Blockbusters may be dominating the summer movie season but that doesn’t mean studios aren’t releasing some lesser-known gems. If you’re a bit tired of watching giant explosions, intense car chases and supernatural human beings (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), perhaps you’ll enjoy something a little more realistic.
Here are a couple of indie films that are currently playing in select theatres.
The Way Way Back
It’s like Adventureland for younger teens! Written and directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the Oscar-winning writers of The Descendants, The Way Way Back surrounds a 14-year-old named Duncan (Liam James) who begrudgingly goes on a summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette) and her condescending boyfriend’s (played by a brilliant Steve Carrell) family. Introverted and shy, Duncan has a tough time fitting in with his new neighbours at the cottage and decides to work at a waterpark. There, he finds an unexpected mentor and friend in Owen (a delightful Sam Rockwell), the manager of the park who teaches him to let loose and have a bit of fun.
I was lucky enough to catch this movie in July and absolutely adored it. With a relatable script, whip-smart jokes and a stellar cast that also features Allison Janney, AnnaSophia Robb and Maya Rudolph, The Way Way Back is THE perfect coming-of-age summer flick.
Back when this film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, it was lauded by critics…and for good reason. Directed by Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station is based on the true story of Oscar Grant III (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old from Hayward, California and his experiences on the last day of his life before he was fatally shot by a Bay Area Rapid Transit Police officer on New Year’s Day in 2009.
In light of recent events surrounding the killing of Trayvon Martin, this movie is eerily similar. Winning a slew of awards at the Sundance Film Festival in January such as the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize, much of this can be owed to Jordan’s performance. While you might have seen this young actor in Friday Night Lights and Chronicle, Fruitvale Station is undoubtedly his breakout role.
The Spectacular Now
Okay, so this film hasn’t actually come out in Canada yet but having heard about this for a while now, WHY IS IT TAKING SO LONG?!
Based on the book of the same name by Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now stars Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley as two teens who are drawn to each other despite being opposites. Teller plays Sutter Keely, a popular high school senior who’s the life of the party and lives in the moment. Woodley on the other hand, plays Amy Finnicky, an introverted “nice girl” who reads science fiction and doesn’t have a boyfriend.
While this may all seem like your typical teen romance, there’s just something about this trailer that makes this film feel really raw and honest. In other words, it really hits me hard in the feelings department. Maybe this can be owed to the performances of Teller and Woodley, who both won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance for their acting. I can just tell I’ll be needing tons of tissues when I watch this!
The film is now out in select theatres.