We’ve come a long way, kid, but Valley moviegoers are hardly prime targets in the duck-duck-goose game of independent film distribution.
For every “The Last King of Scotland” that makes an appearance at Harkins Camelview, there’s another art house must-see (say, the Maggie Gyllenhaal-fronted “Sherrybaby”) that heartlessly snubs our fair Valley of the Sun.
Take comfort, art-house aficionado: Many of these underseen 2006 indies are now available on DVD. Just a Netflix mouse click or trek to the video store away.
Maggie Gyllenhaal (“Secretary”) bares her soul (and much of her body) as a drug felon and single mother who wages a losing battle against her own demons after serving a three-year prison sentence. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly says the actress “has you hanging on every word and gesture.”
Why you should see it: Gyllenhaal received a Golden Globe nomination.
Not technically an independent film, but Mike Judge’s futuristic comedy — a broad satire about the “dumbing down” of America — saw nothing of the Valley in ultra-limited release. Was it too edgy? Too unfunny? Whatever the case, 20th Century Fox displayed it as proudly as an infectious disease.
Why you should see it: C’mon, the guy directed “Office Space.” How bad could it be?
“The Puffy Chair”
A hit at Sundance last winter, this low-budget lifestyle comedy about a 20-something bachelor (screenwriter-star Mark Duplass) who hits the road with his brother, girlfriend and a purple La-Z-Boy has been likened to a latter-day “The Brothers McMullen.” The indie blockbuster that never was.
Why you should see it: Sibling intrigue. The movie was directed by Duplass’ older brother, Jay.
“The Devil’s Miner”
Exposed to poisonous conditions in a Bolivian silver mine, a 14-year-old boy pays tribute to the devil for protection. According to Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times, this German-produced documentary will leave you “spellbound, heartbroken and unaccountably cheered.”
Why you should see it: Nominated for the top documentary award by the Director’s Guild of America.
From the makers of the acclaimed documentary “The Boys of Baraka” comes this scary, exasperating, bleakly funny exposé of militancy and manipulation at pastor Becky Fischer’s now-defunct Pentecostal youth camp. Features a pre-scandal cameo by deposed mega-church fixture Ted Haggard.
Why you should see it: Nominated for an Oscar (best feature documentary).
The third and final installment of Chan-wook Park’s ultra-violent “revenge trilogy” (“Oldboy,” “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”) finds a woman wrongly accused of murder (Yeong-ae Lee) tearing a bloody swath across Korea to find the man who framed her. Another blood-splattered sensation from Asia’s answer to Sam Peckinpah.
Why you should see it: Anointed best film at the Venice Film Festival.