Summer is here. Or, more truthfully in the movie world, Summer has been here for a while, no? I mean, come on, there’s already been a new “Fast & Furious” movie, another Disney live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” a new movie in the “X-Men” universe and another take on “King Kong.” It does seem as though Summer movie season comes earlier every year, but that’s probably a good thing overall as the studios need to look elsewhere for release dates to give their potential blockbusters a fighting chance.
But it does come with the distinct possibility of tiring out the audience. Spectacle fatigue is real, folks. Look no further than this list, then, to help you parse the worthy from the silly, the artful (yes, even in the Summer) from the schlocky. Below you’ll find all the movies we think are worth your time this month. Enjoy yourself at the movies!
“Last Man In Aleppo”
Synopsis: Members of the volunteer group White Helmets offer aid to the wounded during the Syrian civil war.
What You Need To Know: Winner of the Sundance Film Festival‘s Grand Jury Prize this year, “Last Men in Aleppo” shows a raw and visceral glimpse into the Syrian civil war. The doc follows a volunteer defense group known as the White Helmets (you may have heard of them from the Oscar-winning short doc on Netflix) as they evade bombing after bombing trying to rescue their friends and family. No doubt this one will be a tough watch, but it was appreciated at Sundance this year and should be worth the difficulty. Written and directed by Firas Fayyad, “The Last Men In Aleppo” opens May 3rd in New York at the Metrograph, May 18th in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Music Hall with a nationwide rollout to follow thereafter. Keep tabs on it if you don’t live in those cities but want to see it in a theater.
Release Date: May 3rd (Limited)
“Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2”
Synopsis: The team struggles to keep its newfound family together as it tries to unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage in the outer reaches of the galaxy.
What You Need To Know: Critics have mostly been kind to this follow-up of Marvel‘s (once-thought-of) risky property, and that should do just fine for audiences ready to gobble up the latest from the MCU. But the surprise factor is without a doubt gone at this point, so we do hope it’s not just more of the same. Our review found much to admire, including a surprising emotional payoff. “‘Vol. 2’ also benefits from having less of a connection to Marvel Studios’ ever-expanding cinematic universe. Beyond a few conversational references to Thanos, there are no direct tie-ins to other Marvel movies. In many ways, you could watch ‘Vol. 2’ and never realize it was somehow connected to “The Avengers” or Tony Stark. That gives it even more freedom than the first ‘Guardians’ had to set a tone that feels distinctive and unique.”
Release Date: May 5th
Synopsis: With their marriage on the brink of collapse, two cheating spouses develop a spark between them that suddenly reignites their passion.
What You Need To Know: After our recent review of this latest release from indie distributor du jour A24, our interest in this has gone way up. “In other hands, the stripped-down premise of “The Lovers” – a decades-long marriage in its death throes – could be a dour experience or even an enjoyably nasty one. But writer/director Azazel Jacobs (HBO‘s “Doll & Em“) and his two leads Tracy Letts and Debra Winger bring a warm, bittersweet tone to a film that’s an endearing joy to watch… There’s an ease and familiarity between Letts and Winger that makes us believe they’ve been together for years, even if the most recent ones haven’t been happy or close.” Consider us sold on what appeared to be a typical romantic dramedy, but sounds anything but that.
Release Date: May 5th (limited)
Synopsis: As two couples dine at an upscale restaurant, their polite discourse disguises the fact that they are struggling with weighty family issues.
What You Need To Know: This site has always been supportive to the work of Oren Moverman (“Time Out Of Mind“), and while this latest from the writer/director has little in the way of publicity going for it, it makes the final list because of the filmmaker’s solid track record and the great cast—Steve Coogan, Laura Linney, Richard Gere, Chloe Sevigny—he’s assembled for this Herman Koch adaptation. Our review from Berlin this year stated as much: “the chief pleasure of ‘The Dinner’ lies in the clash between social niceties and social nastiness and in four terrific performances that get to play all the colors of the emotional spectrum… Indeed the cast and Moverman are all in immense if divisively heightened form right up to the irresolute, overwrought ending. But how else could a meal so massive and rich end but with a dose of indigestion?”
Release Date: May 5th (Limited)
Synopsis: When her boyfriend dumps her before their exotic vacation, a young woman persuades her ultra-cautious mother to travel with her to paradise, with unexpected results.
What You Need To Know: Sure, traveling with parents is a tough proposition at times, but this latest comedy starring Amy Schumer and Goldie Hawn will attempt to build a whole movie out of that premise. Directed by Jonathan Levine (“50/50,” “The Night Before“) and penned by Katie Dippold (“The Heat,” “Ghostbusters“) the movie follows a mother and daughter who take a trip to Ecuador, where things very quickly, go very wrong. Seems simple enough, and it looks like everyone involved is pushing the premise as far as they can. Here’s to hoping the two leads have fun chemistry.
Release Date: May 12th