Cinemas might be closed, but there is still plenty of films to watch/ catch up with from the past several years. This time around we’re bringing you TOP 5 Indie films already released in 2020!
5. Horse Girl by Jeff Baena
Sarah is a socially awkward craft store employee who likes to watch cheesy fantasy drama show Purgatory, go to aerobics classes and visit the horse she rode as a girl daily. Besides that, her life is pretty much empty. Her boss was a friend of her mother – deceased from mental illness- she knows nobody from her aerobics classes, and she doesn’t even spend much time with her flatmate. It is nothing uncommon to like a bit of solitude and peace but as Sarah’s days pass by she starts discovering the alien conspiracy against the humanity, or maybe she’s just losing her mind?
Jeff Baena ambitiously tries to capture the decay of a mentally ill person. What makes this film rather interesting is the perspective, where the viewer is put in Sarah’s shoes to follow the painful process of anxiety, self-deceiving while trying to give rational answers to what is happening and the gradual embrace of the state. With the mild, non-violent protagonist and bright surroundings, longer scenes and faster cuts between them, this is rather a dark drama/comedy than a fully blown thriller-horror, which makes is a fairly uncommon and enjoyable film worth viewing.
4. Ema by Pablo Larrain
The film follows the life of the title protagonist dancer Ema, who additionally prepares dance workshops for children and her husband, dance choreographer Gaston who is in love with surreal and symbolic movements. After Polo, the couple’s adopted son causes a series of morbidly upsetting incidents (sets on fire his aunt’s face, putting the cat in the freezer), Emma and Gaston return the boy to the adoption home. As much as the physical scars of the boy’s actions can be seen, the mental wounds that Polo leaves on his adoptive parents are still much deeper …
Emma’s, chaotic erotic-charged dance/mental journey from the moment of parting from her son Paul is the driving line of the film. What initially leaves an impression of the unarticulated and lost, is the masterful directing of Pablo Larrain that has significance for the development of the film and the unexpectedly conventional and wisely conceived ending. The superiority of the audio-visual aspect of the film compensates for the simplicity, the absurdity and the irrelevance of the narrative and makes this a rather an experimentally joyful viewing experience.
3. The First Cow by Kelly Reichard
Based on the book The Half-Life by Jonathan Raymond, The First Cow follows Cookie Figowitz a skilled cook on his journey west with a group of fur trappers in Oregon, and King Lu a Chinese immigrant with a nose for good business and sucker luck that gets him into trouble. Their paths cross in moments of hardship, Cookie’s group don’t want him around anymore and Lu has gotten into some skin-deep trouble with the Russian gold diggers. But as they come to a little merchant village ruled over by a bitter aristocrat called Chief Factor it seems like the luck for the duo is about to change.
The First Cow is a quiet and slow-burning story that truly pops out in every second of its 121 minutes runtime. Director Reichardt takes her time to introduce us to the whole setting of 19th century Oregon trail. With the level of detail that goes into every picturesque scene, filled with uncommon period related everyday life objects, clothes and customs it could be perceived more as a visualised spoken literature piece than a film.
2. Blow the Man Down by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy
Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly, have just lost their mother after a long and painful year in a small northern seaside community Easter Cove. Just as it seems that the things will finally start getting better for them, their world is flipped upside down once again when they find themselves having to cover-up a crime. Sisters are not professionals, that is for sure, but as they are trying to bury this unfortunate event deep down, other fishy things from their community start floating out to surface.
The directorial debut of Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy places itself somewhere in between the dark comedy and easy-going thriller/mystery, and if it would need to be compared to something, the closest film to it would be Coen brothers Fargo. The duo manages to make a quirky visually pleasing film with a fun, an easygoing narrative that will keep the viewer focused and interested to explore with Mary Beth and Priscilla filthy shores of Easter Cove.
1. Never Rarely Sometimes Always by Eliza Hittman
Never Rarely Sometimes Always follows Autumn, a pregnant teen trying to escape the stigma and gossip of the small-town community she lives in. As she takes the matter to her hands, from the first medical examination trough the decision not to have a baby, all the way to her trip to New York, accompanied by her cousin Skylar the dark story of the unfair medical system and dysfunctional misogynous society unveils.
The director Hittman, with this film, dedicates herself to showcasing the genuine struggles and fallacies in American healthcare and the society in general. The film takes its time to lead the protagonist Autumn trough the bureaucratically messed up situations that pregnant teens are facing every day. It starts with the display of church-charity organised clinics, that don’t have the right knowledge or equipment for their work, over their cheap pro-life propaganda, and goes all the way to presenting complicated paperwork and procedure filled clinics run by actual professionals.