'Boyhood,' 'Snowpiercer' among summer's 5 anti-blockbusters

boyhood

boyhood

Bruce Kirkland, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

There are good to great films that have no hope of muscling aside Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for the box office crown this weekend. Leave that wrestling match to Hercules, the Hollywood “blockbuster” starring Dwayne Johnson as the incredible bulk.

But it is important to remember that big box office does not necessarily reflect high quality (Apes notwithstanding). We offer five anti-blockbusters, five films worth seeing even when the crowds are hustling in to overhyped-up movies. Alternative programming often means shorter line-ups and longer lasting satisfaction. My selections:

Boyhood:

Richard Linklater’s epic-length drama is the best film of 2014 so far. So I have no reservation recommending it to discerning fans, although audiences have to seek it out. It is in limited release with a slow roll-out plan. Shot in yearly increments over a 12-year period with the same core actors, Boyhood is a 166-minute marvel. You literally see a young Texan named Ellar Coltrane grow up through his character’s 12 years of schooling, all while trying to deal with the effects of his parents’ divorce. Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette play the parents. The story may be fictional, and Coltrane is not playing himself, yet Boyhood shimmers as it tells the truth about one boy’s life. Expect Boyhood to be nominated for multiple Oscars, including as best picture and Linklater as best original screenwriter and best director. It would be cool to see the remarkable Coltrane nominated as best actor, too, because there has never been a performance quite like this.

The Hundred-Foot Journey:

Lasse Hallstrom’s delightful dramatic comedy arrives Aug. 8 from a major Hollywood player. Yet executives at Walt Disney Studios are not expecting blockbuster business. Instead, they are hoping for a modest success and this movie could deliver. The peerless Helen Mirren stars as an uptight, upright proprietor of an upscale French restaurant. Things go awry when an Indian family buys the derelict building sitting 100 feet across the street. The immigrants open the Maison Mumbai, with Bollywood music blaring and the smell of curry in the sweet French air. Life will never be the same again in this tiny rural village. The movie is culturally rich, good at heart and poised to make your taste buds water.

Snowpiercer:

Jung-ho Bong’s dystopian sci-fi thriller has been generating rave reviews in its limited release, including from Sun Media’s Jim Slotek, who called it “a thinking man’s summer movie.” The electrifying Snowpiercer co-stars Chris Evans, Jamie Bell and Tilda Swinton on a hellbound train. What makes the release unusual as alternative programming is that The Weinstein Company and Entertainment One in Canada has deliberately limited the theatre count, trying instead to sell Snowpiercer to action fans through video-on-demand. This is a risky experiment but it could be the future for off-beat releases.

The Fault in Our Stars:

Josh Boone’s acclaimed movie, which was adapted from the young adult novel by John Green, is actually a runaway hit. At least for a movie that cost only $12 million to produce and stars only emerging actors, including Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in the lead roles. Given that the subject matter is kids with cancer, no one expected a $249 million take in worldwide box office - with more expected and deserved.

Magic in the Moonlight:

For better (because he has made classics of American cinema) and for worse (because his duds have been deadly), no summer is quite right without another Woody Allen comedy. Last year, he gave us Blue Jasmine, which went on to prominence at the Oscars. That remains to be seen for the new movie but it does feature Colin Firth in the lead role. Magic opens Aug. 1.

Twitter: @Bruce_Kirkland

bruce.kirkland@sunmedia.ca

 


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