Ten Reasons to Spend Your Summer in a Movie Theater


Rooftop Films

Ongoing through August 16

The oppressive winter will be instantly forgotten as you breathe in this always-terrific alfresco series, which pairs new indies and festival hits with live music and interactive marvels. (The boombox-ready, ’80s-cool comedy Ping Pong Summer includes table-tennis tourneys; for Sara Dosa’s mushroom-hunting doc The Last Season, you can seek out fungi on the world’s largest rooftop farm.) Also recommended are the subversive Jenny Slate rom-com Obvious Child, Japanese s/m burlesque R100, and Iranian vampire western A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Rooftop Films, various locations,

Cold in July

May 23

Between his undead-apocalypse road saga Stake Land, his American Gothic cannibal-clan psychodrama We Are What We Are, and this nervily entertaining adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s crime novel, filmmaker Jim Mickle proves himself a craftsman in the mold of John Carpenter and Walter Hill. In East Texas in 1989, mulleted everyman Michael C. Hall (Dexter) shoots and kills a home invader, but then the trespasser’s vengeful dad (Sam Shepard) makes parole. Cue the period synthesizers, Don Johnson, and a capricious second act. IFC Films, in limited release,


June 6

Dutch auteur Alex van Warmerdam›s diabolically freaky suburban fantasy (the elevator pitch might be something like “Dogtooth meets Funny Games“) follows the cryptically mad misdeeds of a Rasputin-bearded antihero (Jan Bijvoet) who is either a deranged hobo, a trickster wizard, or a metaphysical demon. Charming his way into an upper-crust family’s ultramodern home, Borgman’s manipulations start as petty class-war pranks and eventually turn more macabre and absurd. It’s either the season’s most sinful comedy or the drollest horror. Drafthouse Films, in limited release,


June 18–29

Opening with Richard Linklater’s Boyhood—a parent-child drama ambitiously shot over 12 years—and closing with a 25th anniversary screening of Spike Lee’s one-block-in-Brooklyn classic Do the Right Thing, BAM’s vital American indie showcase returns for a sixth edition. Early standouts include Madeleine Olnek’s lesbian prostitution-ring comedy The Foxy Merkins, Josephine Decker’s sensual thriller Thou Wast Mild and Lovely, and the Zellner Brothers’ Fargo-inspired oddball quest Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter. Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn,

“The Italian Connection”

June 19–29

Largely unknown here, Italy’s “poliziotteschi” genre of the late ’60s and ’70s—cynical, uncompromising crime thrillers influenced by political cinema, detective novels, and rough-edged noir—was packed with pulp innovation. Anthology’s curated sampling includes vigilantism spurred by institutional failings (1971’s Confessions of a Police Captain), drug-ring action dramas (1973’s High Crime), heists with hints of homoeroticism (1976’s Born Winner), and a Rio-set caper costarring Janet Leigh and Edward G. Robinson (1967’s Grand Slam). Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue,

New York Asian Film Festival

June 27–July 14

Even if your summer-movie tastes skew mainstream, boycott the boring multiplex garbage and enhance your fun with Subway Cinema’s 13th annual showcase of pan-Asian pop thrills and manic weirdness. Maybe you’ll meet Taiwanese action icon Jimmy Wang Yu (One-Armed Swordsman) as he’s presented with a lifetime achievement award; stick around for Korean surveillance thrillers (Cold Eyes), Hong Kong porn-biz parodies (3D Naked Ambition), and Chinese masseuse dramas (Blind Massage).

Life Itself
July 4

Pulitzer Prize–winning film critic Roger Ebert lost his ability to speak and half his jaw to cancer in 2006, but was still writing passionately and tirelessly right up until his death last year. Directed by Steve James (who owes his career to Ebert for championing his 1994 doc Hoop Dreams), this deeply stirring, good-humored tribute to the Chicago Sun-Times legend doesn’t shy away from the alcoholism of his early years, his fierce rivalry with TV cohost Gene Siskel, and film discussion itself in the post-thumbs era. Magnolia Pictures, in limited release,

Land Ho!
July 11

Anyone could get their groove back in the colorful company of loud, lewd, pot-smoking Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson) and his soft-spoken foil Colin (This is Martin Bonner’s Paul Eenhoorn), two former brothers-in-law who venture to Iceland to shake off their post-retirement stagnancy. Gorgeously photographed and delightfully sincere, this bawdy buddy comedy from co-directors Martha Stephens (Pilgrim Song) and Aaron Katz (Cold Weather) avoids phony bucket-list affirmations on a gentle adventure through ice bars, geothermal pools, and black-sand beaches. Sony Pictures Classics, in limited release,

July 11–August 14

Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel, an avant-garde master who shocked, awed, and razzed with dreamlike masterpieces like Belle du Jour and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie until his death in 1983, is given his first comprehensive NYC retrospective in nearly 15 years. There are no wrong choices to be made, whether you prefer Buñuel’s early surrealism (L’Age d’Or, Un Chien Andalou), his mid-career Mexican period (Los Olvidados, Susana), or his return to France (The Milky Way, The Phantom of Liberty). Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn,

“Femme Noirs”
July 18–August 7

Film Forum’s three-week ode to “Hollywood’s Dangerous Dames” features new restorations of Orson Welles’s The Lady From Shanghai (1948) and Joseph H. Lewis’s Gun Crazy (1949), two-for-one admissions (Murder, My Sweet + The Maltese Falcon = a perfect Friday), and live piano accompaniment for 1929’s Louise Brooks-led Pandora’s Box. Beginning August 1, Billy Wilder’s essential noir Double Indemnity — don’t trust that cold-blooded Barbara Stanwyck! — is fêted with a 70th anniversary restoration and week-long run. Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street,