Wednesday night sees the start — with the David Foster Wallace hang-out movie “The End of the Tour” — of BAMcinemafest, BAM’s annual survey of the indie landscape — a term that, now as ever, is hard to define. Indeed, this year’s lineup offers feminist sci-fi, battling intellectuals, a righteously raging comedian, Elisabeth Moss losing it, trans movie stars and a sequel to a film you may never have known exists. Of the 20-plus features — plus many shorts — here are a handful for which we can vouch.
‘Advantageous’ (Sun., June 21)
Sci-fi done in a low key, Jennifer Phang’s futuristic drama doesn’t always sell when it dwells on its Asylum-level effects, but it’s on the level as a film of ideas. Jacqueline Kim, who co-wrote with Phang, plays a single mother in a tricked-out metropolis who agrees to a revolutionary process when she realizes agism and sexism still thrive in the near-future. Kim and Phang sometimes let a simple story turn into a talky muddle, but it captures the feeling of living with tech that, to us, is still on the horizon. And it oozes a melancholy that carries us through rough patches en route to a finale of devastation so quiet you might miss it.
‘Best of Enemies’ (Sat., June 20)
You can watch Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley’s notorious smackdowns on YouTube, but this doc does more than let you stare at two pitbulls going at it. It’s as much a breakdown of their multi-night tete-a-tetes, held during 1968’s tumultuous Chicago Democratic Convention, as it is a look at two stubborn isolationists, each trying to sell their own radical beliefs to the mainstream. That they couldn’t even bond over their shared hatred becomes the stuff of tragedy, and their stories become not just about the death of the public intellectual, but about the death of the mojos of two of the last century’s mightiest egos.