Swinging into summer
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From the latest nerdy turn from actor Jesse Eisenberg to a directing, writing, and acting feat from Parisian leading man Louis Garrel, our 10 summer films to catch at a Bay Area theater are full of proven male talent. Any of the following films may disappear from theaters into the vagaries of online streaming. Eventually all should make it to the Castro Theatre calendar or the shelves of Amoeba Records.
"Spider-Man: Far From Home" This venerable comic-book franchise gets a deft reboot with the presence of cherubic British actor Tom Holland as the kid with Spidey's sticky powers. Like Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield before him, Holland gets kids at heart who weren't raised in the Marvel Universe to see why they should spend $15 and two hours with the coolest and youngest of today's superheroes.
"The Art of Self-Defense" Jesse Eisenberg's latest outing is a satire of toxic masculinity. Signing up for karate, his character winds up with a yellow belt in a comedy he hopes plays like "a subverted sports movie." Eisenberg undertook intensive training for the role, and said that shooting the movie reminded him of his childhood stab at "Jewish suburban karate."
"Yesterday" Imagine a world in which no one remembers the Beatles. This surreal hook is a springboard to a tuneful fantasy in which an Anglo-Pakistani man (a poignant turn from Himesh Patel) cashes in on the brilliant tunes of John, Paul, George and Ringo. Patel is a remarkable cover artist, directed by Danny Boyle from a script by Richard Curtis ("Love Actually"). Co-stars Lily James, Ed Sheeran and Kate McKinnon.
"The Last Black Man in San Francisco" Director Joe Talbot crafted this indie comedy, acclaimed at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. A young African American man tries to buy back the house that his granddad purchased on the heels of WWII as the forces of gentrification push the price through the roof. With a supporting turn from Bay Area icon Danny Glover.
"The Lion King" This Disney photorealistic reboot of the acclaimed animated film and long-running Broadway hit musical may be too slick for its own good. The studio that pioneered the true-life nature film in the late 1940s has now produced a cartoon lion that feels uncomfortably like the real thing, a reality that may leave young followers of the franchise feeling a tad confused.
"Amazing Grace" Fans of the late superstar gospel artist Aretha Franklin should flock to this concert recorded in February 1972 in a Watts, CA Baptist church. The delay in getting the performance to screens was due to director Sydney Pollack's failure to sync the film of the then-29-year-old Queen of Soul with the soundtrack.
"Long Day's Journey Into Night" The Eugene O'Neill play title has been borrowed as the English name for this smart Chinese drama in which a man searches for a woman from an earlier chapter in his life. In Mandarin with English subtitles.
"High Flying Bird" The versatile Steven Soderbergh used his iPhone to capture the drama of a high-pressure sports agent trying to win a deal for his young client during a recent National Basketball Association work stoppage. A great film for NBA fans who can't get enough.
"Knock Down the House" With four newly elected Democratic House members squaring off daily with Trump, this doc account of how Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her Queens/Bronx seat from a New York Irish veteran makes for an entertaining interlude as we all struggle through the long slog to Election Day 2020.
"A Faithful Man" Handsome French leading man Louis Garrel makes his directorial debut and stars in this comic triangle. Abel (Garrel) has been dumped by his girlfriend, for his best friend. Known to LGBTQ film-lovers for his incendiary turn in the sex-charged 1968 romance "The Dreamers," Garrel also stirred gay hearts with the 2008 musical "Love Songs," in which the death of his girlfriend resulted in his becoming romantically hooked up with a beautiful young man.