Attack of the Summer Movies: Take Steps to Avert Tragedy!

The onslaught has begun! Already they are massing their mediocrity at the multiplex. Insulting your intelligence. Crushing your creativity. Boring your behind.

The queue is daunting. Each one louder than the one before. Always the fate of the world is at stake. The Fast and the Spurious. Avengers: Age of Excess. Mad Maximization. Terminator Failed Governor. San Androstenedione. Poltergeist Pollution. The line up stretches back into prehistory and forward into the future, across the globe and out into space.

CGI has superseded mis-en-scene just as screaming has superseded dialogue. Cars falling from the sky or being driven maniacally across the desert in search of fuel, food and fornication. Superheroes looking and acting more frightening than villains. Everywhere you look, there are dinosaurs and robots, ghosts and talking animals clamoring for our attention and hard earned shrinking discretionary income.

Hollywood has given up any pretense of art imitating life. We need a superhero to save us from the superheroes. Movie Man... Where are you?

But just when all seems lost, let me offer a faint glimmer of hope -- yet another saving Deus ex Machina -- a little list, none of which should be missed. Some are currently in theaters, obscured by the shadows of the blockbusters. Some are of recent vintage victimized by too short runs or our failed distribution system.

So by all means, wherever they may be, search them out in theaters, Netflix, On Demand, Roku, or cable. Beg, borrow or steal. Just take one of these at least weekly, before bed with some fresh popcorn. It will do your mind and spirit good.

I'll See You in My Dreams - Centered around Blythe Danner's sparkling performance, this is a heartfelt examination of friendship, family and romance later in life.

Ex Machina - Sleek. Sinister. Suspenseful. Asks the questions what is human intelligence and where does it lead. It has the look of the future dealing with the trappings of the past.

Tomorrowland - More heart and less cynicism than any current blockbuster. A bit convoluted of plot, but after bouncing back and forth between past and present, frames the issues of the future with a keen eye and winning optimism.

Wild Tales - Six vignettes to die for. Fast paced, smart, action driven sketches dealing with hurt, injustice and revenge that lead to a satisfying moral lesson and cinematic conclusion.

She's Beautiful When She's Angry - A comprehensive, stirring history of the Women's Movement which provides us with a primer on what still needs to be done and suggests how to go about it.

OSS 117: Lost in Rio and OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies - Jean Dujardin (The Artist) is uproarious as he sends up the spy genre, French culture and gender stereotypes. You will never think of James Bond again without smiling, and seeing Dujardin!

Lucky Number Slevin - Perhaps the best neo-noir since Kubrick's The Killing from which it is staged. Smartly plotted, smoothly paced, luxuriously casted with Bruce Willis, Josh Harnett, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu, Stanley Tucci, Mykelti Williamson, Danny Aiello and Corey Stoll. It's twists and turns reward the viewer and punish the villains.

The East - The dark, probing piece on eco-activism which explores the conflicts between passivity, self-righteousness and effective intervention against despoilers of our environment. Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page raise issues which we do not seem to be able to answer.

The Place Beyond the Pines - A moody look at the effects of class on fathers and sons and how economics effects all social relationships. Just when it seemed that Edward Norton was James Dean, he turns out to be Ryan Gosling!

Happy movie going!