As you may have noticed from the giant 50-megaton tentpole movie hitting theaters today, summer movie season is in full swing. Thankfully, a robust release slate in the hotter months isn’t solely a studio pursuit; this month’s lineup of independent releases is one of the best in recent memory, with a four-star mix of foreign pictures, oddities, genre flicks, and documentaries. Here are a few to put on your radar:
Far From Men
Release Date: May 1 (limited release and on demand)
Director: David Oelhoffen
Cast: Viggo Mortensen, Reda Kateb, Djemel Barek
Algeria, 1954. A French schoolteacher (a French-speaking Viggo Mortensen, totally convincing) is sent on a mission to deliver a killer to a remote village, and to his death. The journey progresses about as expected, with Oelhoffen’s script gradually and organically revealing more about these enigmatic men, who come to form a trusting bond — but this is not a film that wants to shock us with its plot. It’s about how it feels to be on that journey: the intensity, the monotony, and how that monotony is punctuated by bursts of physicality and fear. The score is spare but effective and the compositions are frequently stunning, but it’s the picture’s unexpected and earnest spirituality that ultimately makes it so very special.