The Little Films That Could

Because small-budget releases need love, too.

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Sep. 21, 2011

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Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia"

A look at this season's art-house releases.

Margaret: In the I’ll-believe-it-when-it’s-literally-unspooling-in-front-of-me category, there’s Ken Lonergan’s follow-up to 2000’s expertly judged You Can Count On Me, which has been so absurdly delayed some of us have written off ever seeing it. Filmed in 2005, first slated for release in 2007, then shuffled off to purgatory when no one could figure out how to edit it together, this epic look at the aftermath of a bus accident was abruptly given a release date last month, and it looks like they’re serious this time. Here’s the slightly surreal chance to see Anna Paquin well before True Blood, plus younger versions of Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Rosemarie DeWitt and, very likely, some incredible filmmaking. (10/7)

Human Centipede II (Full Sequence): Admit it, you’re not intrigued. (OK, some of us secretly are.) (10/7)

Martha Marcy May Marlene: Who knew there was genuine talent in the Olsen family? While Mary-Kate and Ashley may have never broken cinematic ground, their younger sis Elizabeth is a serious thespian whose work as a former cult member reunited with her family has already been showered with accolades. Sean Durkin’s direction is allegedly just as strong, and John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone) is in there, too, as the cult leader. (10/21)

Take Shelter: Jeff Nichols’ oft-excellent Shotgun Stories was one of those Amerindies that slipped through the cracks, so here’s hoping the same doesn’t happen to his follow-up. Michael Shannon again collaborates with Nichols as an Ohio family man who starts having apocalyptic visions. It’s up to current It Girl Jessica Chastain to take him at his word or steer their kids away from him. (10/21)

The Skin I Live In: Antonio Banderas heads back to the country and director that first made him popular with Pedro Almodóvar’s batshit horror flick. Bandaras plays a surgeon who tests out an experimental skin on a kidnapped woman (Elena Anaya). From there matters escalate, but reportedly in ways more fucked-up than you could imagine. (10/28)

Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life: Eric Elmonsino looks so like sleazy as French troubador Serge Gainsbourg he might as well be him reincarnated. Comics artist Joann Sfar’s hagiographic biopic sports some appropriately out-there elements, like a masked, beaked alter ego that follows him around. Alas, Gainsbourg’s love of potty humor—which culminated in “Eugenie Sokolov,” a reggae song featuring farts for vocals—goes unmentioned. (11/11)

Melancholia: More Gainsbourg love arrives via the movie that caused Lars von Trier to crack jokes about admiring Nazis, which is by most accounts a barnburner. Charlotte, Serge’s daughter, plays the sister of Kirsten Dunst, who won a Cannes trophy as the bride whose wedding coincides nicely with the destruction of our planet. Written during the depression that also inspired Von Trier’s Antichrist, this may not boast talking foxes and massacred genitalia, but apparently that’s OK. (11/18)

Le Havre: With few exceptions, Finnish deadpan master Aki Kaurismäki (The Man Without a Past) makes the same movie over and over, although Cannes audiences did go nuts for this tale of a man harboring a young illegal immigrant. If Kaurismäki’s lightweight schtick may not be able to support a political statement, he should at least find inspiration from the French port town setting. (11/25)

The Other F Word: See what happens when punk rockers give into domestic bliss. Andrea Blaugrund’s exceedingly well-liked doc also features parental war stories from the likes of Flea, Tony Hawk and Mark Mothersbaugh. (12/2)

Miss Bala:
Mexican filmmaker Gerardo Naranjo’s last (incredible) film was called I’m Gonna Explode. With his latest, he apparently has: His film about a beauty pageant contestant who becomes accidentally embroiled in the transpirings of a drug cartel is apparently the shit and, after Drive, the season’s other dynamic art-thriller. (Not scheduled yet)

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