Summer Movie Preview 2019: From Avengers to Tarantino - Rolling Stone
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Summer Movie Preview 2019: From Avengers to Tarantino

The 50 movies you need to see this summer, from superhero blockbusters to offbeat docs

It’s summer, when Hollywood releases its cash-cow stash of blockbusters, sequels, prequels, remakes and retreads, storing up box-office gold to get studios through the fall/winter award season. The big bet of sizzle season: Can any contender knock Avengers: Endgame off the top of the moneymaker heap?

Avengers: Endgame and the State of the Modern Superhero Movie

Family films are always a threat, so watch out for Toy Story 4, The Lion King and Aladdin. Spider-Man, Godzilla and the Men in Black are back in action; ditto Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and Keanu Reeves, having his third go as superassassin John Wick. Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham do their Fast & Furious double act in a spin-off (Hobbs & Shaw). And how about those Game of Thrones Stark sisters shaking up the X-Men universe, with Sophie “Sansa Stark” Turner starring in Dark Phoenix and Maisie “Arya Stark” Williams joins the gang in The New Mutants. And to rock the house, there’s a biopic of Elton John, docs on Bob Dylan and David Crosby and two features whose plots hinge on the music of the Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, respectively.

Here are the 50 summer movies most likely to cut into your beach time.

‘This One’s for the Ladies’ (Jun. 7)

In what’s got be the sexiest documentary of the summer, the exotic male dancers at a New Jersey nightclub in Newark strut their stuff for their female customers. Filmmaker Gene Graham uses the dancers, including Raw Dogg, Sweet Tea and Tyga, and the women who cheer them as a microcosm of the humor, strength, and zesty resilience of Black America. Eat your heart out, Magic Mike.

(L to R) Bill Murray as "Officer Cliff Robertson", Chloë Sevigny as "Officer Minerva Morrison" and Adam Driver as "Officer Ronald Peterson" in writer/director Jim Jarmusch's THE DEAD DON'T DIE, a Focus Features release.  Credit : Abbot Genser / Focus Features  © 2019 Image Eleven Productions, Inc.

Abbot Genser / Focus Features

‘The Dead Don’t Die’ (Jun. 14)

How does a zombie flick get to open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival? Two words: Jim Jarmusch. The writer-director won the Camera d’Or there in 1984 for his breakthrough film Stranger Than Paradise. Now he’s back with Bill Murray, Adam Driver and Chloe Sevigny playing small-town sheriff’s deputies facing off against the undead who hunger for flesh, brains and, among other things, chardonnay. Stay classy, ghouls. Tilda Swinton, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi and Tom Waits join in the deadpan fun.

Em (Tessa Thompson) and H (Chris Hemsworth) in Columbia Pictures' MEN IN BLACK INTERNATIONAL.

Giles Keyte/Sony

‘Men in Black International’ (Jun. 14)

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are nowhere to be seen in this fourth spin on this scifi action comedy franchise in which a London-based office of MiB, led by Liam Neeson, attempt to stop alien scum from conquering the globe. Fresh blood includes Thor: Ragnarok costars Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson suit up in black to play Agent H and Agent M, respectively. Look for the aliens to steal the show, especially Kumail Nanjiani as Pawny, a pint-sized alien with an oversized personality who lives on a chess set. That’s why we’re here, right?

Kyle Kaplan/Warner Bros

‘Shaft’ (Jun. 14)

Cue the Isaac Hayes theme as Samuel L. Jackson returns as John Shaft II, the private dick he first played in 2000. He’s is the estranged father of John JJ Shaft Jr. (Jessie Usher), an FBI agent and cyber security expert who visits his Harlem-based pops to help him solve the murder of a friend. Both father and son rely on their uncle … who happens to be the original blaxploitation icon 1970’s Shaft (Richard Roundtree), “the cat who won’t cop out when there’s danger all about.” And the great Regina Hall shows up as Junior’s mom. Can ya dig it?

Photo: Neon Films

‘Wild Rose’ (Jun. 14)

Even when a story sounds familiar — a young, Scottish mother of two, recently released from prison, dreams of country-music stardom in Nashville — it can be redeemed by a breakout star performance. And that’s exactly what Jessie Buckley delivers as 23-year-old Rose-Lynn Harlan, a tornado hobbled by a court-ordered ankle bracelet, an interfering mother (the reliably superb Julie Walters) and self-destructive tendencies with drugs and men. Working from a script by Nicole Taylor, director Tom Harper wisely showcases Buckley’s raw talent as an actress and singer. You can’t take your eyes off her.

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Shanna Besson

‘Anna’ (Jun. 21)

Writer-director Luc Besson’s new thriller stars knockout newcomer Sasha Luss as Anna Poliatova, a leggy blonde model who doubles as a pistol-packing government assassin. Yes, it sounds like an updated spin on the French director’s iconic 1990 La Femme Nikita, but with a mix now costarring Cillian Murphy, Luke Evans and Dame Helen Mirren as her handler. Expect gunplay, close-quarters ass-kicking and a lot of mayhem.

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Eric Milner/Orion Pictures

‘Child’s Play’ (Jun. 21)

Why the interest in this remake of 1988’s killer-doll movie, given that the original has already spawned six sequels? Because this time Mark Hamill — yes, Luke Skywalker himself — is doing the voice of the malevolent Chucky. Have you heard his creepy voicework as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series? In a video message to WonderCon fans, Hamill noted that he was presenting the tiny horror-movie legend in a way you’ve never seen him before. “And remember,” he added sinisterly, Chucky “is more than just a toy … he’s your best friend.” Yikes!

PICK ME! -- Ducky and Bunny are carnival prizes who are eager to be won. But when their plans are rudely interrupted, they find themselves on an unexpected adventure with a group of toys who have no idea what it feels like to be tacked to a prize wall. Funny men Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele provide the voices of Ducky and Bunny, respectively. Directed by Josh Cooley (“Riley’s First Date?”) and produced by Jonas Rivera (“Inside Out,” “Up”) and Mark Nielsen (associate producer “Inside Out”), “Toy Story 4” ventures to U.S. theaters on June 21, 2019. ©2018 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Disney/Pixar

‘Toy Story 4’ (Jun. 21)

You might argue for leaving well enough alone when it comes to adding onto one of the greatest animated trilogies in film history. But come on: more Toy Story is always welcome! Last time, we all sniffled when Andy gave his toys away to Bonnie. But Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen) and company are up for fresh adventures, which means adjusting to a new toy, Forky (Tony Hale), that Bonnie made out of a spork. When Forky runs away, the search is on. Hanks has said the end of the fourth chapter is so emotional he could hardly get through it. How do you resist that?

Warner Bros.

‘Annabelle Comes Home’ (Jun. 28)

The third chapter in the Annabelle horror series kicks off when paranormal investigators Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) bring the Annabelle doll home where it terrorizes their young daughter and activates all the evil in the couple’s artifact room. As producer James Wan has joked, “It’s A Night at the Museum, with Annabelle!”

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, center) faces the press for the launch of his debut album, One Man Only, flanked by his agent Debra (Kate McKinnon, right) in Yesterday, directed by Danny Boyle.

Jack Malik (Himesh Patel, center) faces the press for the launch of his debut album, One Man Only, flanked by his agent Debra (Kate McKinnon, right) in Yesterday, directed by Danny Boyle.

Jonathan Prime/Universal Pictures

‘Yesterday’ (Jun. 28)

Director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) and screenwriter Richard Curtis (Love Actually) are the chefs for this musical fantasy about a struggling London musician, Jack Malik (Himesh Patel), who gets hit by a bus during a blackout and wakes up to be the only person who remembers the Beatles ever existed. Passing off the Fab Four’s music as his own, Jack rockets to stardom—how could he not? (Ed Sheeran, appearing as himself, suggests that Jack change “Hey Jude” to “Hey Dude.” Maybe not.) Then he starts to wonder if maybe, instead of fame and fortune, love is all you need. It’s Beatles music here, there and everywhere.

Tom Holland is  Peter Parker,  in Columbia Pictures' SPIDER-MAN:™ FAR FROM HOME.

Sony Pictures

‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ (Jul. 2)

After the absolutely deserved Oscar-winning success of the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, this followup to 2017’s live-action webslinger movie has a lot more to live up to now. It’s lucky that Tom Holland proved a winning successor to Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in the title role. In Far From Home (a.k.a. Peter Parker’s European Vacation), our hero is on a school trip abroad when runs up against a bad guy aptly named Mysterio, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. We’re intrigued.

Florence Pugh; Jack ReynorDSCF2781.JPG

Gabor Kotschy/A24

‘Midsommar’ (Jul. 3)

For all of us who loved filmmaker Ari Aster’s horror debut Hereditary, there’s an eagerness to catch the chill coming off his sophomore film. It’s about a vacationing couple — Dani (Florence Pugh) and Christian (Jack Reynor) — who head off to Sweden for a nine-day midsummer festival that only happens every 90 years. Is anyone thinking pagan cult? Aster, who claims his foray into Scandinavian folk horror will be his last scarefest for a while as he moves onto different genres, has described Midsommar as “an apocalyptic breakup movie.” Yes!

A24

‘The Farewell’ (Jul. 12)

This Sundance hit that begins with the words “based on an actual lie” —  and it is. Writer-director Lulu Wang script tells how her Chinese-American family staged a fake wedding so that they can say a cheerful should say goodbye to a grandmother (Zhao Shuzhen) who is purposely not told that her lung cancer is terminal. Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina shows impressive dramatic skills as a New Yorker who returns to China for the fake wedding and can barely keep her emotions hidden. “It was very real and raw for me,” she says, who claims that her closeness to her own grandmother made the tears flow easily.

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Hopper Stone/SMPSP/Fox

‘Stuber’ (Jul. 12)

You won’t find odder couple this summer than Stu (The Big Sick‘s Kumail Nanjiani), a nervous Uber driver — don’t call him Stuber — and Vic a burly, sight-challenged cop (Dave Bautista, a.k.a. Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy). He ends up commandeering Stu’s car for a drug bust, at which point comic chaos ensues and director Michael Dowse (Goon) keeps the action in high gear.

Arik Sokol/IFC Films

‘Sword of Trust’ (Jul. 12)

Filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s brand of improv comedy has made her an indie favorite (Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister). In her latest, she provides a framework to let her gifted cast riff on a couple, Cynthia (Jillian Bell) and Mary (Michaela Watkins), who try to sell a Confederate army sword that the former’s late grandpappy believed was passed on after the South won the war. The terrific Marc Maron is a pawnshop owner who finds a market for the saber among white supremacists and conspiracy theorists. Alternative history has rarely been this wryly funny.

Chadwick Boseman stars in 21 Bridges

STXfilms

’21 Bridges’ (Jul. 12)

In his first big post-Black Panther role, Chadwick Boseman leaps into a New York-set crime thriller as a disgraced detective who tries to redeem himself by tracking the killer of eight NYPD cops across the 21 bridges that lead in and out Manhattan. As a producer as well as star of this cinematic manhunt, Boseman told audiences at CinemaCon that hanging with cops was a definite eye-opener for him. “One of the things that they talk about is how the job takes over their entire lives, and that’s definitely in this film.”

THE LION KING - Featuring the voices of John Oliver as Zazu, and JD McCrary as Young Simba, Disney's "The Lion King" is directed by Jon Favreau. In theaters July 19, 2019...© 2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

©Disney 2019

‘The Lion King’ (Jul. 19)

As he did triumphantly with The Jungle Book, Jon Favreau directs this photorealistic remake of Disney’s traditionally-animated 1994 blockbuster. And what a voice cast! James Earl Jones reprises his role as the royal Mufasa, with Donald Glover voicing his son Simba, the crown prince. And, yes, that’s Beyonce as Nala, Simba’s best friend and duet partner on Elton John’s “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” Sir Elton also reworked his top-charting songs. The trailer was viewed 174 million times in its first 24 hours, so it’s not hard to predict a major hit.

David Crosby appears in David Crosby: Remember My Name by AJ Eaton, an official selection of the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by AJ Eaton  All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

AJ Eaton/The Sunance Institute

‘David Crosby: Remember My Name’ (Jul. 26)

Addiction, prison time and a liver transplant all figure in the life of David Crosby. But this brilliant bear of a doc — produced by Cameron Crowe and directed by A.J. Eaton, who both take turns asking questions — revolves around the music made by the fascinating, shaggy figure at its center. As a solo artist and founding member of both the Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, the singer, now 77, has had a tumultuous life. “It isn’t all pretty,” says Crosby, commenting on the archival footage that traces his career. But it’s a movie you won’t want to see end.

Brad Pitt star in Columbia Pictures “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood"

Andrew Cooper/Columbia Pictures

‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ (Jul. 26)

The ninth film from Quentin Tarantino — he says he’ll only direct 10 — is the essential choice in summer viewing for anyone who loves movies, full stop. Set in Los Angeles during the late 1960s, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a western TV actor, Brad Pitt as his stunt double and Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate, the actress who died at the hands of the Manson gang on Aug. 9th, 1969. Tarantino has never been a stickler for facts — this is the guy he killed Hitler in Inglourious Basterds — but whatever the Pulp Fiction filmmaker makes of these characters in this time and place will surely earn its place in the cultural time capsule. Groovy.

Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) and Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson) in "Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw," directed by David Leitch.

Daniel Smith/Universal Pictures

‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ (Aug. 2)

There may have been some sort of feud going on between Fast & Furious stars Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson, but the only bad blood between “The Rock” and Jason Statham is with their on-screen characters. The two have their own F&F spinoff named after Johnson’s federal agent Hobbs and Statham’s mercenary Shaw. The sworn enemies must work together to stop Brixton Lore, a cyber-genetically enhanced played by Idris Elba. “Dwayne’s a good friend,” Statham said of his costar. “All I need,” laughs the actor who does his own stunts, is “a bigger set of balls.”

Twentieth Century Fox

‘The New Mutants’ (Aug. 2)

With her Game of Thrones costar Sophie Turner in Dark Phoenix, Maisie Williams is not one to ignore the X-Men universe. The British actress, 22, stars as Rahne Sinclair, the Scottish mutant with the disturbing power to morph into a wolf. Wolfsbane, as she called, joins four other young mutants held captive for experiments. Director Josh Boone insists the horror vibe is needed to achieve “a Stephen King meets John Hughes” effect. Well, that is different.

Aisling Franciosi appears in The Nightingaleby Jennifer Kent, an official selection of the Spotlight program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Kasia Ladczuk.   All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Kasia Ladczuk

‘The Nightingale’ (Aug. 2)

Australian writer-director Jennifer Kent scared us witless with her 2014 debut The Babadook. Now she’s back with this horrific tale of an Irish female convict (Aisling Franciosi) seeking revenge on the British officer (Sam Clafin) who’s done her wrong. Set in 1825 in the Tasmanian wilderness, with the vengeful woman relying on help from a young aboriginal tracker (Baykali Ganambarr), the film offers blood-chilling atmospherics that reflect the sexual and racial violence of its time and, tragically, ours.

Alice Englert and Walton Goggins appear in Them That Followby Britt Poulton and Daniel Savage, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Julius ChiuAll photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Julius Chiu/Sundance Institute

‘Them That Follow’ (Aug. 2)

Freshly-minted Oscar winner Olivia Colman (The Favourite) shines again in this debut feature from debuting writer-directors Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage. Set in an isolated Appalachian church community of Pentecostal snake handlers — if a snake bite kills you, your faith simply isn’t strong enough — the film concerns a pastor (Walton Goggins) who preaches female submission and Colman as the community’s matriarch. This may be just the summer counter-programming you’re looking for.

Ferdia Shaw is Artemis Fowl in Disney’s ARTEMIS FOWL,  an adventure directed by Kenneth Branagh that finds 12-year-old genius Artemis Fowl in a battle of strength and cunning against a powerful, hidden race of fairies.

Walt Disney Studios

‘Artemis Fowl’ (Aug 9)

Author Eoin Colfer’s sci-fi adventure series about Artemis Fowl II, a boy who takes over his missing father’s crime family, comes to the screen with a heavyweight director (Kenneth Branagh) and screenwriter (playwright Conor McPherson). Ferdia Shaw, the 13-year-old grandson of Jaws actor Robert Shaw, plays the teen who plunges into battle with underground fairies out to destroy “the rapacious human breed.” Nothing Mary Poppins about these evil doings.

L-r, Eva Longoria, Isabela Moner and Michael Peña star in Paramount Pictures' "DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD."

Vince Valitutti/Paramount Pictures

‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ (Aug. 9)

Before you write off this movie version of the popular TV series Dora the Explorer as kid stuff, please note that Dora (Isabela Moner) is now a teenager, dealing with two life-and-death matters: surviving in the lost civilization of the Incas and high school. What had us was the casting of Danny Trejo — who had done time in San Quentin before starring in movies like Machete — as the voice of Boots the Monkey. Jump in! ¡Vámonos!

Alison Cohen Rosa/Warner Bros

‘The Kitchen’ (Aug. 9)

Because the cast includes Melissa McCarthy and Tiffany Haddish, you might mistake this stinging mob drama for a comedy version of Widows. Nope. McCarthy, Along with Elisabeth Moss, they play the wives of Irish mobsters who’ve been arrested by the FBI. So while they’re behind bars, the women start running the crime syndicate in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s. First-time director Andrea Berloff adapts the Vertigo comic book series to provide what the studio calls her “edgy and subversive” perspective.

Viveik Kalra, Nell Williams and Aaron Phagura appear in Blinded by the Light by Gurinder Chadha, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Nick Wall.   All photos are copyrighted and may be used by press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or 'Courtesy of Sundance Institute.' Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

Nick Wall

‘Blinded By the Light’ (Aug 14)

Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha recaptures the irresistible high spirits of her 2002 hit with this ’80s-set tale of Javed (Viveik Kalra), a British teen  who feels stultified by Thatcherism and his old-world Pakistani immigrant parents. Then he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen and starts to live his life by the precepts of the Boss. Look for this Sundance 2019 discovery to hit the summer sweet spot.

CBS Films

‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ (Aug. 9)

The movie is produced by The Shape of Water Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro, from a tale he adapted from the Alan Schwartz bedtime stories aimed at children you want to give nightmares. It seems a troubled young girl named Sarah wrote her horrific tales in a book that’s now been discovered by a group of teens. “You don’t read this book,” says one. “The book reads you.” Hint: Beware the Toe Monster.

PARTICIPANT MEDIA/Sony Pictures Classics

‘Aquarela’ (Aug 16)

No summer-theme park ride can match the visceral, heart-in-mouth thrills generated in this doc from Russian master Victor Kossakovsky. The starring role goes to, um, water, and it’s power to dazzle and destroy. Filmed at 96 frames per second, Aquarela creates eye-searing HD images and booming sounds that shake, rattle and hum. From the swirling water activity under an iceberg in Greenland to the killer impact of Hurricane Irma as it devastates Miami, the film demonstrates that water is a force to be reckoned with. Pick the biggest screen you can find to experience this cinematic earth-shaker.

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Liam Daniel/Aviron Pictures

‘The Informer’ (Aug. 16)

For those who think the Swedish-American TV actor Joel Kinnaman (The Killing, Altered Carbon, Hanna) deserves way more attention on the big screen, this action crime thriller is good news. He stars as an ex-con who gets pulled back into prison on an undercover mission. The FBI, repped by Rosamund Pike, wants him to get in tight with incarcerated Polish mobsters planning a major drug operation. What can go wrong? Virtually everything. This sounds like the kind of pulp fiction that makes the dog days of summer go down easy.

WYGB_03529_RC2Cate Blanchett stars as Bernadette Fox in Richard Linklater’s WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE, an Annapurna Pictures release.Credit: Wilson Webb / Annapurna Pictures

Wilson Webb/Annapurna Pictures

‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ (Aug 16)

Things are looking up when Maria Semple’s funny, touching and vital bestseller winds up in the capable hands of writer-director Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Dazed and Confused). The great Cate Blanchett plays Bernadette, wife to Elgin (Billy Crudup) and mother to a teenager named Bee (Emma Nelson). Bernadette’s been pretty much a reclusive misanthrope since her architect ambitions were squashed. And now she’s missing, presumably in Antarctica, where her family goes in search. Linklater is just right for the blend of mirth and melancholy the material requires so you won’t die of cuteness.

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