While there were plenty of large Summer blockbusters to preview this week, they all seemed to fall short on originality and just show us the same overdone action styles that have become popular over the past few years (Conan the Barbarian). Instead, I thought it was the perfect time to do a spotlight on some of the more obscure independent films coming up, right in the middle of this year’s Sundance hits finding distributers and buzz beginning to form around the film showing at Cannes.
This week we have two breakout hits from Sundance, one disturbing foreign thriller premiering at Cannes, and a documentary that is food for your soul.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Yes! There is a third Olsen sister and she can act! While this is only Elizabeth Olsen’s second feature since appearing that in Mary-Kate & Ashley videos as a kid, this film could definitely be a break-out role for her.
The other performance to watch in this trailer is from John Hawkes, an underrated but diverse actor that always delivers solid work in some great projects. You may know him from his comedic role on HBO’s Eastbound and Down, or from his Oscar nominated role as Teardrop in Winter’s Bone last year. This lesser-known cast could be set to become of the strongest ensemble performances of the year.
This film is going to be a hard one to miss, combining strong storytelling with powerful performances. LA Weekly describes the film as “a triller that shifts nearly imperceptibly between dream, memory, and reality.” The subtle psychological element of this trailer is sure to make for an intriguing film.
The Skin I Live In
While this trailer might not have too much to offer as far as plot, just knowing the director of this film is more than enough reason to spark your interest. Pedro Almodóvar, one of the most legendary Spanish filmmakers of his generation, is most famous for his film Volver and his latest work Broken Embraces, both starring Penélope Cruz. His first feature film, Pepi, Luci, Bom y otras chicas del montón in 1980 was one of the first films to bring Spanish cinema to the world stage and start an era of Spanish new-wave films.
But what is this film actually about? Antonio Banderas, who is reuniting with Almodóvar for the first time in 21 years, plays a plastic surgeon trying to get revenge on the men who raped his daughter. But apparently while seeking justice he keeps his wife imprisoned while he attempts to create a new type of skin. Think that the synopsis is just as confusing as the teaser? I would agree, but given this director’s track record we are sure to get a melodramatic, yet intriguing, “horror story without screams or frights,” as Almodóvar describes it himself.
The Skin I Live In is scheduled to premier in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where the buzz around this film is sure to make it one of the most anticipated films of the festival.
The first two words that come to mind after watching this trailer are: enthralling and intriguing. The trailer alone is refreshingly creative and unique, and if the full feature keeps even some of this style, it is sure to be one of the most exciting independent film of the year.
This is only the second feature from director Miranda July, who also stars as the main character in this film as well as the voice of Paw-Paw the cat. Her first film, Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005), was well received in the festival circuit, winning awards at both Cannes and Sundance.
While the quirky nature of this trailer may be off-putting to some, the story ultimately appears quite universal, exploring themes of mortality and humanity. But how could you not be attracted to the talking cat, sarcastic moon, or striking visuals found throughout.
This film is sure to have great style, excellent cinematography and editing, and creative storytelling.
If you are any type of music lover, or just need some soul in your life, then this is going to be a great film about one of the best unknown funk bands of all time. The Kashmmere Stage Band was a group of talented high-school musicians that were able to transform their school’s struggling jazz band into a world-class funk powerhouse.
This film follows the extraordinary journey of the band’s alumni reuniting after 35 years to play a tribute concert for their 92 year-old band leader, “Prof.” Be excited for some great music and the change to learn the history of these underrated and forgotten musicians.