Arts & Culture » Movies

Summer flicks

by David Lamble

From "The Gospel According to Andre." Photo: Courtesy the filmmakers
From "The Gospel According to Andre." Photo: Courtesy the filmmakers  

Whether you know it or not, the summer movie season is upon us. It's four months (May-August) with 101 narratives and docs, including the latest from queer dierctor John Cameron Mitchell ("Hedwig and the Angry Inch"). "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" is a sassy adaptation of a Neil Gaiman story about a gaggle of British teens circa 1977 who, in the spirit of punk, happen upon a party of aliens. Alex Sharpe heads an all-star ensemble: Nicole Kidman as a human, and Elle Fanning and Ruth Wilson as extraterrestrials.

Or for those with a pranky disposition, there's the return of Canada's Bruce LaBruce (think a maple-leaf-style John Waters) with "The Misandrists," the tale of a man who stumbles into the secret lair of the "Female Liberation Army." The film's trailer hails it as "a movie by the FLA and Bruce LaBruce." Both films are set for a national rollout later this month.

Caution: the summer titles I'm previewing are all on the release schedule of major studios. Sometimes the Bay Area gets shortchanged in these big plans. Don't despair: most of these adventures in celluloid will eventually turn up on the calendars of the Castro or the Roxie. Here's May:

"Beast" Jessie Buckley is a young woman on the island of Jersey whose romantic fling (Johnny Flynn) could be a serial killer. Michael Pearce directs his first feature.


From Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Photo: Courtesy the filmmakers  

"Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat" Fans of this brilliant downtown NYC artist should appreciate this addition to his canon, following the doc "Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child" and Julian Schnabel's biopic "Basquiat." Sara Driver provides this latest dive into the sensibility of an 80s shooting star.

"Breaking In" Gabrielle Union is a mom who discovers that her late dad's house offers the "Panic Room" serious competition in the security department. Union has to rescue her kids after they're taken hostage. James McTeigue directs.

"Class Rank" 80s teen heartthrob Eric Stoltz directs this melodrama about a wunderkind (Olivia Holt) who, upset that she's only #2 in her high school, decides to get a pal (Skyler Gisondo) elected to the school board to reboot the system.

"The Day After" South Korean director Hong Sang-soo's adventures of a philandering book publisher (Kwon Hae-hyo) whose new assistant (Kim Min-hee) gets involved in a messy adultery scandal.

"Film Worker" Former Stanley Kubrick assistant Leon Vitali explains how he went from playing the stepson in "Barry Lyndon" to jack-of-all-trades aide and gopher for the director. Vitali created mechanisms through which Kubrick could remotely watch over an ailing pet, and ran print checks on the his final feature, the Cruise/Kidman vehicle "Eyes Wide Shut," following Kubrick's untimely death.

"I Had Nowhere to Go" Douglas Gordon honors fellow experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas, the Lithuanian-born writer-director and founder of NYC's Anthology Film Archive. Fleeting imagery accompanies audio of Mekas reading his memoir.

"Life of the Party" Melissa McCarthy, a mom who regrets not earning a college degree, enrolls with her daughter (Molly Gordon). Gillian Jacobs and Maya Rudolph co-star. McCarthy's husband, co-writer Ben Falcone, directs.

"Measure of a Man" Blake Cooper is an overweight teen who spends a long, hard summer in this coming-of-age drama from Jim Loach, son of director Ken Loach. Co-stars Donald Sutherland, Judy Greer and Luke Wilson.

"Terminal" This stylized film noir has Margot Robbie, so fiery as a disgruntled figure skater in "I, Tonya," as a waitress leading a double life. Simon Pegg co-stars.

"Book Club" Multiple Oscar winners Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen are book club companions whose romantic lives get a boost after they share "Fifty Shades of Grey."

"First Reformed" Inspired by the work of two masters (Robert Bresson's "Diary of a Country Priest" and Ingmar Bergman's "Winter Light"), veteran Paul Schrader ("Taxi Driver") returns with this tale of an upstate New York preacher (Ethan Hawke) whose thinking is upended after he encounters a radical environmentalist. With Amanda Seyfried and Cedric the Entertainer.

"On Chesil Beach" UK novelist Ian McEwan adapts his 2008 novel about newlyweds (Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle) in pre-Beatles England. Florence and Edward's limitless affections hit a snag when it's time to take their marriage to bed. Directed by Dominic Cooke, co-starring Anne-Marie Duff and Emily Watson.

"Pope Francis: A Man of His Word" Director Wim Wenders sits down with Pope Francis, the first pope to star in a profile by the director of "Wings of Desire."

"Saving Brinton" Iowan Mike Zahs uncovers nitrate film reels from the early years of cinema. The film follows Zahs as he works to exhibit the films where they were first screened.

"Sollers Point" McCaul Lombardi is a recently paroled inmate who lives with his dad (Jim Belushi) in Baltimore. Director Matthew Porterfield's films ("Putty Hill") blur the lines between fiction and nonfiction.

"That Summer" This compilation from Goran Hugo Olsson is an alternative version to the Maysles Brothers' documentary "Grey Gardens." In 1972, Lee Radziwill engaged the artist Peter Beard to film her eccentric, cat-loving aunt and cousin Big and Little Edie Beale: rediscovered footage.

"The Gospel According to Andre" Kate Novack directs this portrait of fashion-world star André Leon Talley. Fran Lebowitz and Anna Wintour are among the talking heads.

"Mary Shelley" The parallels between the life of Mary Shelley and the treatment of the monster in "Frankenstein" are staples of literary criticism. Elle Fanning plays the author, and Douglas Booth her out-of-wedlock lover and eventual husband, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Haifaa Al-Mansour directed.

"Solo: A Star Wars Story" George Lucas' characters are back in this "Star Wars" reboot from Ron Howard. Alden Ehrenreich plays the young Han Solo. Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover and Woody Harrelson also star.

"Summer 1993" After her mom's death, a young girl (Laia Artigas) moves in with her uncle and aunt. Catalan writer-director Carla Simón crafted this family tale from her own experiences.

(Continues next week.)


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