From Bank Robbers to Punk Rockers: 10 Great Summer-Movie Hidden Gems
We Are the Best
The summer months are so crowded with blockbuster spectacles that only the occasional indie crossover manages to grab some daylight. While Chef, Begin Again, Belle, and Boyhood all managed to draw (relatively) significant crowds, plenty of other small-budget gems have gotten lost in the summer shuffle. This week, for instance, sees the release of Frank, a strange, wonderful comedy about an oddball band, starring Michael Fassbender, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Domhnall Gleeson, but with 21 other movies going into release at the same time, you’d be forgiven if you blinked and missed it.
But the doldrums of August are approaching and with simultaneous VOD releases becoming more common, it’s easier than ever to keep up with easy-to-overlook titles. So, along with the must-watch Frank, here are 10 other indie gems from the last few months.
Ida rollied out in May and attracted some impressive crowds — for a black-and-white Polish arthouse movie, at least. That’s excellent news, because the film isn’t just one of the best of the summer, it’s one of the best of the year. Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, best known for helping launch Emily Blunt’s career with My Summer Of Love (2004), it follows Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska), a novice nun who discovers, with the help of her alcoholic aunt (Agneta Kulesza), that she’s actually Jewish, and that her parents were killed during World War II. It sounds and looks austere (thanks to the stunning, Oscar-worthy cinematography), but Pawlikowski fills his unlikely road movie with enormous humanity and humor, even as it digs into some of the darkest nooks of the 20th century.
Where Can I See It? In select theaters now; home video and streaming services Sept. 9.
British comedian-turned-filmmaker Richard Ayoade struggled to escape the Wes Anderson comparisons that accompanied his debut feature Submarine (2011), but The Double successfully works as its own unique creature. Jesse Eisenberg stars as Simon James, a mild-mannered office drone with a crush on a colleague (Mia Wasikowska) whose life is upended by the arrival of a much more confident man named James Simon (also played by Eisenberg), who looks exactly like him. Ayoade and his team create an immersive retro-future, but it’s the hypnotic rhythms, rich psychology, and dry black humor that linger. There’s also not one, but two career-best performances from Eisenberg, playing both with and against type, in beautifully modulated ways.
Where Can I See It? On VOD now; home video on Aug. 26.