Flavorwire’s Guide to Indie Movies You Need to See in June

Our mini-reviews of 'Won't You Be My Neighbor,' 'Hereditary,' 'Hearts Beat Loud,' and more of this month's best.

American Animals

DIRECTOR: Bart Layton
CAST: Evan Peters, Ann Dowd, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Udo Kier

Like his 2012 indie hit The Impostor, Layton’s latest blurs the lines between documentary and narrative, intercutting the actors dramatizing this story of a rare book heist with their present-day, real-life counterparts, even plucking the real guys into the staged scenes (“So this is how you remember it?”). And that’s not the only bait and switch here; Layton seems to be assembling a standard caper movie, and takes full advantage of the rapid pace and energetic sense of montage such a story affords, even lifting music cues and lines of dialogue from the classics in the stack of heist movies they rent from Blockbuster for research. But the job itself isn’t slick and cool; it’s messy and ugly and upsetting, and in those riveting scenes (which are all the more nerve-racking because they don’t really know what they’re doing – so anything could go wrong), it becomes, surprisingly enough, a stealth act of media critique.