All we seem to be talking about lately are the giant summer movies like Star Trek, Terminator and Transformers, but often enough we forget about the little guy. We forget that a lot of those great festival films from Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca and SXSW are released during the summer months, and so while giant robots are crushing each other on screen, it sometimes doesn't occur to us that there are other smaller films in theaters that are definitely worth a watch. Here, then, are five summer films that aren't blockbusters. I'll provide the release date, so all you need to do is mark it on the calendar.
1. Away We Go (June 5) – This smaller film, from acclaimed director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Revolutionary Road), hits theaters this weekend and features some really great talent. John Krasinski (The Office) and Maya Rudolph (SNL) star as a quirky hippie-ish couple who travel the United States in search of the perfect place to raise the child they're expecting. Familiar (and fun) character actors like Catherine O'Hara, Allison Janney and Jeff Daniels also star.
2. Moon (June 12) – This fantastic sci-fi flick stars Sam Rockwell as an astronaut dude who, nearing the end of a three-year stint working on the moon, is anticipating his return home to earth. As he makes the preparations for his departure, however, some very strange events begin to get in the way. Moon also stars Kevin Spacey as the voice of the robot who helps the astronaut get through each day.
3. Humpday (July 10) – This hilarious and heartwarming dramedy was a smash hit at the Sundance Film Festival, and has since gone on to entertain crowds at several other festivals around the globe. Directed by Lynn Shelton, Humpday stars Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard as a couple of straight men who sign up for an art project where the idea is for them to have sex on camera. Hilarity and uncomfortable silences ensue.
4. (500) Days of Summer (July 17) – Another darling of the Sundance Film Festival, (500) Days of Summer stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel as a couple whose 500 days together are full of ups, downs, highs, lows and plenty of awkward laughter. I'd say it's close to being this generation's When Harry Met Sally.
5. The Cove (July 24) – This documentary absolutely devastated me when I watched it at this past Sundance festival (I know! A lot of great films played this year!). It follows a rag-tag group of scientists and adventurers who travel to Japan in an attempt to infiltrate a cove where the Japanese are literally butchering thousands of dolphins each year. It'll probably be the toughest documentary you watch all year, but it's certainly one you cannot (and should not) miss.