Summer blockbusters can be, well, so blockbuster-y. Big name stars, lots of explosions, and ever-more-amazing special effects. If you’re looking for something a little more subtle or off the beaten path, try some of these alternative screenings.


Apollo 11: First Steps Edition

Thru September 2 | Houston Museum of Natural Science

HMNS celebrates NASA fever along with the rest of Houston with Apollo 11: First Steps Edition on their giant screen. Never-before-seen 70mm footage and newly discovered audio recordings of the Apollo 11 mission allow viewers to relive history. Watch as astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins go through final preparations, countdown, and liftoff, as Armstrong and Aldrin land on the moon and spend 21 hours at Tranquility Base before the trio returns to Earth. Expect to feel triumphant as the credits roll.

Tickets $12. Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park Dr. 713-639-4629. More info and tickets at hmns.org.

Babylon

August 9 | Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Franco Rosso’s 1980 cult classic follows a dancehall DJ in the UK. Brinsley Forde stars as Blue, an unlucky car mechanic who moonlights in the clubs. Blue and his circle of friends live for the music, but they find navigating 1980 Britain’s class and race struggles only slightly short of soul-crushing. Over the course of the film, Blue loses his day job, gets beaten up by the cops, breaks up with his girlfriend and has a rather violent encounter with a racist neighbor. The film’s reggae music soundtrack is phenomenal. 

Tickets $9. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St. 713-639-7300. More info and tickets at mfah.org/films.

Ninja Scroll 

August 16–17 | Landmark Theatre River Oaks

Blood-soaked Japanese animated action film Ninja Scroll, written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, follows a mercenary swordsman through demon-infested feudal Japan as he fights a team of supernatural ninjas. Considered one of the most influential anime films ever made, Ninja Scroll is subtitled in English for this screening. 

Tickets $11.25. Landmark Theatres River Oaks, 2009 West Gray. 713-524-2175. More info and tickets at landmarktheatres.com.

Ay Mariposa

August 21 | Rice Media Center

Presented by the Houston GREEN Film Series, this hour-long documentary is about the effect of a border wall on the National Butterfly Center, a 100-acre butterfly sanctuary near Mission, Texas. Earlier this year, construction crews showed up at the center, ready to clear land for President Donald Trump's border wall. It’s a David and Goliath struggle as the Center fights the Department of Homeland Security, which intends to use eminent domain to acquire much of the Center’s land. Marianna Trevino Wright, executive director of the National Butterfly Center, will be part of a panel discussion following the screening.

Free. Rice Media Center, 2030 University Blvd. More info at cechouston.org.

Diamantino

August 23–25 | Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

An absolute must-see for fans of weirdness is Diamantino , a satire about a gorgeous but naive Portuguese superstar soccer player (Carloto Cotta). A missed shot during a big game ruins his career and sets him on a downward spiral. To make up for his shortcomings, Diamantino decides to adopt an orphan refugee. But his adopted son turns out to be an undercover adult lesbian investigating him for money laundering. Add to that Diamantino’s evil chain-smoking sisters, Portugese nationalists who want to leave the EU, a mad scientist who wants to harvest Diamantino’s source of greatness, and, oh, lots more. It’s political satire. It’s gender-bending humor. It’s whimsical. And it’s weird—very, very weird. 

Tickets $9. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet St. 713-639-7300. More info and tickets at mfah.org/films.

Whip It

August 30–31 | Landmark Theatre River Oaks

Ellen Page plays a teenager who leaves the beauty pageant circuit to join a roller derby team in Whip It. Drew Barrymore, who directs, also appears alongside Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Stern, Jimmy Fallon, Eve, and Juliette Lewis. Co-presented by Houston Roller Derby, this is a 10th anniversary screening. 

Tickets $11.25. Landmark Theatres River Oaks, 2009 West Gray. 713-524-2175. More info and tickets at landmarktheatres.com.

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