I could be using this space to write about the efficient mediocrity of Solo: A Star Wars Story, but this issue is the summer guide, so I’m writing about the season’s upcoming films instead. Because summer is prime documentary season, you’ll be lining up for docs about Fred Rogers (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?), André Leon Talley (The Gospel According to André), and Whitney Houston (Whitney).
Yeah, right. You’re here for the summer blockbusters, aren’t you? Nothing wrong with that — the fun starts in two weeks with the star-studded Ocean’s 8, in which Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, and Rihanna team up to steal a diamond necklace from the neck of Anne Hathaway’s spoiled Hollywood star. Pixar’s sequel to The Incredibles drops the following week, with the super-family returning to a world where superheroes may become legal again. Then Jurassic World gets its sequel with new director Juan Antonio Bayona (from A Monster Calls) at the helm. Possibly the most anticipated one will be Ant-Man and the Wasp, if only because fans of Avengers: Infinity War want to know whether it will advance the overall plot of the Marvel universe.
Oddly enough, this season looks to have a number of prominent religious-themed films such as the Pope Francis documentary that I reviewed last week. Non-Catholic Christians may be more interested by Paul Schrader’s jagged First Reformed, starring Ethan Hawke as a pastor at a Dutch Presbyterian church undergoing an existential crisis. For the Jews, there’s Sebastián Lelio’s Disobedience, starring Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams as two women trying to deal with their love for each other in a strict Orthodox community. This careful and restrained film is playing at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth on the fourth weekend of June and may also slide into regular theaters.
That film could also fall under the heading of LGBT movies along with A Kid Like Jake, starring Claire Danes and Jim Parsons as parents of a child who identifies as gender fluid. If Love, Simon didn’t do it for you on the teen gay movie front, Alex Strangelove might suit you better. Then there’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post, starring Chloë Grace Moretz as a gay teenager in Montana in the early 1990s who gets sent to a Christian camp to be degayed.
For those who prefer to combat the summer heat with horror films and violent thrillers, there’s Leigh Whannell’s bleakly funny Upgrade, starring the underappreciated Logan Marshall-Green as a quadriplegic whose experimental computer chip implant makes him walk again but also has really bad side effects. Ari Aster’s Hereditary has picked up adulatory buzz on the festival circuit, with its story about a family concealing a twisted history. The same goes for Blindspotting, whose story about Daveed Diggs as a felon on parole who witnesses a white cop shoot an unarmed black man is embellished with rap verses and commentary on a gentrifying Oakland. On a more fanciful note, The Darkest Minds is a YA novel adaptation where children who survived a devastating plague have emerged with superpowers and been outlawed by the government. And if you want to see the too-rare sight of an Asian-American actor carrying a movie, John Cho stars in Searching as a man looking for his missing teenage daughter via her online history.
Of course, if your taste runs to lighter fare, the Asian-Americans are there, too, in the globe-trotting romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians. Standup comic Bo Burnham turns filmmaker with Eighth Grade, about a girl making her way through the last weeks of middle school. The star-laden Tag features Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, and Hannibal Buress as a bunch of guys who’ve been playing the same game of tag for 30 years. It’s based on a true story, as is Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman, about a black police officer who not only infiltrated a local KKK chapter but became its head, for which Lee is picking up some of the best reviews of his career. And we haven’t even counted all the movies that I haven’t mentioned that I’ll feel stupid for excluding come September. If you want to berate me for it, you can find me at the multiplexes.