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The best independent movies in theaters now

The best independent movies in theaters now — ”(500) Days of Summer,” ”The Hurt Locker,” and ”Cold Souls” are too good to miss this season

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Can’t sit through another by-the-book blockbuster this summer? No worries. Here are seven remarkably compelling, refreshingly low-budget options. No jive-talking robots. Guaranteed.

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER
Why you should see it
First of all, the time-hopping study of young love starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt contains the most delightful scene of the season: Gordon-Levitt’s part-animated dance sequence to Hall & Oates’ ”You Make My Dreams.” But it also breathes new life into an increasingly tired genre. ”A lot of romantic comedies go for the jokes, and you don’t feel like the characters are feeling anything,” Gordon-Levitt tells EW. ”This movie is genuine and heartfelt.”
Where you can catch it
Playing nationwide.

THE HURT LOCKER
Why you should see it
Director Kathryn Bigelow’s portrait of a bomb-defusing military unit in Iraq is easily this summer’s most nail-biting film. Of recent flicks, it’s also the one with the best shot at an Oscar nod. ”I set out to make it as reportorial as possible,” Bigelow says. ”A boots-on-the-ground, fly-on the-wall look.”
Where you can catch it
Playing nationwide.

FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN
Why you should see it
This double Sundance prizewinner, about an Irishman (James Nesbitt) who meets his brother’s murderer (Liam Neeson) 33 years after the killing, covers familiar cinematic ground with riveting urgency. ”I’ve always avoided the subject matter of the Troubles,” says Neeson, referring to the conflict in Northern Ireland. ”But this one wasn’t sentimental. I found I couldn’t put it down.”
Where you can catch it
On cable via on demand starting Aug. 19; the theatrical release begins in New York Aug. 21.

ADAM
Why you should see it
British charmer Hugh Dancy turns in a fully believable performance as a New Yorker with Asperger’s (a disorder with autism-like symptoms) in a whimsical modern love story that doesn’t conform to any typical Hollywood rules. ”There is romance in it; there is comedy in it,” Dancy says. ”But it sure as hell is not a rom-com!”
Where you can catch it
Now playing in 17 cities; expands through August.

COLD SOULS
Why you should see it
Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti is in prime neurotic form as an angst-ridden actor (named…Paul Giamatti) who literally has his soul removed: Being John Malkovich-style head-spinning comedy ensues. ”The whole movie has this absurd, trippy feeling, but it’s done so mundanely,” Giamatti says. ”I love that kind of stuff.”
Where you can catch it
Now playing in four cities; eight more will be added on Aug. 21.

THE COVE
Why you should see it
The season’s hot documentary follows a group of activists exposing the world of dolphin slaughtering in Japan. Director Louie Psihoyos used hidden cameras for the most shocking footage. ”We didn’t need filmmakers to make this — we needed pirates,” he says. ”When I look at the film now, I get chills over the fact that we got away with it.”
Where you can catch it
More than 70 theaters nationwide; two dozen more by the end of August.

LORNA’S SILENCE
Why you should see it
Belgium’s Dardenne brothers have crafted another stark look at urban life, focusing on an Albanian woman (Ellen Page doppelgänger Arta Dobroshi) who marries a junkie to gain citizenship. ”It has all the elements of the great European movie: It’s very character-driven, and you’re really engaged,” says Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker, who bought the film at Cannes last year. ”And she looks like Juno.”
Where you can catch it
Now playing in 16 cities; rolling out to more markets by the end of this month.— Additional reporting by Missy Schwartz and Adam B. Vary

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