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Not Feeling 'X-Men' This Weekend? Here Are Four Acclaimed Indie Alternatives

Reviews
by Ryan Lattanzio
May 22, 2014 1:08 PM
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'X-Men: Days of Future Past'
'X-Men: Days of Future Past'

As the Cannes Film Festival continues to unspool along the French Riviera, multiplexes and arthouses are holding down the fort stateside with a hefty slate of well-received -- and, in some cases, long-awaited -- new releases. (Trailers below.)

Overstuffed with stars, from Michael Fassbender and Hugh Jackman to James McAvoy and Jennifer Lawrence, "X-Men: Days of Future Past" is garnering raves across the board from critics and Marvel fans alike. Will the film prevail in spite of director Bryan Singer's media troubles?

'Cold In July'
'Cold In July'

But if time-traveling mutants aren't your thing, Jim Mickle's especially good throwback thriller "Cold in July" arrives in limited release. Set in small-potatoes East Texas in the 80s, this southern-friend revenge film -- starring the unlikely triad of Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson and Sam Shepard -- boasts committed performances all around, with plenty of stylistic hat-tips to John Carpenter and Sam Peckinpah to wet your genre whistle. ("Cold in July" is conveniently available day-and-date on VOD as well.)

Alejandro Jodorowsky's long-awaited metaphysical puzzler "Dance of Reality," and indie romance "Words and Pictures," with Juliette Binoche and Clive Owen as philosophically opposed educators, also bow this weekend. Doc lovers, meanwhile, can take pleasure in "Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia," an insightful window into the controversial 20th century writer's stormy life.

X-Men: Days of Future Past Dir. Bryan Singer, USA | 20th Century Fox | Cast: Michael Fassbender, Hugh Jackman, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Patrick Stewart, Nicholas Hoult, Ian McKellen, Peter Dinklage, Anna Paquin, Omar Sy, Halle Berry, Ellen Page | 94% Fresh | Variety: "Not since 2003's "X2: X-Men United" has this filmmaker tapped so effortlessly into his talent for comicbook gravitas, his ability to mine emotional resonance, pop poetry and (crucially) sly humor." | Review roundup here

'The Dance of Reality'
'The Dance of Reality'

Cold in July Dir. Jim Mickle, USA | IFC Films | Cast: Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson, Sam Shepard, Vinessa Shaw | 93% Fresh | Salon.com: "Mickle is the new Carpenter, and if you're into that kind of thing and haven't heard about him, you soon will." | Our interview with Michael C. Hall

Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia Dir. Nicholas Wrathall, USA | IFC Films | 91% Fresh | Time Out: "'United States of Amnesia' comes not to bury Vidal but to praise him right to the rafters." | Our Frameline Film Festival review and interview with Wrathall

The Dance of Reality Dir. Alejandro Jodorowsky, France | ABKCO Films | Cast: Brontis Jodorowsky, Pamela Flores, Jeremias Herskowits, Alejandro Jodorowsky | 88% Fresh | Village Voice: "'The Dance of Reality' may be Alejandro Jodorowsky's best film, and certainly, in a filmography top-heavy with freak-show hyperbole and symbology stew, the one most invested in narrative meaning."

Words and Pictures Dir. Fred Schepisi, USA | Roadside Attractions | Cast: Juliette Binoche, Clive Owen, Bruce Davison, Amy Brenneman | 40% Fresh | Village Voice: "Amid its silly contrivances, the romance 'Words and Pictures' manages to tap into middle-age regret, bitterness, and fears that the promise of youth has passed." | Our video interview with Juliette Binoche

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