This summer, amid the swirl of superheroes and secret agents, a new batch of small indie films will be trying to get a little love during what is traditioinally blockbuster season. Here are the movies to look for from some of the most respected storytellers working, a couple more who have not yet gotten their due and a newcomer who was the big winner at Sundance.
U.S. & World
Moonrise Kingdom (Memorial Day weekend)
Director Wes Anderson teamed up with Roman Coppola to write this film about a couple of troubled tweens who run away together, forcing an uneasy alliance between her parents, his scout master and the one-man police force on a small island off the New England coast. Even by Anderson's standards, the film is maddeningly composed, mannered and inorganic, but he through all the twee he manages to convey a love and sincerity that win you over. It's his best film since "Rushmore," and was a major emotional hit at Cannes.
Safety Not Guaranteed (June 8)
Mark Duplass stars as a man who places a classified ad looking for "Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before." Aubrey Plaza ("Parks & Recreation") stars as the journalist in search of a story who answers the ad. Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance, and from the producers of "Little Miss Sunshine."
Your Sister's Sister (June 15)
From writer-director Lynn Shelton ("Humpday") comes the story of a man (Mark Duplass again) struggling with his brother's death. His best friend—who happens to be his dead brother's ex—sends him to her family's vacation home for some alone time, but when he gets there he discovers her sister drowning the sorrows of having walked out on her girlfriend of seven years. They of course sleep together, and then the woman who unwittingly brought them together shows up. The film is a hilarious and thoughtful look at the highs and lows of sex, relationships and family.
Take This Waltz (June 29)
Michelle Williams stars as a freelance writer with a seemingly happy marriage to a cookbook writer played by Seth Rogen. While away on assignment she engages in some seemingly harmless flirting with a young man, played by Luke Kirby, but things get dicey when she realizes that he lives right across the street from her house in Toronto. As she did in "Blue Valentine," Williams gives a painfully honest portrayal of a very unsympathetic spouse, and newcomer Kirby is every bit her equal as the homewrecker, making some potentially terrible dialog work. Written and directed by Sarah Polly.
Beasts of the Southern Wild (June 29)
Having already won top prize at Sundance, director and co-writer Benh Zeitlin is currently at Cannes with his film about a young girl growing on the Louisianan Bayou who is forced to leave home in search of her mother after her father takes ill and prehistoric creatures begin to roam about her home.
Honorable Mentions: "To Rome With Love" (June 22), "Neil Young Journeys" (June 29), "Snabba Cash" and "Killer Joe" (July 27), "360" (Aug. 3), "Robot & Frank" (Aug. 24), "For a Good Time Call..." (Aug. 31)
About those blockbusters....we recommend these big franchise films.
And for homebodies, here's what's hot on summer 2012 TV.