Category: "Independent Drama"

Call Me by Your Name Review

“Call Me by Your Name” recounts a magical whirlwind of a summer young romance in the ‘80s, but shares very few qualities of most films that have told a similar story. Luca Guadagnino’s film fits squarely in the definition of arthouse rather than in the mainstream or even “indie” mold of nostalgic romantic comedy.

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Win It All Review

Chicago-centric writer/director Joe Swanberg has teamed up yet again with Netflix and his favorite everyman actor, Jake Johnson, for another straight-shooting comedic drama in “Win It All.” Although Swanberg bets once more on his honest-to-goodness, real people living everyday life approach to storytelling, this film has a much stronger narrative focus, marking another step forward […]

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Raw Review

A veterinary school freshman (Garance Marillier) develops a taste for raw flesh in the feature debut of French filmmaker Julia Ducournau. Part horror film, part coming-of-age drama, “Raw” is a visceral gut-punch of a film both in story and visuals, to the point that it is not recommended for the squeamish. That said, it’s gore […]

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Manchester by the Sea Review

“Manchester by the Sea” takes place in the dead of winter in the small Massachusetts coastal town of the title. This bleak setting and the stark, grim imagery that accompany it set the tone for Kenneth Lonergan’s third feature film, which explores grief and our darkest demons in a way so authentic it can get […]

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Moonlight Review

Belonging, love, identity – not everyone grows up a gay black man with a drug addict mother and no father like Chiron, the main character in Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” but his struggle to find and be himself resonates across all lines of race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

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Room Review

Although less commercially driven, “Room” is to 2015 as “Gone Girl” was to 2014: An acclaimed film based on an acclaimed book adapted for the screen by the author that takes the viewer into deep, psychologically troubling places. Obviously, “Gone Girl” is a mystery thriller with a creepy darkness to it, while “Room” is more […]

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Midnight Special Review

There are few under-the-radar writer/directors as hot as Jeff Nichols. The “Mud” and “Take Shelter” filmmaker is an extraordinary visual storyteller, and his streak continues in “Midnight Special,” a family drama dressed as a sci-fi thriller.

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Whiplash Review

Jazz music and psychology create a furious cinematic swell in Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash,” a striking breakthrough effort that will have toes tapping and pulses racing. Centered on a 19-year-old aspiring Jazz drummer pushed to his limits for better and for worse (usually worse) by a merciless instructor, “Whiplash” tells a simple story of how far […]

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Begin Again Review

How is John Carney the only filmmaker who knows how to make a contemporary musical? The “Once” filmmaker recaptures some of that film’s magic in “Begin Again,” a more mainstream approach for a wider American audience. With a team of terrific songwriters and a top-notch cast, “Begin Again” is a welcome reminder of why and […]

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Boyhood Review

Calling “Boyhood” “unlike anything you’ve ever seen” is stating the obvious, yet there is almost no other way to describe it in as many words. Making a film over the course of 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater has transformed everything we know about filmmaking, in some ways challenging the very definition of […]

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Blue Jasmine Review

Woody Allen has proved to be a filmmaker of many talents in his five-decade career, yet he continues to — every few films — push himself into new territory, and he’s done so with “Blue Jasmine.” Cate Blanchett stars as the severely troubled titular character and she and Woody prove to be a perfect match […]

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Dallas Buyers Club Review

In a time when TV is dominated by shows about morally twisted main characters you can’t help but root for, “Dallas Buyers Club” fits right in, plus it adds a layer of historical relevance and social responsibility those shows usually lack.

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The Spectacular Now Review

“The Spectacular Now,” based on the novel by Tim Tharp, does us the unusual favor of depicting teenage relationships without any romanticism or moral agendas. It’s a little surprising that it was adapted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, writers of “(500) Days of Summer,” because that film definitely exaggerated its core romantic relationship, […]

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Inside Llewyn Davis Review

Nothing the Coen Brothers ever do is really a change of pace, but “Inside Llewyn Davis” is about as close to one as you’re likely to get from the filmmaking duo that has rolled out nothing but critically acclaimed hits since 2008 Best Picture winner “No Country for Old Men.” Even with a three-year break […]

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Frances Ha Review

Tales of 20-somethings in New York City epitomize the independent film scene, as does the star and co-writer of “Frances Ha,” Greta Gerwig, the indisputable indie queen. Together with writer and director Noah Baumbach, “Frances” is practically the comfort food of independent film, a genre label usually reserved for something edgy and different. However, despite […]

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