The View From Here

Waiting for a little more Sunshine...

Michael Bonner

... Or: Where's this year's Great American Indie flick?

After the treatment meted out to Spiderman 3 and Pirates Of The Caribbean 3, you could be forgiven for thinking that, of late, my blog has become something of a both-barrel assault on the woeful ineptitudes of this year's crop of Hollywood blockbusters.

Truth is, I'm waiting to find some indie jewel that I can switch you onto, write about with the kind of warmth and enthusiasm that characterises John's excellent introductions to new music over on his Wild Mercury Sound blog.

This Is England and The Lives Of Others have both proved to be fine non-Hollywood movies that've made an impact on me, but 2007 has been conspicuously bereft -- so far at least -- of a film with the charm or originality or just plan weirdness of a Little Miss Sunshine, Brick and Shortbus.

Over the last couple of weeks, I've seen three indies for which I had significantly high hopes. They'll all be reviewed fully in UNCUT nearer their release dates, but I wanted to take a break from covering the relentless churn of sub-standard blockbusters, change gear for a while.

Sherrybaby, which opens on July 27, stars Maggie Gyllenhaal as an ex-junkie, just out jail, who wants desperately to reconnect with her daughter and get on with her life. Inevitably, the path to salvation is not an easy one. The film itself is slight, but Gyllenhaal's raw, unshowy performance proves that, as ever, she's one of her generation's finest actors.

There's a New Zealand movie, Eagle Vs Shark (August 17), which firmly locates itself in the tradition of Napleon Dynamite -- a film I must admit to being completely underwhelmed by when I first saw it at Sundance a few years back, and an opinion that hasn't changed with subsequent viewings. It's about a pair socially-inept misfits who fall in love. It feels self-consciously quirky, but there's a certain oddball charm working in its favour, and there's enough laughs to buoy it along.

Last night, I saw Hallam Foe (August 31), Jamie Bell's first British film since Billy Elliot. Bell's post-Billy CV is characterised by frequently brave choices, running from Dear Wendy to Undertow, and this rather strange story of a teenager traumatised by his mother's death who takes to spying on family and neighbours is another decidedly offbeat career move. I've got a few issues with the third act, where he falls in love with a girl (Sophia Myles) who looks exactly like his late mother -- but despite my qualms this is a pretty uncompromising movie, topped off by a fine soundtrack from the estimable chaps at Domino records.

So, what films are you looking forward to seeing later this year? I'm certainly excited about The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford and The Bourne Ultimatum, but what about you?

As ever, let me know.


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