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On Movies: Alt flicks for the summer

A look at some promising indies and art-house and niche prospects slated for summer screens.

"Amy," a documentary about British soul singer Amy Winehouse - her life, her career, her addictions, her death - is due out in July.
"Amy," a documentary about British soul singer Amy Winehouse - her life, her career, her addictions, her death - is due out in July.Read moreA24 Films

Enough with Captain America and Thor and Iron Man and Ultron. Enough with mall cops. Enough with Fury Road and the Furious crew, and enough with "The Rock." (Although San Andreas, Dwayne Johnson's mega-temblor pic, definitely rocks.)

Summer doesn't have to be the exclusive domain of comic-book superheroes, mutants of the post-apocalypse, disaster epics, effects-driven spectacles, and Melissa McCarthy turning into a spy.

If you're looking for an antidote - many, in fact - to the bloat and bluster of the studios' summer lineup, alternatives are coming to theaters (and other viewing platforms) near you.

Here's a look at some of the more promising indies and art-house and niche prospects slated for the weeks from now to Labor Day. Because bookings tend to be more fluid for small releases, the listings are by month (even then, a few titles may move from one month to the next). Watch for the reviews in these pages, and check with the Ritzes, PFS at the Roxy, the Ambler, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, the Colonial in Phoenixville, the County in Doylestown, the Hiway in Jenkintown, and other area screens (the Carmike at the Ritz Center in Voorhees reserves a theater or two for specialty fare) for more precise release information.


Gemma Bovery. Adapted from the Posy Simmonds graphic novel and inspired by Flaubert, Anne Fontaine's tragicomedy about a pair of English expats who settle into a French village stars Gemma Arterton, Jason Flemyng, and Fabrice Luchini.

I'll See You in My Dreams. Blythe Danner plays a widow comfortable in her quiet, independent life whose encounters with a pool boy (Martin Starr) and a mysterious, mustachioed older gent (Sam Elliott) upend everything.

A Little Chaos. Kate Winslet is an independent-minded landscape designer in 17th-century France recruited to design parts of the gardens at Versailles. Alan Rickman is Louis XIV - and also the film's director.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. High school romance based on a YA novel about a movie-geek kid, his movie-geek best friend, and their cancer-stricken schoolmate. Winner of both the Grand Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance. Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, and RJ Cyler star.

The Overnight. A (group) sex comedy with Jason Schwartzman, Taylor Schilling, Adam Scott, and Judith Godreche going where the stars of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice went before. Perhaps.

The Wolfpack. Crystal Moselle's truth-is-stranger-than-fiction profile of a family of virtual shut-ins - six home-schooled brothers who watch, and reenact, movies like Reservoir Dogs and The Dark Knight in their Lower East Side Manhattan apartment.


Amy. A documentary about British soul singer Amy Winehouse - her life, her career, her addictions, her death.

Batkid Begins. Subtitled The Wish Heard Around the World, a doc about a 5-year-old recovering from leukemia and the Make-A-Wish Foundation campaign to transform his hometown, San Francisco, into Gotham City for a day - with the boy as the cowled crime-stopper. A feature film is in development.

Charlie's Country. Film festival winner from Australia about an old aboriginal trying to find his way in a world far-removed from his spiritual and societal roots. Star Peter Djigirr won the best actor prize in the Un Certain Regard section of last year's Cannes fest.

Infinitely Polar Bear. Mark Ruffalo plays a bipolar dad who tries to patch things up with his spouse, Zoe Saldana, by offering to take care of their two girls. Inspired by writer-director Maya Forbes' own childhood experiences. Ruffalo, in particular, wowed the crowds at the Sundance premiere.

Madame Bovary. It's the summer of Flaubert, with Mia Wasikowska in the title role, Henry Lloyd-Hughes as her dull husband, and Logan Marshall-Green as the local noble who becomes one of her lovers.

A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence. The third installment in Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson's "living" trilogy, with a title based on a Breugel painting, and a plot about two traveling salesmen. They travel around.

The Stanford Prison Experiment. College students play the roles of prisoner, or prison guard, in a psychological study conducted in 1971 at Stanford University by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. Billy Crudup stars.


Boulevard. Robin Williams in one of his final roles, as a mild-mannered husband who picks up a gay hustler on a Nashville street corner - for conversation, not sex. Better Call Saul's Bob Odenkirk plays Williams' best friend. A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints' Dito Montiel directs.

Cartel Land. Documentary about vigilante groups confronting deadly, dangerous Mexican drug cartels.

Diary of a Teenage Girl. Bel Powley is the girl and Alexander Skarsgård her mother's boyfriend - whom the girl seduces - in Marielle Heller's adaptation of the Phoebe Gloeckner novel. Kristen Wiig costars.

The End of the Tour. Jesse Eisenberg and Jason Segel in a pic about the epic interview session between Rolling Stone reporter David Lipsky (Eisenberg) and Infinite Jest novelist David Foster Wallace, who took his own life in 2008. Based on Lipsky's memoir, Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace.

Grandma. Lily Tomlin has the title role, Julia Garner is the granddaughter, and a day spent together changes things for both in director Paul (About a Boy) Weitz's low-budget film. Already Oscar buzz for Tomlin, playing an acerbic lesbian poet in her 70s.

Meet the Patels. Documentary about a first-generation Indian American trying to find a wife the way his father and his father before him did back on the subcontinent. Cultural and generational conflicts ensue.

People, Places, Things. Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords is a successful graphic novelist, art school prof, and father of twin girls whose world is majorly shaken when he discovers his partner, the mother of his kids, with another man. The trials and tribulations of single fatherhood, New York-style.