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Saturday, April 21, 2012


This is part three of my 2012 summer movie preview. Click here to see part one, and here to see part two.

Big expensive blockbusters will dominate the headlines all summer long, so let's take a moment, while we still can, to give the smaller, independent films their due. There are quite a few promising flicks on the limited-release schedule—maybe not as much as in years past, but still, there's more than enough coming out to help regenerate at least some of the brain cells killed by seeing Battleship. Here's my top 10. If I'm missing anything big, let me know!

10.) The Queen of Versailles
I'm surprised only one documentary made this list, but the schedule isn't exactly packed with them (at least not yet). Anyway, this one debuted at Sundance (a trend, as you'll see) and chronicles a comically wealthy couple doomed to lose everything after the financial crisis hits. The film has a great many admirers already, so even though it might get my blood boiling, I feel more than compelled to see it.

9.) Take This Waltz
Forget Sundance, this Michelle Williams vehicle has been kicking around since Toronto last year, where it made a decently strong impression. It's Sarah Polley's follow-up to the terrific Away From Her, and it sounds like a pretty standard romantic dramedy, but the Polley's pedigree and the strength of the cast are enough to sell me.

8.) To Rome with Love
Had I not seen the trailer for Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris follow-up before composing this list, you'd be looking at perhaps my #1 or #2 most-anticipated summer indie film. Unfortunately, said trailer did nothing to make me think Allen had truly turned a corner. It felt pretty stale to me (very You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger), but because it's Allen and because I loved his last film so much, To Rome with Love (which I almost want to call Nero Fiddled out of spite) has to make the list.

7.) 2 Days in New York
When I heard Julie Delpy was making a sequel to her 2008 film, 2 Days in Paris, I was intrigued but skeptical. Just didn't seem to make much sense, right? Casting Chris Rock, however, changed my outlook entirely. I'm always up for an actor stepping out on a limb, and the buzz tells us Rock's (and Delpy's) gamble paid off.

6.) God Bless America
A bit of a cheat, I guess, because I've already seen Bobcat Goldthwaite's latest, but I had been anticipating it quite highly, so I decided to include it. It's a lot of fun, but that's all I'll say until the review hits.

5.) Compliance
Another Sundance premiere, this one doesn't have a release date yet, but looks like it will probably be this summer, so it lands on the list. I remember reading about the case of the young fast food worker forced to take her clothes off by her boss because a "police officer" told her to do so over the phone. This is the dramatization of that event, and it was one of Park City's most talked-about titles.

4.) Safety Not Guaranteed
All you had to tell me was Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass. Seriously, I'd watch the two of them read the newspaper. Throw them into a film with a premise as wacky as this, and I'm in—guaranteed.

3.) The Do-Deca Pentathlon
Another Duplass vehicle (albeit a behind-the-scenes one), this one ranks above Safety Not Guaranteed for purely personal reasons. My friends and I held competitions like this all the time in high school, so the nostalgia factor is quite strong here.

2.) Beasts of the Southern Wild
Though I have no idea how to possibly describe this Sundance hit, I must admit to being quite a bit more excited about it than I get over most Sundance hits (especially after the massive disappointment that was Like Crazy). Anyway, Beasts of the Southern Wild might be something we've never seen before, which is all I needed to hear.

1.) Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson, ladies and gentlemen. No way a new film of his wasn't topping this list, though I have to admit a little disappointment that he didn't continue the departure from his usual fare that began with 2009's brilliant Fantastic Mr. Fox. Still, Moonrise Kingdom, which is the opening night film at this year's Cannes Film Festival, boasts a predictably stellar cast and will likely feature a killer soundtrack. As long as it's more The Royal Tenenbaums than The Darjeeling Limited, we'll be in for a treat.

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