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12 summer movies flying under the radar

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The release of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” last week, for better or worse, was the unofficial beginning of summer and Hollywood’s three-month blockbuster extravaganza. Coming soon are the likes of “X-Men,” “Transformers” another Marvel movie, and big summer comedies from the likes of Seth Rogen and Melissa McCarthy. However, if none of these peak your interest, or by mid-July you’re looking for something other than giant explosions and physical comedy, here are some films that are perfect alternatives to the usual summer flair.

Chef (May 9th)
Chef (May 9th) Open Road Films

Chef (May 9th)

Jon Favreau’s helped give Marvel the kick start to becoming the biggest blockbuster factory in Hollywood when he directed “Iron Man,” but it was indie’s like “Swingers” that got Favreau’s career running. He returns to the indie scene with his new film “Chef.” Favreau is pulling triple duty as the director, writer and star of this comedy that follows a head chef who loses his restaurant and starts a food truck to try and solve things. The great ensemble includes Robert Downey Jr., Sofia Vergara, John Leguizamo and Dustin Hoffman.

Locke (Playing in limited cities)
Locke (Playing in limited cities) A24

Locke (Playing in limited cities)

I’m sure most of you have been driving in your car and thought to yourself, ‘man, this would make for a cool movie.’ Wait, you haven’t? Well apparently Steven Knight did and he turned that experimental idea into “Locke.” The film takes place in real time as the lead character goes for a drive and makes phone calls regarding major decisions he is facing. The real draw to “Locke,” however, is the performance from Tom Hardy. Hardy has been a star on the rise and is said to give a knockout performance here.

Tracks (May 23)
Tracks (May 23) The Weinstein Company

Tracks (May 23)

If Hardy’s drive along the highway doesn’t do it for you, perhaps Mia Wasikowska trekking across the Australian desert is more up your alley. Wasikowska stars in "Tracks," the true story of a woman who made the 1,700-mile journey with just four camels and a dog. Adam Driver from “Girls” is also part of the cast. Kill two birds with one stone here, see an inspirational and incredible story and get a mini-trip to Australia for only twelve bucks.

Filth (May 30)
Filth (May 30) Magnolia Pictures

Filth (May 30)

Most people will see James McAvoy in “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” but if you want to see his best performance of the summer you should catch the dark comedy “Filth.” McAvoy plays a degenerate detective in the British indie and it is easily one of his better performances. You could also catch this one in the comfort of your own home, as it is on Video On Demand prior to its release on May 30.

Obvious Child (June 6)
Obvious Child (June 6) A24

Obvious Child (June 6)

The summer slate of movies is chalk full of big comedies, but this Sundance darling is making a lot of noise, especially for its star Jenny Slate. “Obvious Child” sees Slate as a comedian who ends up pregnant after a one-night stand. The former “SNL” star is looking to join the ranks of McCarthy or fellow “SNL” alum Kristen Wiig as a big name female comic. Find out for yourself if she deserves to be among names like that.

Snowpiercer (June 27)
Snowpiercer (June 27) The Weinstein Company

Snowpiercer (June 27)

No need to wait for Michael Bay or Marvel for a big summer action flick, Korean director Joon-ho Bong’s “Snowpiercer” promises plenty of action. Bong’s long anticipated film takes place in a future where most of existence has been wiped out, and the survivors live on a globetrotting train that has developed a class system. Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer and John Hurt make up the cast. “Snowpiercer” also will open the Los Angeles Film festival.

Begin Again (July 4)
Begin Again (July 4) Focus Features

Begin Again (July 4)

Despite a less than stellar title change from “Can a Song Save Your Life?” to “Begin Again,” “Once” director John Carney’s latest film promises to bring the same charming qualities that his past work had. The film got strong reviews when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and will have a big chance to make a splash when it releases on Fourth of July weekend. Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo star with Adam Levine, marking his first feature film.

Boyhood (July 11)
Boyhood (July 11) IFC Films

Boyhood (July 11)

People complain because sometimes it seems that Hollywood’s biggest films are put together so quickly and with little thought to anything other than grabbing as much cash as possible. Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood” certainly doesn’t fall into that category. Linklater’s 12 year odyssey to make this film chronicling the growth of a child from 6 to 18 is finally ready and after the success of his last couple of films, excitement is certainly high for what the director has put together. “Boyhood” promises to be something truly unique.

Wish I Was Here (July 25)
Wish I Was Here (July 25) Focus Features

Wish I Was Here (July 25)

“Wish I Was Here” is the second directorial effort from Zach Braff, and the first trailer certainly made it look Zach Braffy. However you feel about Braff heading to Kickstarter to help fund his movie, after his directorial debut “Garden State” film fans should most definitely be interested in what he does next. Family drama, the Shins, and a space-adventurer, Braff is pulling out all the stops for this one.

A Most Wanted Man (July 25)
A Most Wanted Man (July 25) Roadside Attractions

A Most Wanted Man (July 25)

Philip Seymour Hoffman has been gone for three months now, and we only have a few more opportunities to see him on the big screen. He can first be seen in “God’s Pocket” but it is the adaptation of a John le Carré novel, “A Most Wanted Man,” that may one of the last great performances we will get from the Oscar-winning actor. Hoffman plays a spy in the intense thriller that premiered back at Sundance. Rachel McAdams, Daniel Bruhl and Robin Wright also star in the Anton Corbijn directed film.

The Hundred-Foot Journey (August 8)
The Hundred-Foot Journey (August 8) DreamWorks Studios

The Hundred-Foot Journey (August 8)

The summer of 2014 may be the summer of the foodie at the movies. “The Hundred-Foot Journey” joins “Chef” in films that are centered around high-class restaurants and their cooks. Helen Mirren stars as a world-renowned chef in Paris when an Indian family that moves in across the street challenges her status. Big guns Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey are producing the film, which gives it the feeling of something special.

The Trip to Italy (August 15)
The Trip to Italy (August 15) IFC Films

The Trip to Italy (August 15)

Another film that will make audiences taste buds salivate, as well as laugh out loud, will be “The Trip to Italy.” The sequel to 2011’s “The Trip,” the pairing of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon will be reviewing restaurants once again and trying to perfect their Michael Caine impersonations, this time throughout Italy. The first film built a small but strong group of fans and the sequel will hope to build on that to reach a larger audience.

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