MIDSOMMAR: Welcome to Helen.
The major summer holidays are over until Labor Day, and major releases are taking a post-Fourth break. The only new wide releases are a minor action-comedy and more horror. Kumail Nanjiani and Guardians of the Galaxy breakout Dave Bautista team up in Stuber as an L.A. cop and an Uber driver on the trail of a killer. Crawl is Alexandre Aja’s latest attempt to make good on the promise of Haute Tension. Crawl has the benefit of killer alligators who are after a young woman and her dad, whose home was flooded during a Category 5 hurricane.
With Once Upon a Time in Hollywood only two weeks away, Ciné continues its Quentin Tarantino film festival with his seminal film, 1994’s Pulp Fiction, showing July 11–13. For better or worse, this exquisitely written pop-culture watershed single-handedly revived John Travolta. Twenty-five years later, a $5 milkshake does not sound so exorbitant. I have lost count as to how many times I saw this film on the big screen, but it is near the double digits—how many times have you seen it? Friday’s showing comes with a Tarantino Dance Contest.
Starting July 12, Ciné is screening the musical doc Echo in the Canyon and the well-received The Last Black Man in San Francisco. Echo in the Canyon looks back at the music emanating from Laurel Canyon in 1965–’67. Hear from virtually everyone involved or influenced, including Tom Petty in his last film interview. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is Jimmie Fails, who struggles to reclaim the Victorian home built by his grandfather. Joe Talbot’s debut feature is generating awards buzz, but can it sustain the momentum for half a year?
The local libraries have several cinematic offerings scheduled. Kids can catch How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, a fitting end to this high-flying trilogy, at the Bogart Library on July 12. Adults may enjoy the Oconee Library’s Sunday Cinema tribute to Sandra Dee on July 14. Parents looking for a midday excuse to stay inside and keep cool on July 15 can enjoy this week’s Brown Bag Movie at the Oconee County Library, Tangled. (Can we all agree Disney should have just named it Rapunzel?) Lest teens feel left out, the Oglethorpe County Library offers another chance to witness the snap heard ’round the universe in Avengers: Infinity War on July 16. Popcorn will be provided for all screenings.
SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME (PG-13) The charming Tom Holland’s second adventure as Spider-Man is amazing and spectacular—though, hopefully, it is not the ultimate Spidey movie. Holland’s Peter Parker is on a class trip to Europe when an outbreak of elemental monsters start wreaking havoc everywhere he goes. Being Avengers-less, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) calls on the reluctant 16-year-old superhero, who simply wants to woo a more-recalcitrant-than-usual MJ (Zendaya) atop the Eiffel Tower. Enter Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), aka Mysterio, a hero from another dimension here to save the world in Iron Man’s absence. Unlike the trusting Peter, Spidey fans’ spider senses—or “Peter tingle,” as Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May calls it—have been going off since the first glimpse of the familiar fishbowl and cape costume, but maybe the MCU’s multiverse has room for multiple Mysterios.
Far From Home continues to successfully mine a teenage Spider-Man for his faults as much as his strengths. Peter screws up a lot, which means the audience is entertained a lot, but he gets his thrilling, web-slinging climax too, gracefully jumping from perch to perch, until he downs the latest Big Bad. Still, Spidey saves the world with more than thwips and quips. Though it’s a solo outing, Spidey gets an even more amusing assist from Peter’s stable of earthbound classmates—Jacob Batalon’s Ned, Tony Revolori’s Flash, Martin Starr’s Mr. Harrington and J.B. Smoove’s Mr. Bell—in the sequel. Even Jon Favreau’s usually grousing Happy Hogan gets to join the fun. This globetrotting Spider-Man adventure is a charmer that stands out amidst a summer movie class deemed underwhelming.
MIDSOMMAR (R) Ari Aster’s follow-up to Hereditary is every bit as thrilling as his debut. Four American college students (Fighting With My Family’s Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter and William Jackson Harper) join their Swedish friend, Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren), as he returns to his rural community for their midsummer festival. Mind-altering substances flow regularly—Aster relays the effects through constant undulation—and a barely-setting midnight sun makes everyone a little edgy, especially Pugh’s Dani, who is still reeling from a family tragedy. As the festivities get wilder, tensions among the friends intensify.
Aster’s fans need not worry. He impresses with a complicated Swedish slasher that nods to both The Wicker Man and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre while crowning Pugh as the latest scream queen.