14. Science Of Sleep (2006)
Science Of Sleep is like a Surrealistic jigsaw puzzle that can only be figured out whilst asleep. Michael Gondry, the director of Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind takes us on a vivid trip into Stéphane Miroux complicated mind, acted by the living legend Gael García Bernal.
Set in the land of cinema, Paris, Stéphane becomes infatuated with his neighbor Stéphanie played by the beautiful Charlotte Gainsbourg and then weird stuff begins to happen. The blossoming romance finally awakens the sleeping confidence that the withdrawn Stéphane was previously capable of displaying only in his dreams.
Borderline Mumblecore but more interesting, Science Of Sleep takes us to Surreal dreamscape maybe painted by a ten year old Salvador Dali and boasts tracks by The Velvet Underground and The White Stripes.
Watch this movie if: You like the minds of Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman specifically Being John Malkovich, Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Gael García Bernal, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Van Dormael’s Mr Nobody.
13. Monsters (2010)
Another intelligent, low budget, independent debut by director Gareth Edwards. Monsters recycles the quarantined “Infected zone” grand narrative that many films such as District 9 fatigue, but instead, approaches it from an indie stance resulting in a postmodern Sci-Fi with a brain and heart. Released by troubadour film distributor Magnolia Pictures (as are many of the films on this list), this is a truly exciting take on contemporary Sci-Fi which “channels the upriver nightmares or Herzog and Coppola”.
Watch this movie if: You liked District 9, Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Balaguero and Plaza’s Rec, Independent cinema, Carpenter’s The Thing.
12. Another Earth (2011)
Another Earth is a classic example of Lo-Fi Sci-Fi independent cinema reaching for the stars with the conspicuous endeavor to achieve an epic status with only a pocketful of change for the budget. What seems synonymous with this genre is that most directors’ debut film procures this Lo-Fi distinction and director Mike Cahill is no different.
This was also Brit Marling’s debut feature film as an actress which she also co wrote and produced. Brilliantly shot to create an intoxicatingly slow world, this independent thought-provoking film succeeds what it set out to do an gives a nod to Tarkovsky’s Solaris, which also deals with another parallel Earth.
Watch this movie if: You like Brit Marling, Tarkovsky’s Solaris, Von Trier’s Melancholia, solid American contemporary independent cinema, Fassbinder’s World On A Wire.
11. Primer (2004)
Two young engineers working in a garage accidentally discover a means of time travel. Mumblecore dialogue and miniscule budget (reportedly $7000). Is this the epitome of the Lo-Fi Sci-Fi genre? Shane Carruth, the hero of the film wrote, directed, produced, edited, composed music for and even acted in this movie.
As a graduate with a degree in mathematics and a former engineer, Carruth chose not to simplify the dialogue for the sake of the audience but instead bombard the viewer with philosophical implications and complex technical jargon.
Simply go to the films Wiki page and try to fathom the operation of time travel in Primer diagram. The result is a very watchable film for an extremely small budget and do it yourself mentality, which cemented itself as one of the best time travel indie films.
Watch this movie if: You enjoy time travel, physics and science, mathematics, watchable low budget films, the first bright lights of an upcoming director, Dukic’s Wristcutters: A Love Story, you are a nerd.
10. Sound Of My Voice (2011)
2011 was a busy year for Brit Marling as after finishing Another Earth, she went straight on to co writing, producing and starring in this low budget, indie psychological Sci-Fi. Sound Of My Voice was directors Zal Batmanglij’s debut feature film who then went on the shoot The East which also starred Brit Marling.
A couple and documentary team attempt to infiltrate a mysterious group led by the enigmatic cult leader Maggie (Brit Marling). Is she a charlatan Charles Manson type or does she in fact deserve her idolatry praise the followers give her. Paranoid, thought provoking and eerily unstable, Sound Of My Voice captures the sinister happenings of a brainwashing cult.
Watch this movie if: You liked Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene, Cahill’s Another Earth, Brit Marling, Batmanglij’s The East, are interested in Charles Mansion or The Jonestown Massacre cult, Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin.
9. Moon (2009)
Psychological Sci-Fi thriller Moon is a claustrophobic study of Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), an astronaut who has spent the last three years on the dark side of the moon and is counting down the minutes for his lift home.
A brilliant Debut by Duncan Jones (son of the venerable David Bowie), Moon captures faultlessly the declining psyche of a man who has spent too long by himself in space. Rockwell’s captivating performance brought him deservedly into the spotlight and Kevin Spacey’s voice is perfect as GERTY, Sam’s robot companion with obvious nods to the devil himself, HAL 9000.
Watch this movie if: You like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, Cuaron’s Gravity, psychological thrillers, the study of a man’s psyche on film, Boyle’s Sunshine, Rivera’s Sleep Dealer.
8. Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Safety Not Guaranteed is what Primer could have been if it had a slightly bigger budget, a love interest and a somewhat less academic approach to time travel.
Another Debut Feature, this witty Comedy Sci-Fi tells the story (based on a true story) of Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass) and his attempt to find the right candidate to accompany him to travel back in time by posting an add in a local newspaper.
Duplass is fantastic as always at his Mumblecore best, staring alongside his love interest Aubrey Plaza whose dry, Lo-Fi delivery cements this future cult classic as an important addition in the Lo-Fi Sci-Fi cannon.
Watch this movie if: You like Mark Duplass, the Duplass brothers Jeff Who Lives At Home, Marslet’s Mars, July’s The Future, Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, Hannah Takes The Stairs and everything else, Aubrey Plaza, Mumblecore cinema.