BAMcinemaFest begins tonight at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Ira Sachs’s new film Little Men, kicking off a 10-day collection of some of the year’s most promising and powerful independent films. Collecting several of the buzziest titles from Sundance, SXSW, Berlin, and elsewhere, the comparatively young festival (this is its eighth year) has become an essential destination for New York moviegoers; these are a few of our recommendations for if you’re headed that way (or if you’re headed to the art house this summer and fall).
In a Valley of Violence (June 18)
Gifted genre classicist Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) turns his talents from horror to Western – Spaghetti Western specifically, managing to recapture not only the look and sound of those pictures, but the unsparing nastiness at their center. Ethan Hawke is a desert rider and strong silent type; he rarely utters more than a few syllables at a time, except to his faithful canine companion. His path to the Mexican border leads him through the troubled (and all but deserted) town of Denton, ruled by a matter-of-fact marshal (John Travolta, doing his best film work in years) and his oily bully of a son, played by James Ransone as a bratty kid who’s used to having daddy clean up his messes. The plotting is no more complicated than it needs to be –it’s not about the story, but the telling. West settles in to this mythology with high style and discernible affection.