Home Movies Movie Lists

2017 Alt-Summer Movie Preview: Haunted Dolls, Docs and Tupac

Horror flicks, hot docs and a long-awaited hip-hop biopic – your alternative guide to what to see at a theater near you this summer

Man can not live on superhero tentpoles and fifth-verse-same-as-the-first franchises alone – occasionally, a moviegoer wants to see people without capes or magic lassos, folks who are neither pirates nor giant toy robots, discuss more intimate topics than the impending end of the world. Maybe, in the age of fake news, it’d be nice to see a feature-length nonfiction take on a topic. Or a film that isn’t in English. Or something idiosyncratically goofy and/or gnarly, the kind of low-fidelity gem that you can tell was made with an individual sensibility. Or something that simply gives you a different flavor of experience then fast and/or furious.

We’ve already laid out your complete blockbuster viewing schedule for the summer; now here’s everything else that doesn’t quite fit neatly into those one-size-fits-all multiplex boxes. (Full disclosure: There is one studio-sanctioned sequel/spin-off nestled in here, of the horror variety – a modestly budgeted genre flick that we felt compelled to include.) There are documentaries on cult photographers, Cuban musicians and our slowly dying coral reefs. There are missives from outside the U.S., including one sure-to-be-controversial drama on teen terrorists. There are movie stars going gritty, A-list comedians going quirky and Brad Pitt chewing scenery. Cannibals, children hanging out with giant superpigs and carnally knowledgeable nuns? All present and accounted for. There’s even the year’s most eagerly awaited biopic on a hip-hop icon, one that all eyes are on. Welcome to your alt-summer movie viewing guide.

2017 summer movie preview, summer movie preview horror, summer movie preview docs, summer movie preview documentaries, tupac biopic, all eyez on me

‘Ingrid Goes West’ (August 11)

Cool, we needed a Single White Female for the social-media age. And who better than the astounding Aubrey Plaza – one of the few modern actors who could sell this sexy/menacing/batshit insane TV moment – to play a mentally unbalanced, emotionally unstable young woman who becomes obsessed with Elisabeth Olsen’s SoCal mover and shaker. As the title tips off, our cracked anti-heroine decides to pay her idol a visit, and then befriend her, and then slowly start to look like her, and … well, you can probably guess what happens next.

2017 summer movie preview, summer movie preview horror, summer movie preview docs, summer movie preview documentaries, tupac biopic, all eyez on me

‘The Glass Castle’ (August 11)

We need to stop taking Woody Harrelson for granted. No, the actor isn’t wanting for work: IMDb lists him in six movies in 2017, from smaller quirkfests like Wilson to the new Planet of the Apes blockbuster, and he’s filming a role in the Young Han Solo joint slated for next year. But the fact that he’s everywhere sometimes makes you forget just how great an actor he can be – and this adaptation of Jeanette Walls’ memoir about growing up poor and poorly parented doubles as a reminder. Director Destin Cretton’s follow-up to Short Term 12 reunites him with star Brie Larson, who plays the New York journalist dealing with a legacy of familial strife and casts Naomi Watts as her flighty artist mom. But it’s Harrelson, bringing Walls’ free-spirit, spirits-drinking father to life, who knocks you sideways here. Charming and adventurous one second, monstrous and moody the next, he ends up playing the emotional scales here. Attention’s gotta be paid, folks.

2017 summer movie preview, summer movie preview horror, summer movie preview docs, summer movie preview documentaries, tupac biopic, all eyez on me

‘Good Time’ (August 11)

Much like his former franchise costar Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson has spent the last several years trying to remind people that he is (and was) capable of much more than blockbuster brooding – and this sumptuously scuzzy, gritty crime drama from the Safdie brothers feels like he’s that much closer to shedding his Twilight-persona skin once and for all. Our man Robert plays an outer-borough bank robber whose literal partner-in-crime – his mentally challenged brother, played co-director Ben Safdie – gets nabbed by the fuzz. He then spends the rest of the film trying to get his brother away from the law while also avoiding capture. Yes, the title is ironic, why do you ask?

2017 summer movie preview, summer movie preview horror, summer movie preview docs, summer movie preview documentaries, tupac biopic, all eyez on me

‘Nocturama’ (August 11)

A group of young, fresh-faced Parisians are all traveling throughout the city; they’re all of different social and ethnic backgrounds, they all seem to know each other and they all seem to know something we don’t. When they all later meet up in a closed department store, having each hid in dressing rooms and dark corners until the place shut down for the evening, they began to discuss the day’s events – which turn out to be a highly coordinated series of terrorist attacks they may have been responsible for. French cinema agent provocateur Bertrand Bonello is playing with fire here, and word on the festival circuit is that his exploration of youthful ideology turning into destructive actions has its passionate advocates and equally amped-up detractors. We can’t wait to see which side we’ll be on.

2017 summer movie preview, summer movie preview horror, summer movie preview docs, summer movie preview documentaries, tupac biopic, all eyez on me

‘The Only Living Boy in New York’ (August 11)

Having recently graduated college, a bright young man (Green Room‘s Callum Turner), with a bright future and a bright young lady love, strikes up an affair with an older woman (Kate Beckinsale). Then he finds out his dad has a mistress. Three guesses as to who she is. Jeff Bridges costars as, per Deadline, “an eccentric author who lives in the same building … and
becomes his adviser as the grad tries to navigate the chaos,” which is a sentence that makes us undeniably giddy. Marc Webb, he of (500) Days of Summer and that second round of Spider-Man movies, directs.

2017 summer movie preview, summer movie preview horror, summer movie preview docs, summer movie preview documentaries, tupac biopic, all eyez on me

‘The Trip to Spain’ (August 11)

Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, various exotic locations, incredible food, middle-aged malaise and loads of celebrity impersonations – if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right? The third of the Brit comic duo’s road-movie travelogues finds them traipsing around the Spanish countryside, sipping coffee and sampling hams and wringing their hands over how empty the endless chase for fame and familial bliss is – so yes, it’s exactly like the first two Trip movies. But what these gents and director Michael Winterbottom have cooked up with these meta-excursions into regional cuisine-porn works well no matter where you drop them, and the fun of spending two hours in their bickering, bantering company hasn’t worn off at all. And their Mick Jagger impressions are solid gold.

2017 summer movie preview, summer movie preview horror, summer movie preview docs, summer movie preview documentaries, tupac biopic, all eyez on me

‘Whose Streets’ (August 11)

We all know what happened on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, after Michael Brown was shot by police officers – and this you-are-there documentary details the protests, the confusion and the rage as it was happening. Directors Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis assemble lots of camcorder footage of angry citizens facing down cops and armored assault vehicles there to “keep the peace,” but they also let the city’s African-American community use the movie as a megaphone, broadcasting their frustrations, their fear and their fury over their treatment by local law-enforcement. It’s both a recording of a moment and a potent cri de coeur.

2017 summer movie preview, summer movie preview horror, summer movie preview docs, summer movie preview documentaries, tupac biopic, all eyez on me

‘Patti Cakes’ (August 18)

Her name is Patricia Dombrowski, but you can call her by her nom du battle rap: Patti Cake$. And as played by newcomer Danielle Macdonald, this young New Jerseyite is a bullied misfit, a poverty-class screw-up, the plus-size laughing stock of her neighborhood – and, once she lets loose some off-the-hook lyrics with her group PBNJ, a force of nature that you’d better recognize or else. This crowd-pleaser about a hip-hop underdog going for hers has been wowing folks on the festival circuit since it premiered at Sundance, and you can see why Fox Searchlight went nuts over it – the appeal of a story about a Garden State Rocky with a gift for gab instead of jabs, played by a lead with a dynamic screen presence, is, like its heroine, not to be underestimated.

2017 summer movie preview, summer movie preview horror, summer movie preview docs, summer movie preview documentaries, tupac biopic, all eyez on me

‘Beach Rats’ (August 25)

For those who like their indies melancholy, regionally specific and white-hot homoerotic, Eliza Hittman’s scrappy drama about a young dude (Harris Dickinson) bro-ing out with his buds on Coney Island and picking up older men online is pretty much a must-see. It almost feels like a lost movie from the early days of Sundance, when dark (literally and figuratively) character studies didn’t feel the need to wrap everything up in pretty narrative package. And Dickinson is a find – the sort of actor that can suggest Channing Tatum-ish hunkiness and raw, unfiltered moodiness.