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Under the Radar: A24’s Most Overlooked Movies

Words: Ciarán Howley
Images: A24

Within the short span of a decade, film distributor A24 have become the face of independent cinema. Founded in 2012 by Daniel Katz, David Fenkel and John Hodges with the aim of sharing “films with a distinctive point of view” the trio have released some of the most iconic films of the 2010s. Think Lady Bird, Hereditary, Midsommar, The Witch, The Lighthouse, Eighth Grade, Uncut Gems; the list goes on.

However, they’ve also gained a reputation for being the go-to favourite of zillenial film buffs eager to flex their “niche” film taste. A24 are beholden to a tote-bag-wielding, Virgin Suicides-reading generation of cultural autodidacts, thanks to a little thing called the World Wide Web.

The company’s high have been epic. Everything Everywhere All at Once has just crossed the $80 million line at the box office – an unprecedented figure for a non-franchise film by today’s standards. That said, not every film has reached the same critical and commercial heights as the ones above. Without further ado, here are some A24 films we genuinely think have flown under the radar. Feel free to argue in the comments.

05

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

In what will resonate with many Dubliners, comes a tale of hope and friendship in a time of gentrification. Jimmie (Jimmie Fails) and childhood best friend Mont are young black men trying to keep their heads above water in their native San Francisco, as the city is aggressively redeveloped for wealthy move-ins.

Based on the true friendship of director Joe Talbot and star Jimmie Fails, the film crafts a haunting portrait of a dying city and what happens to those forced to dwell in the ruins.

Fans of Wes Anderson will love the picture-perfect cinematography of San-Fran architecture, and rock lovers will get chills from a soundtrack with Jefferson Airplane, Joni Mitchell and even a cameo from Dead Kennedy’s lead Jello Biafra.

“You don’t get to hate San Francisco. You don’t get to hate it unless you love it.”

Jimmie. The Last Black Man in San Francisco.
04

High Life

Robert Pattinson’s comeback is arguably one of the most impressive career U-turns in movie history. Not since Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man has an actor so successfully overhauled their reputation.

After winding down as an oughts-teen-heartthrob in Twilight, Pattinson cultivated a reputation for more serious roles in a string of smash A24 films; the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, Robert Eggers’ the Lighthouse and Claire Denis’ High Life.

R-Patz stars as Monte, a murderer serving a life-sentence onboard an experimental outer-space prison en route for a black hole. The prisoners are subject to experiments of artificial insemination by a depraved Juliette Binoche.

To the tune of Ridley Scott’s Alien: something goes wrong and the crew are picked off one-by-one. Arthouse idol Claire Denis triumphs with a sci-fi horror that will make your skin crawl all over – with an understated performance from Pattinson; somehow finding humanity at the far reaches of the galaxy.

“At 99% the speed of light, the entire sky converged before our eyes. This sensation, moving backwards even though we’re moving forwards, getting further from what’s getting nearer. Sometimes I just can’t stand it.”

Monte, High Life.
03

Under the Silver Lake

If there was an award for Most Confusing Film, Under the Silver Lake would take the gong several times over. The film follows Andrew Garfield as Sam, a devoted conspiracy theorist and drifter in L.A who, in search of his mysterious neighbour, becomes embroiled in a real-life conspiracy.

From the director of It Follows, David Robert Mitchell’s sundrenched neo-noir is an enticing mystery, with detailed clues lain throughout that fans of Midsommar will enjoy freeze-frame analysing. Be warned; this flick makes Inception feel like child’s play.

“Our world is filled with codes, subliminal messages. From Silverlake to the Hollywood Hills.”

Sam Under the Silver Lake.
02

20th Century Women

From Mike Mills comes a tale of teen angst with political bite. Dorothea (Annette Bening) is an older single mother, struggling to connect with her rebellious son, Jamie and beseeches the help her progressive young tenant Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and Jamie’s best friend Julie (Elle Fanning) to pitch in. What does it mean to be a good man?

Set in 1979, on the cusp of the Women’s Liberation movement, post-punk’s arrival in the United States and Reagan’s America, the film explores the tension between familial ties and generational gaps. However, it’s peppered with just enough wit and authenticity from Mills’ childhood to rescue it from the doldrums of “good because it’s politically adjacent.” For fans of Lady Bird, Eighth Grade and the films of John Hughes, 20th Century Women is essential A24 viewing.

“Men always feel that they have to fix things for women, but they’re not doing anything. Some things just can’t be fixed. Just be there, somehow that’s hard for all of you.”

Dorothea, 20th Century Women.
01

X

To say that Ti West’s slasher fright-fest X is criminally underrated is an understatement. Think Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Boogie Nights, circling the ill-fated production of a 70s porno filmed on the ranch of a creepy elderly couple.

With an excellent cast including Kid Cudi, Brittany Snow and Mia Goth, X injects fresh life into the meta-horror genre.

The film is heavily inspired by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and knows the audience knows it. What unfurls is a slasher as much a revelation as Scream in the 90s; fun, exciting and absolutely terrifying. X is A24 at its nerdiest (and its best).

“I’m a fucking sex symbol.”

Maxine Minx. X.

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