2019 is looking to be an exciting year for movies. Highly recognized franchises will release important installments (“Avengers: Endgame” and “Star Wars: Episode IX”) while big-name directors will showcase their new, exciting projects (Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and Jordan Peele’s “Us”). Amid these giant releases, however, will be smaller, more obscure films that may fly under the public’s radar due to poor distribution or lack of word of mouth. Regardless, these five indie and arthouse films are worth checking out this coming year.
Release Date: March 1
Gaspar Noé has built up a reputation as a fascinating, albeit divisive, director. His movies deal with unsettling topics like out-of-body experiences, but he adds strong artistic merit to his films, his fifth movie “Climax” may be no different. The story about a group of French dancers facing horrific circumstances after drinking sangria spiked with LSD seems nightmare-inducing. Noé’s track record suggests he’ll find ways to have audience members truly feel the characters’ torment and render them deeply disturbed long after the credits roll. Aside from Sofia Boutella, “Climax” stars mostly non-actors, which may add a level of authenticity not seen in mainstream movies.
Release date: TBD
Bong Joon-ho has become one of South Korea’s most acclaimed modern directors. In terms of the American market, however, the only movies he’s directed that have received public attention are the co-production “Snowpiercer” starring Chris Evans and the Netflix-produced “Okja.” In 2019, the director will return to his original South Korean roots with “Parasite.” Co-directed by Joon-ho and starring his frequent collaborator Song Kang-ho, the film follows a man who is affected in unforeseen ways after getting infected with a parasite. Typically, foreign films have a poor distribution in American theaters. However, given the previous reception of “Snowpiercer” and “Okja,” perhaps more people will feel more compelled to seek out “Parasite” at their nearest theater when it’s released.
Release Date: TBD
Indie movies are rarely expected to achieve much success; Justin Chon’s “Gook,” however, did not even meet this low expectation, making only $250,000 domestically. As a result, not as many people saw Chon’s prowess as a first-time director. Yet, it seems like the honesty and poignance that he captured in “Gook” will carry over to his new film, “Ms. Purple.” The film follows two siblings in Koreatown trying to mend their relationship during their father’s final days. Even though artistic integrity is important in a film, financial success helps directors reach larger audiences. With this year’s release, Chon may be able to start accumulating a larger fanbase who will continue to advocate for his work. As such, “Ms. Purple” will likely be worth watching, no matter how far away the closest theater playing the film is.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things
Release Date: TBD
Nearly everything screenwriter/director Charlie Kaufman has touched has become pure gold. Movies like “Adaptation” and “Anomalisa” are original and emotional, but they rarely receive any attention from the general public. With his next movie, however, Kaufman has some leverage that may help his work become better known to a wider audience. “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is his first collaboration with Netflix. This will likely give Kaufman the creative liberty and exposure he needs. Furthermore, it will star Brie Larson and Jesse Plemons — their dramatic performances in “Room” and “Breaking Bad,” respectively, will certainly attract viewers. With Kaufman as the writer and director, both actors will certainly be pushed beyond their limits to craft another exceptional addition to Kaufman’s legacy.
Release Date: TBD
The first glimpse of “Guava Island” came last August when a photo of Rihanna and Donald Glover in Cuba was suddenly leaked online, sparking rumors and speculations. On Nov. 24, at Glover’s PHAROS Festival in Auckland, New Zealand, the project was confirmed to be “Guava Island,” and the movie’s first trailer was shown exclusively at that festival. While there has not been any other information officially published, aside from Letitia Wright’s supporting role, IMDb indicates that the film is currently in post-production. Because this movie seems to be a moderately-budgeted comedic drama, it is highly likely to see a 2019 release. If this is the case, this seemingly indie flick may turn into a giant hit as Glover and director Hiro Murai reaffirm their strong influence on the entertainment industry.