PICTURED: Clockwise from top left: The High Note, Wonder Woman 1984, Da 5 Bloods and The Lovebirds.
by Tim Pompey
For all you avid movie fans, welcome to the new norm. Yes, movies are being released,
but you’ll have to cross distributors and viewing platforms to find them. The name of the
game is streaming.
Most of them probably won’t be in theaters. Some of them, however, might be released
simultaneously in both theaters and as video on demand. Amazon Prime, Disney+ and
Netflix have their own summer lineups. And some, we know not yet where they’ll be
shown. Everything listed here is currently on the schedule, but dates and formats, as
always, are subject to change. It’s going to be a busy summer, so we’re here to help
you find some of your favorites. It’s like a scavenger hunt, except way more expensive.
Remember The Big Sick? This is a reunion between Kumail Nanjiani and director
Michael Showalter. It’s love and mystery as Nanjiani and Issa Rae, on the verge of a
marital breakup, become involved in a murder mystery and must clear their good
names. Nothing like infamy and bloodlust to help solve a family crisis. (Netflix)
Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan are military spouses who form a choir while
their husbands are stationed in Afghanistan. A little 4/4 harmony to soothe their
loneliness. Don’t laugh. It got rave reviews at the Toronto Film Festival. Nobody does
comedy/melodrama like the Brits — and it’s directed by Peter Cattaneo, of The Full
The High Note
Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of the esteemed Diana Ross and star of Black-ish, plays
a superstar singer with plenty of real-life trouble. Dakota Johnson is her ambitious
personal assistant who wants to help get her back on the charts. Will she? Won’t she?
I’ll bet mother and daughter talk shop. (Amazon Prime, Apple TV)
Elisabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale) gets to sink her teeth into another dark role as
she plays real-life short story writer and novelist Shirley Jackson (The Haunting of Hill
House) in director Josephine Decker’s Sundance-award winning drama. Think Who’s
Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Moss and Michael Stuhlbarg get to chew up the scenery and
each other. Writers are a difficult bunch, so don’t expect a happy ending.
Director Boaz Yakin’s film of love breakups is a work of gender fluidity as two artists
chronicle the beginning and the end of their romantic relationship. A slew of dancers get
to try on both their male and female sides as they switch roles. You may need to take
notes to keep track.
Da 5 Bloods
Director Spike Lee is back with his latest about four Vietnam War veterans — Delroy
Lindo, Clarke Peters, Norm Lewis and Isiah Whitlock Jr. — who return to Vietnam to
find the remains of their squad leader, Chadwick Boseman. Also they’re looking for
treasure. What? Call it a model for multitasking. (Netflix)
The King of Staten Island
What’s a summer without a Judd Apatow comedy? Saturday Night Live cast member
Pete Davidson recalls his Staten Island childhood. Drugs. Sex. Dreams of being a tattoo
artist. Also starring Marisa Tomei. Good cast. Hopefully with a little reality mixed in for
grit and depth. And with an R rating, you can bet it’s not for little ears.
Director Kenneth Branagh seems fixated on classic books. His latest film stars Judi
Dench and Josh Gad in the adaptation of the fantasy book series about a young
criminal who kidnaps a fairy and ransoms her to an evil pixie in exchange for his father.
One for the kids? Sounds pretty dark. (Disney +)
Looper star Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the pilot of a crowded European flight who must
take command of the aircraft during a hostage situation. This is obviously pre-pandemic.
German director Patrick Vollrath is making his debut in this international thriller.
You must have at least one important documentary release during the summer. This
one chronicles how Dr. Larry Nassar, recently sentenced to prison for sexual abuse of
USA Gymnastics athletes, got away with decades of assault. Includes segments with Maggie Nichols — the first person to report his abuse. (Netflix)
The Truth (La Vérité)
What do you get when two famous French actresses team up with a Japanese director?
Family fireworks in Paris. Catherine Deneuve, Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke team
up in Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest drama. Paris is on fire.
The Old Guard
Another Charlize Theron action flick. This one’s a stretch, but with Theron in it, we’ll give
her the benefit of the doubt. Theron is Andy, an immortal mercenary whose latest
mission is to protect the secret of her own longevity from nasty profiteers. In America,
you might call them venture capitalists. You may have to just roll with this and enjoy the
Seems that Christopher Nolan, aka Memento and Inception, is playing with time
again as secret agent John David Washington must work to prevent World War III. But
the whole film has been kept under wraps, so expect surprises and a lot of cool film
technology. Mind bending. Time trending. Beyond that, no one’s talking because . . . it’s
The Disney animated film from 1998 becomes the latest remake in live action. Chinese
star Yifei Liu is the family maiden who must disguise herself as a man to defend her
family’s honor. I’m guessing this one will premiere on Disney +.
A biopic about the origins of radioactive research starring Rosamund Pike as 19th
century scientist Maria Skłodowska-Curie. What did your parents always tell you when
you were watching TV? Don’t sit too close to the screen? Words to live by. (Amazon
Gotta have at least one horror/thriller in the mix. Dave Franco launches his directorial
debut with wife Alison Brie. Two couples rent a vacation home and begin to suspect the
owner of the house is spying on them. Yikes. Pull the curtains. Lock the doors. Check
for cameras. Sounds kind of kinky.
Wonder Woman 1984
Director Patty Jenkins returns for the sequel as villains Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) and Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) face off against the mighty Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot). I don’t
remember. Was 1984 a good year? Well, I guarantee that there will be romance and
fireworks, so I guess the answer is yes.
Sound of Metal
Turns out noted actor Riz Ahmed (Venom) is also a noted rapper and drummer in his
native UK. In this film, he is a drummer and former heroin addict who begins to lose his
hearing and must adapt to his new life. Sounds like heavy metal to me. (Amazon Prime)
Singer/songwriter Janelle Monáe is a successful writer who is caught up in an
alternative reality in the Old South and must find her way back to the present. Not a
happy place to be. We hope she makes it.
The competition is on as Ethan Hawke and Kyle MacLachlan play dueling inventors Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison racing to harness electricity. Never mind that The Current War (2017) sort of covered the same ground. I guess history bears repeating.
A Quiet Place Part II
Director John Krasinski with wife Emily Blunt created one of the scariest and quietest
movies of 2018. Two years later, they are back for a sequel, presumably with more
quiet terror and a few more aliens to avoid. Supposedly we’ll also learn where those
aliens came from. Also, how not to step on a nail when you’re being pursued in the
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil) and starring his wife Milla Jovovich
(also from Resident Evil). Featuring one of my favorites, Ron Perlman (Hell Boy), I
will guess that this film includes a lot of raw humor and special effects. Appeals to the
video crowd but might be fun for the visuals.
The Beatles: Get Back
The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has been working recently with
documentaries. Now he wants to explore Let It Be territory with the Beatles while they
write songs for the album’s filming in 1969. Supposedly some of this has never been
seen, unless of course you’ve watched the film Let It Be. Plus some film from the
famous rooftop performance at Apple Records. Also on Let It Be. So, Peter, what
haven’t we seen yet? Better be good because I’m a big fan.