5 Must-See Movies at the 2013 L.A. Film Fest

From docs to dramatic features, here’s what you need to know to sound like a cinematic smartypants

The 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off last night with a ton of films playing over 10 days. Who has time to see everything? Here are our top 5 picks to check out.

 Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

Gorgeous cinematography, strong performances by Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone) and Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), and a narrative that recalls the early work of Terence Malick (Badlands, Days of Heaven), this modern western follows Affleck’s Bob Guthrie, who escapes from prison to reunite with his wife (Mara) and the daughter he’s never met. The film is slated for an August release, but you can see it here first.

Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton (This is Stones Throw Records)

This music documentary explores the beginnings of Stones Throw Records, the avant-garde, L.A.-based independent label behind performers like Charizma, The Stepkids, and Dam-Funk. The documentary features live concert video, archival footage, and insightful interviews with founder Peanut Butter Wolf among others.

The Way, Way Back

From the studio that brought you Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, The Way, Way Back is a coming-of-age story that follows introverted Duncan who, while on vacation with his parents, strikes an unexpected friendship with the manager of a water park and subsequently finds his place in the world. It features a star-studded cast including Toni Collette, Steve Carrell, and Sam Rockwell.

Lesson of the Evil (Aku no kyôten)

Takashi Miike (13 Assasins, Audition) presents this Japanese thriller about a high school teacher who’s also a psychopath. (Aren’t they all?) The chilling film features Miike’s trademark combo of black humor and stomach-churning violence.

Ernest & Celestine

Can a mouse and a bear become BFFs? Find out in Ernest & Celestine, the story of an accidental cross-species friendship. Here’s an animated feature that kids and adults can enjoy. (Maybe that’s because it’s French.)