Movies for the long hot summer

Summertime always brings a spate of blockbusters and franchise installments, and this year is no different (“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation”). But there are plenty of other worthy films coming out this summer, so if you’re looking for extra films to catch while the Harvard Press goes on break, here are some movies I’m looking forward to:

Dramas: “Leave No Trace” (dir. Debra Granik) and “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” (dir. Gus Van Sant)

If the movies you watch when the heat’s unbearable are those that put your sweating and discomfort into perspective, the dramas “Leave No Trace” and “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot” should satisfy. “Leave No Trace,” from Debra Granik (“Winter’s Bone”), follows a father and daughter living off the grid in rural Oregon who get caught and separated by child protective services, while in “Don’t Worry,” an alcoholic has to piece his life back together after suffering a debilitating injury in a car crash. Both films promise quality performances from actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Ben Foster, and newcomer Thomasin Mackenzie, even if happy endings may not be in the cards.

Ben Foster and Thomasin Mackenzie are father and daughter in “Leave No Trace.” (Courtesy photos)

Documentaries: “Three Identical Strangers” (dir. Tim Wardle) and “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” (dir. Matt Tyrnauer)

This summer is also bringing several fascinating documentary subjects to the screen. Among the most bewildering is “Three Identical Strangers,” a tale of triplets separated at birth and reunited by accident. Meanwhile, “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” promises to paint a lurid picture of Hollywood’s Golden Age, as told by a gas station attendant who became a personal companion to the stars, keeping their habits fed and their secrets hidden (until now). If you ever doubted that truth is stranger than fiction, see these two.

Triplets Eddy Galland, David Kellman, and Robert Shafran portray themselves in the documentary “Three Identical Strangers.”

Lighter Fare: “Christopher Robin” (dir. Marc Forster) and “Ideal Home” (dir. Andrew Fleming)

Steve Coogan and Paul Rudd are dads in “Ideal Home.”

Of course, you might want something you can take your kids to. “Christopher Robin,” coming in August, reimagines the Hundred Acre Wood characters as raggedy stuffed animals that have come back to the boy they once played with—except now, the boy has grown up and lost his sense of imagination, and he has to relearn how to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. (If it sounds like “Hook” to you, you’re not alone.) Coming from Marc Forster, who gave us “Finding Neverland,” “Christopher Robin” promises to be as enjoyable as it will be nostalgic for anyone who grew up with Winnie the Pooh.

Or, for a comedy with more bite, try “Ideal Home.” The story of a gay couple living a life of leisure and then forced to take in a child, the movie features two great comedic actors, Steve Coogan (“24 Hour Party People”) and Paul Rudd (“Ant-Man”), in roles that seem to play off their strengths of sarcasm and self-deprecating humor.

For Staying In: “Hail, Caesar!” (2016, dir. Joel and Ethan Coen), “Hero” (2002, dir. Yimou Zhang), “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” (2003, dir. Peter Weir)

George Clooney stars in the Coen Brothers’ “Hail, Caesar!”

Russell Crowe in a scene from “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”

Maybe you already have air conditioning at home and don’t want to wait in lines. If so, you’ll want to have some good movies on hand.

“Hail, Caesar!” is a fun time-killer, a sendup of old Hollywood with the Coen brothers’ uniquely cynical sensibility. But more than just a quirky comedy, the movie can also serve as a doorway to other movies, filled as it is with glimpses of every genre from westerns to biblical epics to Busby Berkeley numbers. And if you’re already well versed in the classics, you’ll appreciate its many references to Hollywood’s Golden Age. If you want more action, the Chinese sword-fighting epic “Hero” takes the elements of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” that made that movie so successful and amplifies them. From the colorful design to the perfectly choreographed fights and Jet Li’s uncanny abilities with a blade, “Hero” is a celebration of combat as both entertainment and enlightenment.

Similarly, Peter Weir’s epic “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” is filled with blistering battle scenes—think “Pirates of the Caribbean,” but less campy and more intense. And, filmed almost entirely at sea and filled with overwhelming ocean visuals, “Master and Commander” is sure to make you forget about a hot, humid Harvard afternoon.

 
  Danny Eisenberg, a Bromfield graduate,
lives and works in Denver, Colorado.

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