In olden times, Memorial Day weekend marked the start of what was known as the Summer Movie Season. It’s an obsolete notion, now that would-be blockbuster releases are most heavily concentrated between mid-February (when Black Panther arrived this year) and the first weekend in May, and can come out basically any month of the year other than January. But as a kid who grew up planning my summers based on which hotly anticipated, frequently disappointing tentpole release came out when, I carry the torch for the idea that summertime is the season for escapist genre films that seek to overwhelm the senses.
My pal Alan Scherstuhl, the Village Voice‘s film editor, indulges me, assigning me each May to single out a dozen due before Labor Day that show promise. These features get shared among the whole New Times media ecosphere; sometimes even before they turn up in the Voice. No matter. Here’s the list.
It’s a tradition! Here once again
I choose a dozen movies due in the next three months for which I’ve got medium-high hopes.
The Nice Guys, which I expect history shall remember as my favorite film of the summer of 2016, came out last week; Captain America: Civil War, probably the best of the Marvel bunch, is old news. But Memorial Day weekend is still the traditional start of the summer movie season. Here, for the third consecutive Memorial Day weekend, is my Village Voice list of summer movies I want to see. Light up a phone in any of these and you’ll hear from me.
Stuff I Ran Out of Space to Say in My Just-Posted NPR Review of Jurassic World:
1) Yeah, the sense of wonder that still comes through in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 original comes back, fleetingly, a little, just in the opening act. I think that’s mostly down to Michael Giacchino’s score, which interpolates John Williams’ stately, noble Jurassic Park theme the way John Ottman’s music for Superman Returns interpolated Williams’ march from Superman.
1a) I haven’t been able to stop humming Williams’ “Theme from Jurassic Park” in the two days since I saw the new one. Giacchino is the busiest and probably best composer in the blockbuster game these days, as ubiquitous as Williams was 30 or 25 years ago. But I can’t recall any of his original Jurassic World music.
2) This movie, while enjoyable, is even better if you imagine there are subtitles under all the shots of dinosaurs’ faces, like when dog and bear confer in Anchorman.
It’s Memorial Day weekend, which a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away used to signal the start of the summer movie season. Sometime around the turn of the century, the summer movies began arriving the first weekend in May. In recent years the first weekend in April has become a perennial launchpad for Marvel movies and Fast & Furious flicks.
But I’m the sentimental type, so I (and The Village Voice and L.A. Weekly) waited until this week to post my look at ten releases coming up in roughly the next 10 weeks for which I’ve got grand or at least moderate hopes. Plus Magic Mike XXL, which I was asked to add so the list wouldn’t be “too straight.” I am aware that Channing Tatum is what the former John “Cougar” Mellencamp would call “a real good dancer,” but Steven Soderbergh is not un-retiring from theatrical filmmaking to direct this sequel, so I’d probably rather see Jurassic World or Ant-Man, neither of which made the cut.
Have a great summer, movie lovers.
Bob Hoskins and Jessica Rabbit. I’d basically forgotten Robert Zemeckis’ 1988 “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” existed.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Ed Harris in James Cameron’s underrated “The Abyss” (1989).
Health Ledger as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” (2008), the 10th-best summer blockbuster, according to us.
I bet all my chips on Sigourney Weaver and the cast of James Cameron’s “ALIENS,” the 6th-best summer blockbuster.
Yippie kai yay, movielover. Bruce Willis in John McTiernan’s “Die Hard,” 3rd-best summer blockbuster ever. John McClane 4eva.
“A boy and his Terminator,” writer-director James Cameron told T2 cowriter William Wisher.
I fought for John Landis’ “The Blues Brothers” (1980), to no avail.
Andrew Davis’ “The Fugitive” got a Best Picture nod in 1993, but only two votes in The Dissolve’s blockbuster poll.
In honor of the historic 25th anniversary of the release of Lethal Weapon 2, give or take a couple of days — no, that’s not actually why I did this — I elucidated the agonizing process of logrolling and negotiating required for me to determine my votes in The Dissolve‘s list of the 50 greatest summer blockbusters in this essay for NPR Monkey See.
Sometimes you need the Socratic Method and math to discover you’re dead inside.
“Shhhh, he’s saying we’re totally underrated.”
I’m a big admirer of Matt Singer‘s writing on film. Besides co-hosting the brilliantly titled Filmspotting SVU podcast — a streaming video-focused spinoff of Filmspotting, the long-running Chicago-based movies show I had the honor of appearing on a few times last year — he recently started Criticwire, a great blog about film criticism for Indiewire.
Each weekend, Matt sends a list of film critics a survey question and posts their responses the following Monday. I was thrilled to contribute for the first time to yesterday’s poll, on The Perfect Summer Movie. Almost every film I considered choosing for this honor did show up among the responses, suggesting strong generational (?) consensus on this issue. But I’m glad I went with a dark horse candidate. As always, I did a poor job of constraining my enthusiasm; Matt was kind to post an only slightly abridged version of my encomium — reproduced below in its breathless entirety — to Die Hard with a Vengeance. Continue reading