Independents' Day: indie movies to watch this month

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Indie, arthouse and foreign language movies have a new home at Empire. We'll be highlighting the more noteworthy new releases in cinemas and across your favourite streaming platforms each month. There are few special effects and almost no superheroes (okay, maybe Isabelle Huppert) on offer, and you won't find their posters plastered all over your local buses, but you can expect a regular update of lesser-hailed gems to look out for. This month sees new releases from Pedro Almodóvar and Todd Solondz, first runs of Dheepan and Midnight Special, and a Kelly Reichardt exclusive. Pull up a sofa.

The Hard Stop

Available: BFI Player From: August 1

When Mark Duggan was shot by police in Tottenham, it sparked rioting across London. Five years later, this doc (which takes its name from the 'hard stop' executed by armed police vehicles in front of Duggan's car) picks up with two of his friends to examine what happened next – and why. A bleakly compelling look at London's meaner streets, it'll surface on the BFI Player on August 1.


Todd Solondz's Weiner-Dog

Available: MUBI From: August 2

Alejandro Amenábar was a protégé filmmaker when he made the The Others. Eight years on and with Javier Bardem drama The Sea Inside behind him, he was exploring big themes of rationalism versus religion in this historical epic in which Rachel Weisz plays harried philosopher Hypatia in ancient Alexandria. Look out for an early Oscar Isaac turn and more togas than Animal House.

River Of Grass

Kelly Reichardt's River Of Grass

Available: MUBI From: August 5

Indie darling Kelly Reichardt's first film was this 1994 kinda-crime drama. Since then, she's gone on to win hearts and minds with Wendy And Lucy, Meek's Cutoff (also airing this month, see below) and Night Moves. MUBI's VOD exclusive, a world first, will show Florida housewife (Lisa Bowman) go on the run when she accidentally shots a man.

Meek's Cutoff

Michelle Williams in Meek's Cutoff

Available: MUBI From: August 6

Reichardt season continues with her reuniting with Wendy And Lucy's Michelle Williams for a hardbitten and highly accomplished wagon trail Western. In it, Bruce Greenwood's Meek, a tracker whose bitten-ness levels are basically off the chart, leads three families across hostile Oregon terrain. If you've not yet been introduced to the filmmaker's work, this month's MUBI season is the perfect place to start.


Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or-winner Dheepan

Available: BFI Player From: August 8

It won the Palme d'Or, which means you're basically obliged to watch it, but Jacques Audiard's urban drama would be well-worth streaming if it had come away from Cannes with nothing more a sandy crack and heatstroke. The gripping story of an ex-Tamil soldier (Jesuthasan Antonythasan) trying to adjust to life in the Paris banlieues in the face of prejudice, crime and family struggles, it has much to say about life in our cities, not all of it especially palatable.

Midnight Special

The cast of Jeff Nichol's Midnight Special

Available: BFI Player From: August 8

It had a disappointing run in cinemas but Jeff Nichols' nostalgic sci-fi has an emotive power that should help it prosper on smaller screens. Jaeden Lieberher and Michael Shannon are the father and son pair at the heart of a small domestic drama parcelled within a big 'ol Close Encounters-like conspiracy movie.

Where To Invade Next

Todd Solondz's Weiner-Dog

Available: BFI Player From: August 8

If ever there was a year for a Michael Moore doc, it's the crazed mess that is 2016. Credit to the firebrand filmmaker, though, because this one sees him swapping the usual impassioned polemic for something more measured, more heartfelt. In it, he scours Europe looking for good ideas to steal for his home country. Britain doesn't provide any. No, not even Curly Wurlys.

Ingrid Bergman: In Her Own Words

Available: In cinemas From: August 12

Cooler than a glacier and more beautiful than another, even nicer-looking glacier, Ingrid Bergman was a Hitchcock favourite and a bona fide movie star with mystique to burn. She was the Cannes poster star last year and this doc, which makes good use of her own diaries and personal collections, was well-received at the festival. Catch it in cinemas this month.

Valley Of Love

Isabelle Huppert in Valley Of Love

Available: Curzon Home Cinema / in cinemas From: August 12

One of those noodle-bending metamovies where actors play versions of themselves, Guillaume Nicloux drama has Isabelle Huppert (Isabelle) and Gérard Depardieu (Gérard) sweating it out in Death Valley as they discuss their grief for their dead son and their own estrangement. Somewhere between La Notte and Entourage then? Find out in early August.


Todd Solondz's Weiner-Dog

Available: In cinemas From: August 12

"Hmm, Todd Solondz has made a film about a cute puppy dog," you're probably pondering, "what's the catch?" It's a good point. Any way you look at it, entrusting an innocent pup to the man who made such misanthropic masterpieces as Happiness and Welcome To The Dollhouse is a bold move. Queasy but usually unmissable, Solondz films are always worth clearing diary space for. Just don't bring your dog.

Louder Than Bombs

Jesse Eisenberg in Louder Than Bombs

Available: We Are Colony / BFI Player From: August 15

Joachim Trier's first English-language film has a cast of indie powerhouses (Isabelle Huppert, Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne) in a story that charts the fallout and upheaval caused by the death of Huppert's photojournalist. Byrne is dad – now bumbling through a relationship with a teacher (Amy Ryan) – and Eisenberg and Devin Druid are the two introspective sons. Someone call Mrs Doubtfire.

Touched With Fire

Todd Solondz's Weiner-Dog

Available: We Are Colony / BFI Player From: August 15

Taking its name from a book by American psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison, this promises a serious-minded, occasionally jarring, look at bipolar disorder. Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby play two sufferers, both poets, who meet in a psychiatric hospital, fall for each other and head off the rails at speed. The new Silver Linings Playbook? Find out when it reaches the BFI Player and We Are Colony in mid-August.

Almost Holy

The Terrence Malick-produced Almost Holy

Available: Curzon Home Cinema / in cinemas From: August 19

Surprisingly perhaps, Terrence Malick helped bring this punchy documentary to the screen. It's getting a day-and-date release in the UK, giving audiences two ways to absorb the tough-love philosophies of the crusading Ukrainian pastor, Gennadiy Mohknenko, as he ushers young kids off the streets and into his own brand of rehabilitation.

The Childhood Of A Leader

Available: In cinemas From: August 19

Somewhere between Downton Abby and The Omen lies actor-turned-director Brady Corbet's unorthodox parable. Ostensibly a coming-of-age story backdropped by the diplomatic schemings of Versailles Treaty, it plays eyewitness to the birth of real evil as a mop-topped young boy (Tom Sweet) defies his troubled parents (Bérénice Bejo, Liam Cunningham) and slowly sinks into an amoral morass.

Kids In Love

Available: We Are Colony / in cinemas From: August 26

Suicide Squad isn't the only Cara Delevingne joint in town in August. We Are Colony's day-and-date release means you can watch the Enchantress popping up in this coming-of-age romance at home or at the cinema. Or, if you really want to, somewhere between the two. Expect Will Poulter to charm us silly as a gap year student discovering love in the big city with Alma Jodorowsky's enigmatic beauty.


Adriana Ugarte in Julieta

Available: In cinemas From: August 26

Pedro Almodóvar is back with an adaptation of Canadian writer Alice Munro's story Runaway that sees Emma Suárez's Julieta engaging in some heavy duty soul-searching when she encounters her estranged daughter. It may not be as flamboyant as his earlier stuff but the Spaniard still has that knack of pulling on the heartstrings and engaging the mind.

Into The Forest

Available: We Are Colony From: August 29 (TBC)

Blockbusters don't have a monopoly on global apocalypses, as this acclaimed Canadian chiller about a couple of hardy survivors in an ancient forest proves. Taking the Ray Mears roles are Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood as two sisters beset on all sides by threats and shortages after a power cut plunges the continent into darkness. Don't be surprised by a cameo from The Revenant bear, too.