There are some great blockbuster summer movies for general moviegoers (see  “Toy story 3”) but fans of Independent Film have lots of choices this summer as well. One of the films you’ll be hearing about at Oscar time is “Winter’s Bone”. This is a movie full of hyper-realistic styling and acting. It’s set in the hill country of Missouri and it’s full of unforgettable characters, played by relatively unknown actors . Jennifer Lawrence plays Ree, a 17 year old with two young siblings and non-functioning mother, and we might be seeing her around award season. Ree is in search of her bail jumping, meth cooking father; without proof of his whereabouts, Ree will lose the family farm. Her search takes some harrowing turns and director Debra Ganick keeps the tension palpable throughout. It will remind you of 2009’s “Frozen River” with award winner Melissa Leo. Don’t miss it. GPA: 3.6.

Documentary winners include “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”, which brings us the very funny , albeit bawdy comedy, of a true survivor. Joan Rivers is an intriguing bundle of insecurity, but secure enough to let us into her life, foibles and all. GPA:3.2.

If you are looking for “Masterpiece Theater” type fare, “I am Love” with the amazing Tilda Swinton is full of unlikeable rich Italians with lots of “Upstairs/Downstairs” drama. The script is plodding but I enjoyed the film  for the spectacular photography of Milan and the Italian country side and, of course, Miss Swinton who handles Italian and Russian dialogue with masterful skill. In subtitles and not for the prudish. GPA: 3.0.

Similarly, “The City of Your Last Destination”( probably the worst title of any movie this year) is still at The Parkway in Minneapolis , but if you miss it on the big screen, it is worth putting in your Netflix queue. It’s directed by James Ivory and features some fine performances by Laura Linney and Sir Anthony Hopkins and a magical Uruguayan setting, although filmed outside Buenos Aries, Argentina. A graduate student (Omar Razaghi) tries to get the family of dead famous writer Jules Gund to agree to opening the family secrets for authorized Biography. The family has many secrets to protect and in spite of a  script by longtime Merchant/Ivory contributor Ruth Prawer Jhablvava that takes it’s time revealing them, this film will stay with you for a while. PG13. GPA: 3.0

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