The summer movie season is upon us, which means a seemingly endless pile-up of superheroes, reboots, and sequels will crowd the multiplexes. While a select few show some promise, we’ve set out to highlight a vast range of titles — 40 in total — that will arrive over the next four months, many of which we’ve already given our stamp of approval.
There’s bound to be more late-summer announcements in the coming months, and a number of titles will arrive on VOD day-and-date, so follow us on Twitter for the latest updates. In the meantime, see our top 40 picks for what to watch this summer below, in chronological order, and let us know what you’re looking forward to most in the comments.
A Bigger Splash (Luca Guadagnino; May 4th)
Despite a loose script that justifies little, Italian director Luca Guadagnino’s follow-up feature to his glorious melodrama I Am Love is a sweaty, kinetic, dangerously unpredictable ride of a film. One is frustrated by the final stroke of genius that never came, but boy was it fun to spend two hours inside such a whirlwind of desires, mind games, delirious sights and sounds. Based on the 1969 French drama La piscine (The Swimming Pool), the story essentially begins as Marianne (Tilda Swinton) and Paul (Matthias Schoenaerts) – a couple vacationing on an Italian island – get an unexpected visit from her former lover and record producer Harry (Ralph Fiennes), along with his daughter Penny (Dakota Johnson). Harry, a raging bohemian who still harbors affections for Marianne, and Penny, a confident Lolita-type who has her sights set on the hunky Paul, will make sure feelings old and new get kindled, leading to frictions that may end up being more than harmless. – Zhuo-Ning Su (full review)
Dheepan (Jacques Audiard; May 6th)
Until losing its cool in the third act and ending on a relatively soft note, French veteran Jacques Audiard‘s Dheepan is a muscularly directed dramatic thriller about the difficulties of starting over and the inevitability of violence. Clear-eyed, tightly wound, and cinematically and psychologically immersive, it’s a furious ride of a movie that actually has something to say. – Zhuo-Ning S. (full review)
Dark Horse (Louise Osmond; May 6th)
It’s no surprise Dark Horse won the audience award in its respective category at last year’s Sundance. The ultimate crowdpleaser (and I mean that in the best way possible) tracks the feel-good story of a small village in Wales who banded together at the behest of a local barmaid to breed a racehorse. With each of them pitching in to train it, they would split the profits, if any were to arrive. While one could easily track down the story, we’ll only say that Osmond’s up-and-down tale has one hooked on every word, thanks to the endearing personalities of the townsfolk and their captivating story. I certainly shed a few tears of joy during this one, and I’d imagine most audiences will as well. – Jordan R.
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos; May 13th)
The eminently idiosyncratic films of Yorgos Lanthimos revile the societal constructs that stifle and pervert human interaction. In laying bare these structures’ inherent hypocrisies, the films exaggerate their logic to absurd extremes, with conformity’s noxious ramifications always at the crux of Lanthimos’ critique. His exceptional breakthrough Dogtooth eviscerated the institution of the modern family, representing it as emblematic of society’s greater normative oppression. Dogtooth’s similarly incisive yet less warmly received follow-up Alps exposed the pretence fundamental to the forming of social identity. His newest film, The Lobster, takes on the rigid preconceptions surrounding relationships. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)
High-Rise (Ben Wheatley; May 13th)
As soon as the voice of Tom Hiddleston‘s Dr. Robert Laing was heard speaking narration above his weathered and crazed visage manically moving from cluttered, dirty room to darkened feverish corner, my mind started racing. Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas popped into my consciousness and then his Brazil, after a quick title card shoves us back in time to watch as Laing enters his new concrete behemoth of a housing structure, oppressively standing above a vast and still parking lot. Add the clinical precision of Stanley Kubrick dolly shots and the chaotic, linear social ladder climb of Snowpiercer with a bitingly satirical wit replacing the high-octane action and you come close to describing the masterpiece that is Ben Wheatley‘s High-Rise. – Jared M. (full review)
Money Monster (Jodie Foster; May 13th)
With it being five years since The Beaver — and a few episodes of House of Cards and Orange is the New Black in-between — Jodie Foster is now back in the director’s chair. Money Monster, starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts, follows an irate man (Starred Up and Unbroken‘s Jack O’Connell) who loses his money in a financial investment gone bad, hijacking a live broadcast and taking a Jim Cramer-esque TV personality (Clooney) hostage. While we hope it doesn’t get too heavy-handed (or hopefully it does?), a Cannes premiere has us hopeful, and it’ll arrive theaters almost immediately after. – Jordan R.
Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman; May 13th)
Master of poisonous tongues and vicious schemes in the world of the rich and the poor, Love & Friendship is perhaps writer/director Whit Stillman‘s most potent mix of comedy and social commentary. He’s got Jane Austen to thank, whose novella ‘Lady Susan’ serves as the inspiration for this tale of Lady Susan Vernon (a pitch-perfect Kate Beckinsale), a widow with a flirtatious reputation, determined to well re-marry well at whatever the cost. Often laugh-out-loud funny and downright mean at the same time, Stillman is in top form here. Planned for a spring release, keep your eyes peeled for this one, and for a slightly more reserved take check out our full review. – Dan M.
Sunset Song (Terence Davies; May 13th)
A tension is formed by a cut, quickly transporting our heroine from an expansive wheat field to a confined classroom. We’re not just talking the difference of 70mm for the former and the Ari Alexa for the latter, but that of, to quote Kate Bush, the “sensual world” versus the punishment of destiny. Based on a mainstay of Scottish classrooms, Sunset Song is a triptych of sorts chronicling farmgirl Chris’ (Agyness Deyn) womanhood; the first deals with her abusive father (Peter Mullan) and the pain he inflicts on her and the others in the family, the second follows her falling in love and marrying Ewan (Kevin Guthrie), while the third sees Ewan enlisting to fight in World War I and coming back a violent man that resembles her father. – Ethan V. (full review)
Last Days in the Desert (Rodrigo García; May 13th)
Perhaps the most intriguing feature of last year’s Sundance Film Festival slate, Last Days in the Desert, follows Jesus (and Satan), both played by Ewan McGregor, as he’s in the final steps of his contemplative 40-day journey before returning to civilization in Jerusalem. Far removed from the recent bombastic Biblical tentpoles Noah and Exodus, Rodrigo García‘s beautiful, spare drama can frustrate as much as it allures with meditations on finding meaning in one’s life (and beyond). – Jordan R. (full review)
The Nice Guys (Shane Black; May 20th)
When the trailer for The Nice Guys debuted, we found there were many things about which to get excited. For starters, the cast, which includes Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, playing their ’70s tough guy protagonists with more than a hint of irony. Another highlight is the film’s writer-director Shane Black, delivering his first original film (I’m still madly in love with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) in over a decade. An incredibly influential genre screenwriter, Black’s script for Lethal Weapon still remains a pivotal entry of ’80’s action films. All fine reasons for anticipation, yet the element which intrigued me more than any other was the film’s R-rating. Black’s previous feature foray, Iron Man 3, was a decidedly underwhelming use of the larger, mainstream canvas. For my money, Black’s at his best when his creative sensibilities are free from restrictions, allowing his loose-cannon characters to curse and kill as they please. – Tony H.
Weiner (Joshua Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg; May 20th)
There may be no (American) political figure of the last 20 years as well-suited for the rise-and-very-bad-fall documentary treatment as Anthony Weiner, former New York congressman and failed New York City mayoral candidate whose fiery stands for the mistreated and impoverished was, to put it lightly, impacted by a sexting scandal — one that, thanks to his unfortunate surname, opened the floodgates for every hack comic. Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg got behind the scenes for the neatly, plainly titled Weiner, which has earned very strong notices in its festival appearances — mostly on account of the rather unbelievable level of coverage this filmmaking duo were afforded. – Nick N.
Kaili Blues (Bi Gan; May 20th)
At its heart, Gan Bi’s Kaili Blues is a meditation on the struggle between traditionalism and modernism. Through the story of one man’s journey through Chinese cities — Kaili to Zhenyuan — Bi focuses on characters who lament the people and ideas that they’ve lost as the world’s changed around them. But this is not just another screed against contemporary life; it finds a cruel beauty and gentle soul in the transition between elemental landscapes and the unfinished, industrialized future. And there’s personal serenity for some of these characters in being able to leave behind their old lives. – Michael S. (full review)
Almost Holy (Steve Hoover; May 20th)
We likely won’t see a new Terrence Malick film this summer, however one of his executive-producing efforts, Almost Holy, a new documentary from Steve Hoover (Blood Brother), will see a release. Previously titled Crocodile Gennadiy, it follows a Ukrainian pastor, Gennadiy Mohknenko, who has stirred controversy in his attempt to fight child homelessness by abducting street kids to bring to his private rehabilitation center. As quoted on the poster, The Village Voice‘s Aaron Hillis called it “the best superhero vigilante movie of the year,” and Hoover’s picture — also produced by Nicolas Gonda and featuring a score from Atticus Ross — looks like a compelling watch. – Jordan R.
Jia Zhangke, A Guy From Fenyang (Walter Salles; May 27th)
If you listened to us earlier this year, then you’ve already seen one of the best films of 2016: Jia Zhangke‘s Mountains May Depart. Whether it was your first film from one of China’s finest director or you’ve been a long-time fan, this summer brings a documentary from fellow accomplished director Walter Salles. The film follows their journey to the subject’s birthplace, the Shanxi province in Northern China, as well the locations of his films and the illuminating conversations therein. – Jordan R.
The Fits (Anna Rose Holmer; June 3rd)
An exploration of movement, motion, liminality, childhood and racial politics, The Fits is a fascinating psychological study of Toni (fearlessly played by Royalty Hightower), an 11-year0old living in Cincinnati’s West End. Set almost entirely within the walls of the neighborhood Lincoln Rec Center, we first find Toni taking up boxing, trained by older brother Jermaine (Da’Sean Minor). Abandoning the rigor of the boxing — requiring sprints across an overpass after hitting the speed-bag — Toni finds herself drawn to the dance troop practicing across the hall, where what she finds is nothing short of her voice. – John F. (full review)
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer; June 3rd)
Movies coming out of Saturday Night Live have surely swung the pendulum when it comes to quality. Stretching out the thin plotting of a sketch to feature-length material comes with its challenges, but after Jorma Taccone‘s hilariously absurd MacGruber — an outright bomb on release, but a film that has since gained a cult following — we have faith in his follow-up: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. The Spinal Tap-inspired feature pokes fun at the recent glut of rise-to-stardom music documentaries featuring Justin Bieber and Katy Perry as we follow a rapper (Andy Samberg) who has no choice but to reunite with his former boy band (featuring Taccone and Schaffer) after his latest album is a dud. – Jordan R.
From Afar (Lorenzo Vigas; June 8th)
Proving yet again that festival juries don’t read the trades or pay attention to chatter, the Golden Lion of the 72nd Venice Film Festival was presented to the Venezuelan drama From Afar, a film that screened relatively late at the fest, when general opinion on the Lido seemed to have settled on this being a race between some other titles. In a discerning and gutsy move, the star-studded jury chaired by Alfonso Cuarón decided to recognize the achievement of writer/director Lorenzo Vigas’ debut feature over some perhaps higher-profile pictures from established masters. It’s gutsy because this film tells a moving if deeply unpleasant story with a significant ick factor that’s going to put many people off. It’s discerning because, as contained and particular as the film’s subject matter and as unassuming as its approach, From Afar delivers an incisive, poignant, surgically precise character study that deals a fatal blow in one crisp, clean stab. – Zhuo-Ning Su (full review)
De Palma (Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow; June 10th)
Earlier this year, Kent Jones’ Hitchcock /Truffaut — a documentary on the famous interview sessions between the two directors — boasted perhaps the most chaotic, dignity-threatening queue of any film screened at Cannes. There is a craving for this sort of thing among cinephiles it seems and it’s easy to see why. Directors just seem to open up much more when speaking to one of their own kind. Brian De Palma, the subject of this fine documentary, says that they’re “the only ones who understand what we go through.” Over the last five years, fellow directors Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow shot over 30 hours of interviews with the movie icon and have distilled them down into this rich feature-length documentary. De Palma is a fascinating, revealing and compelling overview of a remarkably eclectic career, but it’s also a seldom-heard first-hand account of what it’s like to work inside and outside the Hollywood system. – Rory O. (full review)
Cosmos (Andrzej Żuławski; June 17th)
If there’s any way to synthesize the many pieces that form the bull-in-a-china-shop filmmaking that is Andrzej Żuławski‘s Cosmos, an adaptation of Witold Gombrowicz‘s novel, consider its status as his first feature in fifteen years. Might some sense of long-awaited release account for its why and how — the intensity of its performances, the force of its camera moves, the sharpness in its cuts, the bombast of its emotions? I’m inclined to think so, but it’s possible I’m only proposing this in search of a “what” — what’s going on, what he was thinking, and what we’re meant to take from any and all of it. Answers, if they do come at all, will only gradually present themselves, and they won’t arrive via exposition or, with some exception, clearly stated themes. A filmmaker who values the power of shock, but not necessarily thrills for thrills’ sake, Żuławski elucidates material with tools that announce themselves in their presentation — surprising camera dollies, fast pans, sudden cuts, overly prominent music cues — and raise complex questions about their relation to one another. – Nick N. (full review)
Swiss Army Man (Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan; June 24th)
It’s rare we’d offer a recommendation of a film we didn’t love, but the mere fact that you won’t witness any other film like Swiss Army Man in this calendar year — or any other, for that matter — makes it worth a watch. Affectionally dubbed the “farting corpse drama” at Sundance this year, it finds Hank (Paul Dano) on a remote island by himself after a boating trip stranded him. Seconds away from ending this desolate existence by hanging himself, he spots a washed up body on the beach, “played” by Daniel Radcliffe. I said in my review, “This set-up could easily make for one of the silliest, off-putting films that has ever graced Sundance — in U.S. Dramatic competition, no less — yet the directing duo bring an unexpected layer of emotion to the story, even if it ends up getting eventually repetitively muddled. As Hank and “Manny,” as Radcliffe’s corpse is later dubbed, progress on their journey, themes of loneliness, isolation, true love, and more emerge.” – Jordan R.
Right Now, Wrong Then (Hong Sang-soo; June 24th)
I was generally puzzled by the rhapsodic critical praise lavished upon virtually every one of Hong Sang-soo’s staggeringly frequent — and unabashedly homogenous — new features, but with Right Now, Wrong Then I finally “got” it. The film is a veritable masterpiece of understated filmmaking, one so deceptively simple that its depth catches you by surprise and leaves you in awe of a director capable of approaching the human condition with such empathy and sensitive insight. – Giovanni M.C. (full review)
The Shallows (Jaume Collet-Serra; June 24th)
Over 40 years after Steven Spielberg created the blockbuster with Jaws — and fostered a global fear of sharks — Hollywood is still using it as a scare tactic. Following Open Water, Deep Blue Sea, and many more thrillers, it’s now Jaume Collet-Serra‘s turn to terrify audiences with this summer’s The Shallows. Starring Blake Lively, it looks to be a one-location thriller as she’s stranded on the small portion of land in which a Great White Shark is circling. With Jaume Collet-Serra proving he’s one of the most under-appreciated directors in terms of engineering thrills after Non-Stop, Run All Night, and Unknown, even without Liam Neeson, we can’t wait to see what he has in store here. – Jordan R.
Wiener-Dog (Todd Solondz; June 24th)
As uncomfortable a viewing experience it may be, the best films from Todd Solondz slowly reveal themselves with their character intricacies and distinct touches, burrowing deep inside as they replay in one’s mind. In his latest feature, Wiener-Dog, he’s crafted a series of incisive, perceptive vignettes mutually connected by the shifting owners of his title character. Aptly described by Solondz as Au Hasard Balthazar meets Benji, there’s no denying it bears his brand of humor and heartbreak in every scene. – Jordan R. (full review)
Hunt For the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi; June 24th)
If one imagines a real-life version of Up with a bit of Thelma & Louise thrown in, they get Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Taika Waititi‘s charming on-the-run adventure comedy. Based on Barry Crump’s book “Wild Pork And Watercress,” the story follows Ricky (Julian Dennison) as a rambunctious foster child on his last straw before juvenile prison. An expert in stealing, graffiti, kicking things, and many more offenses, he’s yet to find a foster family that can put up with him. – Jordan R. (full review)
The Neon Demon (Nicolas Winding Refn; June 24th)
Between Drive and Only God Forgives, director Nicolas Winding Refn has evinced a keen interest in the color and corruption and beauty of the dark metropolis. His characters and the actors who play them often feel like models for ideas more than real people, in the best of ways. In The Neon Demon, this particular stylistic bent could pay big dividends. The story of a model moving to Los Angeles, the fiendish proclivities of Refn stand to be exercised to their terrifying fullest. – Brian R.
The BFG (Steven Spielberg; July 1st)
When it was announced that Steven Spielberg would be adapting Roald Dahl‘s The BFG, it made perfect sense as his first Disney feature. The story is right up the filmmaker’s alley: Sophie, a young orphan journeys to Giant Country with her new friend, the Big Friendly Giant, or BFG for short. In this magical world, Sophie discovers there are other giants who are just as big, but unfortunately much less friendly than the BFG. Spielberg beautifully conveys the scale and size of the Giant, which should come as no surprise to cine-literate audiences. Say what you will about Spielberg, but the man is a master of visual storytelling. The scope of The BFG will be equally vital, as Sophie and her giant companion will also be forced to enlist the assistance of the Queen of England along the way. With Mark Rylance in the titular role, Spielberg has rounded out the cast with terrific performers such as Bill Hader, Rebecca Hall and Jemaine Clement. The teaser trailer is a lovely hint at the film’s visual wonders, employing cinematography from Janusz Kaminski which simultaneously evokes memories of both E.T. and Hook. Meaning, let’s hope The BFG is more of the former than the latter. – Tony H.
Captain Fantastic (Matt Ross; July 8th)
A common trope at Sundance is the star-led indie, painted top-to-toe with eccentricities that are meant to represent/replace both story and character development. Relatively straightforward narratives that stand out thanks to shock-and-awe details that usually fade not too long after the well-regarded premiere. Captain Fantastic, written and directed by Matt Ross (28 Hotel Rooms), threatens to reinforce the expectation, before rising above and standing on its own. Much of the credit goes to Viggo Mortensen, who remains a singularly dominant on-screen presence, in a role here that feels deigned by the movie gods. – Dan M. (full review)
Our Little Sister (Hirokazu Koreeda; July 8th)
Not long after he debuts his latest film at Cannes, After the Storm, Hirokazu Koreeda‘s previous feature will finally get a a release in the United States thanks to Sony Classics. Adapted from Akimi Yoshida’s highly successful manga Umimachi Diary, Our Little Sister is an examination of the dynamics amongst the members of a damaged family.While we were mixed on it back at Cannes last year, there’s no way I’ll be missing out on seeing a new film from the director. – Jordan R.
Cafe Society (Woody Allen; July 15th)
Death, taxes, and an annual Woody Allen movie. These are a few of the things that have become certainties since 1969, and while as usual we know little about what the film will be about, we can rest assured it will contain a rightful amount of neuroses, emotional turmoil and haunting one liners. The cast, always impressive, never not surprising, includes Steve Carell, Parker Posey (reuniting with the Woodsman after her pitch perfect turn in 2015’s Irrational Man), Jesse Eisenberg, Paul Schneider, Corey Stoll, Jeannie Berlin, Kristen Stewart (can we all pray she’ll be the Woody surrogate?) and Blake Lively. 2016 might also be the year Allen delivers his first television series to Amazon, can it be the film and the series will be related? The suspense is as anxiety provoking as anything out of Crimes and Misdemeanors… – Jose S.
Phantom Boy (Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli; July 15th)
French directors Alain Gagnol (who also wrote) and Jean-Loup Felicioli have another winner on their hands with Phantom Boy. The much-anticipated follow-up to their Oscar-nominated animation A Cat in Paris was five years in the making and well worth the wait. With its vibrant colors muted for a NYC noir aesthetic and every 2D field shaded by roughly textured shadows in constant motion, the frames literally flicker off the screen to leave a lasting impression. The story—centering on a young cancer patient able to leave his body for brief periods of time, floating around the city and becoming the only hope of stopping a criminal mastermind—delivers a level of heartfelt dramatics to rival Inside Out. – Jared M. (full review)
Don’t Think Twice (Mike Birbiglia; July 22nd)
For his first feature Sleepwalk with Me, comedian-turned-director Mike Birbiglia adapted his semi-autobiographical one-man show, picking apart his anxieties and fears when it comes to the most personal aspects of his life. His follow-up, Don’t Think Twice, presents a perhaps even more insular world, that of the New York improv comedy scene and more specifically, the shifting dynamics of a single group. – Jordan R. (full review)
Jason Bourne (Paul Greengrass; July 29th)
As much as I didn’t need to see where Jason Bourne went after their last collaboration, a new Paul Greengrass movie is enough reason to look forward to a return to the spy franchise. With Matt Damon back, bringing along a few promising newcomers, including Alicia Vikander, Tommy Lee Jones, and Vincent Cassel, the recently dropped first trailer sold some enticing action and just enough mystery. – Jordan R.
Indignation (James Schamus; July 29th)
After helping filmmakers such as Todd Haynes, Ang Lee, and Todd Solondz shape their careers, James Schamus has finally made the leap from producer to director with an adaptation of Philip Roth‘s 2008 novel Indignation. The 1951-set feature follows Marcus Messner (Logan Lerman), a Newark-bred Jewish teenager heading to his first semester at a Lutheran college in Ohio. In doing so, he avoids the draft for the Korean War, which is claiming extended family and friends as victims. While a morally sound, eloquent, and confident individual, at college he grapples with sexuality and a distinct indignation, primarily inflicted by Dean Caudwell (Tracy Letts). – Jordan R. (full review)
Pete’s Dragon (David Lowery; August 12th)
One of my favorite Sundance films of the last few years was Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, a sublime drama starring Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck and Ben Foster, which marked the break out for director David Lowery. When his follow-up was announced a few years ago, it caught us all by surprise. Yes, he jumped to a reboot of Disney’s 1977 Pete’s Dragon, tasked with reinventing “the core story,” but this time without the musical numbers of the original animated/live-action hybrid family film. If you’ve never seen the Disney original, it follows a orphan kid who brings his magical dragon to a new town and hijinks ensue. With a cast featuring Bryce Dallas Howard, Robert Redford, Karl Urban, Wes Bentley, this is one of the most promising, and curious, studio features of the year. – Jordan R.
Sausage Party (Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan; August 12th)
As Seth Rogen expands his brand of comedy (or drama, if we look to AMC soon) to different genres, his latest will find him taking on Pixar with a hard-R animation. Backed by Sony and Megan Ellison‘s Annapurna Pictures, Sausage Party follows a sausage and its quest to discover the truth about his existence. Starring Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Kristen Wiig, Salma Hayek, Edward Norton, David Krumholtz, Nick Kroll, Michael Cera, Craig Robinson, Bill Hader, Anders Holm, Paul Rudd, Danny McBride, and more, the response out of SXSW was love-it-or-hate-it, but as this list suggests, I’ll take this over a Finding Nemo sequel. – Jordan R.
Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight; August 19th)
Since 2009’s Coraline, Laika Studios has been a rising star to watch in the animation arena; their follow-ups ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls may not have garnered the same box office as the likes of Pixar, but they propelled the team forward as classically styled storytellers and light-bearers for the forgotten art of stop-motion. Although Trolls felt a little slight compared to their previous supernatural fables, that film is never less than beautiful in regards to the loving and feverishly inventive construction of its fantasy world. Now, drawing from the rich and beguiling well of Japanese folklore, Laika embarks upon a film that looks to expand its ambitions and epic, storytelling scope. CEO Travis Knight, who served as animation lead on the previous features, takes the helm for Kubo and the Two Strings and has emphasized that under the fantastical story of a street singer caught up in a quest filled with gods and monsters, there is an heartfelt exploration of how we deal with loss. If that doesn’t draw you in, how about a rich and enticing voice-cast that includes Rooney Mara, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, and George Takei? If you’re still not convinced, there’s the achingly lovely animation that looks to push Laika forward into a whole new league while perfectly evoking the dazzling but melancholic world of this story. – Nathan B.
Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (Werner Herzog; August 19th)
From the grand, savage outdoors to the inner chambers of those awaiting certain death, Werner Herzog has gone to the ends of the Earth to capture our innermost dreams and fears in his documentaries. For his latest, Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World, he looks to the unwieldy unknown of the Internet and how its evolution has immensely affected the way we communicate, for better or worse. Told in 10 distinct chapters, from “The Early Days” to “The Future,” each has enough intriguing substance to be the foundation of its own documentary, which makes Herzog’s latest a rapidly entertaining ride through the rise of technology where certain sections might feel thematically underdeveloped. – Jordan R. (full review)
Southside with You (Richard Tanne; August 19th)
Arriving just in time for the end of the Obama era, Southside With You depicts a history-changing summer afternoon in 1989 in which our future national leader took Michelle Robinson out on what would become their first date. Barack Obama (a convincing Parker Sawyers), working at a corporate law farm as an associate from Harvard Law, persuades his co-worker Michelle (Tika Sumpter, also a producer here) to attend a community meeting, which is not a date, according to her. – Jordan R. (full review)
Blood Father (Jean-François Richet; August 26th)
It’s been four years since Mel Gibson last led a feature with 2012’s Get the Gringo, but he’s back this year on both sides of the camera. Later this year we expect his first directorial effort in a decade, the Andrew Garfield-led WWII drama Hacksaw Ridge, to arrive, but first we have Blood Father, an actioner directed by Jean-François Richet (Mesrine). The story concerns an ex-convict father who tracks down and protects his daughter from danger. Also starring William H. Macy, Diego Luna, Michael Parks, and Richard Cabral, it’ll premiere at Cannes next month before a release at the end of the summer. – Jordan R.
The Intervention (Clea DuVall; August 26th)
While The Big Chill certainly wasn’t the first of its kind, Lawrence Kasdan’s 1983 hit has become a cultural benchmark for the glut of features depicting a weekend outing between twenty/thirty-somethings in which insecurities are divulged amongst the entertaining banter. With their one-location setting and small-scale drama helping budget costs, Sundance seems to premiere a fair share of them. The latest is The Intervention, coming from actor-turned-director Clea DuVall, an enjoyable, if ultimately muddled character-focused diversion. – Jordan R. (full review)
Kate Plays Christine (Robert Greene; Summer TBD)
Actors put themselves in others’ skins — or they put others’ heads inside their own. Television journalists adopt a persona and try to deliver important information. Women erect calculated fronts to navigate environments not built for them. Many people suffering mental illness do their best to maintain a semblance of “nothing’s wrong.” Film directors orchestrate elaborate works of emotional manipulation. Documentary film directors do so with factual material. Such performances often overlap in the course of life and work; all of them intersect in Kate Plays Christine. – Dan S. (full review)
Matinees to See (click titles for available reviews): The Idol (5/6), Holy Hell (5/20), Maggie’s Plan (5/20), Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (5/20), Unlocking the Cage (5/25), The Ones Below (5/27), Viktoria (6/10), Diary of a Chambermaid (6/10), Finding Dory (6/17), Tickled (6/17), Nuts! (6/22) Free State of Jones (6/24), The Fundamentals of Caring (6/24) Equals (7/1), Microbe and Gasoline (7/1), Life, Animated (7/8), The Infiltrator (7/15), Into the Forest (7/22), Equity (7/29), Author The JT LeRoy Story (7/29), Sea Fog (July TBD), The Founder (8/5), The Hollars (8/12), A Tale of Love and Darkness (August TBD)
What are you seeing this summer?