The summer 2017 movie season leaps into action this Friday (June 2) with the long-awaited release of “Wonder Woman.” Israeli actress Gal Gadot plays the Amazon princess in her first solo cinematic outing.
Patty Jenkins (“Monster”) directs; she’s the first female director to helm a live-action movie with a budget of more than $100 million and the first woman to direct a major superhero movie. Chris Pine plays American Steve Trevor who draws Diana into the trenches of World War I where she discovers her own true powers.
Some of the other major studio releases this summer include “The Mummy,” (June 9) with Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe; “Transformers: the Last Knight” (June 9); “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (July 7) starring Tom Holland who recently wowed audiences with his spectacular drag performance to Rhianna’s “Umbrella” on Spike’s “Lip Sync Battle”; and, “War for the Planet of the Apes” (July 14) featuring an epic battle between humans led by Woody Harrelson and apes led by Andy Serkis.
Following on the heels of “Snatched,” the raunchy summer comedies continue with “Rough Night” about a wild bachelorette party. Written and directed by Lucia Aniello, the movie stars Scarlett Johansson and out actors Kate McKinnon and Colton Haynes, along with Zoë Kravitz and Ilana Glazer as bickering ex-lovers.
On a smaller scale, several great films will be screened at regional film festivals.
In Baltimore on Saturday, June 3, the Creative Alliance hosts Rainbow Fest 2017, a fabulous celebration of queer cinema. The festival opens with “The Passionate Pursuits of Angela Bowen,” a window into the amazing life of a woman who was a classical ballerina, a legendary dance teacher and a black lesbian feminist activist organizer, writer and professor. The festival continues with “Hot Shots,” a collection of short queer films that were selected by a jury of LGBT community members, and concludes with a special screening of the camp classic “Mommie Dearest” hosted by Baltimore drag superstar Betty O’Hellno.
The beautifully renovated Parkway Theatre in Baltimore’s Station North neighborhood will also host a series of LGBT films during Baltimore Pride (June 16-22). The full schedule can be found at mdfilmfest.com/parkway.
Reel Affirmations, D.C.’s LGBT film festival and monthly series, opens its summer season with “Kiki” on June 16. The movie is a fascinating exploration of the “Kiki” scene in New York, an artistic activist subculture founded by queer youth of color.
Reel Affirmations’ monthly XTRA Film Series continues with the dramedy series “195 Lewis” on July 14 and “Kings, Queens and In-Betweens,” a documentary focused on gender, on Aug. 18. All films will screen at the HRC Equality Center Screening Room.
AFI Docs, the acclaimed celebration of documentary films led by openly gay filmmaker Michael Lumpkin, runs at various venues around D.C. from June 14-18. Queer highlights include “Whitney: Can I Be Me,’” an intimate portrait of the late pop star; “Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer,” an examination of the career of Marcelo Gomes, an openly gay principal dancer for the American Ballet Theatre; “All Good Things,” about a polyamorous relationship; and, “Lady Eva,” which spotlights a contestant in a pageant for “letits,” transgender women in Tonga.
AFI Docs also includes a screening of “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” a follow-up to Al Gore’s Academy Award-winning 2006 film, which will also have a theatrical release later in the summer.
On June 23 and 24, D.C. Shorts presents D.C. Shorts Laughs which brings together favorites from the popular festival celebrating short films and area stand-up comics.
Meanwhile, the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in downtown Silver Spring continues to explore the richness of American and world cinema with its exciting combination of first-run indie features and curated collections of classic films from Hollywood and the world. The queer highlight of this summer’s schedule is the screening of two restored films from the acclaimed Merchant Ivory collection. The groundbreaking gay classic “Maurice” (screening June 23-24) stars James Wilby and Hugh Grant as forbidden lovers in Edwardian England. The Academy Award-winning “Howard’s End” (June 30 and July 1) features stellar performances from Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham-Carter and Vanessa Redgrave.
Other offerings at AFI Silver include the D.C. Caribbean FilmFest (June 9-12) which features the Puerto Rican film “Memories of a Penitent Heart” about a deceased gay family member who was forced to hide his sexual orientation and his HIV status and “Play the Devil,” a coming-of-age/coming-out story set during Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival season; the Recent Restoration Series (through July 6); Directed by David Lynch (May 12-July 6); and a number of encore presentations of recent favorites.
A number of great independent movies are also slated for theatrical release in D.C. this summer. As of press time, they include:
• “My Cousin Rachel” (June 9), starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin based on the novel by bisexual author Daphne du Maurier (“Rebecca” and “The Birds”).
• “Manifesto” (June 9), an astounding film that features Cate Blanchett recreating a number of famous historical manifestos in a variety of characters.
• “It Comes at Night” (June 9), a stylish psychological horror movie about two families trying to survive in the aftermath of an unnamed cataclysm.
• “Beatriz at Dinner” (June 16), a clash of wills between New Age healer Salma Hayek and businessman John Lithgow.
• “The Hero” (June 16) stars Sam Elliott as an ailing movie star coming to terms with his past and his mortality.
• “The Beguiled” (June 30), a Civil War drama about a Union soldier who takes refuge in a girls’ boarding school. Sofia Coppola recently won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival for her work on the movie, which stars Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell.
• “Wish Upon” (July 14) marks a generational shift as former teen star Ryan Phillippe plays a father whose gift to his troubled daughter unwittingly sets off a horrific chain of events.
• “Detroit” (Aug. 4), Kathryn Bigelow’s examination of a 1967 police raid that led to one of the largest citizen uprisings in U.S. history.
• “Brigsby Bear” (Aug. 4), a delightfully quirky comedy about a young man kidnapped as a child who is restored to his birth family.
• “Patti Cake$” (Aug. 18), a breakout festival hit about a white woman from New Jersey and her unlikely quest for rap stardom.
Finally, the summer season comes to a close with two very different films based on Steven King novels. “The Dark Tower” (Aug. 4) settles the ancient vendetta between Idris Elba (the Gunslinger) and Matthew McConaughey (the Man in Black). And “It” (Sept. 14) is the cinematic retelling of the popular story of the evil clown Pennyfeather who haunts the children of Derry, Maine.