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40 Limited Releases to See This Summer

Written by on April 28, 2014 

With The Grand Budapest Hotel, Only Lovers Left Alive, Under the Skin, and more, it’s been a remarkably strong start to the year and things look to continue during the summer season. While there’s a handful of studio releases that at least have our attention (Godzilla, Jupiter Ascending, 22 Jump Street, Jersey Boys), the gold looks to once again lie in limited releases, and we’ve highlighted 40 that should be on your radar in the coming months.

While this notion applies to the theatrical distribution, it’s easier than ever to access a bulk of the films on VOD as they release, so stay tuned to our weekly feature showcasing those specific titles. Beginning this Friday, May 2nd, and going up to the last weekend in August (including exclusive release news on one of our favorite festival films from last year), check out the rundown below and let us know what you’re most looking forward to.

Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski; May 2nd)

It seems as though Hollywood has a yearly quota for World War II dramas, ones that often present the heroic military efforts of the Allies, or others that zero in a feel-good aspect, perhaps following a protagonist who survives by any means necessary. Rarely do we see a film tackle the aftermath of the unspeakable horrors from distinctly different points of view, but Pawel Pawlikowski does so with restrained artistry in his Polish drama Ida. – Jordan R. (full review)

The Double (Richard Ayoade; May 9th)

Comically dry like director Richard Ayoade‘s debut, Submarine, his sophomore effort takes more than a few steps towards an even more arid realm of complete existentialist surrealism. As adapted by the helmer and Avi KorineThe Double brings Fyodor Dostoyevsky‘s novella to the big screen with a surefire confidence in its visual form and an eccentric comedy that should go a long way towards securing the IT Crowd star as a permanent, unique voice in contemporary cinema. There is a definite stylistic kinship to his first film, pairing it well with this one’s descent into a psychological conflict of identity: every waking second of Simon James’ (Jesse Eisenberg) entire existence shatters with the introduction of a confidently superior doppelgänger named James Simon. – Jared M. (full review)

Palo Alto (Gia Coppola; May 9th)

While some might brush this off as one of countless projects James Franco is yet again involved with this year, Palo Alto actually proves to be one of his most well-realized collaborations. Based on a series of short stories from Franco, the multiple, but intersecting storylines explore suburban life as a teenager in California. Marking Gia Coppola‘s directorial debut, a few nods are certainly taken from her aunt’s work, but the film establishes her as an authentic, independent voice that we’re looking forward to seeing more from. – Jordan R.

The Immigrant (James Gray; May 16th)

Set in 1921 New York, The Immigrant is writer-director James Gray‘s sprawling tale of an American dream gone awry. Immaculate production design and stunning cinematography byDarius Khondji evoke the era-appropriate atmosphere in a manner not at all dissimilar fromGordon Willis‘ design of The Godfather Part II. The final effect is a film laden with nostalgia that feels ripped right from the past, making way for its own unique examination of a transformative period in American history. Known for his character-rich stories, Gray weaves a compelling yarn of two Polish sisters who encounter unforeseen complications when trying to immigrate at Ellis island: a parable about what makes the United States a complex paradox of capitalist dreams and hopes held both by everyday citizens and those aspiring to become one. – Raffi A. (full review)

Tracks (John Curran; May 23rd)

A stunningly beautiful film, director John Curran‘s Tracks traces the physical and psychological 1,700-mile trek of Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) from the central Australian town of Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. As masterfully shot by Mandy Walker, the film has images that, at times, are lucid, while its structure and Curran’s direction takes little risks. Inspired by an award-winning 1980 account (expanded from a National Geographic article published in 1979), Tracks allows us to share a journey that shaped Robyn, an awkward young woman who survived in Alice Springs doing odd jobs in exchange for a camel. – John F. (full review)

The Dance of Reality (Alejandro Jodorowsky; May 23rd)

One of the most revered surreal and abstract filmmakers ever to grace the cinematic landscape,Alejandro Jodorowsky holds a deserved cult status. He is most famous for making two films in the early 1970s, El Topo and Holy Mountain, both of which feature some truly shocking imagery that drew comparisons to the early film work of Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel. However, he has not made a film since 1990, leaving many of his ardent fans wondering if his career was finished. Twenty three laters he has returned with what may be his most personal and straight forward film to date. But fret not devoted fans of Jodorowsky, La Danza de la Realidad (The Dance of Reality) still features his signature avant-garde imagery which pushes the limits of what to expect from the unpredictable. – Raffi A. (full review)

Filth (Jon S. Baird; May 30th)

While most of his attention this summer will go to X-Men: Days of Future Past, one can see James McAvoy getting proper filthy as a corrupt policeman in this Irvine Welsh (author of Trainspotting) adaptation. Directed by Jon S. Baird, who helmed Cass and was a producer on Green Street Hooligans, the film is now available on demand before a theatrical release in May, so if you are looking for something rude and crude this summer, it’s hard to turn this one down. – Jordan R.

Korengal (Sebastian Junger; May 30th)

Four years ago Restrepo hit theaters, a documentary from Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington which gave us an intimate look at the life of 2nd Platoon of Battle Company during their 15-month duty in northeast Afghanistan. The film went on to earn an Oscar nomination and soon after, Hetherington was tragically killed while in Libya covering their 2011 civil war. Junger has now returned for a follow-up to the film titled Korengal, which incorporates unused footage from their 2007 shoot, and is currently crowdfunding for the widest release possible. – Jordan R.

Night Moves (Kelly Reichardt; May 30th)

For the first hour, Night Moves looks to be a piece with Reichardt’s past works, playing at first like a deconstruction of the heist film, but as the film goes on, it becomes clear that Night Moves is less interested in examining the genre than embracing it. Indeed, in an interview with Fandor, Reichardt cites the seminal Rififi as an influence and states that although she usually doesn’t think about genre during the writing stage, with Night Moves, she and frequent writing partner Jonathan Raymond “just got on board with the genre idea, even during the writing, and certainly in actual filmmaking.” The result is a good but unspectacular genre film, one that utilizes Reichardt’s naturalist style to encourage character interpretation, but it also fails to glean the gold underneath in the process. The reality being uncovered, the myth being debunked, and the psychology being unearthed are, if not missing, comparatively lacking. – Forrest C. (full review)

We Are the Best! (Lukas Moodysson; May 30th)

One of the more buzzed-about festival titles of recent months is We Are the Best!, a punk-rock period piece from Swedish helmer Lukas Moodysson that’s been called “a delightful snapshot of female friendship.” The film — based on a graphic novel from his own wife, Coco — uses Sweden circa 1982 to explore both stages of punk rock, friendship between young females, and the odd bonds which form between these two. What would potentially leave an endless amount of space for maudlin storytelling has, many will allege, been avoided herein ultimately making for, depending on where you live, one 2014′s first great titles. – Nick N.

[May] [June] – [July] – [August]

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