The Playlist's 15 Most Anticipated Indie Films Of The Summer

Features
by Jessica Kiang
May 7, 2013 11:58 AM
6 Comments
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"Before Midnight"
Synopsis: 9 years on from "Before Sunset," Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) are together in Greece and have twins. Over the course of a day, they talk to friends and to each other, illuminating this new stage they are at in their lives and in their relationship.
What You Need To Know: Perhaps the only way to do a follow-up to two of the most beloved romances in recent memory ("Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset") without setting up impossible expectations, is to do it quickly, and more or less under the radar. And that's what happened with the third instalment of Richard Linklater's widely adored 'Before' trilogy, with Linklater teaming up with stars and co-writers Delpy and Hawke for intensive script workshopping in Greece, then promptly shooting the film before anyone knew too much about it (You can read our Berlin interviews with Hawke & Delpy, and with Linklater here). It was a tactic that paid off, with the film that unspooled at Sundance (our review here) widely regarded as a fitting continuation of the story, with the wisdom and gentleness of tone that elevated the previous entries very much in evidence. In "Before Midnight," the trio appear to have pulled off that most elusive of victories: a threequel that can stand proudly beside its predecessors -- especially impressive when we consider how relatively unsentimental it is.
When: May 24th

"Much Ado About Nothing"
Synopsis: In an updated, California-set version of Shakespeare's play (though still using the Bard's dialogue), Leonato (Clark Gregg), whose right hand man Claudio (Franz Kline) is in love with his daughter Hero (Jillian Morgese), plays host to the wealthy Don Pedro (Reed Diamond) amongst whose group are the sparring Benedick (Alexis Denisof) and Beatrice (Amy Acker).
What You Need To Know: Speaking of follow-ups, what do you do when you've just completed principal photography on what will become the 3rd highest-grossing movie of all time in Marvel's "The Avengers"? Well, if you're Joss Whedon, you relax at home with some of your closest friends and longtime collaborators, and shoot a low budget, black and white Shakespeare adaptation. Of course it helps that the play in question is the already pretty funny "Much Ado About Nothing" (fellow Marvel director Kenneth Branagh's 1993 adaptation is also a blast) but Whedon and especially his electric cast bring a freshness to it that reveals them all for the gifted comedians and actors they are, no matter how many thous and wherefores they spout. As much fun as it may be to pick out the Whedon regulars (Nathan Fillion has a role too, as does Sean Maher, "Firefly" fans,) more casual viewers can rest assured that this is far more than an exercise in in-jokery. Our TIFF reviewer, despite not being a Browncoat himself, was entirely won over (his A- grade review is here).
When: June 7th

"The Bling Ring"
Synopsis: In the world of the privileged and overly-medicated youth of LA, a group of friends (including Israel Broussard, Katie Chang and Emma Watson) develop an escalating fondness for breaking into the houses of the rich and famous to steal things, just for kicks. Based on the true events surrounding the raiding of Paris Hilton and Orlando Bloom's houses, among others.
What You Need To Know: Sofia Coppola is never more at home than when observing, with her often-dreamy camera, the dissipation of the wealthy and fame-obsessed. But after "Somewhere" and "Marie Antoinette," hearing news she was next tackling the based-in-truth story of a bunch of kids who broke into stars' houses and were responsible for a string of robberies in 2008/2009, well, it seemed a little low-rent and salacious for her more contemplative style. The early word is strong on "The Bling Ring" though, and gives us hope that it overcomes its splashy "Gossip Girl" stylings and Coppola can bring to it some depth of insight. It's possible that what might have seemed like a quick bid for a more mainstream audience may in fact turn out to be a perfect melding of content and directorial sensibility. You can find out for yourselves in June, but prior to that look out for our review from Cannes, where the film opens the Un Certain Regard sidebar.
When: June 14th

"The Attack"
Synopsis: An assimilated Arab living happily and successfully in Tel Aviv, Dr Amin Jafari's (Ali Suliman) carefully balanced life unravels when it is alleged his beloved wife was a suicide bomber.
What You Need To Know: A truly terrific, suspenseful, fearless film from director Ziad Doueiri, "The Attack" is based on the novel by Yasmina Khadra, and has, doing its rounds on the festival circuit, picked up a few awards and a great deal of attention. Indeed it won top prize at Marrakech, which is where we caught up with it, being hugely impressed by its willingness to go right down the rabbit hole of one of the most intractable and divisive political, cultural and religious conflicts of our time. The film's ability to put a human face (helped by the perfectly calibrated performance from Suliman) on issues and situations so far outside of the normal realm of understanding of those us living in the West, and yet to do so without coming off as propagandistic, is incredibly impressive, and not a little wrenching. We're very glad it's getting a wide release it deserves, not just for its politics but for the skilful, thrilling way Doueiri brings this troubling story to life. You can read our review here.
When: June 21st

"A Hijacking"
Synopsis: A Danish cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates. In the ensuring days, weeks and months, the CEO of the shipping company back in Copenhagen (Søren Malling) attempts to negotiate with the pirates for the safe return of his crew, while the crew themselves, including ship's cook Mikkel (Johan Philip Asbæk), try to stay alive and sane in an increasingly tense situation.
What You Need To Know: A terrifically tense experience, "A Hijacking" is only Tobias Lindholm's second directorial outing, but as a frequent recent Thomas Vinterberg collaborator (he co-wrote "The Hunt" which appears further down on this list) he has obviously cut his dramatic teeth. Astoundingly realistic in the portrayal of the desperation and helplessness of the captured crew, a lot of that hardship was captured for real (you can read our Lindholm interview here in which he talks about locking his cast in hot rooms for hours...) The stylistic contrast between the heat and flies and sweat onboard and cool greys of the Copenhagen corporation at the other end of the phone is brilliantly maintained, despite the fact the desperation may be all the greater in those glass-walled boardrooms, especially as personified by a devastatingly underplaying Malling. A gruelling but brilliantly rendered experience, you can read our Venice review right here.
When: June 21st

"I'm So Excited"
Synopsis: Aboard a plane that's in serious danger of crashing, the pilots try to find a way to avert disaster, while the crew dedicate themselves to making what may be their passenger's last moments as pleasurable as possible. Featuring an ensemble peppered with Pedro Almodovar regulars including Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz and Javier Camara.
What You Need To Know: In surface terms a bit of a 180 from Pedro Almodovar's last film, the perverse, fetishistic "The Skin I Live In," the director himself has described "I'm so Excited" as "a light, very light comedy." And yet the eternal preoccupations of the director (and arguably of all great drama) -- sex and death -- are front and center here too in this tale of a damaged plane and the heightened emotions and situations that arise when people believe they are facing their imminent end. The fact that it's played for laughs, light satire and, from what we've heard, frothy fun involving last-minute applications for the mile-high club and assiduous steward spiking the business class cocktails with mescaline, suggests all the ingredients are in place for a typically Almodovarian romp, without the darker undertones that shaded 'Skin.'
When: June 28th
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6 Comments

  • Asif Khan | May 12, 2013 8:00 PMReply

    Some pretty exciting upcoming indie releases..... my top 5 would be:

    1. Before Midnight
    2. Frances Ha
    3. The Bling Ring
    4. Ain't Them Bodies Saints
    5. Fruitvale Station

  • Cinema Enthusiast | May 7, 2013 10:12 PMReply

    A lot of these made a Top 30 Anticipated Summer Films list over at my blog. Nice picks.

  • wes | May 7, 2013 2:32 PMReply

    here's my 10 films (indie or otherwise) of the summer:
    05/17: Frances Ha--Noah Baumbach 2012 OR 06/14: Hijacking--Tobias Lindholm 2012
    06/14: Bling Ring--Sofia Coppola
    06/28: I'm So Excited--Pedro Almodovar
    07/19: Only God Forgives--Nicolas Winding Refn
    07/26: Blue Jasmine--Woody Allen
    08/09: Elysium--Neill Blomkamp
    08/16: Ain't Them Bodies Saints--David Lowery
    08/23: Grandmaster--Wong Kar-Wai
    08/23: World's End--Edgar Wright
    08/28: Closed Circuit--John Crowley

  • wes | May 7, 2013 2:38 PM

    except my date for Hijacking is wrong and I forgot Prince Avalanche.

  • NewYorker | May 7, 2013 1:53 PMReply

    the 10 indie films im lookin forward for this summer are
    1-The Way, Way Back
    2-The Bling Ring
    3-Hatchet 3
    4-Much Ado About Nothing
    5-The Kings Of Summer
    6-Aftershock
    7-Violet and Daisy
    8-The Spectacular Now
    9-Stuck In Love
    10-Before Midnight

  • tyrannosaurus max | May 7, 2013 1:25 PMReply

    I'm in Germany right now and saw The Hunt a few weeks ago. It was damn solid. Glad to see it here.

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