Your Summer Checklist by Armond White for CityArts

By Armond White
The Tribeca Film Festival gave a good headstart to this year’s summer movie releases. Tribeca’s best offerings previewed what to look forward to, taking the guess work out of Hollywood blockbusters and art house fare. Fact is, some of summer’s most exciting and challenging films got their New York premieres at Tribeca as well as some of the other local festivals. By now, Tribeca patrons know the smart way to plan their midyear movie going. Here are the best films to see again or for the first time:

Byzantium by Neil Jordan was Tribeca’s best. This vampires of the modern city tale is one of the Irish auteur’s finest excursions into contemporary mythology.

Omit the Logic is about legendary comic Richard Pryor and in the Tribeca documentary tradition, it is one of the most probing cultural biographies ever put on screen. Watch for writer Cecil Brown’s incisive on-screen commentary.

Big Joy is another Tribeca doc, this one a celebration of avant-garde filmmaker and poet James Broughton, spans the history of gay culture (and of film criticism through liaison with Pauline Kael, mother of Broughton’s first child).

Cape Spin by John Kirby (award-winner at Tribeca 2005 for The American Ruling Class) takes a witty, even-handed look at green and media politics. Humor, humanity and insight.

Fast & Furious 6 is another in the ongoing, sometimes reliable franchise, featuring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, two of Hollywood’s most appealing actors.

I’m So Excited brings Almodovar (Pedro to the uninitiated) back to humorous turf. Ought to be joyous and provocative.

Despicable Me 2 follows up one of the few cleverest animated films in Hollywood’s recent glut. Even if it’s disappointing it’s likely to show Pixar how it should be done.

The World’s End puts Edgar Wright back on screen after the sensational Scott Pilgrim, and with his teammates Frost and Pegg no less.

Passion asks the question, Has Brian DePalma lost it? This remake of a French programmer shows DePalma’s misunderstood feminist side. Stay tuned for the results.

L’Avventura is one of the greatest films ever made and Michelangelo Antonioni’s ultimate masterpiece. Summer won’t get any hotter–or cooler. Be there. At Film Forum July 12-25.

You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet shows Alain Resnais extraordinary renaissance. Colleague Stuart Lee of WNYN Channel 39 made the definition description of this one: “It’s like a chinchilla coat–heavy to wear but beautiful.”

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