WORTH WATCHING

Freedom! 15 Indie Movies to Enjoy on Netflix Instant This Weekend

by
July 4, 2014

Netflix

It's that time of the year in America again where we celebrate July 4th by grilling, drinking and shooting fire into the sky. But it's also a big weekend at the movies as audiences flock to theaters to see the latest releases. We're surprised Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction wasn't held over until this weekend, but there's still plenty of new releases to check out for better or worse like Tammy, Deliver Us from Evil, Earth to Echo and a wide release for Snowpiercer (check out our interview with director Bong Joon-ho right here). But if none of those appeal, we decided to round up a short list of some great indies that you can enjoy from the comfort of your home on Netflix Instant this Independence Day. Look!

Safety Not Guaranteed
Watch It Now

Yes, we've featured this movie before, but since it's still available on Netflix Instant, we're recommending it again. And honestly, it's probably even more of an immediate watch because director Colin Trevorrow is the man behind next summer's sequel Jurassic World, which is still shooting this July 4th. In this film, there's hints that Trevorrow has a desire for big adventure, but he also proves that he doesn't need a big budget to craft an interesting story with great characters played by Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson and more. Plus, it's about time travel, so there you go.

Stuck in Love
Watch It Now

Right now you can still catch the hit adaptation The Fault in Our Stars in theaters if you're in the mood for a good cry, but on Netflix Instant you can check out director Josh Boone's previous film starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Kristen Bell, Lily Collins and Logan Lerman. Plus, for those who enjoyed Nat Wolff as the charming blind friend in The Fault in Our Stars, you'll find him in this film as well. If anything, this is a good one to watch just to see how Boone is blossoming as a filmmaker with a penchant for telling touching stories.

The Greatest Movie Ever Rolled
Watch It Now

Doug Benson loves movies, and he's already delivered one of his own with the documentary Super High Me, a marijuana consuming companion to Morgan Spurlock's Super Size Me. This time Benson takes to the road with clean-living comic Graham Elwood, who doesn't some weed at all, in this documentary that sees how the two tolerate each other while touring the country doing comedy. Benson is so hilarious and delightful, this is just a joy to watch, even if you're not smoking weed. Plus, make sure you follow his podcast "Doug Loves Movies" on iTunes. You won't regret it.

Don Jon
Watch It Now

Joseph Gordon-Levitt made his directorial debut with this somewhat conventional, but still refreshing romantic comedy that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The Dark Knight Rises star also takes the titular lead in the film about a handsome New Jersey man who is addicted to pornography, and can't seem to find romantic satisfaction that lives up to the fantasy in his head. On the other side is Scarlett Johansson, a woman obsessed with the fantastical nature of Hollywood romantic comedies. The two make for an interesting pair, but do they live happily ever after? Is it possible? Do you like rhetorical questions?

Drinking Buddies
Watch It Now

Joe Swanberg is an absolute machine when it comes to churning out independent films of all kinds. Comedy, drama and horror have all been attempted by Swanberg, and there's usually fantastic results. This one is a charming little comedy with some romance as two co-workers and best friends  (Olivia Wilde and Jake Johnson) at a brewery find romantic sparks flying between them despite the fact that they're both in committed relationships. Anna Kendrick and Ron Livingston also star in the film, and it's definitely a genuine and entertaining watch.

Blue is the Warmest Color
Watch It Now

The unfortunately film didn't qualify for a Best Foreign Film nomination at the Academy Awards this year when it should've been, but this passionate, erotic lesbian romance is absolutely worth your time and all the praise it received from the Cannes Film Festival. Featuring two incredible performances by French actresses Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, this is a sexually charged and heartwrenching coming-of-age tale about a young girl discovering herself and dealing with the ups and downs of love. Beware though, because there are graphic and extensive sex scenes in the film.

Short Term 12
Watch It Now

If Brie Larson isn't already on your radar after being in films like 21 Jump Street, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The Spectacular Now, then you need to see her award worthy performance in this sterling indie. The film follows the arrival of a new charge at a foster care facility who dredges up the memories of a young supervisor's own troubled past, and her tough exterior begins eroding. This is truly compelling, original and deserves much more recognition than even some Best Picture nominees did last year. Take the time to watch this one for sure, especially now that it's easily available on Netflix.

Escape from Tomorrow
Watch It Now

All right, this one ventures into the weird and peculiar, but it's a true indie in every sense of the word. But what makes this trippy, surreal horror film all the more interesting is that it was secretly shot at Disney theme parks without the knowledge of the House of Mouse. Yes, this film was shot over an extended period of time, little by little, in the actual theme park without the cooperation of Disney. It's amazing that this film even exists. And while the film itself isn't nearly as compelling as how it actually came together, it's one you should experience for yourself.

Charlie Countryman
Watch It Now

Shia LaBeouf doesn't seem to be doing all that great lately, but you may still want to take the time to check out this stylish little action thriller set mostly in Bucharest, Romania since it also features a different kid of role for Rupert Grint following his eight-film turn as Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter franchise. The film isn't exactly a home run since it mostly just feels like a feature length music video, but it has some redeeming qualities, especially with Mads Mikkelsen as the bad guy.

Lovelace
Watch It Now

One of James Franco's many roles over the past few years included a turn in this film about the most infamous porn star of all-time. Amanda Seyfried plays Linda Lovelace, the woman who was coerced into and abused by the porn industry before taking charge of her life. It cycles through all the fame she gained from Deep Throat and into the darker elements of that part of her life that led her to abandon this dangerous lifestyle and the people who put her there.

A Fantastic Fear of Everything
Watch It Now

Simon Pegg's best work has been with Edgar Wright and J.J. Abrams, but the British actor does take on an interesting variety of roles otherwise. One of the lower profile performances that you may never have even heard of is in A Fantastic Fear of Everything. The quirky film follows a children's author-turned-crime-novelist (Pegg) whose deep research into gruesome Victorian era murders has made him an insomniac, fearful mess who finds himself on the run from an actual serial killer. If you're a fan of Pegg, it's definitely worth checking out.

Monsters
Watch It Now

Now that you've seen Godzilla, why not venture back to the film that got director Gareth Edwards the gig. Don't go in expecting the same kind of monster action you saw earlier this summer, because this is even more restrained. The film is actually character driven, as it follows a photographer (Scoot McNairy) documenting a war-torn region when he's interrupted by an unexpected rescue mission. The whole movie takes place in a world where there are giant monsters free-roaming the world, making for quarantined zones where people aren't supposed to go. It's compelling and has incredible effects for this low budget of a film.

Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus
Watch It Now

If you're interested in seeing Michael Cera be a complete asshole and Gaby Hoffman wear her birthday suit, then this is the film for you. This odd sort of comedy debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, and while it didn't blow me away, there's some enjoyment that comes from such a strange role for Cera. There's an interesting assembly of characters, and some gorgeous settings as a group of friends go on a trip with the intention of getting high on some unique cactus drug.

Prince Avalanche
Watch It Now

After diving into studio comedies with Your Highness and Pineapple Express, director David Gordon Green gets back to his indie roots with Prince Avalanche. However, he brings some of his comedy experience with him as Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch lead the film as a pair of bickering brothers working construction in an area devastated by a wildfire. Their conversations lead to arguments, and their arguments lead to life assessment for each of them. Rudd and Hirsch make for a surprisingly great pairing, and this is the kind of film we love to see from a filmmaker like Green.

The Blair Witch Project
Watch It Now

On a list of indie films, we just couldn't help but include one of the most successful independent films of all-time. With a grassroots campaign that was successful during a time when the Internet was still a rare commodity for the movie-going public, and a unique shooting style that arrived before all the found footage rage arrive with films like Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and more. If you saw this in theaters back when it was released, why not check it out again. Or if you have no idea what this film is, then check it out now.

So there you go. Just a handful of films we thought were worth watching during this American holiday weekend. There's so much entertainment at our disposal now, so it's hard to choose, but these flicks certainly contain a nice variety of stories and great talent both in front of and behind the camera. Of course, as much as we love movies, we hope you also get off the couch and head outside for fun too. Freedom!

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  • Avi
    Thanks for the Simon Pegg movie tip! Everybody should see monsters, it's a classic for me!
    • denverchris
      Monsters is a phenomenal movie. It's thoughtful, mildly romantic, tense when it needs to be and weirdly epic. It is also considerate of the people South of the border rather than playing into the typical Hollywood Mexican stereotypes. It disappoints some people looking for a pure monster movie and I guess I get that. The title is a little misleading. Yes, there are monsters and no, they are not the focal point of the film. It's like a road trip through purgatory, but with more Aztec temples.
      • Avi
        thanks for your advice! I like indie movies like safety not guaranteed and monsters. But yesterday I've seen brick and man it was bad! I realy don't know where the excitement comes from! Slow pace, unexplainable actions and bad acting... What a disappointment!
        • denverchris
          I couldn't stand Brick either, or Brothers Bloom.
  • http://www.twitter.com/bennesvig Ben Nesvig
    Short Term 12 is an amazing film.
    • Avi
      thanks for the tip!
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