More often than not, seasonal movie previews wind up being educated guesswork at best, so we decided to shine the spotlight on some independent films worth checking out this summer that we've actually seen and can stump for. Feel free to assume that we're good and ready for new films from directors like Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom, tentatively slated to open June 22 at the Enzian Theater), Spike Lee (Red Hook Summer) and Sarah Polley (Take This Waltz); we just haven't met them yet.
The given release dates are for their respective initial N.Y./L.A. limited releases. They are, as always, subject to change, and for the Orlando market, we recommend you give them about a month to make it to local screens. On the off chance that they don't, keep your eyes peeled for video-on-demand options through cable, iTunes and Amazon as an increasing number of distributors make their fare available concurrent with, and sometimes even prior to, a film's theatrical run.
First up is Safety Not Guaranteed (June 8), a charming comedy in which newspaper intern Aubrey Plaza sets out to discover whether Mark Duplass is as capable of time travel as he insists in a classified ad. Next is bawdy FFF 2012 alum Klown (July 27), in which a pair of grown men go on a sex-seeking canoe trip with a 12-year-old in tow. (Danny McBride and Todd Phillips are already working on the remake.)
Celeste and Jesse Forever (August 3) sees BFFs Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg amicably going through a divorce, only for their friendship to waver once other partners enter the picture; it's the closest heir apparent that we've seen to When Harry Met Sally ... in a good long while. Last but not least is Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk With Me (August 24), a semi-autobiographical account of his struggles to balance life on the road as a stand-up comedian with an honest, committed relationship back home and the eponymous sleeping disorder.
The Queen of Versailles (July 6) takes a deeply trenchant look at the indulgent lives and humbling unrest of Orlando's own timeshare moguls, the Siegel clan, while The Imposter (July 13) questions how a San Antonio family could have so openly accepted into their midst a Frenchman who posed as their long-missing son.
An especially strong year in music docs brings us Paul Williams Still Alive (June 8), an intimate look at the life of the adored singer-songwriter; Searching for Sugar Man (July 27), a mystery surrounding the little- known Detroit folk rocker Rodriguez, who unwittingly grew a massive following in apartheid-era South Africa; and Shut Up and Play the Hits (TBD), a lovely and loving look at the last days of LCD Soundsystem.
Joachim Trier's Oslo, August 31st (May 25) is a haunting follow-up to his striking directorial debut, Reprise, that follows a recovering 30-something drug addict as he ventures out of rehab and back into a town of temptation and regret. Beasts of the Southern Wild (June 27) takes place a world away, in a slightly fantastical version of the Louisiana bayou, where a young girl by the name of Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) minds her sickly father and searches for her long-lost mother in the wake of a hurricane.
In the brisk French thriller Sleepless Night (May 11) a dirty cop takes some drugs, a drug dealer takes his son, and a night-long game of cat-and-mouse in a bustling nightclub ensues. Aussie import The Loved Ones (June 1) is a darkly funny, sometimes squirmy, look at a girl who gets exactly what she wants for prom, grounded by a terrifically intense performance from newcomer Robin McLeavy.
Red Lights (July 13), Rodrigo Cortés' playful follow-up to Buried, concerns parapsychologists Cillian Murphy and Sigourney Weaver as they attempt to prove that popular psychic Robert De Niro is actually a fraud. More pointed is Craig Zobel's fact-based Compliance (August 17), in which employees of a fast-food restaurant go all Milgram Experiment on one another after a cop calls, claiming to be investigating a crime among them.