OK, maybe not the best, but the ones people will be talking about.
The first one is “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. The film is a whose who of English actors – Judi Dench, Tom Wilkerson, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton. It also has Dev Patel from “Slumdog Millionaire” and it is directed by the always reliable John Madden. A bunch of English retirees looking for a cheap place to live in their final days settle on a run down hotel in Jaipur. This will be a big draw for the older art house crowd. Why? Sex, as in seniors having it. Now that the boomers are old, they need to affirm their status as randy seniors versus randy hippies from way back. “Exotic” will be a big crowd pleaser.
The second film is a charming comedy from Wes Anderson. This is the type of film that would get stifled in a megaplex. So naturally it will turn up in your neighborhood art house and run there for weeks on end. Set in 1965, a young couple, and by young we mean 14 or so, fall in love and elope. They can’t go too far because they are on the island of New Penzance, a small pile of rocks off the coast of New England. Of course everyone starts looking for them including Bill Murray, Frances MacDormand, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman and Bob Balaban. The two young leads are self-assured while the comedy is intelligent, whimsical and like I said earlier, charming.
It is tough to call one film better than the other, but if you like your films smartly made and with some serious drama, then the Sundance winning ‘Beaof the Southern Wild’ is your baby. A cast of unknowns drive this tale of a small girl living with her wild, drunken father in the bayous of Louisiana just prior to Katrina. This is a film that could easily have been made by an Italian neo-realist some 60 years ago. It is well done, satisfying and leaves one with hope on lots of levels. There is the hope that this young girl will emerge as a strong leader. There is hope that there are small communities of intensely independent people still extant in the US and there is hope that dramatic film making will once again flourish.
This looks like a very good summer for art house films, but these three stand out. Perhaps another one will pop up and surprise us. Let’s hope so.