Hump Day Report: Understated Summer Movies

Hump Day LogoRants and raves about burning topics that have caught my attention midweek, be it greedy corporate shenanigans, frustration or joy in regards to the Philly sports teams, a movie, show or DVD that has fired up my imagination, an intriguing personality, or what’s happening in the region.Lori Hoffman, Associate Editor, Atlantic City Weekly.

When the summer movie season kicks off at midnight Thursday with The Avengers, most of the hype will belong to the big-ticket franchise movies. I selected ten of those films in my “most anticipated” column. However, sometimes it is the smaller scale, lower budget films that end up finding an audience as sleeper hits. A lot of these films feature big name actors who want to remind audiences that they can act, not just co-star with computer generated images.

Here is my secondary list of smaller movies that might add some depth and thoughtfulness to the summer season of mindless action flicks in May and June.

Hick — A 13-year-old Nebraskan runaway (Chloe Grace Moritz) runs away from all alcoholic parents to Las Vegas where she hooks up with a grifter played by Blake Lively, and they both find trouble from the unstable drifter Eddie (Ed Redmayne). The supporting cast includes Alec Baldwin, Juliet Lewis, Rory Culkin and Anson Mount. (Limited release starting May 11)

Hysteria — A romantic comedy about the invention of the vibrator in Victorian England. The title refers to what women were said to be suffering from, “hysteria,” when they complained about no sexual satisfaction. Directed by Tanya Wexler, the film stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Darcy (May 18)

Moonrise Kingdom — Wes Anderson, the king of oddball comedies (Rushmore, The Royal Tanenbaums) takes us back to summer camp circa 1965 for this pixilated comedy about the search for a pair of preteen runaways in love (played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward). It is the rest of the cast that dazzles: Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton (May 25)

People Like Us — Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman (who also directs) and Roberto Orci of Star Trek fame, go in a completely different direction with this drama about a man (Chris Pine) who finds out his late father had a secret daughter (Elizabeth Banks). He sets out to find her then doesn’t let on about their relationship, even when she starts having feelings for him. Co-stars include Michelle Pfeiffer, Olivia Wilde and Jon Favreau. (June 29)

Take This Waltz — I liked this Sarah Polley film a lot when I saw it last September at the Toronto International Film Festival. Set in Toronto, Michelle Williams is happily married to the likable cookbook author played by Seth Rogan, but finds herself delving into a relationship with a neighbor (Luke Kirby), that continues to ignite while she decides if she is willing take the next step. Williams is terrific, but the revelation is Rogan who pares back his goofball persona to deliver some real pathos. Sarah Silverman is also excellent in a key supporting role. (June 29)

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