Movie Maniac

10 independent films on horizon generating buzz

Last week, I wrote about summer movie season blockbusters headed our way. They're mostly movies full of explosions, special effects, big stars — and hardly any creativity.

I mean, honestly, I need " The Hangover Part 2" like I need a real hangover.

The film is Hollywood's attempt to give us what it thinks we want. As an audience, we vote with our wallets, so we continue to be fed the tried-and-true stuff "guaranteed" to make a buck. Yawn.

But there are some interesting independent films on the horizon, too — ones that aren't formulaic and overly safe.

Here is a look at 10 independent releases generating buzz that hopefully will come our way this summer or fall. Think of it as an "indie wish list."

* "Another Earth" — This Sundance Film Festival sci-fi hit follows an ambitious young MIT student and an accomplished music composer whose lives accidentally and tragically intertwine on the night an alternate planet Earth is discovered. As they recover from the tragedy and fall in love, one of them is presented with a chance to travel to the other Earth and embrace a happier alternate reality. (www.foxsearchlight.com/ anotherearth)

* "The Art of Getting by" — Freddie Highmore ("Finding Neverland," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory") stars as a lonely and fatalistic teen who has made it all the way to his senior year without ever having done a real day of work, until he's befriended by a beautiful and complicated girl (Emma Roberts), who sees a kindred spirit inside him.

* "Bellflower" — Another festival hit, this low-budget drama (shot using hand-held cameras specifically designed for this film) follows two hapless, destructive friends who spend all their free time building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in anticipation that a global apocalypse will occur and they can then rule the world.

But their plan sours when one of them falls in love. (www.coatwolf.com)

* "Everything Must Go" — Usual goofball Will Ferrell goes the quirky dramatic route (as he did beautifully in "Stranger Than Fiction") as a salesman who gets fired for showing up at work drunk one too may times. He goes home to find his wife has left him, changed the locks on their suburban home and left his possessions on the front lawn. So he has a yard sale to get rid of his things and start over in every sense of the word. (www. everythingmustgo-themovie.com)

* "Hesher" — Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("Inception") is earning raves for his electric performance as a sleazy heavy-metal nihilist who befriends — well, almost — a teenage boy who is the subject of constant abuse from his father (Rainn Wilson of TV's "The Office") and schoolmates. Natalie Portman (who is one of the film's producers) also stars. (www.hesherthemovie.com)

* "Martha Marcy May Marlene" — Elizabeth Olsen (younger sister of the Olsen twins) won raves at Sundance as a damaged woman who struggles to re-assimilate with her family after fleeing an abusive cult.

* "Restless" — Auteur director Gus Van Sant ("Good Will Hunting," "Milk) returns with this story of a terminally ill teenage girl ("Alice in Wonderland's" Mia Wasikowska) who falls for a boy who likes to attend funerals, and their encounters with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from World War II.

* "Skateland" — Nostalgic tale set in early 1980s small-town Texas, where dramatic events force a 19-year-old skating rink manager to look at his life in a different way. (www.facebook.com /skatelandmovie)

* "The Skin I Live In" — Vividly imaginative Spanish writer/director Pedro Almodovar hasn't worked with Antonio Banderas since 1990's "Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!" They reunite for this story of a plastic surgeon on the hunt for the men who raped his daughter.

* "Sympathy for Delicious" — Actor Mark Ruffalo ("The Kids Are All Right") makes his directorial debut in this film about a newly paralyzed DJ who gets more than he bargained for when he seeks out the world of faith healing. (www. sympathyfordelicious.com)

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