Diaries

Synopsis: A pair of lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.

Why You Should See It: Wes Anderson kicked off the 2000s with a bang with his delightful The Royal Tenenbaums and now Moonrise Kingdom marks his first film of the new decade in addition to his first live action feature since 2007’s The Darjeeling Limited. If Anderson can again come up a charmingly colorful story littered with many oddities, we could be in for a treat. In addition to newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, the film features a host of talented actors, including Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel and many more. It might not be a huge moneyspinner, but hopefully his trademark quirkiness continues strong – Jack C.


What independent films are you most looking forward to this summer?

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