Posted by Valentina Valentini on July 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm
I started this tradition last 4th of July (here are last year’s picks), and I’m excited to keep it going. This year, my criteria is not based on a personal connection to any of the films – although each of them personally affected me in some way, even though I saw most six months ago. Rather, I’m sticking to industry buzz, hype, and my Facebook friends’ anecdotes.
Short Term 12
Like Destin Daniel Cretton’s first feature at Sundance 2012, I Am Not a Hipster, this film takes you by surprise. Both titles throw you ever so slightly off kilter before being immersed in the funniest and saddest of stories. Brie Larson – not that it needs saying since every critic everywhere has said it – shines in Short Term 12, which premiered at SXSW after being rejected by Sundance (oops, Park City).
Cretton’s mom was apt in choosing his name: he certainly does seem DESTINed for great things – like creating resonating stories that affect the old white man in the back and the young Latina girl on the side, the business exec down front and the kid just out of film school.
Short Term 12 opens in select cities on August 23.
The Spectacular Now
This film, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber and directed by James Ponsoldt (who’s now primed to helm the Hillary Clinton biopic Rodham), is right in line to be the next summer teen dramedy. Following in the footsteps of Dazed and Confused, Breakfast Club, Almost Famous and Say Anything, The Spectacular Now is an emotional study of two teenagers, artfully portrayed by two real teenagers – Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller.
Even the Landmark chain of theaters is getting on board with this little indie. Every Tuesday in July leading up the August 2 release of The Spectacular Now, one of the above films will be screening at select locations with a video intro by Neustadter and Weber at the beginning of each show, and each audience member will also receive a ticket for a screening of the Sundance hit in their market.
Two-for-one moviegoing? Yes, please. (For more information, link HERE.)
It Felt Like Love
This unassuming, micro-budget film by first-time feature director Eliza Hittman will make your skin crawl. It is not the next summer teen dramedy. Instead, it is a sincere and honest film that looks at both the internal and external pressures of sexuality and society in modern-day teenage girls.
Hittman aimed to craft a character that everybody could relate to in some way or another – Lila, played by newcomer Gina Piersanti – and she wanted to show those intimate contradictions between who we want to be seen as, and who we really are.
Still in a whirlwind festival circuit including Sundance, BAMCinema Fest, Munich and Nashville (where Piersanti took home the best actress award), this little film will hopefully find it’s home with a distributor in the near future.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
This gorgeously cinematic tale of two outlaws (played by Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck) comes from David Lowery, most prolific in editing, but seemingly equally talented in writing, cinematography, acting and more (just look at his imdb page). But perhaps he should stick to directing, since this film blew most of the Sundance features I saw out of the water.
One of the young and bright DPs of the indie world, Bradford Young (Pariah) lensed this story of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. Lowery and Young watched classics like McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) and Heaven’s Gate (1980) – both shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC – for visual insight… so you know it’s gonna be pretty.
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints premieres on August 16.