‘Neon Demon,’ ‘Swiss Army Man’ and Meryl Streep lead the counterprogramming charge at the movies this summer
The summer movie season has more to offer than just explosions.
During the summer months, seeing the latest superhero sequels, big-budget action reboots or cookie-cutter comedies can start to feel like an obligation.
That's where counterprogramming comes in. For every potential blockbuster, there are a handful of alternatives heading to theaters the same weekend. Some have serious star power and marketing muscle; others will fly under the radar.
Not all of them are serious art-house dramas, either. There are plenty of potential laughs, chills, thrills and oddities on the list -- but you should probably leave the kids at home for most of these.
"The Family Fang," May 6
The grown children of performance artists investigate the troubling disappearance of their parents. With Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman, Christopher Walken. Written by David Lindsay-Abaire. Directed by Bateman. Starz Digital
Read the Los Angeles Times interview with Bateman>
"High-Rise," May 16
The residents of a luxury apartment tower experience vertical class warfare. With Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller. Written Amy Jump, based on the novel by J.G. Ballard. Directed by Ben Wheatley. Magnolia Pictures
Read the Los Angeles Times coverage from the film's Totonto Film Festival debut>
"The Lobster," May 13
A man in the near future who flees into the woods rather than be turned into an animal because he is single illegally falls in love with a fellow rebel. With Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux. Written by Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou. Directed by Lanthimos. A24
Read the Los Angeles Times interview with Farrell>
"Love & Friendship," May 13
A young aristocratic widow is pursued by a disparate trio of gentlemen. With Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Xavier Samuel. Directed and written by Whit Stillman ("Damsels in Distress," "Last Days of Disco"), based on a Jane Austen novella. Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions
"Money Monster," May 13
Financial TV host George Clooney and his producer, Julia Roberts, are held hostage by a desperate man. Written by Jamie Linden and Alan DiFiore & Jim Kouf, story by Alan DiFiore & Kouf. Directed by Jodie Foster. TriStar Pictures
"The Nice Guys," May 20
Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling team as a muscle-for-hire and a private eye in this 1970s-set action-comedy. Angourie Rice. Written by Shane Black & Anthony Bagarozzi. Directed by Black ("Iron Man 3," "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"). Warner Bros.
"De Palma," June 10
Filmmakers Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow look at the 50-year career of Brian De Palma, director of such films as "Carrie," "Scarface" and "The Untouchables." A24
"Genius," June 10
Dramatization of the complex personal and professional relationship between editor Mazwell Perkins and writer Thomas Wolfe. With Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman. Written by John Logan, based on the biography "Max Perkins: Editor of Genius" by A. Scott Berg. Directed by Michael Grandage. Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions
"Swiss Army Man," June 17
A man stranded on a desert island befriends the corpse that washes ashore. With Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Written and directed by Daniels (a.k.a. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert). A24
"Free State of Jones," June 24
During the U.S. Civil War, a Mississippi farmer leads a rebellion against the Confederacy. With Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali. Written by Gary Ross, story by Leonard Hartman and Ross. STX Entertainment
"Wiener-Dog," June 24
An elongated canine travels cross-country, affecting people along the way. With Greta Gerwig, Ellen Burstyn, Danny DeVito. Written and directed by Todd Solonz., "Wiener" shares a lead character with his breakthrough 1996 film "Welcome to the Dollhouse." Amazon Studios/IFC Films
"The Neon Demon," June TBD
Voracious, beauty-obsessed L.A. women descend upon a newly arrived young model. With Elle Fanning, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee. Written by Nicolas Winding Refn and Mary Laws & Polly Stenham.. Directed by Refn ("Drive"). Amazon Studios
"Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie," July 22
Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley are back as Edina and Patsy, living the AbFab life until they cause a media storm and flee to the French Riviera, sans argent. With Julia Sawalha. Written by Saunders. Directed by Mandie Fletcher. Fox Seachlight
"Don't Think Twice," July 22
A New York City improv comedy group learns its theater is shutting down and a hit TV series taps two of its members. With Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia. Written and directed by Birbiglia ("Sleepwalk With Me"). Film Arcade
"Tallulah," July 29
Ellen Page plays a free spirit who liberates a baby from its neglectful mother. With Allison Janney, Zachary Quinto. Written and directed by Sian Heder. Netflix
"Cafe Society," August 12
Writer-director Woody Allen's 1930s romantic comedy follows the adventures of a young man from the Bronx making his way among the swells in Hollywood and Manhattan. With Jeannie Berlin, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg. Amazon Studios/Lionsgate
"Florence Foster Jenkins," August 12
Meryl Streep stars in this biographical comedy-drama as a New York socialite in the 1940s who pursues her dream of being a great singer — despite possessing a terrible voice. With Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg. Written by Nicholas Martin. Directed by Stephen Frears ("The Queen," "Dangerous Liaisons"). Paramount Pictures
"Southside With You," August 19
On a summer day in 1989, young legal associate Barack Obama courts attorney Michelle Robinson on their first date. With Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway. Written and directed by Richard Tanne. Miramax/Roadside Attractions
"War Dogs," August 19
Two twentysomething Miami friends exploit a loophole and land a $300-million defense contract to arm the Afghan military. With Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Ana de Armas and Bradley Cooper. Written by Stephen Chin and Todd Phillips & Jason Smilovic, based on a Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson. Directed by Phillips. Warner Bros. Read the Los Angeles Times interview with Phillips>
In 1951 Ohio, a young Jewish man risks his military deferment by pursuing an attractive classmate and butting heads with a college dean. With Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts. Written and directed by James Schamus, based on the Philip Roth novel. Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions
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