’71, Shadows, and It Follows: Three must-see indies now playing

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It has been a rather weak year to date for large-scale Hollywood films, but a pretty stellar one for indies. Three of the latter recently opened in Buffalo, and all qualify as must-sees.

71 is director Yann Demange’s intense, exhilarating tale of a British soldier separated from his unit in bloody, early-’70s Belfast. It features a fine performance from the much-buzzed-about Jack O’Connell.

As I said in my review:

“’71 should erase any lingering doubts about whether the hype was justified. As young British soldier Gary Hook, O’Connell is heartbreakingly vulnerable, memorably fierce, and altogether unforgettable.

“So is the film. North American audiences have seen numerous films on the years of conflict in Northern Ireland, many of them very, very good. But 71 is a different kind of portrait. This is street-level cinema, and interestingly, takes an almost apolitical stance.”

Far less bleak is What We Do in the Shadows, an inspired, riotous mockumentary about vampires in New Zealand.

From my review:

“Shadows stars and is directed by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. While the latter might be new to American audiences, Clement is one of the two geniuses better known as musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords.

“Those who love the Conchords’ music and HBO series have an idea what to expect from What We Do in the Shadows. This is above all a comedy, but one fueled with intelligence and even pathos.”

Lastly, the horror film It Follows is an imperfect but very scary film from director David Robert Mitchell. It grabs you from the first gruesome minute, and its first half, especially, is as memorable as any recent horror flick. The film does not quite maintain this level of quality, and peters out a bit before finishing strong.

But overall, this clear STD metaphor is a stunner, a film that plays with horror tropes but finds new ways to startle.

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