A common complaint I hear is that movies have degenerated into nothing but sequels, reboots, and comic book movies. While it’s true that these movies are the most aggressively marketed films and there are more of them than in years past, the reality is there are plenty of interesting adult movies released in theaters, even in summer blockbuster season. You just have to look for them.
Note: release dates are subject to change and some movies may receive a limited release elsewhere before reaching New Orleans a couple of weeks later).
First Reformed (already released in some cities, New Orleans TBD)
Movies that address faith and belief are often either targeted specifically to church groups as feel-good fodder or they dismiss the idea of faith and belief entirely. The new film by Paul Schrader (the writer of Taxi Driver) tells the story of a priest (Ethan Hawke) troubled by a dwindling congregation and a deteriorating world. When the wife (Amanda Seyfried) of a parishioner tells Hawke that her environmental activist husband is stockpiling weapons, things become even more complicated.
Hereditary (June 8)
This film festival darling screened in New Orleans earlier this year at the Overlook Film Festival. In what is being touted as the horror film of the year, Toni Collette plays a woman whose mother just passed away. Shortly thereafter, strange things start happening and she discovers horrifying secrets about her family.
Under the Silver Lake (June 22)
Writer/director David Robert Mitchell scored an indie horror hit with 2015’s It Follows. Here, a young slacker (Andrew Garfield) becomes enmeshed in the mystery of a billionaire’s murder and the disappearance of a young woman he has a crush on. This neo-noir’s trailer has a real David Lynch feel to it.
Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (July 13)
Like Spike Lee, director Gus Van Sant can be extremely hit or miss. But in 2008, he proved he could inject a spark into the tired biopic genre with Milk. Hopefully, he can do the same here as he tells the true story of quadriplegic cartoonist John Callahan. Callahan is played by Joaquin Phoenix, so it will all likely be anchored by a strong lead performance.
Eighth Grade (July 13)
Coming of age movies in the past tended to focus primarily on boys, but that trend is shifting in recent years. Eighth Grade is garnering positive buzz in its portrayal of an 8th grader’s disastrous final week before leaving for high school. Elsie Fisher has been labeled an actress to watch for her work as the lead.
Mile 22 (August 3)
Okay, so maybe you are tired of sequels and comic book movies but you still like explosive action movies. In this thriller, Mark Wahlberg plays a CIA agent in Indonesia who must transport an informant to an airport 22 miles away. Those 22 miles turn out to be a horrifying gauntlet of enemies. Director Peter Berg has proven himself to be a capable, efficient genre filmmaker with works like Patriots Day and Deepwater Horizon.
BlackKklansman (August 10)
Spike Lee’s films can be feast or famine, but the trailer for his latest looks promising. It is based on the true story of Ron Stallworth, a Colorado police officer who successfully infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan. Denzel Washington’s son John David Washington plays the lead and Adam Driver plays his partner. Topher Grace plays David Duke. If it works, it will combine humor, suspense, and topicality.
The Happytime Murders (August 17)
New Orleans native Todd Berger (he wrote and directed the wildly underrated 2012 film It’s a Disaster) wrote the script for this darkly comic murder mystery in the vein of Who Framed Roger Rabbit (but R-rated). The puppet cast of an 80s children’s TV show is being murdered one by one and a detective played by Melissa McCarthy must investigate.
Replicas (August 17)
At a time when the Netflix show Black Mirror is popular for its high-concept sci-fi stories with an emotional core to them, Replicas tells the tale of a scientist (Keanu Reeves) who keeps working to bring his family back from the dead. This one sounds like it could be both intriguing and heartbreaking.
Destination Wedding (August 24)
If you’re looking for something lighter, try this romantic comedy. Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder play a man and woman who meet each other en route to the same destination wedding. At first, they can’t stand each other, but they unsurprisingly develop feelings for each other. Formulas can work well when you have performers as charming as Reeves and Ryder executing them.