The Hippo


May 27, 2020








The Spy Who Dumped Me.

For your Labor Day viewing pleasure
A look back at summer 2018


 By Amy Diaz
Not bad, summer.
This season’s movies included a few standouts, a few real stinkers and a lot of movies I found some degree of mildly pleasant. As the summer winds down (this week’s releases include Operation Finale, about the capture of Adolf Eichmann; Kin, which looks like a sci-fi action movie, and the horror movie The Little Stranger), here’s a look at some of the films from the last four months (many of which are now available for home viewing) legitimately worth spending money on, either at home or at the theater. 
• Double feature of 2018’s best, home edition: Both Black Panther (released in February) and Avengers: Infinity War (which kicked off the summer a week early with a last-weekend-in-April release) are now available for home viewing and represent two of the best of Marvel’s latest very solid run of movies and are so far my two favorite movies of 2018. Black Panther characters also appear in Infinity War, which finally brings together 10 years of Marvel Cinematic Universe storytelling and the villain Thanos in a movie that hangs together well and is an enjoyable watch.
• Big fun double feature, theater edition: If you want your double feature at the theater, I recommend The Spy Who Dumped Me, a better-than-expected buddy comedy with Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon, followed by Mission Impossible: Fallout, a truly enjoyable action movie. 
• Best movie to see with a (slightly tipsy) crowd: If you have a group of friends looking for a lightweight movie to see (and frequent one of the many theaters that now sell booze), may I recommend Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and may I also recommend not worrying so much about being on time for the first half. The movie gets going in the last 40 to 50 minutes and offers both the big songs and the big emotional moments you want. This sequel to the Meryl Streep-starring version of the ABBA jukebox musical follows Lily James playing the same character as a young woman and Amanda Seyfried, the Streep character’s daughter, dealing with major life changes after her mother’s death. And there’s Cher.
• Award-worthy look at one moment in time, home edition: When nomination season rolls around, I hope voters fire up the TVs and watch Tully, a dark but funny look at a mother in the thick of the newborn/sleep-deprivation period of life. Charlize Theron gives a delightfully unglamorous performance in this movie written by Diablo Cody.
• Award-worthy look at one moment in time, theater edition: I also hope Eighth Grade doesn’t go the way of last year’s The Florida Project and get forgotten in the crush of prestige movies. This funny, bittersweet, at times horrifying look at the final days of middle school for Elsie Fisher’s shy Kayla feels like it really gets that time of life in all its hopefulness and awkwardness. 
• Long live romance: Crazy Rich Asians proves the classic romantic comedy is not dead with a standard but well-constructed story of familial disapproval of a relationship between a guy and a girl from different social strata. Constance Wu is winning as the female lead, Henry Golding is dreamy as her boyfriend and Singapore is a beautiful (and full of delicious-looking food) as the setting for the action. 
• Netflix romance: If you’ve already seen Crazy Rich Asians and are looking for more book-to-movie- romance adaptations, look to the small screen and two recent Netflix releases, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which also features Lily James, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, a high school-set rom-com. Guernsey is also pretty classic — James is a young writer in post-WWII U.K. who heads to the island of Guernsey to investigate the story of a literary society formed during the war when Guernsey was occupied by the Germans. There is a tale of wartime romance (which features James’ fellow Downton Abbey alum Jessica Brown Findlay; the cast also includes the former Cousin Isobel Penelope Wilton and the former second Mr. Mary Crawley Matthew Goode) and James’ own love triangle. 
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before features high school junior Lara Jean (Lana Condor) plunged into romantic turmoil when the letters she’s written to various crushes over the years are accidentally sent out. Former buddy (and former boyfriend to Lara Jean’s sister who recently left for college) and next door neighbor Josh (Israel Broussard) gets one of the letters; Peter (Noah Centineo), the on-again/off-again boyfriend of Lara Jean’s former best friend Gen, gets another. Peter says he doesn’t like Lara Jean that way but he does like the idea of fabricating a relationship to make Gen jealous — ah, the fake relationship! A classic high school rom-com device lives!
• More home viewing to catch up on: Other movies from earlier in the summer now available for home viewing include the two top-notch documentaries RBG (about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and Won’t You Be My Neighbor (about the life of Fred Rogers and his creation of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood). I also thoroughly enjoyed the June release Ocean’s 8, which starred Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Awkwafina, Sarah Paulson, Helena Bonham Carter, Rihanna and Mindy Kaling. It is exactly the sort of high-gloss fun you hope to receive from summer viewing. 

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