The 10 Great Movies of Summer 2016

Ah, summer. The time when movies are promoted for hormonal teenage boys and adult males that seem to have grown up for their childhood obsessions with Superman or Captain America. This primarily male demographic is ready to drool over next superhero movie or unnecesary remake. They are the ones that keep pushing the industry to the brink of creative collapse. That's life now at the movies. "Captain America: Civil War" is a good movie, in fact the best of all the barrage of superhero movies we have gotten all of this year. But it feels like it's from a different cinematic universe, one where product placement is key to achieving long-term worldwide success, that feels robotic and untouched by human hands ditto "Finding Dory" the other well-reviewed hollywood film this summer. I'm not down for that. Instead the best movies of summer 2016 came from the small studio system. There were no special effects in these 8 above-average films, nor were there any artistic concessions for high box-office draws.

(1) "Indignation" (James Schamus)

"Indignation" James Schamus’ directorial debut is a thing of beauty. Although this peculiar love story might be thought of on paper as “conventional” by some, the surprise is that it’s far from it. In fact, some of the movies breathtaking set pieces are so daringly imagined and produced. Based on Phillip Roth’s difficult, but brilliant novel Indignation concentrates on a Jewish student’s (Logan Lerman) sexual and cultural dissatisfaction of a society gone astray. The small Ohio college he decides to attend wakes him up in alarming ways, so does a troubled, attractive blonde played by the talented Gloria Gadon."

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(2) "Hell or High Water"(David mackenzie)

"On paper it sounds trivial and almost too clich├ęd to work, yet Marcus is a crowd pleaser, a man with so much wisdom and no-bulls thoughts that Bridges’ performance turns almost transcendentally comic. The bank-robbing scenes are impressively shot and choreographed and rank among the very best the genre can offer. Mackenzie is about to hit the big time with this one as Hollywood will no doubt be knocking at his door with a lot more opportunities."

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(3) "Weiner" (Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg)

"My jaw dropped more than a few times while watching Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg's Weiner, a behind-the-scenes account of Anthony Weiner's rise and fall. The film is an examination of how this New York congressman, a front-runner for mayor of NYC, single-handedly shot himself in the foot and got involved in a sex scandal of the highest proportions, by not only getting caught once, but a few other times, thus sabottaging a perfectly constructed campaign by his team. It is not only a story about the times we live in, but a scathing depiction of the mdeia and today's political landscape."


(4) "Little Men"(Ira Sachs)

"Ira Sachs' best movie to date was greeted with the ravest of reviews, well deserved. Theo Taplitz and Michael Barbieri are the titular best friends whose bond gets tested by a shop lease battle between both kids' parents . This subtle, nuanced character work by Sachs recalls the very best of 1970's european cinema, yet goes by its own vision. The coda might seem a little out of place, but a closer look reveals the emergence of an Auteure of the highest order. Only a fool would ignore the delicate nature of this extraordinarily simple story. It's a slice of life, but done with the more cinematic of restrain-filled tension."

(5) "Gleason"(Jay Tweel)

"ALS has not really been tackled that much as far as film goes, but if there ever was a film that could define and give cinematic language to the disease it's this documentary about former NFL-er Steve Gleason who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011 and not too long after found out he was going to be a father. It just so happens that he was filming himself the entire time, from the moment he found out about the diagnosis to the way his body disintegrates into nothingness over the next 4 years of his life. The slow and painful way he loses his motor functions is heartbreaking, but so is the way director Jay Tweel manages to edit and make a coherent movie out of Gleason's personal video journals for his unborn son. His wife Michel turns out to be the heart and soul of the picture, battling her way through the demons that haunt her and the life she never expected she'd have to live as caretaker of Steve's. This is a movie that is more important and revelatory than any ice-bucket challenge ever could be."

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(6) "Don't Think Twice" (Mike Birbiglia)

"You know for a moment "Don't Think Twice" veers towards being some kind of masterpiece of the comedy world. It doesn't because it does try to tie up things a little too easily near the end, but that's ok because the 80 some odd minutes that came before it were great! Filled with detailed views on how comedians actually get through life. The saying goes "life ain't easy being a comedian" and, yeah, I kinda actually agree. You really have to love what you do and the popular New York City improv troupe depicted, in writer comedian Mike Birbiglia's directorial debut, start to realize that not everyone is going to be making it to the finish line."

(7) "A Bigger Splash"(Luca Guadagnino)

"What is there to say about this vicious valentine to what turns us on at the movies. There's murder, there's sexuality, there's mystery and there's an abundance of beautiful, sensual film-making. Makes sense when you realize the director is Luca Guadagnino, a man who turned heads a couple of years ago with "I Am Love." This new film riffs on the most Hitchcockian of sensibilities, it's what would be considered a ripoff if it weren't for the way Guadagnino brings forward a post-modern take on Hitch. Another film the movie might be inspired by as well is Francois Ozon's underseen 2003 surrealist film "Swimming Pool."

(8) "The Nice Guys"(Shane Black)

"It worked wonders in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and, for the most part, it does as well here. But we are not entering any fresh territory here, this is a redux of the latter. If you're fine with that, as I was, then you'll find some nice textural treats in this film. Gosling and Crowe seem to build chemistry as the story goes along, that's the key really with this and Kiss Kiss - There has to be chemistry, if there isn't then the whole megilah is screwed. You have to be sucked into the likeability of the characters. It's not hard for that to happen when you have Ryan Gosling who is known to be one of the great personality actors of the industry. Crowe just needs to play his serious-dude shtick the right way and what you get is a winning formula"

(9) "Don't Breathe" (Fede Alvarez)

"Don't Breathe" is already being described as the scariest movie of the year. It's a tightly knit and terrifying treat to watch three thieves trying to break into a blind war veteran's home to steal a cool million dollars in cash. Not only does the plan fail, but it turns out the blind war vet is quite capable of taking care of himself. It makes for a claustrophobic film. 80% of the film takes places in the man's Detroit home. A labyrinthine thriller that reminded of this year's other genre-exercise Jeremy Saulnier's "Green Room" in terms of hard-edged technical prowess.I wouldn't say that Alvarez' horror film is as masterfully executed as Saulnier's grim B-movie, but damn it if it doesn't come close for almost 2/3 of the movie, more specifically when the film turns to the house invasion. It really turns the screws on the suspense and action"

(10) "Lo and behold: Reveries of the Connected World" (Werner Herzog)

"Lo and Behold is Werener Herzog’s most ambitious documentary to date focusing on the internet — then, now and on to the future. At the film’s premeiere the eccentric filmmaker even admitted to not owning a cell phone, ever going online or even owning an email address."