Eagle-eyed readers will note that this week's Indie Beat may feel a little familiar, and you'd be right on that front -- by two accounts actually. Our own managing editor Peter Martin highlighted some especially cool limited releases for the U.S. in May and June. Now that this column is in place and chugging along, he has passed that torch onto me. So once a month (that's every other Indie Beat) you'll get a "Five Most Intriguing Indies In (Insert Month Here)".
What you'll find here today are not only five especially intriguing indie flicks opening in limited release in the U.S. across July (a few I have seen and a few I have not), but also an older home viewing recommendation, and a short film rec -- Gosh, I feel like a librarian now! You're also invited to share your picks in the comments section. If you live
outside the U.S., what are the local titles you're most anticipating?
Click the image to proceed...
CRYSTAL FAIRY AND THE MAGICAL CACTUS (July 12)
One of two collaborations between Michael Cera and The Maid director Sebastian Silva that premiered at Sundance this year (the other is horror flick Magic Magic, which goes straight to DVD/VOD on august 6th).
Cera stars as an uptight (read that as dickhead) American twentysomething traveling in Chile. Gaby Hoffman -- rarely seen on screen since her child star years -- plays the titular Crystal Fairy, a wild woman who challenges Cera and his friends at every turn of their journey.
Exit Elena is the sweetest, most awkward, painful and sometimes just downright bizarre home movie you never knew was shot.
Yes, I've talked about this one before, so pardon me if I end up sounding like a broken record (the full review is coming), but if you're a cinephile in New York then there is no reason you shouldn't be going to check out Nathan Silver's film during its July 12-18 run at the reRun Theater in Brooklyn.
Kia Davis as a newly-minted live-in nursing aide gives a performance that is charming and endearing in all its awkward steps, while Cindy Silver as her employer is painfully funny, and occasionally very frightening (especially for those with mommy issues). Exit Elena tackles being young and getting old, being alone and getting desperate with a sensitivity and care that has made it one of my favorite films of the year.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS MAY APPLY(July 12 in NYC, additional cities to follow)
One of my favorites at Slamdance in January, and still one of best documentaries I've seen in 2013, director Cullen Hoback straight up asks: " What if privacy policies weren't about protecting privacy but about taking it away?" He then proceeds to answer that question with a serious, often riveting and not surprisingly unsettling investigation into some damn sure labyrinthine subject matter.
No, it's not Drive 2: Bangkok Bugaloo, and in many ways this isn't even Ryan Gosling's film. Nicolas Winding Refn's latest is, in my mind, his very first masterpiece -- an eastern-western that crashes the gateways to both heaven and hell, and in return finds something very dark and very human in between. Repulsive, visceral and very spiritual, it's as if Powell & Pressburger made a Suzuki Seijun flick.
Major props goes to Kristen Scott Thomas as Gosling's gangsta mommy, and Vithaya Pansringarm as Chang, the powerful police lieutenant and wielder of one bad-ass blade. If you ask me he's the real star of the film.
P.S. I really hope artist Lisa Hanawalt does an illustrated response to OGF like she did with Drive
MUSEUM HOURS (July 19 in Boston, already playing in NYC & Philadelphia, additional cities to follow)
A Viennese museum guard strikes up a friendship with a woman visiting an ill relative in eclectic artist and filmmaker Jem Cohen's latest feature.
Art, Vienna, philosophy, existential reflection... at first glance this sure looks like a 50+ Before Sunrise. But is that actually a bad thing? Heck, no. Sounds like an absolute pleasure to me.
More indie releases of note (opening dates subject to change)
Home Viewing Recommendation: THE STATE I AM IN (dir. Chrstian Petzold, 2000, Germany)
The State I Am In is considered to be the first film from the so-called Berlin School of filmmaking to break out on the international stage. Often meditative works on post-wall Germany with echoes of genre, Berlin School films are politically and socially minded pictures absent of rhetoric. The name comes from the fact that three of the movement's eldest filmmakers -- Petzold, Thomas Arslan and Angela Schanlelc -- all graduated from Deutsche Film und Fernsehakadmeie Berlin (DFFB).
At its core The State I Am In is a coming-of-age tale like no other I have ever seen. Julia Hummer stars as Jeanne, the teenage daughter of two ex-Red Army members. All are on the lamb in Spain, and out of desperation must return to Germany -- a first for Hummer's Jeanne.
Petzold's tale examines the recent past as if it never even existed. Only the fear of that past is still alive and well. Hummer's Jeanne is vulnerable and blunt; a chameleon, a nobody by training; silently screaming with every inch of her body to be seen, to just be a teenager. She is a stranger in a strange (home)land. In this way The State I Am In defines itself as a very German picture in a very global moment and that is why I have picked it for my inaugural recommendation.
The State I Am In is available on both region 1 and 2 DVD.
Short Film Recommendation: A YEAR LONG MORNING (dir. Cody Stokes, 2012, USA)
Exit Elena's Nathan Silver is one half of Konec Films. The other half is Cody Stokes, who over the last couple of years has made a series of lean and soulful, often powerful and tough short films -- I mean tough as bear's claws... they're that raw. A Year Long Morning is perhaps the rawest, bravest of the lot, following one desperate morning in the life of an expecting mother.