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Lost in Translation (2003)
Intelligence and emotional honesty are all too rarely elements that make-up a romantic comedy. Sofia Coppola's meditation on romantic and cultural alienation, however, strips out the clichs, tired chat-up lines and drunken sex, leaving us with a simple, touching collision of two lost souls. This was a plum role for Scarlett Johanssen and a long-awaited return to form for Bill Murray, coaxing forth what is arguably the best performance of his entire career. While Coppola made her bones as an indie director with her adaptation of The Virgin Suicides, this original story, with its frank but tender realism and wry humour, remains her crowning achievement.

Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Wanna check the indie credentials of Drugstore Cowboy? OK, never mind that Gus Van Sant - perhaps the most indie-centric, experimental film-maker working just outside the American mainstream today - directed it. Never mind that it's a non-judgmental look at drug culture and the mindset of a group of people (led by a never-better Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch) who break into drugstores in order to get their prescription pill high. Never mind that it's a hazily lensed, at times bleak, at times funny and touching, near-masterpiece, always unflinching but never unfeeling. You want to know why Drugstore Cowboy is an indie film par excellence? William S. Burroughs in it. Like, wow man...

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