Which movies to see in the theater this summer

Which movies to see in the theater this summer


JUDY WOODRUFF: We continue our series now
on the best summer entertainment. Tonight, Jeffrey Brown gets a preview of what’s
to come the big screen, from the blockbusters, to movies not to miss. It is part of our arts and culture series,
Canvas. JEFFREY BROWN: As always, blockbuster series
will dominate many theaters this summer, but there are also a number of smaller films that
may whet your appetite. To tell us more, Ann Hornaday, chief film
critic for The Washington Post, is back with us. She joins us this evening from Baltimore. Ann, nice to see you again. ANN HORNADAY, Film Critic, The Washington
Post: Thank you. JEFFREY BROWN: So, start with some of the
biggies. “Avengers: Endgame” is out, and it’s really
big. What else do you see coming that you’re interested
in? ANN HORNADAY: Well, this is the summer of
the sequel, prequel, reboot, remake. I counted more than a dozen movies that are
based on something else and something that we’re all familiar with. But two that really I have very high hopes
for are “Toy Story 4.” Anything with a 4 at the end fills me with
fear usually. But the people at Pixar are so good with their
stories. They really make sure that script is solid
before they proceed. So I do have cautiously high hopes for that
one. And “The Lion King,” a live-action remake
of the classic animated Disney tale, this is directed by Jon Favreau, who I think just
did a spectacular job with “Jungle Book,” sort of in a similar mode. So — and this has just an amazing voice cast
with Beyonce and Donald Glover and many others. So those are the two I have my eye on. JEFFREY BROWN: How about slightly smaller
scale? I mean, one that’s getting a lot of attention,
of course, is “Rocketman,” the Elton John film. That one. What else? ANN HORNADAY: Yes, that’s a lot of fun. One that I’m — I have kind of a crush on
right now is a raunch-com called “Booksmart.” It’s a coming of age movie, in the tradition
of a “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” or “Dazed and Confused” or “Superbad.” But this thing features two young women, Beanie
Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, who are really charming as these two girls seeking a night
of debauchery in modern-day L.A., the directorial debut of the actress Olivia Wilde. I think she really makes a very assured, very
graceful directing debut with this movie. So I would encourage people to check this
one out. It’s a lot of fun. JEFFREY BROWN: There’s one called “The Kitchen,”
right? ANN HORNADAY: I am very intrigued by this. This stars Tiffany Haddish and Melissa McCarthy,
as well as Elisabeth Moss, but in a drama, and this is set in the 1970s in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s based on a graphic novel. So it’s not based on a true story, but it
sounds very reminiscent of The Westies and the gangland wars and competitions that were
going on in Hell’s Kitchen in that era. It’s such an evocative atmosphere and environment
that I — and I can’t wait to see what Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish do in a more
dramatic setting. JEFFREY BROWN: And then if we go even smaller
to some of the independents, there were a few you were interested that came out of Sundance,
right? ANN HORNADAY: Yes, there were two in particular
that got a lot of buzz coming out of Park City in January. One was called “The Last Black Man in San
Francisco,” starring Jimmie Fails, directed by Joe Talbot, who got an award at Sundance
for this movie. It’s about a man sort of navigating this rapidly
gentrifying San Francisco that is being priced out of any kind of livability for normal people. It reminds me thematically a little bit of
“Blindspotting,” a movie that I was a huge fan of last year. And, again, this got incredible positive buzz
coming out of Sundance. I’m very much looking forward to that. Another one, called “The Farewell” with Awkwafina,
who a lot of people remember from her scene-stealing performance in “Crazy Rich Asians,” this is
sort of a serio-comedy about a Chinese family who learn that their grandmother is facing
death and want to give her a wedding to sort of send her off without telling her that she’s
actually dying. And so it kind of reminds me a little bit
of maybe “The Big Sick” in terms of the tone. So I have high hopes for this one, too. JEFFREY BROWN: What about documentaries? Strikes me that there’s so many good ones
out, and they continue to come. What’s new, what’s coming? ANN HORNADAY: One is called “Maiden,” which
just made a sensation at the Toronto Film Festival last year. It’s about the first all-female team to sail
in the Whitbread yachting race, a really grueling, long sailing race. And it just — it has captivated audiences
on the festival circuit. And then one that I saw recently at the Maryland
Film Festival here in Baltimore, again out of Sundance, is called “Cold Case Hammarskjold.” And it’s about the death of the U.N. chief
Dag Hammarskjold in 1961, which for many years has been suspected to have been a murder. And this movie takes the true crime genre
into completely untold territory. It’s very unsettling, very well done and a
really excellent — I think, excellent piece of nonfiction storytelling. JEFFREY BROWN: Let me just ask you briefly,
Ann, does summer matter anymore as a season? How do studios think about it? How do you, as a critic, think about it? What do we look for in the summer now? ANN HORNADAY: Well, I do think it matters. And the season has been extended. But what fascinates me is that it has really
become a documentary season. I mean, last year, the summer saw these breakout
hits, like “RBG,” “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” “Free Solo,” “Three Identical Strangers.” And I guess the term of art for this is counterprogramming,
right? So, if people don’t really want to go to a
spectacle or a blockbuster, it’s a chance for these smaller movies that connect on a
human level and become really big hits and punch far above their weight. So, that’s always what I look forward to. JEFFREY BROWN: All right, Ann Hornaday of
The Washington Post, thanks very much. ANN HORNADAY: Thank you. JUDY WOODRUFF: So many movies, so little time.

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