May Movie Madness 2: The Indie Edition!!!

By on May 10, 2014
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Not much for the blockbusters? Well, there’s plenty in the way of indie flicks to choose from as well, though Lord knows when they will open here in Alabama. Thank God for the Edge, is all I’m saying. The most high-profile of the bunch is arguably “The Immigrant,” which features an impressive cast that includes Oscar-winner Marion Cottilard, plus Oscar nominees Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner, in a period piece set in 1921 Manhattan.

It concerns a woman (Cottilard) forced into prostitution by a wicked man played by Phoenix, before spotting a way out courtesy of his cousin, a magician (!) played by Renner. The director, James Gray, of “Little Odessa” and “We Own the Night” semi-fame, is pretty hit or miss, but who wouldn’t want to see Phoenix as a charming pimp, much less Renner as a magician? I might not see it in theaters around here, but I’ll see it eventually, for that premise and cast alone, even if it’s probably nothing like the version of it I have in my mind, which is most likely isn’t. (And probably shouldn’t be, if I’m being honest.)

James McAvoy and Imogen Poots face off in the latest Irvine Welsh adaptation, "Filth." Courtesy of imdb.com

James McAvoy and Imogen Poots face off in the latest Irvine Welsh adaptation, “Filth.”
Courtesy of imdb.com

I’m much more excited about the upcoming “Filth,” based on the novel of the same name, from cult writer Irvine Welsh, of “Trainspotting” fame. I’ve liked all of the previous efforts based on his works, which also include “The Acid House” and “Ecstasy” and was delighted to hear a sequel to “Trainspotting” was in the works, based on his novel “Porno,” which will reunite Welsh with that film’s director, Oscar-winner Danny Boyle. This will be a nice warm-up for that film, in the meantime, with a cast that includes James McAvoy in the leading role of a “Bad Lieutenant”-esque junkie cop, only played more for laughs. It co-stars Jamie Bell (“Billy Elliot”) and rising starlet Imogen Poots, who will be in the upcoming Jimi Hendrix biopic, “All is By My Side,” with Andre Benjamin, of Outkast fame. Count on some gritty language and violence, and well, gritty everything, really. Count me in.

Also keep an eye out for the star-studded “Chef,” which was directed by Jon Favreau with a budget that probably passes for catering on his normal gigs doing the “Iron Man” movies. Maybe that’s why it actually revolves around a food truck. Hey, we’ve got one around, might as well use all the parts of the animal, right? And I mean that literally and figuratively. Sorry, animal lovers.

Anyway, with a cast that includes the mouth-watering Sofia Vergara, the delectable Scarlett Johansson, and the hilarious and adorable Amy Sedaris, I’m definitely buying what he’s selling. (On a side note, Sedaris should totally play Amy Poehler’s sister in something. Make it happen, Hollywood!) Also cropping up is, um, I don’t know, freaking Robert Downey, Jr. Gee, how do you think Favreau landed him? Some unknowns like Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo and Oliver Platt also show up. So, you know, standard indie movie cast.

Actor/director Jon Favreau and Sofia Vergara in "Chef." Courtesy of imdb.com

Actor/director Jon Favreau and Sofia Vergara in “Chef.”
Courtesy of imdb.com

Also hitting theaters sometime this month, if we’re lucky, is “God’s Pocket,” one of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last roles before his untimely recent death earlier this year. Directed and co-written by “Mad Men”-star John Slattery, it features his co-star and sometime love interest on that show, sexy redhead Christina Hendricks, plus turns by superlative character actors John Turturro and Richard Jenkins. It revolves around an “accidental” death in a working-class neighborhood that there may be more to.

Cropping up in not one but two indie movies is Jesse Eisenberg, who also does double-duty as an evil twin in the black comedy-drama “The Double,” from cult actor/director Richard Ayoade, best-known perhaps for “The IT Crowd” and “The Mighty Boosh,” but beloved by me for the completely mental “Garth Merenghi’s Darkplace.” “The Double” should be manna from heaven for fans of those endeavors.

Don’t count out Eisenberg’s lower-profile effort “Night Moves,” either, which treads similar ground as the underrated “The East,” revolving around eco-terrorists. Co-starring Dakota Fanning and “Arrested Development”-vet Alia Shawkat, it’s from writer/director Kelly Reichhardt, who also did the underrated indies “Wendy & Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff,” both starring Michelle Williams. Eisenberg can be hit and miss and sometimes annoying, but I’m cautiously looking forward to both of these flicks.

Then there’s “Cold in July,” the latest from cult filmmaker Jim Mickle, whose remake of “We Are Who We Are” was one of the best horror flicks in recent memory, and also did the entertaining “Stakeland.” This one looks to be more noir-oriented, and features a superlative cast of character actors that includes Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”), Don Johnson and playwright/actor Sam Shepard.

James Franco is at it again! Just kidding, it's only a movie, "Palo Alto," with the delightful Emma Roberts. Courtesy of imdb.com

James Franco is at it again! Just kidding, it’s only a movie, “Palo Alto,” with the delightful Emma Roberts.
Courtesy of imdb.com

Last but not necessarily least is the directorial debut of another Coppola, Gia, who opts for an adaptation of, of all things, a collection of short stories by actor James Franco in “Palo Alto.” Franco himself co-stars, along with my favorite erstwhile witch Emma Roberts, of “American Horror Story” fame. Ironically, it centers on a shy virgin with a crush on her soccer coach, played by Franco, who got into a bit of hot water when reality imitated his art and he got caught propositioning an underage girl online. Whoops! Anyway, if Gia has half of her sister’s artistic sensibilities, this should be a decent watch, and if not, I’ll watch Roberts in anything, so there’s that. (Yes, even “Nancy Drew”- hell, especially “Nancy Drew”!)

That about does it. Needless to say, this should make for an eclectic month, with truly something for everyone, whether you lean towards Hollywood blockbusters (for more on them, click here) or quiet indies, or from quirky comedies to cult curios. Regardless of one’s individual tastes, at least one of these selections almost has to be a keeper. Just remember: sometimes the best things don’t come in big packages…settle down, Godzilla! Obviously, we’re not talking about you. Wait, he’s coming over here! AAAHHHHIIIIIEEEE!!! See you at the movies…maybe.

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About Mark Trammell

Mark Trammell is the resident entertainment critic at UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he is also a Graduate Student and does a vid-cast movie review show. He is a life-long fan of films and has a pretty whacked-out, all-over-the-place movie collection that would give most sane people pause. He loves horror movies and Disney flicks and isn't entirely sure there is a difference. He one day hopes to put his money where his mouth is and inflict his own perverse vision on society, entirely so that he can tell people who ask: "If you think you can do better, why don't you make a movie yourself?" to shut up.
 
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