I’m not proud of it, but I don’t get as excited about indie flicks as I used to back in the heyday of Fox Searchlight and Magnolia’s studio movies. The way that things tend to work in the marketplace these days is that a movie is either released in 3000 theaters or it goes straight-to-VOD, and not a lot of great independent films are sneaking through the cracks these days. We still get the occasional Birdman or Short Term 12 or Whiplash or Nightcrawler, but I’ve seen a lot of VOD and straight to iTunes clunkers lately that I forget about even before I can write the review (see, e.g., Search Party, of late)
There may be more indie films than ever, and more ways to watch them, but the enthusiasm for them has waned.
And then a trailer like Mississippi Grind comes along. It’s a road trip movie. It’s an addiction drama. It’s a gambling movie, but it also has something none of those other genres has yet to full experience: Ben Mendelsohn, the Emmy nominated actor from Bloodline who makes may give J.K. Simmons a run for his money as “great character actor who finally gets the awards recognition he deserves.” Joining Mendelsohn is Ryan Reynolds, who may be making the film choices he should have after The Proposal in this and Deadpool. The reviews from festivals so far have isolated the remarkable performances of both Mendelsohn and Reynolds.
It doesn’t hurt, either, that it comes from Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, the remarkable directing team behind Half Nelson and Sugar who kind of disappeared after the meddling It’s Kind of a Funny Story.
Mississippi Grind will arrive in theaters on September 25.