This hasn’t been the most prolific of summers as far as blockbusters are concerned. The Avengers gave this season a promising start, but no action film came close to matching its scope and sheer love for fun. Last month was the most disappointing proof of that, with the very flawed Amazing Spider-Man and the messy finale we got with The Dark Knight Rises.

However, there’s been a good run of independent releases so far — Killer JoeHeadhuntersSafety Not GuarnteedYour Sister’s SisterTake This Waltz, etc. —  and this August is no different, with plenty of small and greatly satisfying offerings to be discovered.

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Celeste and Jesse Forever

Opens August 3rd

From the director of the overlooked The Vicious Kind and co-written by Rashida JonesCeleste and Jesse Forever is a bittersweet film showing off Jones’ talents both on and off the screen and co-star Andy Samberg‘s promising chops as a dramatic actor.

There’s a good chance this will become one of the sleeper indie hits of the summer, and hopefully that’ll be the case.

Read the Review

Check out the Trailer

The Bourne Legacy

Opens August 10th

The Bourne Legacy is proof that sometimes giving your hero one clear goal and a lack of a big emotional arc pays off. This mythology expanding story ends as a worthy continuation of the world of espionage and ass-kicking we initially fell in love with.

After one too many mentions of Jason Bourne, Gilroy wisely begins to tell his own fresh story. By the end of the finale’s fantastic set piece all of the skepticism made about a Bourne movie without Bourne disappears.

Check out the Trailer

The Campaign 

The Campaign

Opens August 10th

Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell facing off sounds like the proper and hilarious way to close out the summer. The first time we saw the two of them riffing off each other led to a pretty good result (see here for proof). Not only that, Jay Roach — who has been on a roll lately with Game Change and Recount – is no comedy director slouch. The three of them should do their comedic premise justice.

Check out the Trailer

Compliance 

Compliance

Opens August 17th

A Sundance darling which is about as disturbing and uncomfortable as the true story it follows. Compliance is a claustrophobic and bloodless horror movie about how far people will go under the illusion of authority.

From the physical abuse to the sight of greasy fast food fries cooking, there’s little which is not disturbing in this potential year’s best film.

Read the Review

Check out the Trailer

ParaNorman

ParaNorman

Opens August 17th

Coraline was a creepy as hell movie which delved into certain kids’ worst nightmares. ParaNorman, coming from the studio behind Henry Selick‘s great stop-motion picture, looks to have one factor Selick’s horror story lacked: a big sense of humor. Based on some early word-of-mouth, ParaNorman delivers on as many laughs as it does creepy imagery. Even if that’s not the case, then Chris Butler and Sam Fells‘s film should still be worth seeing based purely on the extraordinary craft that went behind it.

Check out the Trailer

Read on…

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Cosmopolis

Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis

Opens August 17th

Being a David Cronenberg picture, it’s surprising so much questioning has been thrown Cosmopolis’s way. For one, its leading man, some guy from Bel Ami, isn’t exactly a critical darling, but if anyone is going to get a genuine performance out of Robert Pattinson, it’s Cronenberg.

Secondly, the fact we’re stuck in the car with said lead for 2 hours has raised questions over whether the film will be “cinematic.” With Cronenberg behind the camera along with Paul Giamatti, Juliette Binoche, Kevin DurandMathieu Amalric, and Samantha Morton in front of it, how could it not be?

Read the Review

Check out the Trailer

Side by Side 

Side By Side Movie

Opens August 17th and on VOD August 22nd

Martin Scorsese, James CameronThe WachowskisDavid FincherRoger DeakinsSteven SoderberghChristopher NolanGeorge Lucas, and a bunch of other cool director cats all in the same movie? Side by Side is a real nerdy love fest about filmmaking.

The Keanu Reeves-produced (and starring) doc isn’t so much a documentary about a “battle” between digital and film, but the love and admiration filmmakers have for both forms of storytelling.

Check out the Trailer

Sleepwalk with Me 

Sleepwalk with Me

Opens August 24th

You don’t have to be a fan of co-director, co-writer, and star Mike Birbiglia to enjoy Sleepwalk with Me. The well-known comedian’s film is as funny as his stand up material, but also surprisingly more dramatic. Sleepwalk with Me has gone on to become something of a festival favorite the past few months, and for good reason.

Read the Review

Check out the Trailer

Robot & Frank

Robot and Frank

Opens August 24th

A grumpy Frank Langella and robotic Peter Sarsgaard stealing from rich folks? You couldn’t find a finer criminal duo than that.

Read the Review

Check out the Trailer

Lawless

Lawless Tom Hardy

Opens August 29th

The only film in John Hillcoat‘s depressing filmography anyone can call “fun.” Since this still is a Hillcoat film, though, Lawless is filled to the brim with brutal violence. Thanks to the towering presence of Tom Hardy, a fantastically revolting Guy Pearce, and a nice appearance made by Gary Oldman, Lawless is far more fun than Hillcoat’s usual knack for unflinching bleakness.

Read the Review

Check out the Trailer

Honorable MentionsThe Possession (an effective trailer for a film with some positive buzz), 2 Days in New York (Julie Delpy and Chris Rock together!), and Premium Rush (hopefully David Koepp is as good of a director as he is a writer).

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