In its second weekend, the festival is presenting previews of a number of high-profile indies that are set to premiere theatrically later this summer. Here are the five best of the bunch — all of which we'll be covering in more depth when they open locally in the coming weeks and months.
Beats, Rhymes, Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest
Directed by actor Michael Rapaport, this documentary on the seminal hip-hop foursome was at one point titled Beats, Rhymes and Fights. In addition to the de rigueur cheerleading from luminaries (Common, Mos Def, the Beastie Boys), the film features candid interviews with each member of ATCQ, as well as glimpses of why, after 20 years, this foundational foursome just can't get along well enough to make new music. The LAFF screening includes sets by KCRW DJs Dan Wilcox, Anthony Valadez and Garth Trinidad.
One of the happiest surprises of this year's Sundance Film Festival, Miranda July's second feature as a writer-director (after 2005's Me and You and Everyone We Know) revolves around a talking cat, a precocious little girl, a single father, a wise old man and a hipster couple in Los Angeles who, faced with the prospect of a small dose of responsibility entering their lives in one month's time, quit their menial jobs in order to live life to the fullest for their last 30 days of true freedom. July's quirksome mapping of boho 30-something angst gives way to legitimate surrealism. We'll have a profile of July in, erm, August.
A beautifully observed dramedy of a young mother's crisis of faith, starring Joshua Leonard and Vera Farmiga, who also directs.
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James Marsh's follow-up to the Oscar-winning doc Man on Wire tells the story of Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee at the center of a landmark nature-versus-nurture experiment in the 1970s. Keep your eyes peeled for our interview with Marsh, coming in early July.
Azazel Jacobs (son of experimental film god Ken Jacobs) directed this sweet and strange coming-of-age comedy about an obese teen (Jacob Wysocki) who develops a bond with his well-meaning guidance counselor (John C. Reilly). We'll be profiling Jacobs in next week's film section.