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Summer Indie Counter-Programming

Posted June 18, 2010 to photo album "Summer Indie Counter-Programming"

In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right, Nick Dawson looks back at summer indie hits from years past.

Slide 1: Introduction
Slide 2: Kids
Slide 3: The Usual Suspects
Slide 4: Ulee's Gold
Slide 5: The Full Monty
Slide 6: The Blair Witch Project
Slide 7: Ghost World
Slide 8: Whale Rider
Slide 9: 28 Days Later
Slide 10: Swimming Pool
Slide 11: American Splendor
Slide 12: Napoleon Dynamite
Slide 13: Fahrenheit 9/11
Slide 14: Broken Flowers
Slide 15: Little Miss Sunshine
Slide 16: (500) Days of Summer
Slide 9: 28 Days Later

Slide 9: 28 Days Later

Release Date:June 27, 2003
Domestic Gross: $45,064,915
Programmed Against: Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle

Taking a page out of The Blair Witch Project’s playbook, Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later proved that indiehorrormovies can do very good business at the box office. In this case, the big movie it was set in contrast with was Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, in which Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu returned to kick more PG-13-style ass in this sequel to the big screen remake of the 70s TV show. 28 Days Later was a return to his indie roots for Boyle after his adaptation of Alex Garland’s cult novel The Beach starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Shot on video, 28 Days Later had an intentionally low-budget look that added another layer of unsettling remove to this post-apocalyptic zombie flick penned by Alex Garland. Like all good zombie flicks, 28 Days Later delivered not only scares but used the genre as a vehicle for social commentary. Boyle is well-known for making visually impressive films with top-notch soundtracks, and this is no exception: the shots of a desolate, deserted London after “the rage” has swept through the city are truly memorable, while John Murphy’s post-rock soundscapes provide a suitably somber, sometimes epic undercurrent to the cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle (later an Oscar winner for Boyle’s all-conquering Slumdog Millionaire). The movie was lauded by critics as not only as a great piece of entertainment but as a landmark movie, with Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir writing, “In this film the innate potential of the digital-video medium -- its ability to capture a subtly troubling chiaroscuro effect, not unlike that of late medieval painting -- is more fully realized than ever before.” Boyle’s movie did well enough to spawn a sequel, 28 Weeks Later in 2007.