Independent dramas and comedies are usually better than big box-office features, but tend to have a hard time sharing the love with an audience. All too often, great indie’s find themselves overlooked until they catch a following later on. So today, I give you three critically acclaimed films that deserve a fresh pair of eyes or even a captivating re-watch.


1) Stoker​ ​(2013)​ – Drama/Thriller

Family​ ​can​ ​be​ ​a​ ​confusing​ ​concept,​ ​especially​ ​for​ ​India​ ​(Mia​ ​Wasikowska)​ ​who’s​ ​just turned​ ​the​ ​pivotal​ ​age​ ​of​ ​eighteen.​ ​With​ ​her​ ​father​ ​(Dermot​ ​Mulroney)​ ​dying​ ​in​ ​a​ ​freak accident,​ ​India​ ​is​ ​left​ ​with​ ​a​ ​detached​ ​mother​ ​(Nicole​ ​Kidman)​ ​and​ ​an​ ​uncle​ ​(Matthew Goode)​ ​she​ ​never​ ​knew​ ​existed.​ ​Stoker​ ​is​ ​set​ ​in​ ​a​ ​world​ ​of​ ​elegant​ ​violence​ ​and disturbing​ ​sexuality.​ ​Even​ ​though​ ​the​ ​outside​ ​world​ ​is​ ​shown,​ ​the​ ​film​ ​confines​ ​to the three​ ​main​ ​characters​ ​along with​ ​their​ ​éloquent​ ​dialogue​ ​which ultimately​ ​buries itself under​ ​your​ ​skin. This​ ​thriller​ ​is​ ​written​ ​by​ ​actor/writer,​ ​Wentworth​ ​Miller​ ​(Prison​ ​Break,​ ​Legends​ ​of Tomorrow)​ ​and​ ​legendary​ ​director​ ​Chan-wook​ ​Park​ ​(Lady​ ​Vengeance,​ ​Old​ ​Boy).​ ​

With an​ ​all-star​ ​cast​ ​and​ ​crew,​ ​this​ ​film​ ​oozes​ ​beauty.​ ​A more than​ ​perfect​ ​choice​ ​to​ ​add​ ​to​ ​any filmmaking​ ​syllabi​ ​due​ ​to​ ​the​ ​glamour​ ​of​ ​it’s​ ​editing,​ ​sound​ ​design​ ​and​ ​cinematography. On the surface, this seems like a​ ​simple​ ​cat​ ​and​ ​mouse​ ​thriller.​ ​But, once scratched,​ ​you’ll incur a ​feeling​ ​equal to ​biting​ ​​a​ ​grapefruit​ ​when​ ​you​ ​thought​ ​you​ ​bit ​into an​ ​orange,​ ​bitter​ ​and​ ​sweet. Stoker​ ​examines​ ​one’s​ ​true​ ​motivations​ ​and​ ​accepts​ ​that​ ​being​ ​bad​ ​can​ ​be​ quite ​invigorating.


2) ​Frank​ ​(2014)​ – Comedy/Drama

Aspiring​ ​British​ ​songwriter​ ​Jon​ ​(Domhnall​ ​Gleeson)​ ​meets​ ​a​ ​bizarre​ ​band​ ​under​ ​even
stranger​ ​conditions​ ​with​ ​a​ ​lead​ ​singer​, ​Frank​ ​(Michael​ ​Fassbender)​, ​who​ ​never
removes​ ​his​ ​paper​ ​mache​ ​head.​ ​Written​ ​by​ ​journalist​ ​Jon​ ​Ronson​ ​and​ ​writer/director
Peter​ ​Straughan,​ ​this​ ​odd​ ​piece​ ​of​ ​black​ ​comedy​ ​is​ ​stuffed​ ​with​ ​eclectic​ ​characters​ ​and dangerously​ ​catchy​ ​songs.​ ​If​ ​this​ ​sounds​ ​appetizing,​ ​then​ ​this​ ​is​ ​obviously​ ​a​​ ​film made​ ​for​ ​you. Seemingly funny​ ​while also much compelling, ​the​ ​underlying​ ​tone​ actually ​hits​ ​on​ ​mental​ ​illness. Frank‘s​ ​obsession​ ​with​ ​his​ ​fake​ ​head​ ​comes​ ​from​ ​a​ place far ​more​ ​serious then what is conveyed​.​ ​While not​ ​dissecting​ ​his​ ​mental​ ​state,​ ​it ​accepts​ ​it​ ​and moves​ ​the​ ​story​ ​forward.​ ​

There’s​ ​a​ ​pivotal​ ​line​ ​in​ ​the​ ​film​ ​where​ ​Jon​ ​asks​ ​Frank’s parents​ ​“What​ ​happened​ ​to​ ​Frank?​ ​Something​ ​must​ ​have​ ​happened​ ​to​ ​him​ ​to​ ​make​ ​him like​ ​that.”​ ​In​ ​which​ ​Frank’s​ ​father​ ​replies,​ ​“Nothing​ ​happened​ ​to​ ​him.​ ​He’s​ ​got​ ​a​ ​mental illness”.​ ​That being the response,​ ​we​ follow​ ​a​ ​paper​ ​mache​ ​head​ ​to​ ​SXSW​ ​and​ ​see​ ​the​ ​insanity which ​ensues​ while never​ ​being ​taken​ ​out​ ​of​ ​the​ ​moment. With​ ​insane​ ​lyrics​ ​like​ ​“Sequinned​ ​mountain​ ​ladies.​ ​I​ ​love​ ​your​ ​wall.​ ​Put​ ​your​ ​arms around​ ​me.​ ​Fiddly​ ​digits,​ ​itchy​ ​britches.​ ​I​ ​love​ ​you​ ​all.”​ ​You​ are sure to ​be​ ​singing​ ​along ​to​ ​the soundtrack​ ​and ​repeating​ ​numerous quotes​ ​while​ ​you​ ​wash​ ​your​ ​dishes​ ​for…​ at least a full week.


3)​ ​American​ ​Honey​ ​(2016)​ – Drama

Watching​ ​American​ ​Honey,​ ​you​ ​quickly​ ​forget​ ​that​ ​writer​/​director ​Andrea​ ​Arnold​ ​is not​ ​a​ ​native​ ​to​ ​the​ ​land​ ​of​ ​country​ ​music and american flags.​ ​This​ ​being​ ​the​ ​follow-up​ ​to her​ ​award​ ​winning​ ​Fish​ ​Tank​ ​(2008),​ ​the film​ ​portrays​ ​a​ ​real​ ​understanding​ ​of young-adults​ ​from​ ​rough​ ​environments​ ​and​ ​even rougher​ ​situations.​ ​It​ ​takes​ ​the​ ​youth-poor stereotype​ ​whilst ​turning​ ​it​ ​on​ ​its​ ​ass,​ ​by​ ​giving​ ​personalities​ ​to​ ​the ​kids​​ ​society​ ​tends to​ ​forget​ ​about. We​ ​are​ ​immediately​ ​introduced​ ​to​ ​the​ ​main​ ​character​ ​Star​ ​(Sasha​ ​Lane)​ ​and​ ​see​ ​that the​ ​eighteen​ ​year​ ​old​ ​has​ ​spent​ ​her​ ​life​ ​plagued​ ​with​ ​sexual​ ​abuse,​ ​hunger​ ​and protection​ ​over​ ​her​ ​siblings.​ ​Star then meets​ a character named ​Jake​ ​(Shia​ ​Labouef),​ ​who gives​ ​her​ ​a way​ ​out​ ​as she​ ​painfully​ ​leaves​ ​her​ ​past​ ​behind​ ​for​ ​a​ ​life​ ​on​ ​the​ ​road.​

What next ensues is a journey, all the while crammed​ ​in​to ​a van​ ​with​ ​other​ ​kids​ ​who have​ ​similar​ ​backstories- selling​ ​catalog​ ​magazines nonetheless. The​ ​chemistry​ ​between​ ​every​ ​character​ ​in​ ​this​ ​film​ ​is​ ​organic ​and​ ​believable.​ ​Almost feeling​ ​more​ ​like​ ​a​ ​documentary​ ​than​ ​fiction.​ ​There’s​ ​no​ ​denying​ ​that​ ​the​ ​sexual​ ​tension between​ ​Star​ ​and​ ​Jake,​ ​is so genuine​, it​ ​transcends​ ​you​ ​down​ ​a​ ​rabbit​ ​hole​ ​of emotions.​ ​The​ ​connection​ ​and​ ​danger​ ​is​ ​what​ ​motivates​ ​this​ ​film,​ ​the​ ​danger​ ​of​ ​being separated​ ​by​ ​their​ ​unstable​ ​leader​ ​Krystal​ ​(Riley​ ​Keough),​ ​and​ ​the​ ​fear​ ​Star​ ​faces​ ​when putting​ ​herself​ ​in compromising​ ​situations​ ​with​ ​other​ ​men.​ ​Watching​ ​Star, we​ ​see​ ​a girl​ ​trying​ ​her​ ​hardest​ ​to​ ​live​ ​a ​life​ ​that​ ​would be deemed ​as​ ​more​ ​than survivable.​ ​A​ ​task​ ​many​ ​can​ ​relate​ ​to​ ​in one way or​ ​another. Oh,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​soundtrack​ ​is​ ​the​ ​best​ ​thing​ ​since​ ​Harmony​ ​Korine’s​ ​Spring​ ​Breakers (2012).

Contributed by Amanda Nova
IG: @filmyanimal

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