Film & TV

Here Are the Movies Worth Hoping for in the Season That Won't Stop

There was a time when the summer movie season was a season, sandwiched between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. By the 21st century, the start date drifted back to the first weekend in May. This year, the superhero flicks started arriving with Deadpool’s release on February 12. Only two months earlier, Star Wars: The Force Awakens had been unleashed, handily outgrossing every summer movie ever. All six prior Star Wars entries had been released in May, but that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

In any case, we’ve arrived at Memorial Day with at least nine intriguing hot-weather delicacies yet to be unveiled.
The Conjuring 2 (June 10) — Horrormeister James Wan stepped outside his wheelhouse to direct 2015’s well-received Furious 7, and at last check he was still slated to break into the superhero biz with Aquaman. In between, he made a second paranormal spookfest with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga reprising their roles as real-life ghostbusters Ed and Lorraine Warren. This time, they investigate the Enfield Poltergeist, a case of alleged demonic possession of two prepubescent sisters in a North London council house that transfixed the British press circa 1977-9. Wan’s command of tension and atmosphere made his similarly themed Insidious a chiller, too, but something about their period setting makes the Conjuring pictures even more irresistible.
Swiss Army Man (June 24) — While it probably contains less onscreen flatus than The BFG, the “Daniel Radcliffe-as-a-farting-corpse movie” tag that writer/directors Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan’s comic fantasy picked up after it screened at Sundance has proven tough to shake — even after Scheinert and Kwan shared the festival’s Best Director prize. Paul Dano plays a guy who finds himself stranded alone on an island; when a body (Radcliffe) washes ashore, the castaway finds it offers many practical conveniences, and good company, too! In their feature debut, Scheinert and Kwan reportedly evince a visual aesthetic as surreal and imaginative as their material.
The Neon Demon (June 24) — That I almost referred to Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn as a “provocateur” because he makes challenging, occasionally abrasive films says more about the anodyne tastes of Hollywood than it does about his work. The Drive director’s first out-and-out horror film stars Elle Fanning as a novice fashion model just arriving in Los Angeles, where her beauty and youth earn her some powerful enemies. “There is a 16-year-old girl inside every man,” Refn told reporters while promoting the movie at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, where the picture earned boos variously described as “resounding” and “lusty.” There must’ve been a reason.
The BFG (July 1) — Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s 1982 children’s book premiered at Cannes, too. Our critic Bilge Ebiri found it listless and unmagical, while Stephanie Zacharek, now at Time, was considerably more enthusiastic. But with Mark Rylance in the title role and a script by E.T.’s Melissa Mathison, who died before the film was completed, Spielberg’s first all-ages picture since Tintin sparkles with promise. Rylance’s Oscar-winning performance was the best thing about Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies last fall, and with Jemaine Clement, Rebecca Hall and Bill Hader rounding out the cast, The BFG feels like what the esteemed Cahiers du cinéma critic Joe Biden would call a BFD.
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Chris Klimek