This month we are celebrating Off-beat cinema. The ones that do not stick to convention. The ones that are made by brave-hearts against all odds. They don't have millions of Dollars backing them and hardly any of them make a Billion Dollars, but they are the ones that stay true to the vision of the makers and never bow to the pressures of being box office darlings. They are not here to please everyone. They are pure, unadulterated and hence, unique.
Hollywood gives a tag to certain films that are not backed by the powerhouse production houses. They call them Indie films. Many Indie films fall into the bracket of being odd-ball, off-beat because they stay true to the script. One of the greatest film-makers "Quentin Tarantino", gave one his greatest films "Reservoir Dogs" out of the blue. The big production houses didn't know what hit them as it ran away with all the accolades and made the director a superstar.
But not everyone gets the fame they deserve, because they don't make that kind of money. So Oscars generally adds one odd-ball caper to their nomination list every year (well, almost every). This year it was "The Silver Linings Playbook", which was powered by exceptional acting by its mainstream main leads. But then there have been many others. Juno (2007) by the exceptionally talented Jason Reitman and made at a modest budget of just 7 Million dollars! Little Miss Sunshine (2008) powered by Steve Carell and a menagerie of odd-ball characters. Crash (2005), the winner of the Oscar for Best Picture, was made at just 6.5 million Dollars and beat Steven Spielberg's epic "Munich" made at 77 Million Dollars! And Sideways (2004) made simply delectable by the performances of its 2 main leads - Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church. Most of these films have been distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures, who does a great job of picking up independent movie gems and giving them some visibility!
Let's go beyond the Oscar spotlight. Here are a few of my favourite indie films that no one really talks about or are part of cult folklores. Beware, these are films that are not for everyone. They are like gourmet food appreciated by a few. Donnie Darko, which would leave you equally horrified and delighted, and which is considered one of the greatest independent films ever made. Win Win(2011) another comedy starring Paul Giamati having loads of heart. 11:14 (2003), an indie thriller par-excellence. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), a sci-fi comedy, made by Colin Trevorrow and starring Mark Duplass. Speaking of Mark, he and his brother Jay Duplass have made some awesome Indie movies like Cyrus (2010) starring John Reilly, Jonah Hill and Marisa Tomei, Jeff who Lives at Home (2011) starring Jason Segel and Ed Helms and The Do-Deca-Pentathalon (2012). Then there is Raymond De Felitta's City Island (2010), an absolutely crazy film starring Andy Garcia. And finally, a film that I absolutely adore, Garden State (2004) written and director by the multi-talented Zach Braff.
Now, no Indie or Odd-ball list can be complete without the mention of the Indie Auteurs - Coen Brothers, perhaps the greatest Director duo in the history of cinema. They have a unique vision, a unique style and they exercise complete creative control over every film. Fargo, The Big Lebowski, Barton Fink, The Man Who Wasn't There, Raising Arizona, A Serious Man are some of the many brilliant films they have made. Watch a film for 2 minutes and you can tell it's made by the Coens. If there is one filmography you should own, it's theirs.
This list can go on and on and on, but then good things should be enjoyed in small portions. By the way, if you love independent cinema and you believe that the power should remain in the hands of the visionary i.e. the writer and the director, then you can help finance them in the films section of Kickstarter. Zach Braff funded his next film "Wish I was Here" in less than a month with over 46,000 people helping him raise over 3 Million Dollars! With people power, the independent odd ball films will not only survive, but thrive. So, here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels - Cheers!
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A hopeless FILMantic, a sit-down comic, a cereal killer, chicken lover, who Copys for a living, really!
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