If you watch TV or go to the movies with anything resembling regularity, you are already aware of the many tent-pole, “event” films coming out before Labor Day. In an effort not to be redundant or waste your time further, here are some titles you might not be aware of and should consider seeing, in order of their slated New York/Los Angeles release dates.
“First Reformed” (May 18) stars Ethan Hawke in one of his finest performances as a man of the cloth who offers council to a married couple on the rocks which leads to multiple ethical/spiritual complications. It is talky and intense and is just what we’ve come to expect from controversial screenwriter Paul Schrader (“Taxi Driver,” “The Last Temptation of Christ”).
“In Darkness” (May 25) stars co-writer Natalie Dormer as a blind English musician who “hears” a murder (ala “Blow Out”) and becomes the possible target of the killer. Given the success of “A Quiet Place” and its unconventional use of non-verbal storytelling, this could be a big game-changer. Also fitting this mold is “Adrift” (June 1), a thriller starring Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin as a couple stranded in the Pacific Ocean and must find dry land without the aid of audible communication assistance.
Long the target of satire and condescension, Fred Rodgers (“Mister Rodger’s Neighborhood”) is the subject of the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” (June 8). Yes, he wore ugly sweaters and had a slightly fey delivery but was also an ordained minister, a PBS pioneer, and was bestowed multiple awards, including a Peabody and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Registering high on the weird-o-meter (June 8) is "Hotel Artemis" — the directorial debut of screenwriter Drew Pearce. The sci-fi thriller stars Jodie Foster as The Nurse, a caregiver to injured criminals and assassins who, because of their unsavory profiles, have limited health care options.
For the follow-up to his well-received “It Follows,” writer/director David Robert Mitchell has crafted the noir comedy “Under the Silver Lake” (June 22). Hints of Elmore Leonard and Paul Thomas Anderson abound as Andrew Garfield becomes the accidental investigator looking into the disappearance of his neighbor (Elvis Presley’s granddaughter Riley Keough) with whom he’s recently fallen in love.
The incandescent Jessica Chastain stars as Catherine Weldon, the late 19th century artist in “Woman Walks Ahead” (June 29). Leaving the familiar confines of her Brooklyn home, the Swiss-born Weldon traveled west to paint a portrait of the iconic Sitting Bull and wound up becoming his close confidant and political assistant.
After a three year absence, director Gus Van Zant returns with the hotly anticipated “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot” (July 13), a biographical comedy/drama about John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix), a quadriplegic single panel cartoonist who regularly made fun of physically disabled people.
For the first film following his acclaimed performance in “Call Me By Your Name,” Timothée Chalamet plays the lead in “Hot Summer Nights” (June 27), another coming-of-age drama, this time set on Cape Cod. Daniel (Chalamet) makes the huge mistake of mixing business with pleasure when he starts dating the sister (Maika Monroe) of his marijuana-dealing partner (Alex Roe).
In what will likely mark the final feature film appearance of Kevin Spacey, “Billionaire Boys Club” (August 3) is based on the true story of a group of wealthy preppie types who try to get richer by involving themselves in a dangerous Ponzi scheme. Directed by James Cox (“Wonderland”), it also stars Ansel Elgort (“Baby Driver”), Taron Egerton (“Kingsman: Secret Service”) and Emma Roberts.
Already receiving major buzz and positive reviews is Swiss director Björn Runge’s “The Wife” (August 3). Based on the novel of the same name by Meg Wolitzer, it follows Joan Castleman (Glenn Close), the wife of and “woman-behind-the man” of Joe (Jonathan Pryce) as they travel to Stockholm where Joe is set to receive the Nobel Prize for literature.
“BlacKkKlansman” (August 10), written and directed by the always interesting Spike Lee (based on the book “Black Klansman” by Ron Stallworth) is a story about a black Colorado undercover detective (John David Washington) who joins the KKK and eventually becomes the leader of the local chapter. This could provide Lee with the creative and commercial jump-start his career so desperately needs.
“Three Seconds” (August 17) is a dramatic thriller based on the novel by writing partners credited as “Roslund & Hellström” which stars Ana de Armas (“Blade Runner 2049”), Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen and Joel Kinnamon. If the cast isn’t enough to rope you in, the plot — Polish drug-dealers trying to break into the New York market and possibly being brought down by a former Polish cop — should seal the deal.
Michael Clark has written for over 30 local and national media outlets and is currently the only newspaper-based film critic providing original content in the Atlanta Top 10 media marketplace and he recently co-founded the Atlanta Film Critics Circle. Over the last two decades, Mr. Clark has written over 3,500 movie reviews and film related articles for the Gwinnett Daily Post and is one of the scant few conservative-minded U.S. critics. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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