Split Decision: Best of Summer 2019
Welcome back to Split Decision! Each week, we pose a question to our staff of knowledgable and passionate film geeks and share the responses! We may never know if it is legal to park in the center of Broad Street, but we’ll answer movie questions all day long. Chime in on Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments below!
This week’s question:
This weeks question: Looking back at this summer, what is your favorite summer movie of 2019?
My favorite film of the year is still End of the Century, and while I saw it over the summer, it won't make it to Philly until October 4. It's sexy and cerebral and pure magic. So for "favorite summer movie," I'll go in the total opposite direction, and pick Anna, Luc Besson's upteenth variation on La Femme Nikita. This mindless action film was a blast not just for the heroine's manic antics, shooting up an entire restaurant and still making a critical error, but also for Helen Mirren's hilarious, caustic, turn as her boss. Luke Evans, who I never tire of looking at was great to look at. This film was dumb fun, and a perfect time-filler for a hot summer night.
I think that Midsommar ended up being the movie of the summer for me. It is obviously set in the summertime, in a place where it never gets fully dark- but beyond that, it was scary, thrilling, dramatic, funny, sad, and completely enveloping all at once. It isn't what I would typically expect in a summer movie, but it worked perfectly nonetheless.
Listen, I really want to preach the good word of Godzilla to y'all right now, but I feel like I've done quite enough of that on cinema76 this summer. So instead, I am pleased to present the gospel of Detective Pikachu. It's the best-looking blockbuster of the summer, complete with pop-tart aesthetics and gorgeously rendered Bulbasaurs bouncing around on 35mm celluloid. It also harkens back to the kids movies of the 90's that I grew up on in which villains were straight up cartoon characters with schemes to take over the world using Hanna Barbara logic. It's goofy as hell and so much more fun because of it. Rather than trying to ground the world of Pokemon, it grounds the audience in its own world and logic and propels us through an inherently silly adventure, and it's probably the movie I've thought about most this summer since seeing it. It's also got one of the best scores of 2019, by Henry Jackman. Peep that "Ryme City" track, y'all.
This summer has been...rough? One woman's opinion. Therefore, I'm forced to parrot some of my friends here in their praises for Midsommar and Detective Pikachu. Midsommar speaks to me still, and if pressed, I'd probably say it's my favorite of the year so far. Detective Pikachu is so delightful my jellies burst every time I think of it. Ryan Reynolds is the perfect voice choice, and the animation of Pikachu, and really the whole movie, is nothing short of dazzling. I have no connection to Pokemon the franchise despite it seeming like it is made for me, but I will see every one of these movies I assume they are making at this very moment.
My favorite summer 2019 movie is one I should have seen a summer or two ago— Under the Silver Lake. David Robert Mitchell's first film, The Myth of the American Sleepover, is a sincere summer movie about high school kids, but there's one college-age burnout wandering around because he heard one of the high school girls used to have a crush on him. Andrew Garfield's character in Silver Lake is like that guy, if he was even more set in his own self-justifying thought spirals. The people in this movie are unlikable by design, and I don't relate to their opinions, but the aimlessness so many of them feel is distinctly "late-teens/early-twenties, on summer break," and I relate to that. I mean, there's a scene where Garfield zooms in on an issue of Nintendo Power and that issue is on my shelf right now. I am also forever searching for a valuable way to spend my time.
I’ve written previously about Blinded by the Light, my favorite film of the year so far, and I love many of the other films mentioned, but I wanted to stand up for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. Sitting in the theater in May, it was already hot, and the combined heat and the pleasure-stress of watching the most violent mainstream film I’ve seen in ages made me sweat. Boom. Summer.
More thematically rich, better paced, and even more intense than the second Wick film, Parabellum is the perfect summer movie for me, combining thrills and real ideas in a playful theme park ride of a movie. Long live Keanu.
I caught up with The Beach Bum somewhere in the middle of the summer (I think it cane out at the end of March). I was surprised by how much I liked this movie. But as far as summer vibes go, it pretty much has everything going for it, including a ridiculous shark attack scene with Martin Lawrence of all people.
I'm torn. Both Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood and Midsommar were summery, summer-released movies that absolutely blew me away. And since the filmmakers behind each are so very interested in bucking convention, I shall do the same and declare both to be my answer. The films are similar in the way they left me paralyzed in their wake. Where they differ, however, is in their use of the summer sun. OUATIH has a cozy, breezy feel that captures the easy going fantasy that is Hollywood 1969. Only when it gets dark do the ghouls come out to play. Midsommar, on the other hand, is drenched in daylight, but it's a sunny setting that quickly becomes very sinister. I found myself praying for the dark to come, if only to offer respite from the unassailable horrors at hand.