Only two of them are sequels!
For whatever reason this month is pretty light when it comes to typical summer blockbuster fare ‐ well, light when it comes to ones that might actually be worth your time anyway. We’re getting sequels with talking turtles, magical thieves, and orphan fish, but none of them really scream “must see” movie. Instead, this month’s more interesting bets look to be smaller limited releases like the new Nicolas Winding Refn thriller The Neon Demon and three hits from this year’s Sundance (The Fits, Tickled, and Wiener-Dog).
Keep reading to see which releases I think are most worth your time this month at the local movie house.
Independence Day: Resurgence
Release Date: June 24
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, & James Vanderbilt
Cast: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Joey King, Liam Hemsworth, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg
Why is it a must-see? I’m not entirely convinced that Emmerich’s latest disaster pic, and sequel to his 1996 blockbuster, is a must-see, but Matthew Monagle’s passionate argument for it is a somewhat convincing one. There’s a definite earnestness to the director’s films ‐ albeit a goofy earnestness ‐ that when combined with spectacle often result in big, cheesy fun. The cast here is an interesting mix, and while it’s unfortunate Will Smith sat this one out it’s never a bad thing seeing Goldblum on the big screen. To that end, and to that last point, this is the one release this month that will probably benefit most from seeing at the theater (as opposed to waiting for home video). Alien dogfights, epic destruction of cities, and exploding world monuments are scenes tailor-made for the biggest, loudest screen possible. So I say we give it a chance, and if it sucks, well… we can all blame Monagle.
Release Date: June 10 (limited)
Directors: Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow
Why is it a must-see? Brian De Palma has made his share of bad movies, but they’re never less than interesting failures. More importantly, he’s also the director of truly great movies like Obsession, Carrie, Blow Out, Body Double, The Untouchables, and Casualties of War, as well as ones the rest of you love more than me including Dressed to Kill, Scarface, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible, and Snake Eyes. That’s an incredible résumé, and while he’s not held in as high an esteem as his contemporaries he’s most definitely deserving of attention. Baumbach and Paltrow’s acclaimed documentary is a essentially a feature-length interview paired with numerous clips and behind the scenes peeks focused on De Palma’s highs, lows, controversies, and system-bucking attitude.
The Conjuring 2
Release Date: June 10
Director: James Wan
Writers: Carey Hayes, Chad Hayes, James Wan, David Johnson
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Franka Potente, David Thewlis
Why is it a must-see? This sequel to 2013’s surprise horror hit sees the same creative team return behind the camera including Wan as director and the Hayes brothers once again responsible (in part) for the script, and judging by the trailer the team has plenty of creepy imagery and ghostly atmosphere to spare. It runs over two hours ‐ a real rarity for a horror film ‐ but both Wilson and Farmiga make for compelling leads capable of holding our interest. The risk here is that Wan’s sequel to his Insidious was a repetitive step down from the original, but I’m betting this follow-up maintains the original’s strong mix of character, narrative, and scares.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Release Date: June 24 (limited)
Director/Writer: Taika Waititi
Cast: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison
Why is it a must-see? Waititi’s film-making career is at an all-time high thanks to the success of the utterly hilarious What We Do in the Shadows and his entry into the Marvel universe as director of the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok, but between those two films he’s delivered this sweet, fun, family-friendly adventure for all ages. It’s a mismatched buddy comedy set against a beautiful New Zealand backdrop, and it manages to tickle both your funny bone and your tear ducts. Like Goldblum above, Neill is one of those terrifically appealing and typically underused actors who are always a pleasure to see on the big screen, and he plays a fantastically cantankerous prick here. He’s enough of a reason to watch, but newcomer Dennison proves himself a sparring partner with great comic timing/delivery. It’s just a wonderfully fun movie all around. [Read my full review.]
Release Date: June 3 (limited)
Director/Writer: Na Hong-jin
Cast: Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jeong-min
Why is it a must-see? Na’s first two films, The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, are brutally exciting thrillers that traffic in the dark psyche of good men, bad men, and all of the unfortunate souls trapped between them. While the latter grows a bit too big for its britches at times both films remain grounded in a painfully realistic world. Na’s latest continues the trend of brutality, excitement, and darkness, but he plays around a bit by mixing in heavy doses of humor and the unnatural. It’s an occasionally jumbled affair, but even at two and a half hours the film never sags or drags. You’re kept rapt by the characters and the narrative as it moves through comedic, dramatic, and horrific turns.
Swiss Army Man
Release Date: June 24 (limited)
Directors/Writers: Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert
Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe
Why is it a must-see? It’s a must-see because you’ve never quite seen anything like this before. Honest. There’s an originality at work here complimented by an energetic and highly creative visual style in a tale about love, life, and depression. It sounds like a downer, but the movie is actually funny, lively, and continually inventive even as its focus is drawn towards some dark places. Dano is terrifically heartbreaking in the lead role, the score pairs beautifully with the action and emotion, and you’ll never look at desert island survival films the same way again. [Read my full review.]
Also out this June: Approaching the Unknown, Finding Dory, Free State of Jones, Les cowboys, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.
Related Topics: Culture