Greetings, movie lovers!

In this, the second installment of our ongoing weekly column about the movies we feel are worth your time, we're still tinkering a bit with the format. Please feel free to leave your comments about any films you've seen that are worth mentioning, or give us your opinion on the films we've chosen to highlight.

The July 4 holiday is typically a big release date for summer blockbusters, and this year is no exception. Disney's The Lone Ranger, Dreamworks' Despicable Me 2, and the comedy concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain will all be bumrushing the cineplex and fighting it out for your money.

In the run-up to the big fireworks, here are some other titles that our intrepid critic Chike thinks might be worth your time. (MG)


What to Watch: July 14

Stories We Tell (Art Theater Co-Op): This is a documentary by Canadian actress/filmmaker Sarah Polley. The plot of the film is simple: Polley is trying to find out who her father is. She conducts several interviews with her family — both local and extended — to find the answer to this question.

Why to Watch: Sarah Polley has shown herself to be a capable director with her previoius films Take This Waltz and Away From Her. But for a director to film such a personal story takes a tremendous amount of courage. The information Polley gathers serves as both a remedy to, and an added harm on, an old, but still painful wound. See this movie immediately for the level of vulnerability and courage Polley demonstrates.

Showing: July 1 & 2 @ 5:00 p.m., July 3 & 4 @ 7:30 p.m.

The Heat (Savoy 16 IMAX): Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock do the buddy cop thing as a rude Boston police officer and an FBI agent (respectively) out to stop a ruthless drug lord.

Why to Watch: Both actresses have proved to be capable comedians in the past, especially in the realm of pratfall and slapstick, and I love the amount of sight gags used in the trailers. McCarthy and Bullock seem to have great chemistry together. Bullock's career has been all over the place in recent years, as she dabbled with drama and comedy, and this may just be the film to bring back that Miss Congeniality spark. McCarthy, on the other hand, is on a bit of a roll following appearances in Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, and This is 40. It will be interesting to see what she does in a game of serious comedic one-on-one with an actress like Bullock.

Showing: Daily @ 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:35 p.m., 2:10 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 4:45 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7:25 p.m., 9:20 p.m., and 10:05 p.m.

From Up on Poppy Hill (The Art Theater Co-Op): Set in Yokohama in 1963, this lovingly hand-drawn film centers on Umi and Shun and the budding romance that develops as they join forces to save their high school’s ramshackle clubhouse from demolition.

Why to Watch: The film is directed by Goro Miyasaki, son of the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, and the son seems to have his father’s touch with animation. The story for this film was written by Hayao Miyazaki, so that’s a good sign that the film will be solid. The voice cast sounds promising, and the setting and time period add another layer of charm. 

Showing: July 1 @ 7:30 p.m. and July 3 @ 5:00 p.m.

World War Z (Savoy 16 IMAX): World War Z tells the story of Gerry Lane, a retired United Nations investigator and now full-time father who traverses the world in an attempt to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

Why to Watch: Any time there is a zombie movie in theaters it’s a chance to explore how deep people’s humanity is. Brad Pitt has been, and will always be, a bankable leading man for an action movie, but I think the real reward of this movie is seeing how people respond to the outbreak. The humanity people show in times of crisis is always inspiring, and I love the idea of Pitt being on a one-man mission to stop the zombie apocalypse. The only downside to this film is the fact that Marc Foster, director of the film Quantum of Solace, is at the helm.

Showing: Daily in 2D @ 11:10 a.m., 11:45 a.m., 1:45 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 4:20 p.m., 6:55 p.m., 7:25 p.m., and 9:35 p.m.; in 3D @ 4:50 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

The Magic Flute: A Film by Kenneth Branagh (The Art Theater Co-Op): The Magic Flute tells the story of a soldier named Tamino who is sent by the Queen of the Night to rescue her daughter Pamina from the clutches of the supposedly evil Sarastro. But all is not as it seems.

Why to Watch: Kenneth Branaugh has always been a capable actor, but few know how strong a director he can be. He has adapted Shakespeare, of course, but he has also dabbled in noir (Dead Again), thrillers (a remake of Sleuth), and big budget action (Marvel’s Thor). Most importantly, for this instance, Branagh previously adapted and directed a delightful musical comedy version of Love’s Labour’s Lost. In this 2006 adaption of The Magic Flute, his skills as a director are on full display once again. The music sounds incredible, and the staging of the shots look impeccable. Even if you hate opera, this film is not to be missed. Sadly, you have only one chance.

Showing: July 3 @ 2:00 p.m.

Also showing this week:

At The Art Theatre Co-op:

Dirty Wars, a documentary hybrid of political thriller and detective story, this film follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill on a journey into the heart of America’s covert wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia and beyond.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a prime example of Spielberg's gee-whiz sci-fi work and an enthralling journey to explain what cannot be believed.            

At Savoy 16 IMAX:

White House Down (or, Magic Mike saves Obama)

Monsters University (or, When Mikey Met Sully...)

Man of Steel (or, y'know, Superman)

This is the End (or, I'd Like James Franco More If He Were Really Like This)

The Purge (or, When Did Ethan Hawke Get Kind of Interesting Again?)