The belated final part of the most comprehensive Summer Movie Guide you’ll find on the British Internet .
Following on from my previous two intros, the weather around me has now settled into some nebulous ever-changing middle ground between the “grey, wet, miserable hellscape” outlined in Part 1 and the “balmy, hot, glorious hellscape” outlined in Part 2, like the meteorological equivalent of Goldilocks with the bowls of porridge. It’s basically been free candy for hack writers like myself even if it’s also been playing havoc with my emotional state for the past week (more on that in next Monday’s What I’ve Been Watching).
Anyways, welcome back to the concluding part of Your 2019 Summer Movie Guide! Yes, this was meant to be done for Friday but I pushed to Sunday (and only updated one of those calls to action in the article itself to “Sunday” like a pillock) because it’s been a mad week get off my back (again more next week). In Parts 1 and 2, we covered all of the big-ticket pieces which suffocate the metaphorical airwaves across May to August. Today, it’s mopping-up time! The genre fare, the foreign-language works not by Pedro Almodóvar, the indies trying to carve out their own niche, and in some cases just the slop not ready for primetime, all in quickfire round-up prose. Compared to previous years, we’ve actually got a rather slim collection of pickings. Normally I divide things into seven categories – Animation/Family, Horror, Action/Thriller, Drama, Comedy, Indie, and Netflix – but this year the non-tentpole releases are almost entirely located in the Drama category. Going through the schedule turned up just one action movie (The Informer and it looks so generic it’s not been covered here), no comedies at all other than the two already covered in the spotlight bits, and Netflix’s schedule is still little more than loglines with vague dates so what’s the point in wasting words on them?
In many respects, one can utilise this fact as a worrying sign about the film industry’s unsustainable shift towards nothing but very expensive tentpole movies, either franchise entries or wannabe franchise starters, which rarely works out well – quoth one of the 2000s’ best villains, “When everybody’s super, no one will be” – and is endemic of the systemic paradox of the entire societal construct of Capitalism. Right now, for me, though, I’m just glad it lets me finish this series off way sooner than I otherwise would’ve. OK, people, let’s do this one last time…
All release dates are UK specific, taken from the Film Distributors Association website and, whilst correct at press time, are subject to change.
In keeping with my completely-justified automatic classification of any animated feature put out by a major-ish studio as a spotlight-worthy tentpole, a decision that any parent reading this likely understands wholeheartedly, mop-ups for this subcategory are all about scraping the bottom of the barrel. That Horrible Histories movie from Part 2 would probably have better fit in here, but I’m also not about to count out the potential of a series so popular it managed to jump from CBBC to primetime BBC One, even if this movie is (again) six years late with none of the original cast. But that decision means we are left with the real inconsequential dregs. Parents with very young ones, it is my duty to inform you that the wildly-popular Paw Patrol has made the Peppa Pig jump to “DVD compilations disguised as feature films” with Paw Patrol: Mighty Pups (Out now), so book in quick to ensure you become your kids’ favourite familial relative. Similarly, it turns out that the Teletubbies are still going? Or they brought it back? Whichever is the case, they’re also doing a theatrical compilation/spin-off ahead of their next season in 2020, Teletubbies: Songtime at the Cinema (7th June), and it’s exclusive to VUE so please be extra nice to those poor staff employees over the half-term week, ok?
But if you’re looking for an actual film, I am afraid there is only one which fits this particular description and it just looks awful. The Queen’s Corgi (5th July) is the latest from Belgian animation studio nWave Pictures, makers of such guff as Robinson Crusoe (or The Wild Life if you reside in America), utterly bizarre guff as The Son of Bigfoot (whose big bad villains were hair product company executives), and perfectly meh guff as The House of Magic, all of it the definition of contemptuous towards their target audience. I could snark this thing to a thousand pieces in a hundred different ways – why is the art-style so ugly, why is Donald Trump (voiced by Jon Culshaw) featured in this, why does it sound like Jack Whitehall literally phoned in his lines, who is this even for, is Jess Glynne a real musician or a Hatsune Miku-style computer programme designed exclusively for adverts on Channel 5-type programming – and yet nothing I say can possibly do a better job than watching the trailer for yourself. Go ahead, watch that embed, then despair that people are given $30 million to realise shit like this. At least you won’t have to watch it. Hopefully.
As mentioned back in Part 1, I am an anxious bundle of nerves and self-sabotaging survival instincts so I don’t do as much horror as I really like, often waiting until they hit home media where I can control my viewing situation if I watch them at all. Since my main problem with this genre comes in the form of jump scares for deep-seated psychological reasons we don’t have time to get into, that means I especially don’t do horror trailers which are almost nothing but the jolts one after the other. And that means I am not a very good judge of whether a horror film looks any good, so the genre is relegated to here where I can just reel off a list of synopses rather than go in-depth because it’s hard to get a proper feel for one of these when you’re stopping the trailer every five seconds and scrolling back-and-forth in an effort to avoid the screech-scares. Apologies to horror aficionados being done dirty. At least I already spotlighted Midsommar (5th July if you’ve forgotten), because FUCK ME UP ARI?
There are actually a fair number of scary pictures coming out over this particular Summer, perhaps as a reflection of the waking nightmare that is “existing in the year 2019,” and that’s not even counting the much-hyped Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark which, bizarrely, doesn’t have a UK distribution deal yet. The catch, however, is that they are almost all concentrated within the last fortnight of June for some strange reason. Rather than counter-programme, they’ve chosen to cluster which seems like a dumb decision but what do I know. Leading the charge is the much-ballyhooed Brightburn (19th June) as James Gunn’s cousins, Brian and Mark (previous of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island), script a vicious deconstruction of the Superman origin story but, unlike Zach Snyder’s efforts at this sort of thing, hopefully good this time. James is producing and The Hive’s David Yarovesky is directing. Two days later, we will all be treated (?) to the Child’s Play (21st June) reboot that does not feature the input of creator Don Mancini or Brad Dourif as the voice of Chucky and despite the fact that the original incarnation of the Child’s Play franchise is still ongoing (there’s a SyFy TV series coming next year), but it does feature Mark Hamill as Chucky which is maybe the best possible replacement for Dourif if you must replace him. Then a week later, it’s been a hot minute which means the public MUST be screaming out for another Conjuring–verse entry! Annabelle Comes Home (28th June) marks the directorial debut of Conjuring-verse architect and It screenwriter Gary Dauberman, and I really feel Warner Bros. could’ve waited until Halloween to pump this one out. Or maybe they don’t want its stink wafting over to the new Mike Flanagan film, which is fair.
Arthouse horror aficionados, meanwhile, have the aforementioned Midsommar but also Claire Denis’ English-language debut with the mindfucking psychological sci-fi horror High Life (Out now). It is an A24 production, obviously. Those craving something even further afield from that may be delighted to hear that Peter Strickland is at long last back with movie #5, the horror-comedy In Fabric (28th June) about a cursed dress and I think we can all agree that this premise would have been run out of town were anyone other than Peter “Berberian Sound Studio and The Duke of Burgundy” Strickland the one responsible for it so that’s sincerely a good omen for me. And then there are the sleazy pieces, the trashy guilty pleasures which will either be interminable nonsense or fun nonsense. Alexandre Aja (Piranha 3D, the Hills Have Eyes remake) makes his return to less high-minded and more visceral fare with giant alligator disaster horror Crawl (23rd August), crazy neighbour/friend/prior-home-owner (delete depending on the movie in this particular subgenre you’re applying it to) thriller The Intruder (12th July) brings crazy Quaid overseas after a surprisingly solid box office run, and Octavia Spencer IS Isabelle Huppert IS Glenn Close IN Basicer Instinct! *checks notes* Sorry, I misread. Turns out the film’s called Ma (31st May) and the fact that it’s coming out a month after the extremely-similar Greta is not doing this new Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up, The Girl on the Train) movie any favours.
For all the lack of choice in other areas this Summer, fans of low-to-mid budget grown-up dramas at least are eating like mad. I’ve got 13 listed down here and there are even more being shunted into the Indie designation that’s always been sort of arbitrary but shut up it’s my Guide and shit needs breaking up somehow. To start with, let’s go with the stuff already out in America at time of writing but belatedly making its way to the UK. All you fans of mediocre Christian dramas can get your irregular fix (since these don’t always cross over the Atlantic) with Breakthrough (Out now), a film I shall continue to be perhaps-unjustly cynical about until I actually get to see it but only because I’ve seen enough “Based on a True Story/Miracle” Christian dramas already to have a pretty decent inkling of where we’re going quality-wise. Warner Bros.’ latest failed attempt to ride the YA romance-weepie train to financial success (perhaps because even Americans didn’t know this existed until a week ago), The Sun is Also a Star (9th August), this time selected “unlawful deportation” as its hot-button topic and is apparently, despite my best hopes given that premise, not very good. Actor-turned-director Max Minghella, meanwhile, has his debut, singing-competition drama Teen Spirit (26th July), brought over to these shores by Lionsgate. Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell, however, still has no release planned. I guess at least Teen Spirit will be better than Vox Lux? Hopefully. Dental surgery is better than Vox Lux.
Fortunately, there are also some apparently great films already out in America but making the crossing in the next few months. Gloria Bell (6th June) sees acclaimed Chilean director Sebastián Lelio (the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman) making his English-language debut by remaking his own 2013 Gloria, a romance-drama following a middle-aged divorcee through her romantic travails, with the long-overdue-another-meaty-role Julianne Moore in the title part. Academy Award-winning writer-director László Nemes follows up the provocative Holocaust drama Son of Saul with the pre-WWI epic Sunset (31st May). And should-have-been-Academy Award-winner – seriously, go and watch Phoenix if you haven’t before, just go and do it – Christian Petzold finally returns with his mystery refugee drama Transit (16th August), a work which, if it’s even half as good as Phoenix, will definitely be one of 2019’s best. Meanwhile, Yann Gonzalez (filmmaker and brother of M83’s Anthony Gonzalez) brings us Knife+Heart (5th July), a lurid drama-thriller about gay porn and adjacent murders which my friend Kyle Turner absolutely adores. That’s a bigger recommendation for something than even I can give, folks, so this should be on your radars.
“That’s all well and good, Callum,” I imagine some of you are saying, “but what about British films? [insert unfunny Brexit-related joke here.]” Slow your roll there, fam, I was just getting to them! Leading the charge in both release date and my personal interest is Beats (Out now), a Scottish rave drama set in the early 90s at the height of the Conservative government’s Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. It’s the feature debut of Brian Walsh (the “Entire History of You” episode of Black Mirror) and it looks absolutely right up my street for whatever that’s worth. Speaking of timely rages against imbecilic governmental policies, Lena Headey and Iain Glen star in The Flood (21st June supposedly) in which an immigration officer is forced to decide the fate of an apparently-dangerous asylum seeker. On the subject of happy stories which will definitely end well, Vita & Virginia (5th July) is a biopic about the affair between poet and socialite Vita Sackville-West (Gemma Arterton) and author Virginia Woolf (Elizabeth Debicki) which has received tepid reviews on the festival circuit but may be worth a watch given the subject NOT LIKE THAT YOU PERVS. Sticking with romance stories, Only You (12th July) follows the ups and downs in the relationship between an older woman (Laia Costa) and a younger man (Josh O’Conner of God’s Own Country) as they struggle to start a family. It played in competition at the London Film Festival last year and I’m still bummed about having missed it at the time.
Another LFF film that I missed out on (although I can’t quite remember if it played in competition) was Sometimes Always Never (14th June), a deadpan mystery dramedy written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and starring Bill Nighy that involves Scrabble, a missing son, and a dead body. Looks pretty enjoyable from the overlong trailer, not gonna lie. Finally, and lacking much material for a smooth transition, there’s Tell it to the Bees (26th July), an adaptation of Fiona Shaw’s period novel about a closeted lesbian romance in small-town 1950s Scotland and the solo feature directorial debut of Annabel Jankel (Skellig, Max Headroom, Super Mario Bros.). Somehow, I bet that it’s way less of a spectacular mess than her resume otherwise suggests.
Many of these can technically qualify under Drama, to be perfectly honest, but I’ve tried to limit them to low-budget American movies put out by studios overseas like A24 and Focus Features in an effort to make it look like there’s some semblance of order going on here. Plus, “Miscellaneous” sounds disrespectful. What’s truly disrespectful, though, is the fact that mumblecore originator Andrew Bujalski’s outstanding and highly-acclaimed Support the Girls (28th June) took almost a full year to find UK distribution! That is UNACCEPTABLE! At least Bulldog are finally bringing it over which means you can all watch inarguably Bujalski’s best film legally. Also finally crossing overseas is Jim Cummings’ excellent Thunder Road (31st May), the feature-length expansion of his 2013 short – I saw the feature version at last year’s London Film Festival before the US release, you can read words about it here. There’s also Kim Nguyen’s capitalist satire The Hummingbird Project (14th June) but… I honestly still have no idea what that one’s actually about, which is at least consistent for Nguyen’s career output so far if nothing else.
I spotlighted a few big-name documentaries in the first two parts of the Guide, but they were by no means the only documentaries releasing over the Summer period. XY Chelsea (24th May) takes an always-timely look at famous whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s life up to now, one which will presumably treat her like an actual human being rather than a fucking mob target to unjustly extort whenever the petty and vindictive US government sees fit – seriously, how in the fuck is this shit legal?! US IMAX sensation Apollo 11 (28th June) provides a new perspective on the historic moon landings as we near the 50th anniversary still somehow stuck on this slowly decaying rock without any jetpacks. And then there’s Varda by Agnès (19th July), the final work by legendary French New Wave institution Agnès Varda and it is, naturally, an unconventional documentary about herself. Expect plenty of sniffling noses at your local arthouse screenings with this one.
Taking us home, we have a trio of critically-acclaimed pieces likely to turn up on many a Best of 2019 list. The Mustang (30th August) is the feature-debut of actress-turned-director Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, centring around a prisoner rehabilitation programme involving the taming of wild horses (METAPHORS), and has received nothing but raves since debuting at Sundance in January. The Souvenir (30th August) is the latest from Joanna Hogg (Exhibition, Unrelated), acclaimed British dramatist who, for her fourth feature, has gone somewhat autobiographical in her tale of a young woman (Honor Swinton Byrne, daughter of Tilda) being kept under the thumb of a manipulative lover (Tom Burke) as she tries to begin a career in filmmaking. Last, though by no means least (although the least likely to appear on Best of 2019 lists given its niche British Indie nature), there’s Tucked (Out now), the story of an aging drag queen (Derren Nesbitt) who makes unlikely friends with a non-binary up-and-comer (Jordan Stephens of Rizzle Kicks believe it or not) in the final weeks of his life. Despite how many Problematic Gay Drama Cliché Alarm Bells that may ring on paper, the execution is apparently sublime. (I’m seeing it this week, so will report back in WIBW.)
And that’s everything! Ish. What films are you most looking forward to this Summer? Drop down to the comments and let me know. Here’s to the Summer Movie Season!
Callum Petch was miserable and so was his food.