August Indie Film Preview
By Dan Krovich
We all know August is the month that studios bring out their summer wannabe dregs, so it's a perfect month to eschew the big studio releases and catch some indie films instead. The problem is figuring out what to see, since the indie films don't get the same publicity and advertising as the studio films. So here is a handy-dandy guide of indie substitutes for August studio releases.
Instead of The Brothers Grimm
In The Brothers Grimm, much of the action is self-referential to the fairy tales written by the titular characters. The main character in Wong Kar Wai's 2046 is also a writer. The film is also very self-referential as characters in 2046 contain elements of characters the actors portrayed in other Wong Kar Wai films.
Instead of The Cave
See Grizzly Man
In The Cave, a group of explorers are apparently eaten by some creature that lives in that titular cave. In Grizzly Man, activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard lived among grizzly bears in Alaska, filming them and advocating for them, until they were mauled and partially eaten by them. Legendary director Werner Herzog uses Treadwell's own footage as well as interviews to document Huguenard and Treadwell's life and death among the bears.
Instead of Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo
See Broken Flowers
In Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, Rob Schneider romances a series of women. In Broken Flowers, Bill Murray plays a womanizer who has left a trail of broken relationships in the past. When he receives an anonymous letter telling him that he may have a son, he tries to track down which of his exes wrote him the letter. Indie stalwart Jim Jarmusch looks to have his most commercial outing yet with the story of a man forced to reflect on his past relationships with women.
Instead of The Dukes of Hazzard
The Dukes of Hazzard revolves around the exploits of a good-old-boy Southern family. In Junebug, a newlywed brings his metropolitan wife to North Carolina to meet his eccentric Southern family for the first time. The film features a cast including Alessandro Nivola, Embeth Davidtz, Benjamin McKenzie, and Amy Adams, who won a special acting award at Sundance where the film premiered.
Instead of The 40 Year-Old Virgin
See The Baxter
The main character of the 40 Year-Old Virgin is a loser who has trouble getting women. The main character of The Baxter is a loser who is engaged to a woman, but is in danger of losing her when her suave high school flame re-enters the picture. The Baxter is written by, directed by, and stars Michael Showalter of "The State" and "Stella" television shows (and the writer of Wet Hot American Summer), so you should have a pretty good idea whether this type of humor is for you.
Instead of The Great Raid
See Reel Paradise
The Great Raid is based on a true story that took place in the South Pacific. While not exactly comparable to a WWII military action, Reel Paradise is a documentary that takes place in the South Pacific. Indie film legend John Pierson ran a remote movie theater in Fiji for a year and filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams) was on hand to document the logistic and cultural trials and tribulations.
Instead of Red Eye
See Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Red Eye involves a kidnapping on an airplane. Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance also involves a kidnapping gone awry. Director Chan-wook Park is one of the most talented directors working today. This film is the first in a revenge "trilogy." The second film, Oldboy, was actually released in the US earlier this year, while the third film Sympathy for Lady Vengeance was recently released in Korea to blockbuster box office status.
Instead of Skeleton Key
In Skeleton Key, Kate Hudson plays a woman who becomes a caretaker to an elderly man and gets herself into a dangerous situation. Natasha Richardson stars in Asylum as the wife of a psychiatrist who is newly appointed to a psychiatric hospital. When she becomes involved with a patient (who has been hospitalized after murdering his wife), she gets entangled in dangerous circumstances. Asylum is directed by David MacKenzie (Young Adam) and also stars Ian McKellen, Marton Csokas, and Hugh Bonneville.
Instead of Supercross
See Saint Ralph
Supercross involves a bunch of guys who race motorcycles. Saint Ralph is about a boy who races in the Boston Marathon when he believes that by winning the race he will cause a miracle to save his seriously ill mother. It's sure to be heartwarming, though it does seem to avoid crossing over into sickly-sweet, and the presence of Campbell Scott in the cast is always a good thing.
Instead of Undiscovered
(...stay home and poke your eyes out with chopsticks...seriously, this thing makes one long for the days of From Justin to Kelly) or
See Romance and Cigarettes
Undiscovered is about a group of wannabe singers. Romance and Cigarettes also relies heavily on music as it is a musical. In the film, James Gandolfini plays a man who is forced to choose between his wife (Susan Sarandon) and his mistress (Kate Winslet). The actors won't be singing the songs themselves. Instead they'll be lip-synching along to songs, which brings up another connection to Undiscovered seeing how that film co-stars Ashlee Simpson.