The multiplexes are full of over-blown, over-budget, over-hyped and over the top fare (ala “Transformers”) that seem to come with summer these days. However, there are some true gems out there that may be harder to find but well worth the hunt. Today, and in a few upcoming posts I will recommend a few of my favorites from summer 2014.

Summer Movie: Begin Again

BAThe most mainstream film that I highly recommend this summer is Begin Again, a new film from John Carney, the director and writer who brought us the wonderful Once in 2006. Begin Again is a simple boy meets girl loses boy meets random guy meets music story… And it is a joy from start to finish.

About Begin Again: “The latest film from writer-director John Carney (Once), Begin Again is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City.”

Learn more about Begin Again and find a show time near you on Fandango.

Summer Movie: Snowpiercer

SPOn the far other end of the spectrum is Snowpiercer which is an odd genre: the art house science fiction film. It is hard to explain Snowpiercer in a way that makes any sense – or to make it sound appealing. However, it is an allegory for the world we live in and a send up of all things political and our social strata. And oh yes, it has the wonderful Tilda Swinton chewing scenery in a tour-de-force performance as a political hack. Ms. Swinton is superb as she channels Baroness Margaret Thatcher while skewering the genre’s cliché of a strong woman in a leadership roles in a post apocalypse world (think Jodie Foster in Elysium. Kate Winslet in Divergent, and Meryl Streep in the upcoming The Giver).

About Snowpiercer: “It’s been 18 years since we froze the earth. The few remaining humans live on the Snowpiercer, a train on an infinite loop around the globe. For those at the front, it’s a lavish paradise of drugs and sushi in the lap of luxury; for those trapped in the tail section, life is short and cruel. But change is in the air. Curtis (Chris Evans), desperate to escape the tail of the train, plans an uprising, aided by his mentor Gilliam (John Hurt). What begins as an isolated riot explodes into a mass revolution, an all-or-nothing push to the front of the train, and a war for humanity’s future. Who will live and who will die? How far can they go? Is there hope beyond the frozen wastes?”

Snowpiercer is the perfect antidote to the recent spate of dystopian teen epics.

Learn more about Snowpiercer and find a show time near you on Fandango.