The only heavily-opinionated Summer movie guide you’ll need, part deux!
Yesterday, during this totally necessary and not-at-all late-to-the-party Summer Movie Guide, we ran through all of the big-name films that are hoping to relieve you of your precious pennies, pounds, credit cards, etc. over the next three months. But Summer Movie Season or, indeed, movies in general are not just the big-ticket items featuring a handsome white dude named Chris squeezed into some amount of spandex. No, sometimes you want to take a break from that and seek out something a little bit more intimate, a little weirder, a little cheaper, a little more under-the-radar, which can be harder than ever to do given that movies without 9 figure budgets are typically laughed out of a Hollywood studio exec or Cinema head’s office these days.
That’s what this half of Your 2017 Summer Movie Guide is all about! Split into their various genres, here you will find a fair few (but not all because who has that kind of time) of the more mid-range films that, once upon a time, allowed those giant blockbusters to happen, as well as some straight-up Indie fare that will almost definitely deserve better than the release plan they get shafted with. Not all of these are going to be good, but neither will the blockbusters, so you take the good with the Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Onwards, Aoshima!
After having had one hell of a banner year in 2016, animation in 2017 seems to be having one of those rest years that come when you’ve spent all of your energies on the one before. Aside from LEGO Batman and Boss Baby, which is far better than the relentless cynicism that has been undeservedly thrown its way, the year so far has lacked in anything that can even reach the dizzying heights of “mediocre,” and the Summer’s big hitters in that department (as detailed in the last part) shockingly seem unlikely to change that run of form. That leaves the C-material and, well, who here was excited for a sequel to The Nut Job, the worst animated film of the decade so far? Well the first one was released in January and resultantly ended up making money, so here comes Nutty by Nature (August 11th), presumably because I need to pay penance for how good last year’s offerings were. Little Bird’s Big Adventure (July 21st), meanwhile, is getting a nationwide release despite barely looking at the level of a first-year student film.
Remember last year’s Robinson Crusoe, otherwise known in America as The Wild Life? That steaming pile of bewilderingly generic garbage’s production company, nWave Pictures, are back once again with The Son of Bigfoot (August 11th), in which a young boy without a father discovers that his long-lost Dad is actually… Bigfoot?! (*cue comedy record scratch and Katrina and The Waves*) If nothing else, that film is at least in the running for the most laughably awful trailer of the year. Fortunately, there IS something animated worth seeing this Summer and it’s out this Friday! Claude Barras’s beautifully sweet My Life as a Courgette (June 2nd), which I raved the living daylights out of when I saw it in its native French at the London Film Festival last year, follows a group of mentally-scarred older children at a small orphanage as they bond, fight against abusive former custodians, and grapple with the shrinking likelihood that they’ll ever become part of a loving family again. It’s got strong shades of Tracey Beaker, which is to say that this is very melancholic but ultimately hopeful, and you need to check it out.
Comedy has not been having a good decade so far. Now I know that every year, you get maybe three truly good comedies and that the rest range from “decent” to “truly abhorrent,” but comedy has barely been living up to those incredibly low standards these past few years. Multiple times over the years, I have filled up great amounts of my Bottom 10 lists with comedies, and that really hurts because I adore a good comedy and I want to see the whole genre do better, dammit! Fortunately, although the genre is mostly underrepresented by the Summer’s line-up, there are a couple of films coming that have the faintest chance of being half-decent. The House (June 30th) teams up the writers of Bad Neighbours, still one of the decade’s best comedies, with Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Jason Mantzoukas for a tale of illegal underground casinos and Will Ferrell’s complete inability to count. Girls Trip (July 28th), meanwhile, aims to be Bad Moms but for Black women, even sharing a star (Jada Pinkett Smith), and perhaps also with jokes this time.
But the big one, because let’s all drop the pretence that anybody actually gave a shit about Baywatch, is Rough Night (August 25th). On paper, this should be a home run: the creative team is Broad City’s Paul W. Downs (who co-wrote the screenplay) and Lucia Anello (the other co-writer and sole director), the cast is similarly stacked with proven talent like Ilana Glazer, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Zoë Kravitz, and Scarlett Johansson, and it’s a proper R-rated female comedy aimed at women and primarily by women (which gives it a leg up on Bad Moms). Of course, nowadays in the comedy world, “on paper” don’t mean shit, and these trailers have been worryingly sporadic with their laughs. Then again, Sony have been notoriously disastrous when it comes to marketing female comedies (Exhibit A: last year’s unfairly-maligned Ghostbusters), so let’s wait and see. Plus, I need this to be hysterical purely to shut up all the whiney manbabies that have crawled out of the woodwork and suddenly collectively remembered the justifiably forgotten Very Bad Things, with which Rough Night very tangentially shares a premise.
The Summer drama is an often-curious beast. Ostensibly designed to provide some much-needed counterprogramming to the teen-focussed blockbuster market, they oftentimes end up as little more than a dumping ground for the films that wouldn’t cut it during Awards Season. Hence why a film like Churchill (June 16th) is kicking off the Summer’s big drama flicks, because it looks real bad and also because I personally have no time for more Churchill-fellatio, thanks very much. Fortunately, this Summer also brings with it Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled (July 14th), for which she has become only the second woman ever to win Best Director at Cannes and which will hopefully break her recent creative cold streak; it being an adaptation of a novel by Thomas P. Cullinan (and also a sort-of remake of a Clint Eastwood adaptation of said from the early 70s) about an all-girl Mississippi boarding school during the Civil War that takes in a wounded Confederate soldier. On the other hand: The Book of Henry (June 23rd). Maybe Colin Trevorrow just shouldn’t make movies anymore.
I’ve already covered most of the dedicated action movies in the previous part, so here are a couple of mop-ups. Simon West apparently has three films coming out this year, and at least one of them is going to cinemas, that one being Stratton (July 28th), a Dominic Cooper action vehicle that’s apparently been done for a while yet is only just getting a release. This happens to low-budget action vehicles all the time, the Noomi Rapace-starring Unlocked came out just last month to deafening indifference, but this one’s special because it’s specifically focussed around a terror attack on UK soil. Great timing! Also focussing on terror on UK soil, but of the “Based on a Triumphant True Story” mould is 6 Days (August 4th) which depicts the Iranian Embassy siege of 1980 and the SAS’s incredibly risky yet successful defusal of said. Then there’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard (August 18th) which poses the question, “Can Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson yelling obscenities at each other solely sustain a 90-minute movie?” Here’s hoping!
OK, let’s kick off with the big one, Bong Joon-ho’s Okja (June 28th) which is going straight-to-Netflix. That’s both a shame, because Bong Joon-ho films deserve cinema space, and a godsend, because it means that Netflix is willing to finance a Bong Joon-ho film! You think Paramount would finance a Bong Joon-ho film? Unsurprisingly, given that this by the guy who directed Snowpiercer (the best film none of us have technically watched due to it still inexplicably having no UK distribution), Okja looks outstanding, and I guarantee that I will shed buckets if the creature bites it because LOOK HOW GODDAMN CUTE IT IS! Speaking of Chris Evans, June also sees the Marc Webb-directed Gifted (June 16th) and the Woody Harrelson-starring Wilson (June 9th) finally being dumped into UK cinemas after America got done not caring about them earlier in the year.
Far more interestingly, David Lowery of Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and the shockingly-decent Pete’s Dragon remake from last year brings us A Ghost Story (August 11th), a mediation on grief and legacy as seen through the eyes of a deliberately childish ghost costume. I cannot tell you if the intentional juxtaposition will work, although early critical word says it does, but it definitely looks unique and gorgeous. Plus, it’s an A24 production and those are always worth a watch. August also sees the release of Gareth Tunley’s lightweight but promising directorial debut, The Ghoul (August 4th), which I saw at last year’s London Film Festival. The one I’m most looking forward to, though, is The Big Sick (July 28th) in which Michael Showalter directs a semi-fictionalised tale of the courtship between the film’s writers, Kumail Nanjiani (who plays himself) and Emily V. Gordon (who is played by Zoe Kazan). As you can hopefully see in the trailer above, it looks incredibly sweet, and may hopefully be a long-overdue breakout moment for Nanjiani, who deserves that kind of mainstream attention. Also, Nanjiani and Gordon are adorable together, so you’d better believe that I am rooting for them.
The Name Films We Know Little About
In my defence, the trailer for Steven Soderbergh’s official return from “retirement,” Logan Lucky (August 25th) didn’t drop until just after I hit “schedule” on my post on Sunday night and like hell was I going to go back and spend another half hour or so awkwardly attaching it on to the end. So, yeah, until about 48 hours ago, we knew relatively little about Soderbergh’s grand return to the fold of filmmaking, to such an extent that I wondered if it’d even meet its release date. Then that trailer up above dropped and it turned out that Soderbergh was heading back to the same well that brought us the not-nearly-talked-about-enough The Informant!, so yep I am SOLD! That utterly maniacal cast list and the heist movie premise are just extra-special icings on top of an already delicious cake, in my mind.
As for films we actually do know next-to-nothing about despite them being out in just under three months’ time: the unauthorised, as everybody involved has to repeatedly and strong assert, Morrissey biopic England is Mine (August 4th) is forthcoming and will almost definitely not at all be a giant mess, why on Earth would you think otherwise? Meanwhile, Doug Liman not only has one film being released in 2017 that you didn’t know about – The Wall, which is yet to receive a UK release date, somewhat unsurprisingly given its constrained premise and lack of sellable star power – but two! American Made (August 25th, dear God, enough with August 25th already) is a biopic starring Tom Cruise as drug-smuggler-turned-DEA-informant Barry Seal, and since it’s currently lacking a trailer or anything to sell it, we shall instead have to refer to it as “the film where 2 crew members perished in a plane crash nearby.” Seriously, is this thing actually coming out as scheduled or what?
Finally, the sequel virus has also spread to documentaries, since Al Gore now brings us An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power (August 25th, no, seriously, stop now) and creatively-spent Secondary School Science teachers the nation over rejoice since they have something new they can put on for a period when they don’t fancy doing any actual teaching! Mine always went for Dumb & Dumber, though, which is why I now cannot watch the first hour of that film ever again.
And that wraps up Your Summer Movie Guide for 2017! Got anything you’re looking forward to, or anything I’ve missed off? Let me know in the comments below!
Callie Petch is gonna strut, strut, strut, strut.