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END OF SUMMER FILM WRAP-UP

on August 30, 2014

As we close out another long, hot summer, let’s take a few moments to digest the films that dominated the landscape. First, let’s look at what an incredible season it was for science fiction films and films from the various comic universes. There were more palatable blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy, Godzilla, and X-Men: Days of Future Past, which eased the blow of more absurd fare like Tom Cruise’s sci-fi Groundhog’s Day, Edge of Tomorrow. The chilling, contemplative Under the Skin absolutely takes my pick for best science fiction film of the summer. Unlike that clunky, obtuse other summertime Scarlett Johansson vehicle Lucy, (She is EVERYWHERE nowadays), Under the Skin contains a deep subtext about the power of lust and its mutually destructive wake. Both the tone and aesthetics of Under The Skin refer back to the surreal, immersive science fiction films of the 1970’s, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, or 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy, directed by James Gunn (previously known for the comedy-horror film Slither), but I couldn’t be happier to see Marvel play with more world building. I have been lobbying for Chris Pratt to be a superstar since the first season of Parks and Recreation, so hopefully this is his moment. Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent—which I held such high hopes for—was a soporific, neutered alternative take on one of Disney’s greatest villains. At least the costuming was badass. My little sister’s favorite film of the summer was the tear-jerker The Fault in Our Stars. This film was surprisingly authentic, avoiding false sentimentality and most cloying emotional stereotypes. Smaller, less flashy films also held sway this summer.

Richard Linklater’s Boyhood has become the standout independent film of the summer. Filmed over twelve years with the same cast, Boyhood follows a boy named Mason who literally grows up before the camera. In Boyhood, Linklater utilizes subtle visual cues to signify leaps in time, and peppers the narrative with pop-cultural emblems, music being one of the the most effective. Mason’s story is punctuated with the heartbreaks of youth, but Linklater deftly avoids the gimmicks of melodrama associated with putting nostalgia on screen—sad moments exist on the same dramatic level as the happy ones. Boyhood is incredible in its technical scope and the deftness with the intimacy of the narrative. Another smaller film that made a huge splash was Obvious Child, starring SNL alum Jenny Slate (and the voice of Marcel the Shell). Slate plays Donna, a stand-up comic who goes through a breakup and finds solace in a one night stand. Afterwards—spoiler alert—she finds herself pregnant. Unfortunately billed as an ‘abortion comedy’—which I find an incredible ignorant description—director Gillian Robespierre treats the subject matter without any clichés or a glib approach. Obvious Child is brutally honest, filled with candor and a hint of gallows humor. There are moments of deep pain and struggle. It touches on themes of arrested development—needing to grow up and to accept responsibility for who you are both onstage and off.

It’s always a little bittersweet when summer movie season comes to an end. Thankfully, there are a ton of great movies to ease the blow. Here is a quick overlook of the early fall films to get excited for:

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY
SEPTEMBER 12

Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy play a husband and wife, and the movie is going to be split in two in order to tell the story from each one’s perspective. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is an exploration of how a married couple in New York City deal with emotional, life-altering experiences.

TUSK
SEPTEMBER 19

I am probably anticipating this movie way more than I should be. A horror film written and directed by Kevin Smith, Justin Long plays a podcaster who travels to Canada to interview a mysterious seafarer who ends up torturing him mentally and physically, eventually modifying his body into becoming a WALRUS. It’s going to be absolutely bonkers.

GONE GIRL
OCTOBER 3

Based on the widely-praised novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl stars Ben Affleck as a husband under suspicion for his seemingly saintly wife’s disappearance. But not all is how it seems! Directed by David Fincher, it has that classic Fincheresque mood and aesthetic—excited for this adaptation.

ST. VINCENT
OCTOBER 24

Bill Murray plays the babysitter we all wish we had as kids as St. Vincent de Van Nuys, a misanthropic, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door to a young boy to whom he becomes an unlikely mentor. Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, and Chris O’Dowd co-star.

Well thats a wrap for summer! I hope you all savor those last minute moments of sunshine past 4:30 pm, warm-weather cocktails, and the rest of the lovely things summer brings. » 

Rachael Haigh



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