After wrapping up Cannes Film Festival, the summer season continues with one premiere from that festival, and much more. Including a few studio tentpoles that pique our interest, as well as other festival favorites finally hitting theaters, there’s something for everyone this month.
Matinees to See: Adrift (6/1), Hotel Artemis (6/8), Hearts Beat Loud (6/8), The Workers Cup (6/8), Gabriel and the Mountain (6/15), Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (6/22), The Catcher Was a Spy (6/22), Love, Cecil (6/29), The Cakemaker (6/29), and Woman Walks Ahead (6/29)
15. Sicario: Day of the Soldado (June 29)
Synopsis: The drug war on the US-Mexico border has escalated as the cartels have begun trafficking terrorists across the US border. To fight the war, federal agent Matt Graver re-teams with the mercurial Alejandro.
Why You Should See It: Without the creative contributions from Denis Villeneuve and Roger Deakins, one can’t quite shake the feeling that this Sicario follow-up might be better fitting as a straight-to-Netflix release. However, it’ll be getting a wide theatrical release, continuing the adventures of Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro’s characters as scripted by Taylor Sheridan. Directed by Stefano Sollima (Suburra, the TV series version of Gomorrah) and shot by Ridley Scott’s frequent cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, this could still make for an entertaining actioner, even if it may steer clear from the clear-eyed thrills of the original.
14. Ocean’s 8 (Gary Ross; June 8)
Synopsis: Debbie Ocean gathers a crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.
Why You Should See It: It’s a little telling that the first “reactions” from Ocean’s 8 have been photos from the cast on press tour with no real comments on the film itself. Gary Ross, following up his bloated drama Free State of Jones, at least seems to be having more fun here, thanks to that cast, including Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Awkwafina, Rihanna, and Helena Bonham Carter. Hopefully it’ll be the perfect bubblegum relaxer after a viewing of our #1 pick on the list, released on the same day.
13. Three Identical Strangers (June 29)
Synopsis: Identical triplets become separated at birth and adopted by three different families. Years later, their amazing reunion becomes a global sensation but also unearths an unimaginable secret that has radical repercussions.
Why You Should See It: One of the most talked-about films at Sundance this year was Three Identical Strangers, which tells a story so peculiar that you’re better off knowing the release date (June 29) and just showing up in the theater. “Three Identical Strangers tells an interesting story well, without too much artistic flourish but at the same time not getting in the way of that story or overstaying its welcome,” Dan Schindel said in his review. “Director Tim Wardle lays a lot on the strength of the events he’s covering, and they are indeed compelling enough on their own to hold your interest. The flipside of this is that the film has little power outside of a first viewing. It’s the kind of doc you’re best off walking into knowing as little as possible about, because possessing key details could legitimately lessen your enjoyment.”
12. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (June 8)
Synopsis: An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children’s television host, Fred Rogers.
Why You Should See It: One of the most ubiquitous, beloved figures in popular culture, Fred Rogers was looked up to by many, and now he’s been given the documentary treatment. Coming from Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom), the Mister Rogers documentary recently showed at True/False, where Dan Schindel said, “The film can easily coast on sentimentality and nostalgia for emotion, and does so frequently and unabashed. Which is frustrating, since there are glimpses of a more complex human being throughout the film, one who would have made for a much better subject.” As for the look at Pope Francis, it’s directed by Wim Wenders, who has been faring much greater in the documentary field this decade, and takes one on a personal journey into his life and mission.
11. The Incredibles 2 (Brad Bird; June 15)
Synopsis: Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is left to care for Jack-Jack while Helen (Elastigirl) is out saving the world.
Why You Should See It: The track record for Pixar when it comes to sequels comes up fairly short outside of their flagship franchise, but hopefully the tables turn for a director as great as Brad Bird. Pulling an Andrew Stanton as he bounces back from a financially disappointing live-action feature to return to his beloved animated hit, here’s hoping The Incredibles 2 is an inventive follow-up nearly 15 years later.
10. American Animals (Bart Layton; June 1)
Synopsis: Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.
Why You Should See It: After directing one of the most acclaimed documentaries of the century thus far with The Imposter, Bart Layton is back with his follow-up, another feature the blurs the line between reality and narrative. American Animals, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, tells the story of four friends (Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner and Jared Abrahamson) who planned an art heist at their local college. Picked up by The Orchard, teaming with MoviePass for their first-ever release, it’ll now arrive this week. “The rich genre of crime film in which dumbasses get themselves in way over their heads has a proud new entry with American Animals. Though premiering as part of Sundance’s U.S. Dramatic Competition, I’d strenuously argue that it is in fact a documentary that happens to be 90% reenactment,” Dan Schindel said in our review.
9. Araby (João Dumans and Affonso Uchoa; June 22)
Synopsis: Andre is a young boy that lives in an industrial neighborhood in Ouro Preto, Brazil, near an old aluminum factory. One day he finds a notebook from one of the factory workers.
Why You Should See It: Enjoying a healthy festival run since its debut at Rotterdam early last year, Araby was hailed as an “instant classic” by The Hollywood Reporter, and will finally get a release this month. They continued, saying, “A quiet epic which is both ideal for the current turbulent epoch and timeless, grittily specific in its details but universal in its themes, Joao Dumans and Affonso Uchoa’s Brazilian wonder Araby (Arabia) sets a high bar for world cinema of 2017.”
8. En el Séptimo Día (Jim McKay; June 8)
Synopsis: José, the best player on his soccer team, is in a tough spot. He’s in the United States illegally, his pregnant wife in Mexico is planning on joining him, and he is supposed to be at work during the championship game.
Why You Should See It: Returning with his first film in over a decade, Jim McKay’s latest feature was a highlight when we saw it at BAMcinemaFest, and now it finally arrives in theaters. “Discussing the ways in which fiction films shift between their linear, wholly narrative impulses and something approaching ethnography is among the most illuminating aspects of movies so deeply tied to a specific time and milieu,” Ryan Swen said his full review. “En el Séptimo Día, written and directed by Jim McKay, is particularly upfront about this. Near the beginning of the film, a set of onscreen text locates the events of the narrative as Sunset Park, Brooklyn in the summer of 2016, discretely divided into the days of a single week (beginning on Sunday) and the following Monday. With the sole exception of one shot — a cybercafé in Mexico — the movie never leaves this setting, exploring the seemingly endless maze of streets and the establishments and restaurants just off the beaten path with careful detail and an almost unerring eye.”
7. NANCY (June 8)
Synopsis: Craving connections with others, a woman creates elaborate identities and hoaxes by using pseudonyms on the internet. When she meets a couple whose daughter went missing 30 years earlier, she becomes convinced that these strangers are her parents.
Why You Should See It: Bringing not one, not two, not three, but four films to Sundance Film Festival this year, Andrea Riseborough was clearly the star of the festival. Along with The Death of Stalin, Burden, and Mandy, her most substantial performance is in Christina Choe’s NANCY. “Riseborough has been around and good for a long time, but this feels like a major step forward for the actress,” Dan Mecca said in his review. “Between the strange black hair, the crooked, awkward grins and the wide, revealing eyes, her Nancy is hard to forget. Rarely speaking above a mumbled whisper, Riseborough lives inside this character with such depth that’s it’s easy to get lost in each moment. Consider one scene in which she begrudgingly has her photo taken. Without a word, we feel everything in her mind. Reluctance, fear, flattery. It truly is astonishing stuff.”
6. The King (Eugene Jarecki; June 22)
Synopsis: Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki takes a musical road trip across the U.S. in Elvis Presley’s 1963 Rolls Royce during the 2016 presidential election, comparing Elvis’s transition from country boy to “The King” to America’s transformation into an empire.
Why You Should See It: After some re-editing and a new title, Eugene Jarecki’s Promised Land became The King as it went from Cannes to Sundance, and now will arrive in theaters. “It’s an abstract road movie, fueled on disillusionment and rock and roll, and one that attempts the quite ambitious task of sketching out a narrative line to link the rise and decline of the nation with the rise and decline of Elvis Presley. If Jarecki struggles a little with this alchemy at times it is because Promised Land is essentially three movies in one: a detailed account of the King’s career; a loose account of the last 80 years of American politics; and a musical performance film. It can be a little jarring to shift between those gears but the director has form with this kind of sprawling state of the nation documentary (as seen with The House I Live in) and manages to keep things running along smoothly,” Rory O’Connor said in his full review.
5. Custody (Xavier Legrand; June 29)
Synopsis: When his parents separate, a bitter custody battle results in 11-year-old Julien being shuttled between his fearful mother and abusive father, who uses the boy as a pawn to manipulate his ex-wife.
Why You Should See It: The Oscar-nominated director Xavier Legrand brought his debut feature Custody to Venice Film Festival last fall and picked up Best Director. Currently named the best film of the year from our writer Jared Mobarak, he said in his review, “Custody shows domestic abuse isn’t something that comes and goes. It’s not a 0-60 scenario where some days escalate and others don’t. Life perpetually travels at 80 mph instead. You must be ready for any outcome because your predator is as desperate to find you as you are to escape. And when your only connection is a young boy who can’t help being coerced by constant questioning and outside interference, isolation isn’t permanent.”
4. Leave No Trace (Debra Granik; June 29)
Synopsis: A father and his thirteen year-old daughter are living in an ideal existence in a vast urban park in Portland, Oregon, when a small mistake derails their lives forever.
Why You Should See It: After earning much acclaim for her noir-tinged drama Winter’s Bone, which served as a break-out for Jennifer Lawrence, Debra Granik is finally back with her first narrative feature since her Best Picture nominee. Dan Schindel said in his review, “Early scenes of Leave No Trace feel like The Road. Not the movie adaptation, but Cormac McCarthy’s book, which evokes familial intimacy to an almost harrowing degree. Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other’s world entire. In setting, this is that story’s pre-apocalyptic mirror, with a father and daughter living in the woods instead of a father and son wandering a wasteland. Here there is good earth instead of ash and striking greenery instead of gunmetal, and the lead characters have willingly separated themselves from civilization instead of being violently torn from it. But the central parent-child bond is of the same species, and the movie’s quiet study of it delivers similar heartbreak.”
3. Under the Silver Lake (David Robert Mitchell)
Update: In a last-minute decision, A24 has delayed the film to December 7, 2018.
Synopsis: A man becomes obsessed with the strange circumstances of a billionaire mogul’s murder and the kidnapping of a girl.
Why You Should See It: Returning after his horror thriller It Follows, which packed an unceasing sense of dread, director David Robert Mitchell is back with a film that looks to be an altogether different outing for the director, stylistically speaking. Clocking in at 2 hours and 20 minutes, Giovanni Marchini Camia said in his positive Cannes review, “Mitchell has now tried his hand at an L.A. noir with Under the Silver Lake, which owes as big a debt to The Long Goodbye, Mulholland Drive, and Inherent Vice (to mention but three of the most conspicuous referents) as it does Thomas Pynchon’s labyrinthine, paranoia-laden narratives.”
2. Damsel (David and Nathan Zellner; June 22)
Synopsis: It’s the Wild West, circa 1870. Samuel Alabaster, an affluent pioneer, ventures across the American frontier to marry the love of his life, Penelope. As his group traverses the west, the once-simple journey grows treacherous, blurring the lines between hero, villain and damsel.
Why You Should See It: The stunning vistas aren’t the only signifiers of the western genre in Damsel, yet we quickly grasp that David and Nathan Zellner have crafted revisionist take on the genre, lovingly poking fun at its foundation while slyly pulling the rug under the audience in humorous, forward-thinking, and genre-redefining fashion. Read my full review here of the brothers’ Kumiko follow-up.
1. Hereditary (Ari Aster; June 8)
Synopsis: When the matriarch of the Graham family passes away, her daughter’s family begins to unravel cryptic and increasingly terrifying secrets about their ancestry.
Why You Should See It: The recent surge of a particular brand of arthouse horror, favoring tension- and character-building over blood-fueled gonzo insanity, has found at a home in A24 with the likes of The Witch, It Comes at Night, and even Yorgos Lanthimos’ recent features. Their latest in the genre comes with Hereditary, the directorial debut from writer-director Ari Aster, which–as the title suggests–is less haunted house horror and more about the terror tied with psychologically-taut familial relations. Not unlike Robert Eggers’ Sundance sensation, Aster displays proficient skill in eerie tone-setting, elaborate production design, and the type of scares that will leave a pervasive imprint on the mind, even if the underlying mythology gets over-complicated by the finale. Read my full review here.
What are you watching this month?