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The 10 Most Anticipated Anti-Blockbuster Movies of the Summer Blockbuster Season

By Dustin Rowles | Guides | April 30, 2014 | Comments ()


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It’s that time of year again: The summer blockbuster season kicks off on Friday with The Amazing Spider-man 2, which means three and a half months of empty spectacles that we will all consume voraciously, like butter-filled popcorn topped with butter layered in a bag made of butter. (Especially Godzilla: I’m gonna eat the crap out of that movie and feel terrible afterwards, then I’ll recover and watch it again.)

As we do every year, we present the ten most anticipated anti-blockbuster films, the indie flicks we’re most excited about this summer. Thanks to VOD and iTunes, access to these kinds of movies has become easier than ever. Unfortunately, exposure has completely dried up. There are no marketing budgets anymore, and unless one of these films breaks out as an awards contender, you’re not going to hear much about them outside of a few films reviews and the listings of new releases on iTunes (that has actually become a go-to-source for me to find out what’s popular in th indie world lately).

So, as you prepare for the onslaught of raucous comedies and superhero movies, please put a few of these on your radar for the summer. We’ll alert you again closer to their release dates, hopefully with glowing reviews, so that you can get a little substance with your movie candy.

10. Trust MeTrust Me gets the nod because it’s Clark Gregg’s (Agent Coulson) follow up as director to his sorely underappreciated Choke. He reteams with Sam Rockwell again, as well as Amanda Peete and Allison Janney for a film he wrote about a struggling agent for child actors and former child star himself, Howard Holloway, who spends years losing his most talented clients to his slick, arch-nemesis. Gregg vs. Rockwell? I’m in.

9. Wish I Was Here — This is a list of the most anticipated independent films of the summer, and not necessarily the best, as reviews out of Sundance were not exactly kind to Zach Braff’s Kickstarter funded feature, a spiritual follow-up to Garden State. But there are enough of us who still have love for Garden State and are curious enough, and smitten enough with some in the cast (Braff & Donald Faison, holla!) to ensure that we’ll make the trip to theaters for it.

8. The Double — It’s another movie, like Jake Gyllenhaal’s Enemy, concerning doubles who are not related. This one stars Jesse Eisenberg, and that along with the stellar reviews so far make this premise sound all the more compelling: “Eisenberg plays Simon, a timid, isolated man who’s overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams (MIa Wasikowska). The arrival of a new co-worker, James (also played by Eisenberg), serves to upset the balance. James is both Simon’s exact physical double and his opposite - confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simon’s horror, James slowly starts taking over his life.”

Richard Ayoade directs. Also, watch this trailer.

7. Hellion — I don’t really know what to expect from this movie, which comes from a lot of first timers (the lead kid Josh Wiggins making his screen debut for Kat Chandler, making her feature directorial debut). But it was good enough to convince Aaron Paul to sign on as an emotionally absent father who must join forces with his delinquent son to bring the other brother home, who had been taken to the house of their aunt (Juliette Lewis) by child protective services. Need for Speed notwithstanding, I’m still gonna get excited about anything with Aaron Paul in it.

6. Life of Crime — Characters played by Mos Def and John Hawkes (how’s that for a buddy combo) hit it off in prison, where they were both doing time for grand theft auto. When they get out, they join forces for one big score. Here’s why it’s compelling: Jennifer Aniston, Will Forte, Isla Fisher, Mark Boone Junior, and Tim Robbins also star, and it’s based on an Elmore Leonard novel, which is being brought to the screen by Daniel Schechter. That cast, that source material, plus strong reviews so far make this need-to-see.

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5. Calvary — Martin McDonagh’s brother, John Michael McDonagh, wrote and directed it, and he also wrote and directed The Guard. If that’s not convincing enough, McDonagh-brother regular, Brendan Gleeson, also stars with Chris O’Dowd. Oh, and it’s sitting at 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

4. What If (The F Word) — Oh, it sounds twee as hell — Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan star as two friends who, despite their mutual attraction, give friendship a try in this romantic comedy — and it has a cast that is also twee as hell (Oona Chaplin and Adam Driver also star). But 1) I got nothing against twee, and 2) it comes from Michael Dowse, who directed the opposite-of-twee movie, Goon, and 3) reviews have been stellar.

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3. Happy Christmas — Joe Swanberg reteams with his Drinking Buddies star Anna Kendrick, and brings along Lena Dunham, Melanie Lynskey, and Mark Webber in a movie about an irresponsible 20-something who moves in with her older brother and shakes up their domestic tranquility. I think the key words here are: Anna Kendrick.

2. Snowpiercer — Joon-ho Bong’s film with Chris Evans has already been released, to strong reviews, in many other parts of the world. It stirred much controversy when the Weinsteins ordered twenty minutes of cuts (though, those apparently are back in), which at least gave the film some much needed exposure. Tilda Swinton and Jamie Bell also star in the movie about the surviving members of humanity struggling to survive amidst a world covered in ice on a supertrain where the poor and the rich are constantly at odds.

1. Boyhood — TK will have his review up soon, but I will say this about Richard Linklater’s film — a fictional coming-of-age story filmed over 12 years that followed a six year and his family until he was 18: I say this without any hyperbole, it is legitimately the best movie I’ve seen in a decade, since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The “gimmick” is fascinating, if only to see these kids grow up on screen (and to watch Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette age over 12 years), but it’s the story — and the characters — that will blow you away.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Kobie

    What on earth does "Twee" mean?

  • glittergirl1970

    I just want that Steve Martin poster.

  • Pippa_Laughingstock

    The cuts are back in on Snowpiercer? It's about a perpetual train machine! Where do they get their food? How do they maintain the tracks? No one who wants to see a movie with that insane plot line needs anything simplified or de-Koreaned, goddammit!

  • Fabius_Maximus

    The Guard was great, so Calvary it is.

  • "Zach Braff’s Kickstarter funded feature, a spiritual follow-up to Garden State." Because that's exactly what the world needed. JD was the worst part of 'Scrubs' and everybody involved in 'Garden State' was insufferable.

    The rest of them sound like the kind of movies that do well at film festivals and then make about 15$ when they're released into theaters. 'Snowpiercer' also just raises a bunch of questions. If the world is covered in ice, what do they do for food? How do they fuel the train? Does it ever stop anywhere? Is the train just a metaphor? If it is, does that mean this is a 'message' movie, like 'Elysium' or 'In Time?' Because message movies are worse than shaky cam For-reals-you-guys-this-totally-really-happened horror movies and those are pretty damn bad.

  • manting

    Snowpiercer actually answers all those questions. No it doesn stop. The train is a metaphor and an ACTUAL TRAIN. Food is explained early on. I wouldnt say its an amazing movie but its pretty good and worth seeing. 8/10

  • Debra Kessing

    you make me feel like a ray of sunshine, says the ultimate glass half empty person.

  • These films don't have nearly enough white people in them.

  • Boyhood...how in the world did they, projecting forward 12 years, get a kid who is a) drop-dead gorgeous and b) a dead ringer for Ethan Hawke?

  • manting

    I believe he is the directors son.

  • If she Anna Kendricks in a forest and no one around to nerdgasm, is she still adorkable?!?

  • Jifaner

    Zach Braff had me at The Shins. The Double and Boyhood are now firmly on my must-see list.

  • TimeTravelMan

    Snowpiercer wasn't good.

  • blasterion

    Yeah, I agree. Snowpiercer was... not good, you guys. There were a couple of nice moments scattered throughout, but it just felt kind of dumb.

  • flojnl

    No, it wasn't. It was great.

  • Wrestling Fan

    ok, I admit that I just turned 40.
    That out of the way, can someone tell me what the hell "twee" is?

  • Jifaner

    affectedly cute or quaint.

  • John G.

    it's the word people use when describing Wes Anderson films.

  • Vangie13

    Twee is pretty much how you feel when you say twee. A little too precious.

  • emilya

    i am already getting all the feels from the boyhood trailer. i eagerly await tk's review of what i assume pulls at his heart space.

  • e jerry powell

    The Double does sound kind of trope-y, yeah. Like any of a number of psychological thrillers I read back when I still read books. Except in most of them, before the doppelganger takes over the protagonist's life, the two of them have sex. Just to up the pulp factor.

  • Kala

    Are you suggesting that the film makers should find a way to make Eisenberg screw himself? *Eyebrow Waggle*

  • e jerry powell

    I am suggesting no such thing!

    But it would be an interesting problem to solve creatively. No one has attempted to tackle it since John Waters in Female Trouble.

    :-D

  • laylaness

    Did someone say "Anna Kendrick"?

  • e jerry powell

    Wait, Joe Swanberg is still a thing?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I hadn't heard of Calvary. With a brother who's a priest, and an upcoming trip to Ireland, that one's top of my list. Followed by Snowpiercer, although that trailer looks less interesting to me than what I'd previously read of it.

  • sherryb23

    That Snowpiercer trailer isn't one of the best out there. Don't have time to find it now but if you can find the French one on YouTube, that makes the movie look far more intriguing.

  • Guest

    If "anticipate" means "look forward to," can it really be argued anyone is "anticipating" Wish I Was Here?

  • Debra Kessing

    I am

  • John W

    Mos Def + John Hawkes + Elmore Leonard? That IS an interesting combo.

  • Kala

    I'm pretty excited for most of these films, but that particular combo has me psyched.

  • Mrcreosote

    I'm getting an ad for Glock on this page full of indie movie reviews. I wish it were Colt or S&W, but it's still pretty close to a perfect storm of cognitive dissonance (yes, yes I know that's not what the term means-just deal with it)

  • manting

    at least you arent getting the ad that I get all the time for some weird weight loss supplement that looks like an egg grew an appendage with a mouth on the end. Its fucking gross.

  • Equinox

    What was it that Godard said? All you need to make a movie is a gun and a girl. There's no cognitive dissonance in what is effectively indie move credo!
    (I assume that you're also getting a pop up trying to sell you viagra)

  • I won't believe Snowpiercer is out until I barely miss it in theaters the one weekend it's released.

  • Bookmarked a lot of these for future reference, but there is absolutely no way I'm investing even a minute in that Braff movie.

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