I'm not a religious man but Thank God that the summer 2016 blockbuster season has ended. The summer season started with the shambolic mess that was Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in March and was bookended 5 months later with one of the worst comic book movies ever, Suicide Squad. In those 5 months the quality rarely improved with only Star Trek Beyond & Captain America: Civil War coming out with any sign of quality and competence.
I utterly despaired at the money that Suicide Squad took in over the weekend, it's probably made more than ten other quality movies that came out this summer combined. As usual people have accused the Warner Brother's owned, Rotten Tomatoes and critics of being biased against the DC Cinematic Universe. I don't consider myself a critic, just a film fan with an opinion but I understand why movies like Suicide Squad are ranked so low by critics. When you watch just largely blockbuster movies on your trips to the cinema then of course movies like Suicide Squad look pretty good compared to X-Men Apocalypse for example. However, If your cinema viewing is diverse and complimented with creative, original movies then naturally sitting through Suicide Squad with its many, many issues will not be rewarding.
So Instead of focusing on one movie in this weeks Franchise Fatigue, I'm going to give you a list of movies that came out this summer but were swept under the wave of soulless and CGI heavy sequels this summer. If you're like me and saddened by the decline in Hollywood, hopefully this list will give you films created by passionate talents that could become some of your favourite movies of the year.
Note: Mustang, The Neon Demon, Everybody Wants Some!! & Eye in The Sky would be on the list but I've written about them already on previous blogs and the podcast. If you've not seen them, consider them added to your summer watch.
Anton Yelchin and his punk band take a gig playing for American Neo-Nazi's but when they witness a murder, they find themselves camped in their dressing room awaiting their fate at the hands of killers, psychos and a calculating Patrick Stewart.
One of the most uncomfortable and unsentimental movies this summer, there is no easy way out of this for the protagonists. The youthful energy of Yelchin and Imogen Potts pulses through this movie which doesn't use cheap scares to create tension but uses wit, subversion and a potent use of violence. Yelchin will be remembered for Star Trek but history will remember Green Room as his finest hour.
Where to watch it - Available on home video in the USA.
During the Irish troubles of the 1980's, Connor a teenage schoolboy decides to form a band to impress the mysterious Raphina. Inspired by the music videos and imagery of Duran Duran, The Cure and The Jam they start to create their own videos and dream about a better life across the sea in Britain.
I was in tears of happiness when I watched this movie, for every teenager that grew their hair out, used music to woo a woman and wanted to escape their small town then this movie feels like a personal tribute. Filled with compelling characters and a story filled with heart and emotion, it's stood out head and shoulders above nearly every movie this year.
Where to watch it - Out now on home video and for rental in the UK and USA.
ADULT LIFE SKILLS
As Anna approaches her 30th birthday, the death of her twin brother causes he to regress to her childhood and live in the family shed.
Jodie Whittaker puts in a fantastic performance as the film explores the effect of grief, how we deal with it and who we become in the wake of such a personal loss. The film is charming, touching and raises some smiles. This movie could be classed as "indie twee" by others but for me, it was a film raised up by Whittaker's acting and embracing of the concept.
Where to watch - VOD in the UK
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
City boy Ricky ends up with new foster parents and struggles to adapt to the New Zealand countryside way of life. Following a tragedy & on the brink of being returned to foster care, Ricky and his foster father end up going on the run in the New Zealand bush.
A movie that truly is for all families of pre-teens and beyond and not filled with superheroes, I feel like I'm back in my childhood with this all too rare combination of a coming of age story with character, humour and heart. The cinematography of the New Zealand bush is breathtaking and it's a world you too want to run away in. The script is filled with some of the most memorable and hysterical comedy this year. A truly special movie and one I cannot praise highly enough and based on the prizes it's collected at every film festival, one that has truly spoken to audiences.
Where to watch it - coming soon on VOD & Home release in the USA & in cinemas from September in the UK.
An Italian thriller set over the course of a week as various mafia families try to maintain a ceasefire in order to complete a real estate deal that will benefit themselves and several local politicians.
Paging Zack Snyder, this is how you make a movie with a large cast, several different plot threads and make it flow incredibly well. This thriller holds back on the violence in favour of exploring the different motivations of our characters and why they've chosen to align together, so when the madness begins, it truly packs a punch as a barbaric rogue element threatens the deal. Rome looks stunning and your investment in this movie is rewarded with a truly operatic ending. Italian cinema just made Hollywood look utterly amateurish with a fraction of a budget.
Where to watch it - Netflix in the USA & Canada, available on home video in the UK in September.
With complete access, a documentary team follows Anthony Weiner's campaign to become the Mayor of New York following a scandal where he sent women pictures of em....his Weiner.
No matter what you think of Anthony Weiner, he's a truly charismatic and charming individual and he makes for one of the most memorable characters at the cinema this year. For political junkies like me, this film is an up close look at crisis management and the sort of determination and thick skin that a politician must have in this social media age. The film is like The Office as you cringe behind your hands and laugh uncomfortably at the reactions from his friends and family to the unfolding scandals. 2016 has been a fantastic year for documentaries but this one is the crown jewel so far and one of the funniest movies of the summer.
Where to watch - Still on a limited run at The Picturehouses chain in the UK & on home video and VOD in the US from August 23rd.