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Summer movie preview: Flicks to top your list

The lazy days of summer are upon us, and where better to beat the heat than in an icy cool movie theater? It's that time of the year when studios inundate the lineup of new films with franchise faves.

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  • | 4:27 p.m. May 15, 2015
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The lazy days of summer are upon us, and where better to beat the heat than in an icy cool movie theater? It's that time of the year when studios inundate the lineup of new films with franchise faves. But if substance over style supersedes a penchant for sequels and superheroes, you might want to check out the following ...


Description: “Coming-of-ager, romance, Western thriller.” Set in the 1870s, Wild West, a 16-year-old Scottish boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) travels to Colorado in search of the woman he loves. Along the way he hooks up with a bounty hunter (Michael Fassbender) who has an ulterior motive regarding their friendship. The always intriguing Ben Mendelsohn also stars. Director/writer John Maclean scored big at Sundance with a Grand Jury Prize. (Now playing)


A teenage girl seeks out a reclusive inventor after having caught a glimpse of a futuristic utopia via an enchanted pin. He's been there before and getting back isn't going to be a cakewalk. George Clooney and Britt Robertson team up in this Disney production directed by Brad Bird. Definitely looks like a recipe for success. (May 22)


In this audacious filmmaking endeavor, the actors don't utter a word. The entire film is in sign language and sans subtitles. Set in a boarding school for the deaf, students are forced to become thugs to survive. Director/writer Miroslav Slaboshpitsky goes out on a limb and is receiving raves for doing so. Rumored to have an ending that is so shocking that it leaves audiences reeling. (June 17)  


The laughs outnumber the tears in this tragicomedy that was a Sundance darling. A high school senior is forced by his mother to befriend a young girl battling leukemia, with unexpected results. Although the title suggests you might want to steer clear of this film, the word is out that it soars on every level. Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and stars Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke and R.J. Cyler. (June 12)


Tagline: best friend. Hero. Marine. And that would refer to a dog. A military working dog is traumatized by his handler's death. It departs from Afghanistan and is adopted by the deceased soldier’s family. It’s all about the healing powers of man’s best friend. The trailer looks amazing. Directed by Boaz Yakin, starring Thomas Hayden Church and Lauren Graham. (June 26)  


Ian McKellen plays Sherlock Holmes who is now 93 and losing his memory. Even so, he's hell-bent on getting to the bottom of an unsolved case that eluded him 35 years ago and ended his career. Laura Linney plays his housekeeper, and Bill Condon directs. The last time Condon and McKellen teamed up in “Gods and Monsters,” McKellen received an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. History may repeat itself.   (July 17)


Woody Allen directs yet another film about an intellectual who commits an existential act. This time it's Joaquin Phoenix, a philosophy professor who finds himself in a crisis fueled by depression and alcohol. New hope emerges in the form of Emma Stone who plays one of his students. The trailer is as interesting as the pairing of Allen and Phoenix. Can't wait. (July 17)


The story of Billy Hope, a boxer who fights his way to the top. But when tragedy strikes, his life begins to unravel. Jake Gyllenhaal stars and goes through a startling physical metamorphosis for the role. He describes the film as a journey in “learning how to become a father.” Also starring Rachael McAdams and Forest Whitaker. Directed by Antoine Fugua. (July 24)


In 1970s San Francisco, a teenager (Bel Powley) loses her virginity to her mom's (Kristen Wiig) boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard). But wait. Director Marielle Heller skillfully handles what could have been sexually exploitative claptrap. She manages to turn the story into “a bold cinematic examination of a girl’s sexual evolution.” And who doesn't just love Kristen Wiig? (Aug. 7) 


Marriage and murder are on the menu when a husband and wife discover a bone and a gun buried in the backyard. Rosemarie DeWitt and Jake Johnson play the couple whose revelation has symbolic consequences. The casting is simply sublime, including Jane Adams, Orlando Bloom, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson and Sam Rockwell. Directed by Joe Swanberg. (Aug. 21)