IMDb Picks: September Indie Releases

by IMDb-Editors | created - 19 Aug 2014 | updated - 21 Aug 2014 | Public

Here's a list of independent feature films and documentaries that are on our radar for the month of September. Below you can see what Katie Holmes has been up to, read about two potential Best Documentary Oscar candidates, and discover one of the filthiest movies in some time.

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1. Bird People (2014)

Unrated | 127 min | Drama, Fantasy, Romance

70 Metascore

In an airport hotel on the outskirts of Paris, a Silicon Valley engineer abruptly chucks his job, breaks things off with his wife, and holes up in his room. Soon, fate draws him and a young French maid together.

Director: Pascale Ferran | Stars: Josh Charles, Anaïs Demoustier, Roschdy Zem, Radha Mitchell

Votes: 2,748 | Gross: $0.01M

All reviews I've read of Pascale Ferran's Cannes-approved puzzler acknowledge a twist that connects his two main characters: a Silicon Valley dropout and the maid who cleans up his Parisian hotel. My main hopes are that the film looks beautiful and is narratively unconcerned with a proper conclusion.

2. Days and Nights (2014)

Unrated | 92 min | Comedy, Drama

36 Metascore

Reckless desire wreaks havoc over Memorial Day weekend as a family confronts the volatile and fragile nature of love. Inspired by Anton Chekhov's "The Seagull," set in rural New England in 1984.

Director: Christian Camargo | Stars: Katie Holmes, William Hurt, Allison Janney, Jean Reno

Votes: 872 | Gross: $0.01M

We can't just keep watching Pieces of April over and over, right? You have to root for Katie Holmes to turn in another worthwhile performance in an independent movie. I'm unsure if "Katie does Chekov" is going to work -- especially in the hands of actor Christian Carmago, who makes his directorial debut here -- but the thought of Chekov's play "The Seagull" with William Hurt and Allison Janney co-starring alongside Holmes captures my interest. Maybe it's the reports that Janney plays her character with Old Hollywood pizzazz.

3. God Help the Girl (2014)

Unrated | 112 min | Drama, Music, Romance

58 Metascore

As Eve begins writing songs as a way to sort through some emotional problems, she meets James and Cassie, two musicians each at crossroads of their own.

Director: Stuart Murdoch | Stars: Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Pierre Boulanger

Votes: 8,075 | Gross: $0.10M

Belle and Sebastian bandleader Stuart Murdoch wrote and directed this film, which has received a fair amount of acclaim from festival-goers. At the risk of resorting to music-writing cliches: it makes sense for Murdoch to turn to filmmaking since his songs are so often cinematic in terms of their words and meanings. Sure, this story sounds like it was cribbed from the Nick Hornby playbook, but at least we get Emily Browning in a starring role. Like the last few Belle and Sebastian records, I'm not going to rush to judge this movie after a first viewing.

4. The Green Prince (2014)

PG-13 | 101 min | Documentary, Biography

67 Metascore

The son of a founding leader in the Palestinian organization, Hamas, becomes a spy for the Israelis.

Director: Nadav Schirman | Stars: Mosab Hassan Yousef, Gonen Ben Yitzhak, Sheikh Hassan Yousef

Votes: 2,495 | Gross: $0.26M

Stylistically, this documentary brings The Imposter to mind; thematically it appears to be in a category to itself as a intensely personal look behind the front lines of Palestinian/Israeli conflicts.

5. I Am Eleven (2011)

98 min | Documentary, Biography

55 Metascore

The lives and thoughts of children from all around the world. It weaves together deeply personal and at times hilarious portraits of what it means to stand on the cusp between childhood and adolescence.

Director: Genevieve Bailey | Stars: Billy, Dagan, Fang, Ginisha

Votes: 255 | Gross: $0.26M

Though this documentary began making festival rounds a few years ago, its steady word of mouth has resulted in a theatrical release from indie specialists International Film Circuit and "theatrical on demand" innovators Gathr Films (the latter company first got on the map with the successful release of Girl Rising). What has hooked me is the fact that one of the film's subjects is interacting with foreigners for the first time as she's interviewed.

6. Keep on Keepin' On (2014)

R | 84 min | Documentary

77 Metascore

A documentary that follows jazz legend Clark Terry over four years to document the mentorship between Terry and 23-year-old blind piano prodigy Justin Kauflin as the young man prepares to compete in an elite, international competition.

Director: Alan Hicks | Stars: Clark Terry, Justin Kauflin, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock

Votes: 904 | Gross: $0.16M

Music-themed projects have won the Best Documentary Oscar two years running (Searching for Sugar Man, 20 Feet from Stardom). After watching this highly affecting trailer and noting the film's number of festival wins, I wouldn't be surprised if first-time director Alan Hicks finds himself in the running come awards time.

7. Lilting (2014)

Not Rated | 91 min | Drama, Romance

61 Metascore

A young man of Chinese-Cambodian descent dies, leaving behind his isolated mother and his 4-year male lover, who grieve but don't speak a lick of each other's language.

Director: Hong Khaou | Stars: Pei-Pei Cheng, Ben Whishaw, Andrew Leung, Peter Bowles

Votes: 5,371 | Gross: $0.02M

Peter Bowles, an actor whom we don't get to see enough here in the U.S., provides the comic relief in this otherwise somber-sounding film about two characters from different cultural backgrounds who are both grieving. Cheng Pei-Pei plays a mother whose son has recently passed away; Ben Whishaw plays his lover.

8. Pump (2014)

PG | 88 min | Documentary

56 Metascore

A documentary that tells the story of America's addiction to oil, from its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly today, and explains clearly and simply how we can end it - and finally win choice at the pump.

Directors: Joshua Tickell, Rebecca Harrell Tickell | Stars: Adhemar Altieri, Greg Anderson, Edwin Black, David Blume

Votes: 610 | Gross: $0.07M

This latest from environmentally minded documentarian Joshua Tickell is on this list because it appears to have more in mind than tossing up stats and reinforcing your panic. Tickell seems determined to show the cracks in the oil-company monopoly and how the individual can help alter the way Americans get from point A to point B.

9. Stop the Pounding Heart (2013)

Not Rated | 98 min | Documentary, Drama

70 Metascore

Sara, a girl being home-schooled on a goat farm alongside her 11 siblings, finds her devout values challenged after she meets Colby, an amateur bull rider.

Director: Roberto Minervini | Stars: Sara Carlson, Colby Trichell, Tim Carlson, LeeAnne Carlson

Votes: 859

I have a fondness for films in which a director works with a non-professional cast; in Stop the Pounding Heart's case, Italian filmmaker Roberto Minervini returns to Texas for his third story set in that fabled state. If you need a linear narrative, you may want to steer clear of this one - the (remarkably strong) reviews all point to Minervini's skillful rendering of everyday small-town American life.

10. Wetlands (2013)

Not Rated | 109 min | Comedy, Drama

77 Metascore

The adventures of an eccentric girl who has strange attitudes towards hygiene and sexuality longs for the reunion of her divorced parents.

Director: David Wnendt | Stars: Carla Juri, Christoph Letkowski, Marlen Kruse, Meret Becker

Votes: 10,366 | Gross: $0.06M

Polarizing reviews always attract my attention. In this instance, the source material is Charlotte Roche’s controversial novel, and, thankfully, the book is in the hands of a director who seems more interested in actual-real character development and a frank look at female sexuality that would make most males avert their gaze.

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