Whether you’d rather spend the weekend saving the world with Tom Cruise, making trouble on Cape Cod with Timothée Chalamet, in the Connecticut suburbs solving puzzles with Kelly MacDonald, or exploring Oakland through the eyes of homeowners Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal, there are plenty of reasons to seek out the comforting, air-conditioned darkness of a movie theater as the dog days of summer descend upon us. Here’s what you need to know about what’s brand new on the big screen:
Mission: Impossible — Fallout
Tom Cruise is fifty-six years old. Here he is racing motorcycles, jumping out of things, and beating up baddies in bathrooms, meanwhile we’re getting winded while running for the bus. What is wrong with this picture? While Cruise’s Ethan Hunt may not have the charming charisma of a Bond or the animal magnetism of a Bourne, he makes up for it with nerves of steel and a sheer — literally, if you count the rock face he’s climbing in this trailer — lack of fear. And if a woman is pointing a giant gun at him in the middle of the street, he WILL run her over with his car, so don’t test him! Director Christopher McQuarrie is the first to helm two Mission: Impossibles (he also directed the last installment, Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation), giving him a chance to further make his mark on an already highly auteurist blockbuster franchise. He and Cruise are a match made in heaven! Some of us have been waiting for this weekend since the first trailer dropped during the Super Bowl, and now it’s finally here. Only one question remains: IMAX, IMAX 3D, or RealD 3D?
Oakland has been making a lot of appearances on the silver screen lately, and we’re not super surprised to see it. It’s a dynamic canvas for the kind of intersectional stories we increasingly crave, as shown by the success of recent releases, like Black Panther and Sorry to Bother You, that shine a spotlight on the complex and evolving identity of the city and its inhabitants. Blindspotting, which ditches the superhero antics and surrealism in favor of a more naturalistic approach, is also an Oakland tale, written and produced by longtime residents and friends Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal (who also star). A buddy movie at heart, it follows two men as they navigate the shifting landscape of both their relationship and their rapidly gentrifying hometown. It just may have you navigating the perimeters of your own privilege, AKA “blind spots,” as well.
Finally! A romantic dramedy about competitive jigsaw puzzling! Unlike most of this week’s releases, there are no guns, no explosions, no death-defying stunts, and no double-crossing plot twists to be found — instead, this is, quite simply, a rather quiet character study of a forty-something Connecticut housewife. That means the success of this movie largely rests on the performance of Kelly MacDonald (in her first starring role, no less) as Agnes, whose pre-puzzle life seems one full of quiet, suburban desperation, and whose emergent passion for putting the pieces together proves life-altering. While her budding collaboration with a cosmopolitan puzzle champion doesn’t seem to smack of romantic entanglements, it’s clearly also a case of opposites attract. In a culture that often seems to render women “of a certain age” (and their desires, struggles, and emotional journeys) invisible, we have to applaud a plot that throws it all out onto the tabletop, so to speak. Just because a movie doesn’t pack a literal punch doesn’t mean it can’t pack an emotional one!
Hot Summer Nights
Like The Wackness and the upcoming White Boy Rick, Hot Summer Nights joins a lineage of movies — many of which are set in summertime and mark the crucial, transitional phase where kids are by and large left to their own devices — about drugs and the unlikely teens who sell them. Timothée Chalamet, who has apparently cornered the market on troubled adolescence of late, plays the new kid in a New England coast town circa 1991 who seemingly stumbles into the controlled substance economy, cueing a montage of polaroids and piles of cash. The trailer teases a heady brew of illegal hijinks, budding romance, and escalating danger that threatens to boil over as the temperatures rise, but it’s definitely nothing we haven’t seen somewhere before. With Hot Summer Nights, will A24 prove themselves once again to reign supreme in the coming-of-age movie arena? Or will it be a rare derivative misstep for both the emerging media juggernaut and for Chalamet as its leading man? Only one way to find out.