If the clang and clutter of summer superhero movies and action behemoths aren't for you — or even if you just want a break — there are still plenty of options in the months ahead, both at the art house and the far corners of the multiplex.
Which isn't to say that even these movies don't have some of the same features as their louder, bigger cousins. There's the end credits stinger of "Calvary," which instead of teasing a sequel hauntingly shows the locations from the movie without people, or the microbudget action sequence of "Happy Christmas," when a frozen pizza forgotten in the oven sets off smoke alarms and panic.
So even if you're just going to the movies for the air conditioning, don't feel strong-armed into seeing something you won't like. Here are a few choices.
WORDS AND PICTURES
In "Words and Pictures," opening May 23, the art teacher and the English teacher at a New England prep school square off as to which is more evocative in conveying the specifics of human emotion, the written word or the image.
The teachers are played by
"I certainly wasn't interested in making just another romcom," said director Fred Schepisi, whose restlessly diverse filmography includes "Roxanne" and "Six Degrees of Separation." "The people are real, the dilemmas are real, their struggles are real, the humor is real and the attraction is real. It's about working out where you're at and finding a way to go forward."
So as a film director who uses the script and the camera, does Schepisi himself have an opinion on words versus pictures?
"As we know, both can be very powerful if used in a powerful way," he said, evading the question with a laugh. "That's why we introduce music at a certain point."
Based on an 1846 novella by Dostoevsky,
Opening May 9, the film finds
English director and co-writer
"The script occasionally read as a more traditional comedy," said Eisenberg, "but when we were filming it, I realized there was something much darker or sadder or terrifying about the world that was being created. Traditional comedy tropes didn't necessarily apply."
Was Eisenberg secretly rooting for one character over the other?
"Simon is right because he is ethical and cares about others," he said. "And James is also correct because James lives in this kind of true animal world of competition and efficiency. They're just living in different contexts."
In "Happy Christmas," filmmaker Joe Swanberg enlisted his own young son Jude to play opposite himself and
Opening July 25, the film used as its main location Swanberg's own home, complete with basement Tiki bar. Lynskey found herself somewhat mimicking a real-life dynamic with her character Kelly, who could be seen to be some version of her director's wife, Kris Swanberg, herself a filmmaker too. "I had a few long conversations with her, but I didn't want it to be like I was playing her," said Lynskey.
Even while touching on sibling relationships, maturity and the struggle for women to "have it all" — including an extended conversation on that topic among Lynskey, Kendrick and
"I was very relieved that he liked me," Lynskey said of her young costar, who she was surprised to discover was quite the actor. "He'd do something and you'd think, 'Oh, he's a kid and being cute,' and then it became increasingly apparent to me that he is a performer — he was acting for the camera. He knows."
MILLION DOLLAR ARM
In an attempt to find the next untapped resource of potential players and fans for the sport of baseball, agent J.B. Bernstein went to India to turn a cricket bowler into a fastball pitcher. In "Million Dollar Arm" Jon Hamm plays Bernstein, with
"What I loved in the story, and I didn't know how well it would hold up, was that for the longest time, Jon's character is quite unforgiving and just really motivated by material goals," said director Craig Gillespie. "It's very late in the film when he finally turns. And I wasn't sure how long the audience would put up with that."
Written by Tom McCarthy, the film opens May 16, and its unusual cross-cultural mix of sports, drama, romance and self-discovery may make it less of a surprise to realize that among Gillespie's previous films is the oddball
Just don't think of it as only a sports movie.
"It certainly has that classic sports element, the underdog and wanting to be successful, but it belongs so much to the characters. I don't describe it as a sports movie so much."
"Calvary" opens with a disarming extended close-up of
Writer-director John Michael McDonagh, who directed Gleeson in
"Brendan goes from being flippant to realizing the suffering this person is going through to then taking on that he has been threatened," said McDonagh. "There's like a three-act structure to just that opening scene."
The film, opening Aug. 11, also features
"It's like an
Set in New York City in the early 1920s, "The Immigrant" follows a young woman, Ewa Cybulski, as she arrives from Poland. Determined to be reunited with her sister, who is quarantined on arrival, Ewa (
Opening May 16, the film is rich in period detail, and the production shot on Ellis Island to re-create the experience of arriving in America. Cotillard also spent two months intensely studying Polish for the role.
Marked by heightened emotions that director and co-writer James Gray ("We Own The Night,"
"She needs the energy of hope, and she's trying to find it anywhere," said Cotillard. "She's desperate, she has nowhere to go, and she's stuck. But she has the ability to see light in the darkness."
Though the story is drawn partly from his own family history, Gray points out that the story is not so much autobiographical as it is personal, drawn from ideas and feelings that speak deeply to him.
"We're never above the characters," Gray said. "We're never above anybody, no matter how low or bad they seem to us. And nobody is beyond redemption."