Celebrate Labor Day weekend with some of summer’s best films

Labor Day is the Mel Gibson of holidays: Hollywood knows full well it’s there, yet only occasionally acknowledges it.

Schools are closed, most everyone is off work, but the movie industry gives Labor Day roughly the same amount of attention as Take Your Kids to Work Day.

This weekend’s only national release is “Inhumans,” the first two episodes of the upcoming Marvel-ABC series, that’s opening on Imax screens. So, depending on your theater of choice, you can pay $20 to see a TV show — a network TV show at that — a few weeks before it airs for free.

If you’re looking for something else to watch this holiday weekend, here’s a look back at my 10 favorite movies of the summer (in alphabetical order), many of which are still in theaters:

“Baby Driver”

To drown out the hum of his tinnitus, a getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) has an assortment of iPods for different days and moods and even plans his escape routes to coincide with the beat of particular songs. The supporting cast, including Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Lily Collins, is wonderful. But the songs, handpicked by writer-director Edgar Wright, and the choreography are the real stars in what is every bit as much an attitude as it is a movie.

“Brigsby Bear”

The first of four movies on this list that I saw in January at Sundance, this lovably bizarre comedy follows a young man (“Saturday Night Live’s” Kyle Mooney) who’s rescued and reintroduced into society after being kidnapped as a baby and raised in an underground bunker with nothing to watch but a goofy educational series secretly produced by his “father” (Mark Hamill) that taught him everything from advanced mathematics to human sexuality.


Writer-director Christopher Nolan’s latest is basically three overlapping movies, each with its own time frame, focusing on the nearly 400,000 British and French soldiers stranded on a beach in 1940, the yachts and pleasure boats and their civilian owners who tried to rescue them, and the pilots of the Royal Air Force Spitfires who provided cover from the air. An early favorite to be a major player at the Oscars, “Dunkirk” is nearly as incredible an achievement as the rescue itself.

“Ingrid Goes West”

This may have been the perfect Sundance movie, as its stars, Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen, headline other Sundance films on this list. After reading a magazine profile about social media influencer Taylor Sloane (Olsen), Ingrid (Plaza) starts stalking her on Instagram. When Taylor makes the mistake of responding to her, Ingrid moves across the country to infiltrate Taylor’s inner circle. What follows is a darkly comic look at loneliness and desperation, as well as the perils of social media fame — there’s a fine line between following someone and following them.

“The Little Hours”

“The Decameron,” Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th-century masterpiece, may not seem like a good template for a raunchy comedy, but that’s what it becomes in the hands of writer-director Jeff Baena. A servant (Dave Franco) on the run for sleeping with the wife of his lord (Nick Offerman) is taken in as a convent handyman by Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly), who has him pose as a deaf-mute to discourage temptation among the sisters (Plaza, Alison Brie and Kate Micucci). Spoiler alert: It doesn’t work. The actors basically play the most recognizable versions of themselves, with zero attempts to pretend their characters are living in 1347, and spend far more time dropping F-bombs and fooling around than praying.

“Logan Lucky”

The comedy about down-on-their-luck West Virginia brothers Jimmy (Channing Tatum) and Clyde Logan (Adam Driver), who rob Charlotte Motor Speedway is both an homage to and a complete reversal of director Steven Soderbergh’s “Ocean’s” trilogy. There’s even a winking reference to their low-rent, high-stakes caper as “Ocean’s 7-Eleven.”

“Spider-Man: Homecoming”

After five solo movies and an appearance in “Captain America: Civil War,” fans finally have a Peter Parker (Tom Holland) who feels like the awkward teenage hero they grew to love in the comics. In Michael Keaton’s formidable hands, The Vulture makes for an exceptional villain, a welcome relief to the generic bad guys who’ve dragged down superhero movies for years.

“War for the Planet of the Apes”

What’s left of the military, led by Colonel (Woody Harrelson), launches an all-out assault on Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his ever-evolving band of primates. The surprisingly emotional sequel proves you really can release an acclaimed movie that deals with moral complexity, war crimes and monstrous acts committed against friends simply to survive. You can even do it in the heat of summer. You just have to make sure that most of the characters are monkeys.

“Wonder Woman”

The warrior princess (Gal Gadot) enters the fray of World War I, complete with playful patriotism, cheeky chemistry and stunning fight choreography. But the real power of the highest-grossing movie of the summer, which starred and was directed by women, probably won’t be felt for years.

“Wind River”

Olsen returns as a rookie FBI agent who flies in from Las Vegas, overmatched and underdressed, to investigate the death of a teenage girl on tribal lands. She’s aided by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker (Jeremy Renner) still haunted by the death of his own teenage daughter. It’s as good as I’ve seen Renner, and that includes his Oscar-nominated roles in “The Hurt Locker” and “The Town.”

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter.

News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like