Independent movies are special; they hold a certain charm in the fact that they abandon high budget motifs that rely heavily on computer effects and big-name cast lists, and focus on what really matters – the story. It’s a fantastic time, when the increased availability of high-quality technology allows innovative story-tellers to exercise their imagination in ways that were never before possible, without the help of large production companies. An influx of indie movies of all genres and varieties means that eminence is increasing, and kick-ass movies are coming out regularly.
2014 was awesome for indie films, with titles like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Blue Ruin, Boyhood, and the Nymphomaniac films, to name just a few. Last year might be hard to top, but here’s a few upcoming movies that make me think 2015 might be the best year for indie films yet.
The Hateful Eight or, H8ful Eight
As a pseudo-informal, but highly-necessary response to Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino graces us with another hyper-violent, totally-justified and brutal western movie, with a story that sounds both raw and beautiful. Tarantino takes us on the journey of eight polar-opposite travelers, each with their own agenda and expectations of how the civil-law should look in the stagecoach stopover they’re stranded in thanks to a dramatic blizzard.
Tarantino has a way of making every entry into his film collection (which is at a fitting eight) unique, though his style is classic. Like a few of his previous movies, Tarantino chose to direct Hateful Eight with a female lead, which only serves to heighten its already solid badassery. If The Hateful Eight winds up being anything like – well, any of Tarantino’s previous movies really – it’s almost guaranteed to be another cult classic.
Two words: Leonardo. DiCaprio. Do I even need to say anything else about this movie? No? Okay. Honestly though, aside from the great cast that includes DiCaprio the king and the fantastic Tom Hardy, The Revenant promises to be a gritty and chilling revenge story at its finest. A western-thriller about a fur trapper (DiCaprio) who gets mauled by a bear while hunting and left to die by his companions (Hardy and the other jerks), The Revenant will be a story about rebirth and the bounds of human limits.
Another reason to be excited? Alejandro González Iñárritu, better understood as the director of Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). If Iñárritu carries over any of Birdman’s haphazard, somewhat looming and erratic film style, then The Revenant’s story should communicate well as a madman on the brink of death, hoping to spread a little bit of his misery (after all it does love company).
Knight of Cups
Ahh Christian Bale. Of course he would play in a film about an ominous playboy with a tormented past – of course. Bale’s love of the macabre has historically translated into some amazing films with moving performances though, so we can look past the reignited-norm for him and assume that Knight of Cups will be an equally wild and mind-bending ride. Bale portrays a screenwriter in LA that struggles to make sense of the strange events occurring around him (or as a part of him, depending on how you look at it). He defines himself with excess and distracts with beautiful women (Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman for a couple of examples). All in all it’s another man’s existential struggle to find his place in the world – just with drugs, sex, and any other vice a wealthy bipolar man can demand.
The solid cast in Knight of Cups combined with director Terrence Malick’s turbulent style and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki’s stunning imagery promises to be gorgeous and stimulating, if not an entirely gripping story.
Ethan Hawke! Emma Waston! David Dencik and David Thewlis, oh my! Alejandro Amenábar, the director that haunted us with The Others back in 2001, is back at the horror-helm again with his new thriller Regression. An investigation; and unspeakable crime (that’s unavoidably spoken of repeatedly); mind-bending questions and an eventual regression all set up in a dark and muted setting with little revealed in the preview. Regression looks mysterious and disturbing, dark and wholly horrifying. And that cast!
Amenábar once again produces a film that guarantees to keep you guessing until the very end (where we hope that we don’t find out they were all dead the whole time – again), with a premise that is both cerebral and psychotic. The cast-list promises not to fail, and Harry Potter fans everywhere can rejoice at the fact that Hermoine and Professor Lupin are reunited once more – just under much different circumstances.
Digging for Fire
Joe Swanberg has won over hearts with his newest dramedy thriller, Digging for Fire, which follows a shaky married couple through their house-sitting dilemma of finding a bone and a gun in a client’s seemingly-normal home. Sound ridiculous? Yep, and that’s the best part! What could potentially be the premise for an over-the-top drama-buster takes heed from its indie film genre expectations, and focuses itself on story and character development, rather than booming effects. The couple’s (Jake Johnson and Rosemarie DeWitt) separate journeys play out as expected shenanigans with unexpected pseudo-guest appearances, and eventually everything unfolds like normal life because Digging for Fire is indie-to-the-max and that’s what happens with movies like Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas.
A star-studded cast is enough to excite, with names like Orlando Bloom, Anna Kendrick, and Jenny Slate to name a few. The dark direction style, mixed with the movie being shot on 35mm film with wide perspectives and odd – but fitting – angles, should come together seamlessly with the charmingly dark and comedic story for an overall killer experience.