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40 Films to See This Summer

Written by on April 19, 2018 

We the Animals (Jeremiah Zagar; August 10)

we-the-animals

Following a group of boys growing up in rural New York, Jeremiah Zagar’s We the Animals is a coming of age drama that bursts with imaginative energy. While it doesn’t quite live up to the high watermark of its Terrence Malick influence, it still signals a promising directorial talent with a homegrown touch. After picking up an award at Sundance, it’ll stop by Tribeca before arriving in August courtesy of The Orchard. – Jordan R.

BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee; Aug. 10)

spike-lee

Jordan Peele’s blank check meets Spike Lee’s new lease on life. Lee is following up his successes with Chi-Raq and his TV remake of She’s Gotta Have It by teaming up with Jordan Peele (in the producer’s chair.) His newest is an adaptation of the autobiography of Ron Stallworth, a black detective who went undercover to take down the local KKK in Colorado Springs. Stallworth will be played by John David Washington, with Adam Driver and Topher Grace slated to appear. Those who stuck with Lee through the rough years of crowd-funding and more workmanlike productions will be happy for the man to have such a platform again, and the more fair weather fans among us will appreciate a return to his heyday of feature films dominating the cultural conversation. – Nate F.

The Meg (Jon Turteltaub; Aug. 10)

the-meg

The shark thriller has had quite a life in the many decades since Steven Spielberg’s landmark Jaws, but it was only a few years ago that we got a film that actually provided a similarly worthy jolt, with Jaume Collet-Serra’s brilliantly executed The Shallows. This summer, it’s Jason Statham’s turn with The Meg, which certainly bites off a more expansive scope than the Blake Lively-led film. With the first trailer showing off a popcorn-munching, cheeky tone, courtesy of director Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, Cool Runnings), this is a project seemingly fully self-aware that those buying a ticket want to see Statham destroy some sharks. – Jordan R.

Madeline’s Madeline (Josephine Decker; August 10)

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While many breakthrough directors achieve such a status by helming one feature, Josephine Decker achieved acclaim with two films, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely and Butter on the Latch, which received theatrical releases simultaneously in 2014. Marking her return to narrative feature filmmaking at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Madeline’s Madeline is a drama of boundless spontaneity as Decker deftly examines mental illness and the potentially exploitative lines a performer may cross when pulling life into art. – Jordan R. (full review)

John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection (Julien Faraut; August 22)

in-the-realm-of-perfection

From the years 1973 to 1981 the great film critic Serge Daney held the position of editor of Cahiers du cinéma, that most revered and storied of film journals. He also wrote a tennis column. That idea of a shared symbiotic passion for the worlds of cinema and sport—and how the two might be connected—provides the basis for Julien Faraut’s experimental documentary In the Realm of Perfection, a witty and contagiously impassioned ethnographical study of the game and, in particular, the 1985 finals at Roland Garros. – Rory O. (full review)

Support the Girls (Andrew Bujalski; August 24)

support-the-girls

Double Whammy is the kind of roadside “breasturant” that sells escapism alongside their fried food and burgers. They may in fact be a dying breed as those damn millennials are choosing to eat healthy, fresh, local, and artisanal; or as we’re told by Double Whammy’s national competition, Man Cave – millennials prefer booties. This is the kind of place with “big ass” or “man size” beers, big screen TVs, and “cute” young waitresses instructed to flirt with clientele. And it’s the setting for the most mainstream comedy yet from Andrew Bujalski, a founding member of mumblecore. Director of pioneering films of the sub-genre like Funny Ha Ha and Beeswax, Bujalski’s latest film, Support The Girls, is a very funny drama following a day in the life of manager Lisa, as played brilliantly by Regina Hall. – John F. (full review)

Makala (Emmanuel Gras; August 24)

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Late in Makala, lead subject Kabwita, exhausted after innumerable tribulations, enters a church for spiritual renewal. The preacher declaims that the Book of Job shows that, no matter how much suffering one faces, blessings are still guaranteed. Anyone who’s read the Book of Job will recognize that he is proselytizing the exact opposite message from what most scholars take from the text, which is that the whole point of the story of Job is that there is no sense to suffering, and often no reason for it whatsoever. Kabwita fervently prays on regardless. He has to cling to the hope he can find. – Dan S. (full review)

Let the Corpses Tan (Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani; August 31)

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With their third feature, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani tackle the poliziotteschi genre instead of the giallo (here’s hoping for the peplum next). The picture is focused on the fallout of a gold bar robbery in the Mediterranean; a gang of thieves, artists and motorcycle cops colliding to a naturally bloody end. Adapted from a novel by Jean-Patrick Manchette and Jean-Pierre Bastid, yet still not providing too much in the way of narrative, this writer could at least discern plot points involving a Rabid Dogs-like kidnapping, a Treasure of Sierra Madre-inspired descent into greedy violence and, of course, some psychosexual hijinks that likely invokes every genre picture of the past fifty years. If there’s a driving force one can find, perhaps it’s just the greed in a man’s eyes at the sight of gold. – Ethan V. (full review)

The Little Stranger (Lenny Abrahamson; August 31)

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Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank was an oddity of comedy, heart, and an underlying darkness. His follow-up, Room, featured a great Brie Larson performance, but lacked in a certain directorial boldness, something that’s hopefully in store when it comes to his follow-up. The Little Stranger, starring Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Will Poulter, and Charlotte Rampling, is a haunted house tale of sorts based on the novel by Sarah Waters (author of Fingersmith, which Park Chan-wook adapted for his glorious The Handmaiden.) Following a country doctor who returns to the place his mother worked, something ominous creeps up. – Jordan R.

Mandy (Panos Cosmatos; TBD)

mandy

In an era of dime-a-dozen Nicolas Cage movies, you may think you know what you’re getting when sitting down for his latest feature. Rest assured, nothing could prepare you for the experience of Mandy. I’m not even referring to the gory and gleeful shocks–of which the back half has many–but rather Panos Cosmatos’ intoxicating, singular version, which mixes beauty and batshit insanity for an LSD-fueled descent into darkness like no other. – Jordan R. (full review)

Honorable Mentions

On the documentary side, there’s more we’re looking forward to, despite a few receiving less-than-positive reviews from our critics, including Boom for Real, Generation Wealth, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, McQueen, and Three Identical StrangersAlong with some mentioned above, there’s also more Sundance offerings: Hearts Beat Loud, Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot, The Catcher Was a SpyJuliet, Naked, Beast, and Jason Reitman’s return, Tully.

There’s also a handful of studio films we hope deliver the goods, but we’re approaching with apprehension, including Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ocean’s 8, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Adrift, The Incredibles 2Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Captive State, and The Happytime Murders.

What are you watching this summer?

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