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40 Films to See This Summer

Written by on April 19, 2018 

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda (Stephen Nomura Schible; July 6)

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With a towering body of work, Ryuichi Sakamoto is one of the world’s greatest musical talents. Around these parts, one may most admire him for his film contributions, including Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, Femme Fatale, The Last Emperor, and perhaps some recent Iñárritu films. He’s now the subject of a new documentary from Stephen Nomura Schible, which premiered at Venice last fall to strong reviews and will stop by Tribeca before a summer release. – Jordan R.

Eighth Grade (Bo Burnham; July 13)

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If comedy is best pulled from trauma, there are few moments in one’s life more distressingly rich to mine from than middle school. Comedian-turned-director Bo Burnham, now more than a decade removed for proper reflection, depicts the specific time period with all the spot-on crippling anxiety and all-consuming awkwardness in his modest but affecting directorial debut Eighth Grade. – Jordan R. (full review)

Puzzle (Marc Turtletaub; July 13)

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With its methodically tidy structure and a script that, beat for beat, lays the pieces to be a quintessential crowd-pleaser, Puzzle fits together like a perfect, well… you know. Directed by Marc Turtletaub, the powerhouse indie producer behind Little Miss SunshineSafety Not Guaranteed, Loving, and more, it’s easy to see the appeal of Oren Moverman’s unchallenging, but no less compassionate script, and he found the perfect actress to carry it. Kelly Macdonald’s Agnes prioritizes every need before her own, mostly those of her husband Louie (David Denman) and their two teenage sons. However, when she sparks a newfound obsession with puzzles, it opens up an unforeseen world, and, as with any heart-warming tale, a path of self-discovery that will change her forever. – Jordan R. (full review)

Mission: Impossible – Fallout (Christopher McQuarrie; July 27)

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While Ghotocol achieved the highest highs of the Mission: Impossible franchise thus far, Rogue Nation was perhaps the most well-running machine, a slick, intense actioner with stakes. Considering the success of this last entry, it makes sense that, for the first time ever, the franchise is calling back a director with Tom Cruise’s frequent collaborator Christopher McQuarrie. The first trailer for Mission: Impossible – Fallout is the best studio preview of the year, so let’s hope the film follows suit. – Jordan R.

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (Matt Tyrnauer; July 27)

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If the phrase “tell-all” hadn’t been coined before 2012, Scotty Bowers’ memoir Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars would have done the job. Here’s a Marine Corps veteran of World War II born in Illinois who decided to land in Hollywood upon his return on a whim. He answered a “wanted” advertisement to work at a gas station, was hit on sexually by Walter Pidgeon while pumping gas, and realized he could use this well-trafficked locale to help pair off closeted male movie stars with young hustlers like himself for twenty bucks a pop. From there he met Cary Grant and Spencer Tracy, had a threesome with Lana Turner and Ava Gardner, and eventually spilled the beans about it all. – Jared M. (full review)

Blindspotting (Carlos López Estrada; July 27)

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Blindspotting is a mess that is likely to lessen in your mind as soon as it’s over, even if you may be utterly absorbed in it in the moment (which I often was). A lot of it is provocation which belies a lack of a real message, or story turns that feel unearned even in the heightened context the movie establishes. But there is undeniable craft here, and an impossible-to-ignore signal that everyone involved in the project deserves attention going forward. What does work is strong, sometimes powerful. – Dan S. (full review)

Searching (Aneesh Chaganty; August 3)

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John Cho should be our next leading man. Above all else does the thriller Searching, directed by Aneesh Chaganty, make this abundantly clear. Cho stars as David Kim, recently-widowed father of teenage daughter Margot (Michelle La) and doing his best to keep his composure. Opening on a heartfelt and heartbreaking montage of messages and moments as displayed on a computer screen, Chaganty establishes what will be the aesthetic of the picture. – Dan M. (full review)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Desiree Akhavan; August 3)

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On her prom night, Cameron Post (Chloë Grace Moretz) gets caught making out with her high school girlfriend in the parking lot, resulting in her parents sending her off to God’s Promise, a gay conversion therapy camp. Featuring weeks of religious gaslighting in which those in charge not only you tell you the desires of your heart are immoral, but homosexuality itself doesn’t even exist, The Miseducation of Cameron Post provides a tender, well-rounded, if not entirely successful look at the emotionally abusive experience. – Jordan R. (full review)

The Wife (Björn Runge; August 3)

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Playing Joan, the wife of a newly-announced Nobel Prize-winning novelist Joseph (Jonathan Pryce) whose career she has supported while setting her own ambitions aside, Glenn Close gives one of her finest performances in Björn Runge’s latest feature. The actress is magnificent and exudes a hypnotic screen presence in the affecting drama, aptly titled The Wife. – Jordan R. (full review)

Skate Kitchen (Crystal Moselle; August 10)

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For her breakthrough documentary The Wolfpack, director Crystal Moselle discovered a group of sheltered brothers in NYC’s Lower East Side and captured their passion for filmmaking. With a muddled style and questionable directorial choices, it didn’t quite live up to the film’s initial hook, but Moselle clearly showed talent for making a connection with the youth of the city. That latter quality continues with Skate Kitchen, which uses a narrative backdrop to place us in the center of a female teen skater group–who Moselle discovered on a subway ride–all of whom exude a care-free independence as they make NYC their playground. It’s such a step-up in vibrancy, scope, and emotion that it feels like the introduction of an entirely different, more accomplished filmmaker. – Jordan R. (full review)

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