My interest in summer movies, it seems, is directly proportional to my age. As I march steadfastly toward soft food and cataracts, I find that every year I care less and less about summer blockbusters. When I was younger, June and July were when I saw the best movies of the year. They promised invading aliens, massive explosions and Will Smith. The traditional emotions associated with summer, those of freedom, love and unlimited ammo are still present. Those values are splashed across billboards and trailers annually and will continue in perpetuity.
As I age though, my summer loves have shifted towards autumn reflection and winter sadness. Now, the films I look forward to are released between November and February. This isn’t to say that summer is devoid of worthwhile film experiences. It’s just that the best stories are more wistful than overbearing. Blockbusters are about spectacle; they leave little room for contemplation. This summer is no different. There are a few films that may be marvels of visual technique, but still hold on to the important story element. There are also a few indie films that might be worth attention. Below, you’ll find my picks for summer movies that may be more than worth the ticket price.
The Cave of Forgotten Dreams
I would be remiss if I didn’t include a film from the Arts and Education Council’s Independent Film Series. Like the last one, the AEC is using tugg.com to bring us the best in independent films that ordinarily don’t come to a city like ours. “The Cave of Forgotten Dreams” is a Werner Herzog film that gives audiences a once-in-a-lifetime look into the Chauvet Cave in Southern France, an incredible natural structure where some of the world’s oldest cave paintings are found. This film is presented in 3D in order to show audiences the unique contours of the cave walls and the artistry needed to effectively use that space. While I am generally skeptical of the use of 3D, here it was used for a specific and understandable reason, rather than for throwing various objects at the screen. In order for this film to be brought here, the AEC has to sell 80 tickets by May 30. So please, for the sakes of documentary fans across our fair city, go buy a ticket.
Ridley Scott returns to his roots in the sci-fi/horror genre with a film about deadly aliens. Whether this film is a prequel to his popular “Alien” franchise is debatable at this point (it is, then it isn’t, then it is—I can’t really keep track), but the trailers show a definite return to the dark, claustrophobic fear atmosphere that defined the series. Assuming that Scott has created an original story (or at least a new monster), “Prometheus” will hopefully make for an engaging, edge-of-your-seat experience that summer movies are known for. Delightfully, the film has received an “R” rating, meaning that the violence won’t be toned down for teen audiences; I think the film will be better served by staying true to the franchise with excessive blood and gore.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Here we have a film that has an unfortunate release date. It is opening against “Prometheus,” one of the biggest films of the summer, and as a result won’t be seen by many people. It’s based on a popular Internet meme involving an actual classified ad from a man seeking a time travel companion. The respondent needs to “bring [their] own weapons” as the man “has only done this once before.” It stars the charming and sardonic Aubrey Plaza as part of an investigative team for a magazine seeking out the man who placed the advertisement. As with all indie comedies, this one will likely be eccentric and understated. It may not hit immediately, but with any luck, those that seek it out will be pleasantly surprised.