It’s summer and that means carefully monitoring the weather and too many discussions about the weather in public and then when it reaches optimal sunny summer temperatures it’s time to do one thing: retreat into the darkened movie theatre, or more likely these days, to the home cave, for watching movies in the cool dark.
Here are the films we recommend drawn from all sources, in films both old and new, that have captured our attention for a first watch or a revisit:
Len and Company (2015) Directed by Tim Godsall
We’ve reviewed this independent film before, having fallen in love with it at a glance when we stumbled upon it on Netflix. There are pages more we could say about it, myriad ways to enjoy it and much to unpack in this stage-play turned indie film gem about genius, outsiders, graft, success, money, selling out, legacy, Liverpudlians, the glory days of music and the sad and troubling state of the game today, and Englishness vs. Americanness. Oh and getting old, getting stuck, getting unstuck, diversions and tiny acts of grace that are often like moving mountains. Is it a slow motion nervous breakdown Len is in? Or is it a perfectly reasonable disconnection from technology, noise, and the public self that he needs, deserves and can afford, if only the piggies would leave him alone? It might be both, shifting like a breeze, from minute to minute, and Ryhs Ifans is a revelation, utterly believable and iconic in the skin of Len.
This clumsy albeit loving recommendation should not turn you off the film- it’s no heavy handed message piece. Quite the contrary. It’s a quiet little cup of tea on a rainy afternoon that is very, very, funny and created with an economy of flash and a precise perfection of words that is the particular genius of Rock and Roll songwriters or playwrights. See it.
Oasis: Supersonic (2016) Directed by Mat Whitecross
The much buzzed about documentary about the rise of Oasis & the Gallagher brothers from the capable, deeply plugged in and utterly present Mat Whitecross (Spike Island) (now on Netflix) is worth all the applause you might think it was getting from just nostalgic fanboys. It is a special challenge for a filmmaker to separate a well-known story and iconic music from its myth/legend/gossip or whatever the once-mighty, feral British press would have you believe was the story. Whitecross may be the only one who could have done it with such grace and clear-eyed appreciation, not to mention co-operation.
Read our full review here
Alphaville (1965) Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
“In quest of knowledge, I watched night create day…Away, away, says hate. Closer, closer, says love. ”
(Stills via Chaotic Cinema)
What a Way to Go! (1964) Directed by J. Lee Thompson
The spectacular 1960s, camp fashion film you’ve never heard of stars “Shirley MacLaine as perennial widow Louisa May Foster – and Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly and Dick Van Dyke as her string of rich husbands who all meet with a series of slapstick deaths – the film chronicles Louisa May’s struggle to find happiness amidst a flurry of ball gowns and splendiferous millinery created by Edith Head (for which the costume designer received an Academy Award nomination).”
(read more at Another Mag)
Breathless (1960) Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
Watch a supercut of Godard’s greatest films:
The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) Directed by Andre Ovredal
Summer is the time we lift our moratorium on Horror as the long days make chills and our legit fear of ghosts tolerable for at least the weeks after the solstice. In recent years we’ve blessed these passing seasons with new classics The Babadook and The Witch, both of which we think are essential viewing for film fans, filmmakers and fans of all genres. They are art. This year’s first summer chiller is a bit of bio-horror which lays it all out there right in the title. The reveal of just who and what Jane Doe is and her origins is one that we saw coming very early on, leading to that smug sense of superiority that is one of horror-viewing’s best effects. The film has a nice, indie feel with a crafted hands on approach with what feels like a minimum of CG effects, breaking no new ground in horror, maybe but offering genuine scares for the sensitive. Horror’s great gift is to get us where we live by turning viewer imagination on itself, and here the film excels. The father-son coroner team played by Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch add some prestige to the proceedings, and the direction by Andre Ovredal of the indie masterpiece Trollhunter delivers the same sweeping scope of mystery, (and great sound) this time in a small space/single set, that he did in the woods in search of trolls.
And a few great comedies we recommend you revisit this summer that hold up (recent rewatches) Tropic Thunder (genius, they don’t and they can’t make ’em like that anymore, one of the cleverest scripts since Wilder); Oceans Eleven (Brad Pitt, in underplaying mode has more chemistry with his frequent snacks than any of his leading ladies); Role Models (hilarious, R-rated, wherein Paul Rudd finds his Id); Total Recall (just look at those effects, listen to that dialogue, and marvel at where all the budget went, for it was not on those ’67 Star Trek sets. It’s a laugh.) Tenacious D In the Pick of Destiny (all of these comedies are available on Netflix).
By Jacqueline Howell (twitter: @jacksdisarm)