In 1975, the term “blockbuster” was created. Steven Spielberg’s Jaws had just been released, and the response to this movie going experience quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Moviegoers were flocking to the cinema time and time again to see a movie that was centered on exciting, fast-paced and escapist entertainment. Two years later, Star Wars expanded on Jaws’ success, causing many Hollywood producers to capitalize on the appeal of large-budget films that were all about spectacle.
Fast forward 40 years, and movie theaters are still overflowing with these ultra-expensive studio films featuring super heroes and action stars. The release of the “summer blockbuster” no longer takes place when students are on break, but largely exists year round. Like many movie lovers, the Napa Valley Film Festival also enjoys these impressive films; however, all too often, we are finding that character-driven stories are getting overlooked, or worse buried.
All year round, the Napa Valley Film Festival team proudly shares past festival favorites for your enjoyment. We believe independent film is filled with authentic gems worth the discovery, and now with the increase of video on demand, it is more important than ever to watch independent film in theaters.
From a sibling dramedy to a quirky rom-com, the three independent films below are not to be missed this summer. Each film screened at the 2017 Napa Valley Film Festival and will be available to watch in June. Send us your reviews, and see you at the Film Festival this November!
Bernard and Huey, directed by Dan Mirvish
In theaters and on demand Friday, June 8
Synopsis: Bernard and Huey is a timely story of two men behaving badly, and the smart women who rein them in. Roguish Huey (David Koechner) and nebbish Bernard (Oscar-winner Jim Rash) are unlikely college friends in late 1980’s New York. Decades later, a bedraggled Huey reconnects with Bernard in an attempt to get his mojo back, and along the way Bernard awkwardly falls in love with Huey’s 25-year-old daughter (Mae Whitman). Directed by Dan Mirvish and written by Oscar/Pulitzer-winning cartoonist and screenwriter Jules Fieffer, this comedic story is about friendship and how growing up can happen at any age.
The Year of Spectacular Men, directed by Lea Thompson
In theaters and on demand Friday, June 15
Synopsis: The Year of Spectacular Men follows Izzy Klein (Madelyn Deutch), a young woman who has barely graduated from college, broken up with her boyfriend, and is stranded in New York City with a bad case of pre-real-world millennial-itis. Unsure of her next step, Izzy’s movie star sister (Zoey Deutch) convinces her to move to Los Angeles where she funnels her energy into dating a colorful bouquet of five complicated and spectacular men. This real-life mother daughter project stars Lea Thompson, Madelyn Deutch and Zoey Deutch. The film marks Lea Thompson’s directorial debut and is also written by Madelyn Deutch.
Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town, directed by Christian Papierniak
In theaters and on demand Friday, June 22
Synopsis: Rocker girl and shameless hot mess Izzy (Mackenzie Davis) wakes up to find out that her ex-boyfriend is celebrating his engagement to her ex-best friend at a bougie party across town. Enraged and desperate, Izzy embarks on a frantic quest across Los Angeles to break up the happy couple before it’s too late. Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town is a zany, hilarious indie film that also features appearances from Lakeith Stanfield, Alia Shawkat, Rob Huebel, and Haley Joel Osment.