Indie Fresh List

The Indie Fresh List: The Farewell Expands, While Acclaimed Luce and Nightingale Bring Terrors

Check out the latest Fresh indie releases, what's still in theaters, and what's coming soon.

by | August 2, 2019 | Comments

Join us weekly as Rotten Tomatoes reports on what’s opening, expanding, and coming to the specialty box office. From promising releases from new voices to experimental efforts from storied filmmakers – or perhaps the next indie darling to go the distance for end-of-year accolades – we will break it all down for you here each week in Fresh Indie Finds. 

This week at the specialty box office, we focus on three dark new films that will terrify you in exciting, original, and confronting ways. Fun, right? Walton Goggins plays a snake-charming faith healer with a dark disposition in Them That Follow; Octavia Spencer plays the meddlesome teacher of a star student who may be hiding a secret in Luce; and director Jennifer Kent chronicles the horrors of colonization in Australia for her The Babadook follow-up, The Nightingale. In our indie trailer section, we see have our first look at Robert Pattinson – OK, fine, Battinson – in The Lighthouse and the first trailer for a Sundance standout.

Opening This Weekend

The Nightingale (2019) 87%


Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale is visceral, disturbing, and – according to many critics – required viewing. An Irish indentured convict in colonial Australia, Clare (Aisling Franciosi), is subjected to the worst tortures imaginable at the hands her captor/employer British lieutenant, Hawkins (Sam Claflin). Left for dead after a brutal attack, Clare awakens hell-bent on retribution. She enlists – with some force – the help of an Indigenous man named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) to track her prey, and we follow along her arduous trek through the Tasmanian wilderness in pursuit. It’s a difficult but profound film, writes Los Angeles Times critic Justin Chang of the film that’s currently Certified Fresh at 80%. Kent told us at the Sundance Film Festival that her frank and unsparing approach to the material, which has divided some audiences, is all “in service to the story,” adding that “it [was] a really brutal time. But I think [the time] where we’re living now is brutal.”

Playing New York and Los Angeles this weekend and expanding to limited screens August 9. 

Luce (2019) 90%


We called out Octavia Spencer’s complex portrayal of a concerned schoolteacher in Luce as one of the standout performances from Sundance early this year, and soon audiences will see why. She’s that good – but so is the film, according to critics. The story is simple but deep, adapted from an acclaimed play by J.C. Lee; Katie Walsh of the Chicago Tribune says it’s a “contained drama that contains the whole nation, where every character represents an aspect of how race, class and justice collide in this country.” Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is a star student-athlete and model teen in every way; he’s also a former African child soldier who was adopted by an affluent white family. Spencer’s Harriet Wilson, the boy’s English teacher, sounds the alarm after reading a school report Luce writes in which he seems to advocate revolutionary violence, and we follow along as she, Luce, his adoptive parents (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth), and the community try to figure out what to do with this new information.

Playing New York and Los Angeles this weekend, expanding to limited screens on Aug 9. 

Them That Follow (2019) 60%

Walton Goggins has been the sinister “cowboy type” on our TV screens for the last 20 years on shows like Justified, The Shield, and Sons of Anarchy (also on the big screen in flicks like Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight). The veteran actor has come into his own recently with some outside-the-box indie performances, including his recent turn in Them That Follow. Goggins is charismatic and terrifying as the leader of an Appalachian faith-healing community, well matched by the likes of Olivia Colman (The Favourite), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures), and Booksmart standout Kaitlyn DeverThough those with ophidiophobia (fear of snakes) should steer clear, a number of critics say this is a church worth visiting. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times calls it an “ambitious and impressive independent production, where the creation of mood and place is so convincing it enables us to buy into a richly melodramatic plot about a taboo romance.”

Playing New York this weekend, expanding to limited screens Aug 9.

Fresh and Still in Theaters

The Art of Self-Defense (2019) 84%

Spotlight Pick!

Certified Fresh and still in theaters, Jessie Eisenberg’s dark comedy The Art of Self Defense provides a hilarious take on the awkward loner. The Social Network star plays an alienated office accountant who, after he is assaulted, joins a more-than-meets-the-eye karate dojo and follows the teachings of its unorthodox sensei to defend himself. Writer-director Riley Stearns’ script and Eisenberg’s deadpan comedic timing make one think of what Yorgos Lanthimos would have created if tapped to remake The Karate Kid. Brimming with satirical swipes at toxic male behavior, Joey Magidson of calls it “The best skewering of masculinity since Fight Club.”

The Farewell (2019) 98%

Spotlight Pick!

Lulu Wang’s acclaimed dramedy about a beautiful lie expands to a bunch of new cities and screens this week, so if you haven’t been able to catch it yet now is your chance. The movie is Certified Fresh at 99% and is already proving to be the indie breakout story of the year at the specialty box office. It’s a simple tale, beautifully told: New Yorker Billi (Awkwafina) returns to China when her family gets the news her grandmother is dying; the twist is that no one is telling grandma, and everyone’s heading to Changchun on the pretense of attending the wedding of a cousin who’s rushing to the altar, reluctantly, to make it all happen. Check out our interview with Wang about the film as well as our chat with Awkwafina about the movies she likes to watch with her own grandma.

Along with…

  • David Crosby: Remember My Name (2019) : David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, & Nash left no moment from his 76-years on earth off-limits for this new documentary.
  • A Bigger Splash (2016) , a re-release of Luca Guadagnino’s indie tale of a vacation gone awry.
  • Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (2019) , a bio-doc on award-winning author and activist Toni Morrison.
  • At War (En guerre) (2019)  takes you inside the current plight of the modern worker and the constant battle for fair treatment.

New Indie Trailers

The Lighthouse (2019) 91% 

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are lighthouse keepers trapped on a remote island in Robert Eggers’ follow-up top The Witch. Things get weird.

Monos (2019) 93%

This acclaimed festival favorite from director and co-writer Alejandro Landes plays like a Brazilian Lord of the Flies – but about 1,000 times bloodier.

Ms. Purple (2019) 86% 

Gook filmmaker Justin Chon is behind this quiet and well-reviewed film, which tells the story of a Koreatown karaoke hostess dealing with the impending death of her ailing dad.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

ratings serial killer Lifetime Christmas movies Cannes Rom-Com PaleyFest Musical CBS All Access CBS Walt Disney Pictures FX romance dragons Lionsgate BET Certified Fresh Opinion HBO First Reviews finale Women's History Month ESPN The Purge dc reboot Western Drama GLAAD Trivia Interview A&E Heroines composers VH1 ABC Star Wars christmas movies YouTube Reality directors Cartoon Network halloween CNN Arrowverse MCU quibi jamie lee curtis 2016 thriller Britbox Shudder Watching Series romantic comedy Starz Tubi Food Network spy thriller Oscars X-Men Netflix Christmas movies Rocky Hallmark Christmas movies adventure Comics on TV political drama cancelled TV series mutant anthology psychological thriller 71st Emmy Awards Pixar Hulu book DGA harry potter Awards LGBTQ Rock Infographic movies History Pirates The CW See It Skip It Mudbound YouTube Premium Rocketman technology crime thriller Trophy Talk TCA Winter 2020 Countdown Red Carpet RT21 miniseries canceled series 2019 casting video TLC Family social media A24 2015 Disney cats politics Apple sequel Spike foreign cars Star Trek Crackle BBC America DC Universe Biopics Election Endgame space 24 frames Marathons OWN adaptation DC Comics Tumblr Mary Poppins Returns travel independent Paramount Toys Polls and Games 2018 Fox News Columbia Pictures WGN Emmys Pet Sematary Acorn TV Photos comics zombie DC streaming service Vudu 2020 Ghostbusters docudrama Masterpiece Chilling Adventures of Sabrina game show Showtime Apple TV+ Binge Guide comic period drama VICE Trailer Winter TV animated Warner Bros. screenings Stephen King hispanic Mary poppins cinemax Marvel Nat Geo HBO Max SundanceTV AMC Country Amazon Prime Video dramedy Turner theme song what to watch aliens witnail binge diversity Mystery 45 spinoff stand-up comedy unscripted Marvel Television Disney+ Disney Plus Lifetime Spectrum Originals Cosplay Action TNT Anna Paquin Baby Yoda Super Bowl spider-man IFC Sundance Now Marvel Studios psycho American Society of Cinematographers richard e. Grant Captain marvel biography Summer TBS hist IFC Films RT History Paramount Network Sci-Fi Sneak Peek children's TV Horror 007 Nickelodeon CMT President Pride Month Character Guide comiccon Universal Avengers Teen USA rotten movies we love sag awards USA Network Epix Apple TV Plus OneApp ITV cops Awards Tour The Arrangement name the review Film Festival Freeform cooking GIFs Ovation Song of Ice and Fire canceled TV shows cancelled television Amazon facebook Classic Film NBC elevated horror historical drama Emmy Nominations Television Academy Film Extras Tarantino New York Comic Con Set visit blockbuster Nominations Comedy Central MTV Comedy green book BBC crime Crunchyroll WarnerMedia Calendar Valentine's Day war cults cancelled TV shows mockumentary 2017 Quiz Comic Book Lucasfilm Syfy National Geographic Black Mirror television strong female leads The Walking Dead Kids & Family Holidays El Rey Esquire Logo zero dark thirty Box Office Discovery Channel transformers discovery latino teaser streaming dceu Reality Competition Brie Larson Sony Pictures YouTube Red tv talk blaxploitation Mindy Kaling DirecTV Year in Review based on movie Superheroes Fantasy toy story Animation robots APB crossover breaking bad zombies doctor who ABC Family Thanksgiving SXSW NYCC Disney streaming service revenge Musicals crime drama sports natural history Bravo ghosts boxoffice Tomatazos Grammys indie Hallmark true crime Christmas Sundance slashers versus 20th Century Fox Best and Worst justice league Elton John supernatural TIFF Music E! cartoon Sundance TV TCA 2017 Chernobyl Martial Arts Amazon Prime TV Land Schedule joker MSNBC TV renewals kids PBS game of thrones festivals Winners spanish language science fiction werewolf talk show Ellie Kemper Peacock cancelled TV E3 LGBT Premiere Dates Fall TV SDCC GoT anime Creative Arts Emmys TCM First Look The Witch FXX award winner Turner Classic Movies free movies Holiday San Diego Comic-Con Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt vampires FOX golden globes Video Games Pop nature Spring TV Disney Plus screen actors guild Writers Guild of America renewed TV shows spain CW Seed Dark Horse Comics TCA YA 21st Century Fox singing competition Mary Tyler Moore Adult Swim south america sitcom Superheroe police drama Academy Awards batman Disney Channel Netflix Shondaland TruTV medical drama Podcast disaster