“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” – Nick Carraway: ‘The Great Gatsby’
Yes, having endured the bitter hardships of a winter long enough to satisfy Westeros, it seems that summer has finally arrived and with it the opportunity to turn over a new leaf. Maybe you think it’s time you started seeing more film releases and if so, then what better time to start. This June sees a wonderfully eclectic mix of films being released, from big-budget comedy sequels to powerful indie dramas; quite simply, there is something for everyone in the cinema this month.
June’s Top Pick
Chef (Dir. Jon Favreau) – Released June 25th
Despite spending a lot of the last 10 years working on some of Hollywood’s biggest productions, Jon Favreau’s career was founded in independent cinema. He wrote and starred in his low-budget debut hit Swingers back in 1996 and now, nearly 20 years later, he’s returning to his roots as the writer, director and star of Chef. Lauded as both a comedic and culinary delight by critics when it premiered at SXSW earlier in the year, Favreau’s story follows Carl, the eponymous cook of the title, who tries to find a new way of expressing his gastronomic gift after being fired from his job over various issues. Along the way, Carl tries to patch up relations with his estranged wife and kid and reignite his passion for catering.
Much like the character he plays, Favreau is a man dedicated to his craft; preparing for the role by training with celeb chef Roy Choi. Furthermore, having gained such prominence within his profession, the writer/director/actor was able to bring together a mouth-watering cast, which includes Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, and Robert Downy Jr. With such a fine array of talent and Favreau back doing what he does best, Chef promises to be a delicious mix of gentle comedy and heart-warming drama… now that’s a tasty treat!
This June is filled with dramas that have already received universal praise, but perhaps it’s best to start with one that hasn’t. Having been met with an unending torrent of negativity when it opened this year’s Cannes Film Festival, this is your chance to see if Grace Of Monaco (June 6th) is as bad as they say. Starring Nicole Kidman as the eponymous Hollywood star, the film documents Kelly’s own struggle with marriage against the backdrop of political crisis; it can’t be that bad… can it?
Quite the opposite reception has greeted Fruitvale Station (June 6th), with many critics, including one of our own writers, lauding it as a triumph. Focusing on Oscar Grant III, who was shot by police at the titular station in 2009, the film documents Grant’s final 24hrs, detailing what awful repercussions his unjust death was going to have. Another true case of American injustice, Devil’s Knot (June 13th) reconstructs the unscrupulous trial of the ‘West Memphis Three’. If you don’t know the case then check out the spectacular West Of Memphis beforehand, which will you give you all the details of the savage murder that led to the wrongful conviction of three boys society determined to judge for simply being different.
Race is once again a topic in the cinemas this month, with Belle (June 13th) telling the true story of a Royal Navy Admiral’s illegitimate mixed race daughter, who would go on to push England towards abolishing slavery in the late 1700s. While Leave To Remain (June 20th) vividly and poignantly fictionalises the awful struggle of immigrant children, who travel to the UK alone seeking asylum from the terrible cruelties of their own countries; certainly a very topical must-see given the current political climate.
One of the top picks from Picturehouse Cinemas this month, Bright Days Ahead (June 20th) is a refreshingly honest portrait of one woman’s late-life crisis. Fanny Ardent gives a spectacular central performance as Caroline, a retired dentist who finds herself falling in love with Julien, her 30-something evening class lecturer.
No doubt destined to be this generations answer to The Notebook, The Fault In Our Stars (June 19th) explores themes of love and loss through the eyes of teenage couple Hazel & Gus. John Green’s highly praised novel, which the film is based upon, is infused with humour and melancholy. With up and coming talents Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgrot in the leads roles, and (500) Days of Summer scribe Scott Neustadter on scripting duties, there’s an immense possibility that The Fault In Our Stars will be able to traverse the fine line between realism and melodrama.
Having successfully taken down a high school drug ring, Jenko & Schmidt are back with a new mission and a new office in 22 Jump Street (June 6th). The trailer suggests that we’re going to be in for a similarly potent mix of adolescent humour and high-speed thrills, which shouldn’t be a bad thing as long as Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum’s natural chemistry also remains intact.
However, if you prefer your laughs more heartfelt and intelligent, then check out Chinese Puzzle (June 20th). Reuniting star Romain Duris with writer/director Cedric Klapisch, this is the final part in the duo’s Apartment trilogy and finds Duris’ Xavier now in his forties and having to move to New York in order to be closer to his children.
Despite still managing to maintain his handsome looks, time is not on Kevin Costner’s side in his latest thriller 3 Days To Kill (June 20th). This is Costner’s first lead role since his prolonged break from filmmaking and though the trailer rarely hints at the film being more than your standard gung-ho thriller (what more would you expect from director McG), it’s certainly exciting to once again see Costner blending his rugged intensity with tongue-in-cheek humour.
Those craving serious thrills though had better hold out for Cold In July (June 27th) at the end of the month. A bloodthirsty tale of murder and revenge, it follows Michael C. Hall’s protective father, who is brought together with an ex-con to confront both the violent nature of others, as well as his own inner demons. With a cast that includes Don Johnson and a plot imbued with shady dealings and murderous intent, Cold In July is unashamedly evocative of the classic 80s thrillers, such as Blood Simple, which inspired it.
Best Of The Rest
Taking the idea from his own short horror film and developing it into something more robust, Mike Flanagan’s Oculus (June 13th) tells the story of a pair of siblings intent on proving their parents death, amongst others, were the result of a possessed mirror. Starring our very own Karen Gillian and produced by the team that made the smash-hit Insidious, Oculus promises atmospheric thrills and chills in a genre constantly in need of rejuvenation.
Many aspects of Clint Eastwood’s career are rooted in music, so who better to direct the tale of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons on the big screen? Still infused with the same love of his craft that he had back in the 70s, Jersey Boys (June 20th) finds the Hollywood legend balancing new themes with old to tell this iconic tale of four guys who came from the wrong side of the tracks to create the iconic 60s rock group. Visually vibrant and bolstered by that incredible soundtrack, this is the perfect opportunity for you to relive on of theatre’s best-loved musicals in a whole new way.
Meanwhile, PULP is one of the UK’s best-loved bands and Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets documents their last live concert in the UK. As you would expect from a film boasting such a bewildering title and Jarvis Cocker’s continued presence, this is a rich and raw portrait of the band’s experiences and a must-see for their vast array of fans.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet has crafted some of contemporary cinema’s finest films, blending visual vivacity with natural characterization. His latest is T.S. Spivet (June 13th), which brings Reif Larsen’s much-loved literary character to life in an adventure that sees the young cartographer leave home in order to collect an award from the Smithsonian Institute; naturally, visual wonder and exciting adventure ensue.
June also sees the launch of a new season at the BFI Southbank that celebrates 100 years of Chinese cinema and this month that includes an extended run of Spring In A Small Town (June 20th). Considered by many cinematic aficionados to be one of the finest films from China’s first great era of filmmaking, this heartbreaking study of suppressed longing is quietly devastating and richly rewarding.