Billy Soistmann

The Best Summer Movies You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

In Comedy, Coming-of-Age, Documentary, Features, Garth Jennings, Independent, Paramount Vantage, The Forum, ThinkFilm, Werner Herzog on September 12, 2008 at 2:24 AM

(This is an article I wrote earlier in the year for another publication. I have estimated a date and added it here late so please excuse any time discrepancies.)


In addition to the box office hits featured above, this summer featured some excellent “indies,” films not funded by the Hollywood studio system, which weren’t as widely viewed. Among my personal favorites were Encounters at the End of the World and Son of Rambow.

Encounters At the End of the World:
On June 11, Encounters at the End of the World opened in select theaters. It was directed by Werner Herzog (Aguirre, the Wrath of GodFitzcarraldoGrizzly Man), who was inspired to travel to Antarctica after seeing footage from beneath the ice taken by his friend, a diver in Antarctica. After joining the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, he and his cameraman were flown to Antarctica. The movie consists of Herzog’s narration, interviews, and breathtaking cinematography of Antarctica.

“Encounters” is an unusual documentary because it has very little plot to tie it together. It’s amazing how a skilled director such as Herzog can skillfully pull together interviews from a variety of people and still get his message across to his audience. Among the interviewees are a philosopher/fork-lift driver, a linguist on a continent with no languages, and a reclusive scientist studying penguins. In addition to the amazing images of the continent and interviews with the people that live and work there, Herzog’s comments are intriguing. I would highly suggest that you see this movie on DVD November 18.

Son of Rambow:

On May 2, Iron Man debuted to kick off the summer movie season. What you probably don’t know is that, on the same day, Son of Rambow, an indie-comedy written and directed by Garth Jennings (The Hitchiker’s Guide To the Galaxy), also opened in limited release. The movie focuses on two boys, Will, whose parents don’t allow him to watch TV or movies, and Lee, the school bully. They are inspired by Rambo: First Blood, and decide to make a movie. As word of their movie gets out, more and more kids want to help, and eventually their project gets out of hand.

Son of Rambow is a heartwarming tale about friendship and how two very different friends can help each other, despite disagreements. It is currently available on DVD.

While this summer was full of big-budget, box office hits, there was also a fantastic selection of films that, unfortunately, missed their proper respect at the ceneplex. In addition to “Encounters” and “Rambow”, check out these other indie films of note: American TeenBagheadThe Promotion, and Mongol.

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