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40 Films to See This Summer

Written by on April 24, 2019 

Luce (Julias Onah; Aug. 2)

Star of the debate team, straight A student, soon to be high school valedictorian: from his handsome looks and stellar CV, Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is the shining example of the all-American teenager—minus, of course, his history as a child adopted from war-torn Eritrea. As a name, Luce means “light” in Latin, the idea being Luce, a now-beaming youth in the Arlington, Va., area, was removed from unimaginable darkness. But there’s another spin on the allegory here that’s just as meaningful: when people are placed into boxes—stereotypes, to be clear—only so much light can filter in and out of them.Jake H. (full review)

La Flor (Mariano Llinás; August 2)


I am starting this review of La Flor from a segment that in the film’s Borgesian labyrinthic narrative would probably go unnoticed, because I think it goes some way toward making sense of that early remark Llinás had made in the prelude, his head bent over a notebook, his hands sketching La Flor’s structure through an intricate series of lines and arrows merging into a skeleton flower. This film is about its four actresses in the sense that it is a testament to how their craft developed through time. And the feeling of awe that transpires from that late montage, the feeling of having watched four artists grow, is indissolubly contingent on the film’s colossal length. – Leonardo G. (full review)

In the Shadow of the Moon (Jim Mickle; August 9)

With his last film being released in 2014, we’ve been waiting some time for Jim Mickle to return after Cold in July and now he’s back, reteaming with Michael C. Hall. Set for a Netflix release, In the Shadow of the Moon follows a police offer (Boyd Holbrook) on his way to becoming a detective as he tracks down a serial killer. As the synopsis reads, “When the killer’s crimes begin to defy all scientific explanation, Locke’s obsession with finding the truth threatens to destroy his career, his family, and possibly his sanity.” Initially reported to include some sci-fi elements, we’re looking forward to Mickle and company delivering another hard-boiled genre outing. – Jordan R.

One Child Nation (Nanfu Wang, Lynn Zhang; August 9)

Winner of the top documentary prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Nanfu Wang follows up Hooligan Sparrow and I Am Another You with the harrowing One Child Nation, co-directed with Jialing Zhang. As the title previews, it explores China’s One Child Policy, which banned couples from having more than one child. Despite the law ending a few years ago, the ripple effects are devastating, as on display in this essential documentary. – Jordan R.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette (Richard Linklater; August 16)

Unfortunately getting the Under the Silver Lake treatment from Annapurna, we sincerely hope that Richard Linklater’s repeatedly delayed Where’d You Go, Bernadette isn’t as much of a dud as its distributor thinks it is. Led by Cate Blanchett, the adaptation of Maria Semple’s novel, narrated by the 15-year-old-daughter of an agoraphobic architect named Bernadette Branch, follows her as she goes missing prior to a family trip to Antarctica. Also starring Billy Crudup, Emma Nelson, Kristen Wiig, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburne, Troian Bellisario, and James Urbaniak, here’s hoping this defies low expectations. – Jordan R.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld (Mads Brügger; August 16)

In 1961, Secretary-General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld was killed in a plane crash in Africa under mysterious circumstances. Beginning as an investigation into his still-unsolved death, the trail that Mads Brügger follows in Cold Case Hammarskjöld is one that expands to implicate some of the world’s most powerful governments in unfathomably heinous crimes. Without revealing the specifics of the jaw-dropping revelations in this thoroughly engrossing documentary, if there’s any justice, what is brought to light will cause global attention and a demand for some kind of retribution. – Jordan R. (full review)

The Load (Ognjen Glavonić; Aug. 30)


The Load is about a man and a van. We’re in Yugoslavia in 1999, where the rumble of NATO bombers can be heard in the distance. The man’s name is Vlada (Leon Luvec) and his job is to drive a container full of who-knows-what from Kosovo to Belgrade, no questions asked. His consignment and consigners are not divulged. Even he sits uneasily in his driver’s seat as worrying clanks emit from his cargo. In times of war what is out of sight can so easily slip out of mind. – Rory O. (full review)

In Fabric (Peter Strickland; August TBD)


In Fabric is a film that’s wholly retro, and not just in how writer/director (and emerging remix artist) Peter Strickland embraces ’70s Euro-horror tropes (and even judging by one commercial glimpsed on a television; a little bit of vaporwave). Rather, the director longs for a time before Amazon decimated the retail industry, one when a person’s hopes and desires hinged on a trip to that one certain shop. – Ethan V. (full review)

Love, Antosha (Garret Price; August TBD)

From international stardom with Star Trek to roles in films from Jeremy Saulnier, Paul Schrader, and Joe Dante, Garret Price’s new documentary Love, Antosha, covers all sides of Anton Yelchin, an actor taken too soon. We spoke with Price and producer Drake Doremus, who collaborated with the actor in Like Crazy, at the Sundance Film Festival about making their documentary shortly after Yelchin’s death. One can read the conversation here, in which we also discussed the ethics of sharing his private diaries and erotic photos he took, along with industry-wide contributions of Yelchin material for the project. – Joshua E.

Midnight Family (Luke Lorentzen; Summer TBD)

The startling fact that there are only 45 official ambulances amongst Mexico City’s 9 million-plus population sets the intense, harrowing stage for Midnight Family. Following one family that runs their own operation, Luke Lorentzen takes an intimate look at the dedication required for such a task with a keen eye on the economic toll. With patients not requiring to pay, even if they may have died if not for this medical help, it creates a complicated situation when asking for the bill–and that’s only if they can beat out all the other private ambulances racing towards the scene of an accident. While one wishes this portrait was a little more fleshed out, the snapshot we get certainly sends a jolt, particularly in an unforgettable scene involving familial neglect. – Jordan R.

Honorable Mentions

Even with spotlighting 40 films, there’s much more to look forward to. One film unfortunately not to look forward to this summer seems to be James Gray’s Ad Astra, which the new Disney-owned Fox seems to be too lazy to move off its release date of just a few weeks from now, but hopefully we’ll get an update soon.

Also arriving is a few Sundance titles we wish we liked a bit better, including Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (May 3), I Am Mother (June 7), Late Night (June 7), The Last Black Man in San Francisco (June 14), Them That Follow (June 21), Corporate Animals (August 9), Blinded By the Light (August 16), and Brittany Runs a Marathon (August 23).

There’s also Long Shot (May 3), Werner Herzog’s new doc Meeting Gorbachev (May 3), Detective Pikachu (May 10), Edward Zwick’s Trial by Fire ( May 17), The Edge of Democracy (June 19), The Mountain (July 26), and the TIFF premieres Maiden (June 28), Skin (July 26) and Freaks (August 23).

What are you watching this summer?

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