Moviegoer: Summer Cinema

Katharine Hepburn and Rossano Brazzi in Summertime (1955).

Start the season with a slate of movies featuring the best and worst of summer fun 

This is the start of a most unusual summer season. It’s still not totally safe to gather in large crowds, and wearing masks might become a staple of your 2020 wardrobe. While we figure out the new normal, here’s a five-movie marathon that captures the best and the worst of summer.  

Disney+: Moana 

As the daughter of the chief, Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) is expected to learn how to lead her people. But what Moana really wants to learn, is how to sail. Ever since she was a child, she’s felt the ocean calling to her. It turns out, she’s right. 

The sea is calling Moana. It entrusts her with the heart of Te Fiti, a magical emblem that was stolen by the demigod Maui (The Rock). When Maui took the heart, he unleashed Te Kā, a lava monster that is slowly destroying the Polynesian islands. When her own island is threatened with destruction, Moana must board her boat, find Maui, and force him to return the heart to its rightful place.  

One of Disney’s best modern musicals, Moana combines a great story, songs from Hamilton-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and excellent performances. The story of a plucky girl who saves the world and stays true to herself is inspiring for little ones and adults. Filled with Polynesian imagery that will make you long for the beach, Moana is the rare kids’ film you won’t mind watching over and over again.  

Great Animation * PG * 107 mins. 

Netflix: Fyre 

What’s the only thing worse than having your expensive vacation canceled because of the pandemic? Having your expensive vacation turn out to be a scam and stranding you in the Bahamas.  

This documentary breaks down the events that led up to Fyre Festival, one of the biggest debacles in concert history. Musician Ja Rule and businessman Billy McFarland teamed up to create the most exclusive music festival ever, hosted on a private island, featuring luxury bungalows and five-star cuisine. Attendees would pay a small fortune for exclusive access to artists and events, all with an extravagant feel.  

Unfortunately, Billy was a huckster who defrauded investors and swindled concertgoers, all while keeping up appearances. When the concert happened, people were stranded in refugee tents with little food and barely any water. The concert also had a devastating effect on the Bahamian economy.  

If you’re looking for a documentary about a luxury disaster that’s two parts schadenfreude and one part tragedy, Fyre is a must-see.  

Good Documentary * R * 97 mins.  

Kanopy: Summertime 

After saving for years, school secretary Jane (Katharine Hepburn) finally is able to take a summer vacation to Venice. She falls in with a crowd at Pensione Fiorini and falls in love with the city. Soon, Jane meets a charming shop owner named Renato (Rossano Brazzi) who invites her to see the real city.  

Perpetually single Jane isn’t sure she should start a holiday romance with a stranger, but Renato charms her into taking a chance. Will the bond Jane and Renato form be a lasting one? Or is it doomed from the start?  

Missing exotic locales and summer romances during the time of social distancing? This romantic tale will transport you to the canals of Venice. Director David Lean makes the most of his setting, utilizing grand cinematography and beautiful camera work. A sentimental and beautifully acted film, this is the perfect vacation movie. It’ll have you booking a 2021 trip to Italy in no time.  

Good Romance * NR * 100 mins.  

Prime: Midsommar 

After an unfathomable tragedy takes her family from her, Dani (Florence Pugh) clings to her disinterested boyfriend Christian (Jack Reynor). Afraid he’ll look like a jerk if he breaks up with Dani, Christian reluctantly invites her along on a trip he’s taking with his friends. They’re going to Sweden to witness a small commune’s summer festival.  

At first, the celebrations serve as a great distraction for Dani and Christian, but the traditions start to take a sinister turn. Is there something odd going on in this land of sun and flowers?  

If you’re looking for a movie that will make you and your family think twice about gathering in large groups, this is the flick for you. Director Ari Aster is a master of creepy camera work and subtle hidden imagery. The whole movie is a horror film set in bright sunlight with no jump scares—and it’s in turns chilling and hilarious. With a brilliant lead performance by Pugh, this movie is a stunning masterclass in film craft and acting.  

Just a quick warning: This is definitely not a film for small viewers, so make sure the kids are in bed unless you want to pay therapy bills while you’re practicing social distancing.  

Excellent Horror Movie * R * 128 mins.  

Hulu: The Sandlot 

Lonely new kid Scotty Smalls (Tom Guiry) has trouble making friends in his neighborhood. When he stumbles across a group of kids playing sandlot baseball, he’s thrilled to be invited to play. Though Smalls has never played baseball he learns to love the game and the team, who become his second family.  

One of the best family films ever, The Sandlot is a great example of how sports can bring us together. The hilarious adventures of Smalls and his sandlot crew are a great reminder of why we love the summer. Filled with classic lines (“You’re killin’ me, Smalls!”) and some truly wonderful performances, this is a movie you won’t mind watching again and again. While we’re social distancing, sit the kids down and let them watch this classic. Who knows – maybe it’ll inspire a backyard game or two. 

Great Family Film * PG * 101 mins.