By Megan Reilly
Wondering how you’re going to pass the time this summer? Well, it’s a perfect time to catch up on your movies, new and old. Check out the suggestions we’ve assembled for you!
Catch ’em Online!
Yo La Tengo Trilogy
The music of Hoboken-based indie-rockers Yo La Tengo serves as the perfect soundtrack to hazy road trips on balmy afternoons, so it’s no surprise that the films they’ve scored form a summer movie canon of sorts. Their soothing melodies trail the highfaluting art dealer of Phil Morrison’s Junebug as she travels to her new husband’s rural North Carolina hometown to secure some paintings from a local eccentric. As she gets to know his family, she navigates their restrained tension and affection to the tune of Yo La Tengo’s plaintive lullabies, which inject the film’s themes of birth and domesticity into its soundscape. Their score sets the contemplative tone of Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy, in which a pair of long-standing, but adrift friends spend a weekend hiking in the sun-dappled Cascade Mountains near Portland. Mark, a married father-to-be, and Kurt, a wistful vagabond, ruminate on their diverging paths as they make their way toward elusive hot springs. The music suffuses their journey with a sense of nostalgia, which likewise pervades the band’s score for Greg Mottola’s Adventureland, set in the late 80’s, in which a college grad attempts to save up for a move to New York City by working a summer gig at an amusement park. Kick back to these serene summer flicks and let the breezy sounds of Yo La Tengo wash over you.
The central dynamic of Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies – the flirty friendship of beer-brewing co-workers Kate (Olivia Wilde) and Luke (Jake Johnson) – radiates a heat that has little to do with its setting during the warmer months in Chicago, so crank up the AC and grab a cold one. Swanberg’s choice to allow his actors to improvise elevates the pair’s will-they-or-won’t-they status beyond the cliché: their obvious attraction plays out in blushed cheeks and warm, relaxed displays of physical affection. Any moment of friction is diffused by an icy glass of beer, offered as an olive branch by the offending party. And check out Swanberg’s latest, Happy Christmas, when it hits theaters later this month.
To get the most out of Sidney Lumet’s 1957 classic 12 Angry Men, wait for the most humid day of the summer and don your starchiest white button-down so that you can swelter along with the exasperated jury. Henry Fonda’s cool, collected Juror 8 chips away at the sweat-and-machismo-fueled arguments of his fellow members as the heat and tension threaten to burst the pressure-filled room. The black-and-white palette and biting dialogue provide a weighty respite from the typically buoyant, sun-drenched summer fare – just be sure to crack a window.
Head to the Theaters!
Richard Linklater – the summer movie master behind 1993’s Dazed and Confused – has been working on Boyhood since 2002, when the film’s star Ellar Coltrane was eight years old, and completed production just last year. In an unfounded take on a coming-of-age tale, the film tracks its protagonist (and Coltrane) through adolescence, exploring the evolution of his family life along the way. Patricia Arquette and Linklater-standby Ethan Hawke round out the cast as the boy’s parents. The film received a chorus of critical accolades during its festival run, but come July, you can decide for yourself whether Boyhood is more than just an interesting experiment.
When artfully combined, the tried-and-true summer genres of comedy and zombie flick can deliver double the entertainment value – see 2009’s Zombieland and last year’s Warm Bodies. Jeff Baena’s directorial debut Life After Beth, set to hit theaters in August, follows in that tradition with the story of Zach (Dane DeHaan), who is reunited with his undead girlfriend Beth (Aubrey Plaza). Comedy stalwarts Cheryl Hines, John C. Reilly, and Molly Shannon promise to deliver laughs even if the zombie romance falls flat.
Megan Reilly is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies English and Cinema Studies. Netflix has deemed her taste preference to be “dark, cerebral, foreign dramas featuring a strong female lead,” but she also likes Clerks.
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