This weekend, the 2018 summer movie season blasts off with the release of “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” an excellent addition to the franchise. Hollywood veteran Ron Howard directs with great visual and narrative clarity and the fast-paced script by “Star Wars” veteran Lawrence Kasdan and his son Jon effortlessly combines action, humor, drama and suspense.
The LGBT summer movie season kicks off on June 1 with queer auteur John Cameron Mitchell’s delightful new movie “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.” Destined to be a cult classic, the movie stars Nicole Kidman as Queen Boadicea, a punk priestess who finds herself caught in a battle between humans and aliens. the fun film also stars Elle Fanning and newcomer Alex Sharp as the literally star-crossed lovers.
The June LGBT movie calendar is crammed with other exciting new queer films. Premiering on Netflix on June 8, “Alex Strangelove” is about a high school teen’s journey of sexual exploration. Slated for a June 15 opening in D.C., “A Kid Like Jake” stars Jim Parsons and Claire Danes as the parents of a 4-year old gender-nonconforming child. Opening on June 22, “Hearts Beat Loud” stars Nick Offerman as a divorced father who forms a songwriting team with his lesbian daughter.
“Nancy” (June 29) is the story of an unbalanced young women who assumes different personalities as she surfs the Internet. The movie is written and directed by Christina Choe (winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance) and stars Andrea Riseborough (“The Battle of the Sexes” and “The Death of Stalin”). The rest of the stellar cast includes Ann Dowd, Steve Buscemi, J. Smith-Cameron and John Leguizamo.
Pride month releases also include “The Misandrists” (June 15). Directed by legendary gay provocateur Bruce La Bruce, the film begins when a young man fleeing the police unintentionally seeks refuge at a lesbian separatist stronghold.
Among LGBT fan favorites, the long-awaited sequel to Pixar’s “The Incredibles” (2004) arrives on June 15. “Incredibles 2” brings back the original cast of superheroes trying to blend in. Director Brad Bird once again threatens to steal the movie with his cameo as Edna Mode (“No capes!”), a sly tribute to iconic Hollywood costume designer and barely closeted lesbian Edith Head.
Another old gang is reunited on July 20 in “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” the effervescent sequel to the original ABBA fest. Flashbacks reveal how Donna Sheridan (Meryl Streep in the present; Lily James in the past) met her three suitors. Cher joins the cast as Donna’s mother. There’s no word yet on whether or not Pierce Brosnan will try to sing again or if Colin Firth’s Greek boyfriend will return.
On the mainstream front, some of the other big releases include the all-female “Ocean’s 8” (June 8); “Hereditary,” a horror story starring Toni Collette (June 8); “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” (June 22), starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and her impressive heels; “Ant-Man and the Wasp” (July 6); “Sorry to Bother You,” a satirical critique of capitalism and racism starring Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson (July 6); Timothée Chalamet’s “Hot Summer Nights” (July 27); and “Crazy Rich Asians” (Aug. 17).
On the lighter side, there’s Mila Kunis and out actor Kate McKinnon in “The Spy Who Dumped Me” (Aug. 3) and “The Happytime Murders” starring Melissa McCarthy and a bunch of puppets (Aug. 17).
Award season gets an early start on Aug. 10 with Spike Lee’s latest film “BlacKkKlansman,” a favorite at Cannes. Based on a true story, Lee’s latest opus is about an African-American police officer who infiltrates the KKK in the 1970s.
On the local front, summer screenings by Reel Affirmations will include “Ideal Home” starring Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan as a bickering gay couple who suddenly acquire a 10-year old grandson (June 22).
Two outstanding D.C. film festivals also have some fun programs scheduled. D.C. Shorts will be presenting “DC Shorts Laughs” June 22-23. This innovative event pairs local comedians with outstanding short comedy films. This year’s film slate includes “Ruby Full of Shit” about the holiday showdown between the new boyfriend and a bratty 6-year old.
The international “48 Hour Film Fest” challenges teams of local filmmakers to create a short film in just two days. The winner of the D.C. competition will be revealed at the “Best Of” screening on June 22.
Under the direction of Michael Lumpkin, the out Director of AFI Festivals, “AFI DOCS” will return from June 13-17. The international celebration of documentary films again includes strong LGBT content, including the world premiere “Alone in the Game,” about the challenges faced by out LGBT athletes; “Dark Money” directed by transgender filmmaker Kimberly Reed; “Don’t Be Nice” about a diverse group of slam poets; “Transmilitary” about four servicemembers who come out to top officials at the Pentagon; and “United We Fan,” about dedicated fans who lobby for the return of cancelled series and one lesbian fan who protests “Lesbian Death Trope.”
AFI DOCS also includes documentaries about comedian Gilda Radner, designer Steve McQueen and the fabulous Studio 54.
Some of the other great documentaries premiering this summer include “Whitney” (July 6); “Love, Cecil,” a look back at the dazzling career of Hollywood costume designer Cecil Beaton; “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” about the infamous pimp Scotty Bowers (July 27) and “The Gospel According to André,” (June 1) an insightful look at André Leon Talley, the trailblazing black gay fashion editor who grew up in the Jim Crow South.
As usual, AFI Silver in downtown Silver Spring brings some serious sizzle to the summer schedule. Some of the highlights includes Spanish Cinema Now (May 31-June 3) which includes “Anchor and Hope” about a lesbian couple who enlist the help of a good friend to help them conceive; the D.C. Caribbean FilmFest (June 8-13) which includes the Grace Jones biopic “Bloodlight and Bami;” and, “Sorry to Bother You” which is part of the Color of Conversation, a new partnership between AFI and the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival.
From July 5-12, AFI will present the new 70mm print of “2001: A Space Odyssey” to kick off its Stanley Kubrick retrospective.
The Maryland Film Festival has an active summer schedule at the Parkway Theatre in Baltimore. On June 2, MdFF will screen “Wild Nights with Emily,” an unconventional biopic of poet Emily Dickinson starring Molly Shannon, as a fundraiser for Baltimore Pride. Other LGBT highlights include “Howard”, a documentary about openly gay legendary lyricist Howard Ashman (“Little Shop of Horrors” and “Beauty and the Beast”) on June 23 and Sundance favorite “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” on Aug. 17.
Following on the heels of the successful annual festival which included the “Rated LGBTQ” series, the Washington Jewish Film Festival will screen three audience favorites this summer, including “The Invisibles.”
Finally, on June 18, there is an important documentary that every family should enjoy together. Directed by Morgan Neville (“20 Feet from Stardom” and “Best of Enemies”), “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is a moving and charming tribute to the legendary Fred Rogers and his enduring and endearing legacy.