My favorite summer in college was the one I spent before my senior year in Los Angeles. At the start of it, I had two friends in the entire city, so between my internship and jobs on the Third Street Promenade (heyo, Paper Source and Madewell), I had a lot of time to myself. I went on beach walks from my westside apartment, joined flag football Meetups, and regularly attended matinees at the Laemmle Theatre in Santa Monica, a family-owned theater that's been a home for independent films since the 1930s.
At the time, it was the first theater I'd ever been to that served beer, and to this day, my idea of nirvana is a movie on the big screen with an IPA in hand. What I loved most about it was the sense of discovery—I never read anything in advance about the film I was seeing, but trusted the curation enough to head straight into whatever was playing. Even if I didn't personally love it, it was always interesting and thought-provoking. When I wrote about the Laemmle's online movies in The List last month, they reached out to thank me for supporting them and I asked if they would make recommendations for some of their favorite films streaming now. This theater gave me so much comfort and pleasure at a time in my life when I needed it, and I hope it does the same for you now! Here are 9 independent movies streaming now, or coming very soon to a screen near you, handpicked by third-generation owner Greg Laemmle:
Heads' up: You have to pay to watch many of these movies, which is a lot to ask for when sites like Netflix have virtually unlimited content, but I've watched a few and I think you'll agree that the reward of supporting art and a local theater is worth the fee! Every purchase supports not only neighborhood cinema, but also the indie film industry in general, from filmmakers to distributors.
If you liked Booksmart or Blockers, you'll love CRSHD
Like an indie version of "Booksmart" and "Blockers." Revisit your college days with the smart, funny feature CRSHD.
If you liked The Artist is Present, you'll love Beyond the Visible - Hilma af Klint
If you're into art and artists, and especially stories about female artists breaking into a male-dominated world, you'll find the documentary Beyond the Visible fascinating. Highly acclaimed look at the life of pioneering woman artist and mystic, Hilma af Klint. A surprise indie hit!
If you liked the Arts & Leisure section of the newspaper or You've Got Mail, you'll love The Booksellers
Do you dive head first into the Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times? Then The Booksellers is a documentary made for you. Fascinating journey through the worlds of bookshops and bookselling.
If you liked Amelie, you'll love Someone Somewhere
In the tradition of French romances like "Amelie," but with a nod to American films like "Say Anything" and "Lars and the Real Girl" or even "The Notebook," Someone Somewhere is an offbeat romance about two lonely neighbors finding love.
If you like dogs and heartwarming stories, you'll love The Dog Doc
Did you adopt a dog (or other pet) during the pandemic? If yes, or if you already had a loved pet, you'll want to see The Dog Doc by the director of "Buck," one of the best documentaries in the past ten years.
*Dates subject to change.
If you liked The Affair or Big Little Lies, you'll love Clementine
If you've already binge-watched all the episodes of "The Affair" or "Big Little Lies," consider watching Clementine. A film that reminds us that episodic TV doesn't have a lock on sexy psychological dramas.
If you liked Like Water for Chocolate, you'll love Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy
Who doesn't love authentic Mexican food? Spend some time with Diana Kennedy, the endlessly curious subject of Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy and you'll be a convert. But be ready to have an urge to start cooking immediately after watching the film…
If you liked Unorthodox, you'll love Papicha
Female empowerment in the face of patriarchal religious societies is a challenge. If you're done streaming "Unorthodox," or enjoyed watching the Oscar-nominated "Mustang" a few years ago, you'll want to see Papicha.
P.S., While it isn't streaming at the Laemmle, this list wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention cupcakes and cashmere reader-turned-friend, Lynn Chen's, film I Will Make You Mine, out Mary 26th! I watched a screener last week and know you'll love it!