With every summer comes the release of many blockbuster films that promise sequels, superheroes and explosions, all of which usually end up breaking some kind of box office record. This past summer, the blockbusters have been rather decisive. “Warcraft” flopped at the box office and failed to start the video game-to-film adaptation wave that was predicted, the female-led “Ghostbusters” reboot was received poorly and “Suicide Squad” was so controversial that it led to a petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes. Yet amidst some of these misfires, there were quite a few smaller and relatively unheard of films that appeased both the critics and the fans. Here are some of the best films the summer of 2016 had to offer.
Sing Street- Released in a very limited number of theaters in early June, “Sing Street” is director John Carney’s (“Once,” “Begin Again”) next embark on the exploration of music as a means of art through film. The film tells the story of Conor, a fifteen year-old boy living Dublin, Ireland, during the 1980s and his struggle to form a band in order to impress the girl who stands across the street of the Catholic school he attends each morning. “Sing Street” is an impressively well made film, features several original songs as well as throwbacks to eighties hits, and is one of the best films of the year thus far.
The Lobster- “The Lobster” may be one of the more bizarre concepts to come out of Hollywood in quite some time. In a dystopian land, single people are sent to a tropical resort where they must fall in love within 45 days, or else they will be turned into an animal of their choosing. Through its thought-out writing, this bizarre concept works in the context of the film, creating a satirical and referential look at how our modern conception of relationships works. The film is directed by Yorgos Lanthimos (“Dogtooth”) and stars Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz.
Swiss Army Man- Breaking away from his Harry Potter fame, Daniel Radcliffe plays a literal corpse in “Swiss Army Man,” a rather obscure film from first-time film directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. A man named Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on a deserted island until a corpse with the ability to talk and move washes up on shore, leaving the two of them to take an offbeat and comical adventure. The film is brilliantly acted by Dano and Radcliffe, and shows great promise for Kwan and Scheinert’s future careers.
Tickled- A documentary about competitive tickling — only it’s not the joke you may think it is. Journalist David Farrier stumbles upon this seemingly childish sport, but after attempting to dig deeper, he’s faced with angry resistance and discovers the true horrors that tickling really holds. In a terrifying and unbelievably factual tale, “Tickled” shocks its audience with twist after twist.
The Neon Demon- Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive,” “Only God Forgives”) delivers his next experimental and abstract film, “The Neon Demon.” Depicting the work of models living in Los Angeles, the arrival of a young and innocent model threatens several veterans of the business, who quickly become willing to do anything to eliminate their competition. The film is remarkably shot and features two incredible performances from Elle Fanning and Jena Malone.
Hell or High Water- Featuring Oscar-worthy performances from Jeff Bridges, Chris Pine and Ben Foster, “Hell or High Water” is a twist on the modern day western. Set in West Texas, two brothers rob banks they deem as corrupt in order to pay off the mortgage on their family ranch. Very much in the same vein as “No Country for Old Men,” the film is an intense and unexpected adventure with an unforgettable finale.
Don’t Breathe- A horror film that breaks away from clichéd stories about ghost or demons, “Don’t Breathe” is a refreshingly new thriller from Fede Alvarez (“Evil Dead”). With a remarkably simple plot revolving around three teenagers who break into houses, only to become locked in a house with a blind psychopathic killer who will stop at nothing to keep them from leaving, “Don’t Breathe” is a terrifyingly fun look at redefining the horror genre.