Every summer, those of us who still leave our houses and ignore our backlogged DVRs/fit-to-burst Netflix queues to see movies in theaters — the few, the proud, the filmgoing — will gorge on stories about superheroes, aliens, superheroic aliens, action heroes, anthropomorphic animated animals and the occasional revised fairy-tale character. If we're really lucky, we get a few spiffed-up reboots of old favorites and a sequel or 12. Even though the notion of releasing big-tent, brand-name blockbusters between Memorial Day and Labor Day isn't as cut-and-dried as it used to be — why wait for July when you can get your Deadpool audience in February! It's summer all year-round now! — the multiplexes are still jam-packed with the traditional shoot-'em-up, blow-'em-up, and/or crack-'em-up entertainment associated with the warm months.
And like you, we love this stuff when it's great! No, really. We'll be waiting in line along with everybody else to see if Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, et al. ain't afraid of no ghosts, or to watch the Lonely Island guys send up Bieber-style pop stars, or check out if an all-star team of supervillains can get things done as well as a group of muscled-up do-gooders. But man can not live on franchise filmmaking alone; occasionally, you want to push the Happy Meal aside and eat a salad, some chicken tandoori or a really nice plate of tortellini.
So we've put together a quick 'n' dirty list of your non-blockbuster options for your moviegoing between now and the dog days of August: foreign-language dramas, documentaries on everything from political sex scandals to scatological rock legends, bizarre animated whatsits, psychotronic neo-exploitation movies, and a few things that are genuinely unclassifiable. Some of them feature movie stars (in front of and behind the camera), one or two have studio backing, and others are so off the grid that you'd think they were being beamed in from a different cinematic solar system altogether. The one thing they all have in common, however: They all double as a cure for the blockbuster blues. Seek these out by any means necessary.