6 Under The Radar Summer Movies To Look Forward To

665421 before midnight ethan hawke julie delpy copy 624x360 6 Under The Radar Summer Movies To Look Forward To

Every summer seems to feature more and more huge movies, which is awesome. I’m not one of those uptight cinephiles lamenting the end of cinema because a movie like Iron Man 3 gets a ton of attention. I think there’s room for all of it. It takes all kinds of films to make a good and vibrant cinematic landscape. And sometimes some of the most surprisingly high quality movies are the blockbusters that we expect to be exciting but actually have some brains and heart behind them. There’s nothing that says this can’t be just as respectable as something else produced on a fraction of the budget.

The one downside to having a low budget production is that it’s harder to get the word out about a movie no matter how good it is. Word of mouth may be dependable and have legs, but it often doesn’t have the range of a movie that absolutely pervades every aspect of culture the way Iron Man 3 or The Great Gatsby or Star Trek Into Darkness or Man of Steel have done. I’m as excited as anyone else for those movies, but there are some that don’t quite have the pockets to fund a ubiquitous advertising campaign, and so they require a little bit of special attention.

Here are 6 summer movies that many people are expecting potentially big things from, even though they’re coming to us in relatively small packages.

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1) Stories We Tell

Stories We Tell 6 Under The Radar Summer Movies To Look Forward To

I’ve been harping on Sarah Polley’s latest documentaryish feature since seeing it last year, but now that it’s finally getting a US release this month, beginning in New York and then expanding the following week, it deserves to be talked about some more. Those who have seen it are touting it as one of the must-see movies of the year for fans of smaller independently minded and funded films, and if you’ve seen or heard anything about Polley’s other two directorial efforts, Away from Her and Take This Waltz, this should come as no surprise.

Stories We Tell is a marvelous little film that seems like just a personal project by an indie filmmaker looking to experiment with some ideas but it becomes so much more. What starts out as a simple but lovely portrait of Polley’s mother soon starts to expand to include her entire family until it becomes a compelling examination of the role of stories in the way we understand our lives and the world around us. It’s rare to see something this truthful and enjoyable tackle ideas that are extremely difficult to articulate, including one of the most immediate and elusive: the family dynamic. This is probably the best documentary-type movie to come out since Exit Through the Gift Shop. I can’t say enough good things about it and hope it’s received as warmly in the US as it has been in Polley’s home of Canada.

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2) Frances Ha

Frances Ha 6 Under The Radar Summer Movies To Look Forward To

Noah Baumbach is baum-back with his first directorial effort since Greenberg came out three years ago to moderately positive reviews, with some division among those who found it fantastic and others who found it insufferable. I happened to find it kind of fantastic. Baumbach has a way of creating these characters who should not be the least bit sympathetic and he makes them just sympathetic enough to be interesting while remaining endlessly frustrating. But in that movie the Greenberg character was balanced out magnificently by Greta Gerwig, whose performance as Florence is probably just as sad but for entirely different reasons.

Baumbach and Gerwig are reteaming for a Gerwig-centered story, that is, she is the lead as well as the co-writer along with Baumbach, in Frances Ha. Reasons I am excited for this movie include: the featured presence of the always wonderful Greta Gerwig as this dancer character who seems weird and fun; the trailer, which introduces a rather different look and tone for a Baumbach film, being shot in black and white and having a rhythm that seems like a stark departure; and other things, not least of which the participation of Adam Driver of Girls fame, who is hopefully on his way to becoming a weird kind of indie movie star because there’s simply no one else like him, for better or for worse. This one’s set for a release on May 17th.

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3) Before Midnight

Before Midnight 6 Under The Radar Summer Movies To Look Forward To

Trilogies aren’t just for megablockbusters anymore. Even more than Iron Man 3 and The Hangover Part III, the part 3 I’m looking forward to the most this summer is Before Midnight, the third installment in the series after Before Sunset nine years ago and Before Sunrise nine years before that. When people complain about the vapid nature of movies series, this is one to point them to as an exception to their perceived rule; following characters through various moments in time can be an immensely fruitful enterprise, and can express things that a one-off film simply can’t express on its own. Episodic storytelling isn’t just for TV programs and miniseries.

The earlier two movies are simply a couple of the most beautiful love stories committed to screens in the history of screens. If Before Sunrise proved anything it was that the excitement of two interesting people conversing over the course of a single evening can be as enthralling as any car chase, and if Before Sunset proved anything it was that the collaborators of this story are capable of showing characters mature just as much as they’re maturing in their own lives. And it’s still just the sweetest, and in a way that feels more true to life than perhaps any romance I’ve seen. It feels too real to be called romance, even. By all accounts, the nine-year wait is worth it on this one.

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4) Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine 6 Under The Radar Summer Movies To Look Forward To

I am always optimistic about every upcoming Woody Allen film, because you never know how they’ll turn out. The certainty about Allen lies in the fact that he will have a movie come out year after year, seemingly no matter what. The uncertainty lies in how good the finished product will be. Now, I’m a sucker for the guy, so I don’t think I’ve actually seen a movie of his that I’ve disliked (Hollywood Ending came awfully close). At the very least I find them amusing. At best, they’re magnificent. And every time he gets written off, he returns with a movie like Match Point, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and the recent Midnight in Paris from just two years ago. It’s hard to say he’s lost anything despite being 77 years old and pumping out movies for the last forty-some years.

Not even the description provides much of an impression of what to expect. Sony Pictures has offered the summary: “It is the story of the final stages of an acute crisis and a life of a fashionable New York housewife.” Kind of sounds like all the others. Then again, so did Match Point. The cast for Blue Jasmine looks pretty spectacular, featuring the likes of Cate Blanchett, Louis CK and Sally Hawkins. Then again, To Rome With Love had a stellar cast, and it was a bit of a letdown for audiences. As always with Allen, we’ll just have to hold our breath, and if it sucks, just wait another year.

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5) You’re Next

Youre Next 6 Under The Radar Summer Movies To Look Forward To

I’m far from being any kind of horror movie connoisseur, so if I hadn’t seen You’re Next at the Toronto Film Festival two years ago it would probably be off my radar entirely. The newly released trailer for its scheduled August opening doesn’t seem to do it justice, but that might be part of the point. Movies like Cabin in the Woods get marketed specifically to be a little misleading, and then the payoff comes when audiences see their expectations get subverted somewhat by the actual movie.

I suspect that’s what’s happening here, but I can’t be sure. They could have changed it, or my memory of the movie among the TIFF Midnight Madness crowd could be unreliable. Either way, I’m excited to see this thing again. If it holds up, it’s going to be one of the weirdest and most grossly amusing horror-thriller type movies to come along in a while.

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6) One Direction: This Is Us

One Direction This Is Us 6 Under The Radar Summer Movies To Look Forward To

The upcoming One Direction 3D concert movie will surely get plenty of attention as it nears its late August release. Even if it doesn’t get a lot of press from the outlets I tend to follow, for its hoards of fans, the buildup will be massive. This could all actually be happening right now and I may be just completely oblivious to it, but I have heard little about this movie since it was announced the Morgan Spurlock was signed to direct it.

That was some news that really piqued my interest. I’m a bit intrigued by the concert film genre, especially for huge pop stars, as a fascinating instrument of propaganda, from Justin Bieber to Katy Perry to Beyonce’s self-directed HBO movie. These films interest me because they tend to be the star’s, or their management’s, vision of how they want their story to be told. They’re extremely manipulative and remove anything the least bit unflattering about the stars. They’re presented as documentaries but to consider them completely non-fictional would be naïve. So having a mildly subversive director like Morgan Spurlock helming the One Direction movie could potentially mean something different. It could be presented as a typical concert film but contain subtle cues about realities that counter the boy band’s desired message. Or, he could just be looking to get paid.

Are there any summer movies coming out that you don’t think enough people are aware of? Share your anticipated favorites in the comments section below.

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