Summer Guide 2015: ReVIEW - Indie film alternatives to summer's blockbusters

Beyond the multimillion-dollar summer tentpole flicks.


Everybody knows that summer is the season of the big-budget mega-event movie, and this year is no different. Jurassic World. Ant-Man. Terminator: Genysis. The latest entry in the Mission:Impossible franchise, and many more.

If you’re not into the whole tentpole thing, however, there’s still plenty to check out as far as indie, documentary and classic fare.

This weekend sees the opening of a couple of award-bait flicks. Aloft (May 22) stars insanely pretty people Cillian Murphy and Jennifer Connelly — he’s a falconer (!) who enlists a documentary filmmaker to join him on an arduous journey to find his mother (Connelly), a reclusive faith healer whose life and exploits have transitioned into the legendary. And speaking of documentaries, Sunshine Superman, about BASE-jumping innovator and crazy person Carl Boenish, opens the same day.

In point of fact, it’s a good season for docs in general. The Nightmare (June 5) takes what’s rumored to be an intense and unsettling look at the phenomenon known as night terrors, and was helmed by director Rodney Ascher, the man behind the provocative/fight-starting Room 237, about Stanley Kubrick’s equally polarizing The Shining. Also worth a look is The Yes Men are Revolting (June 12), which profiles the namesake comedy troupe that calls attention to environmentally irresponsible corporations by staging fake press conferences and other upstart activities. And remember “Batkid,” the little boy with leukemia who brought the entire city of San Francisco together to help him realize his dream of becoming Batman? His story, Batkid Begins (June 26), will warm even the coldest moviegoing cockles.

Back on the narrative feature side of things, a plethora of smart, clever stuff is slated for the coming months. Perhaps the most anticipated is Dope (June 19, trailer below), the heavily stylized Sundance hit about a teenaged African-American ’90s hip-hop geek, his friends, and the trouble they get into as outcasts in their harder-edged neighborhood. Also heavily buzzed are fellow Sundance triumph and “indie The Fault in Our StarsMe and Earl and The Dying Girl (June 12), Sir Ian McKellen’s turn as a latter-years Sherlock in Mr. Holmes (July 17), Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg as David Foster Wallace and the Rolling Stone writer profiling him, respectively, in The End of the Tour (July 31), and mythic director Peter Bogdanovich’s return to features, She’s Funny That Way (Aug. 21), starring Imogen Poots and Owen Wilson as a prostitute and Hollywood producer whose lives become entangled.

On the even fringe-ier side, groundbreaking Ukrainian film The Tribe (June 17) tells the story of a deaf teen fitting into a new school and environment almost entirely in sign language, while Tangerine (July 10), about two transgender women bonding over a search of LA for one’s boyfriend/pimp, was shot completely on iPhones.

And of course, if you’re more into getting reacquainted with some of Hollywood’s most unforgettable masterpieces, Tampa Theatre’s annual Summer Classics Series includes The Wizard of Oz (June 7), Caddyshack (June 21), Vertigo (June 28), Back to the Future (July 5), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (July 19), Gone with the Wind (Aug. 9), Casablanca (Aug. 22) and others.  

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