June was…rough. We saw a slew of high-profile blockbusters flop hard; most notably, Dark Phoenix will lose Fox (Disney) around $100 million. Other films like The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Shaft also cratered, with everything culminating in a plethora of think pieces that pondered the death of the summer movie season and also if 2019 is the worst movie year ever. It’s at this time that I thank my staff for having a shred of level-headedness. And I also thank the movie gods that we have Pixar, one of the few studios left that has some sort of quality control from film to film, or else I might have fallen into the trap of hot takes szn too.
Though if you squint hard enough, you can find a few good films hidden in the muck. Here are my picks for the best movies of June 2019:
#3: The Dead Don’t Die
Jim Jarmusch is the director that is beloved by your hipster friend who complains about everything that other people like because he or she is not the only one who likes those things. Basically, Jarmusch is probably the director that everyone tells you is great — or you’ve heard his name in passing from cineastes who adore him — but you haven’t seen a single one of his films.
Therein lies the issue for many who went to see The Dead Don’t Die solely because it had a fun cast killing zombies. Jarmusch’s most profitable movie to date was Broken Flowers back in 2005 which came away with $13 million; other than that, not a single one of his movies have grossed $7 million. He’s not what you would call “mainstream.”
Many were caught severely off-guard by The Dead Don’t Die, which amounts to a goofy, slow stroll of a zombie movie. Not much happens, which if you ask me is where a lot of the movie’s charm comes from. The talented cast consistently breaks the fourth wall as Jarmusch carefully rips genre clichés apart with many off-beat, deadpan line deliveries from one of the cast members.
Most of Jarmusch’s films are relaxed and uneventful when compared to mainstream tastes. For people that were looking for a high-octane horror-comedy with a great cast starring Adam Driver, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, and MANY others, that pace is going to come as a severe disappointment. But to me, The Dead Don’t Die plays out as a delightfully pleasant middle finger to those that were expecting something different.
*To read the site’s full review of The Dead Don’t Die, please click here.
#2: The Last Black Man in San Francisco
It’s simultaneously very easy and incredibly difficult to imagine that The Last Black Man in San Francisco is Joe Talbot’s first feature film. On one hand, the A24 product is an intimate story surrounding Talbot and star Jimmie Fails’ experiences growing up in the Golden City while being a little too long and ambitious for its own good — these are pretty common pitfalls of younger filmmakers. But, on the other hand, when The Last Black Man in San Francisco works, it really, really, really, REALLY works (really). In these moments — they greatly outweigh the moments where the film falters — The Last Black Man achieves a sense of wonder and awe that very few films even think about implementing into their own narratives.
The story follows Jimmie Fails, a character name which clearly means to tie back to the real Jimmie Fails’ own experiences in San Fran, who wants nothing more than to reclaim an old Victorian home in the middle of the city that belonged to his family for decades. What follows is a damn near perfect reflection of the true meaning of love for one’s upbringing and also the growing trend of gentrification that is occurring in many U.S. cities, not just San Francisco.
I was positively floored by the two lead performances from Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors, who both convey such a beautiful sense of love and thoughtfulness about where they’ve came from and how that defines them. They are easily two of my favorite acting performances of the year.
*To read the site’s full review of The Last Black Man in San Francisco, please click here.
#1: Toy Story 4
Damn you, Pixar! You got my heart once again!
As I continue to become more cynical by the day, I grow more skeptical of fully earnest films. A large portion of them have an overabundance of misplaced sentimentality, and I can’t help but see them as fake and manipulative. Look no further than the latest Best Picture winner for a good example.
But then something like Toy Story 4 comes around and melts my heart until I’m nothing but a pile of raw emotion…and a few tears here and here. Okay, a lot of tears. Instantly, Toy Story 4 proves that its existence was necessary after we all thought that the beautiful conclusion to Toy Story 3 was enough, telling a heartwarming story of growing old and simply living life as younger generations begin to grow up. If Toy Story kept coming back every ten years for a new tale, I would embrace it with open arms.
I’ll always remember the moment where Woody and Forky have a chat on the side of the road. Woody pauses for a moment, then, referring to Bonnie and his previous owner Andy, exclaims, “You watch them grow up, and become a person, and then they leave. They’ll do things you’ll never see.” Thanks for sending me on an existential crisis again, Pixar.
*To read the site’s full review of Toy Story 4, please click here.
In Case You (Or I) Missed It
The pickings were slim this month, but I tried my best to scrounge up a few more films that might be of interest if in the right mood:
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story
If you’re not a major Bob Dylan fan, Rolling Thunder Revue probably won’t be entirely for you. This documentary plays hard into his fanbase by building up his mystery via providing categorically false information. If you’re like me, you’ll have trouble deciphering which pieces of information are accurate and which are not. It’s a perfect example of micromarketing, which many smaller films might want to consider to find their own cult-like audience.
Annabelle Comes Home
The Conjuring Universe continues with its seventh entry, showing that while these movies don’t necessarily reinvent the wheel with their scares, they can still be entertaining to horror fans. Who would have thought that after the first Annabelle film — which is unequivocally a giant, giant turd — that we would have two successful continuations?
Jessie Buckley is quietly making a name for herself in smart, smaller films; you might want to take note now and get in on the ground floor. A movie about a renegade that wants nothing more than to leave her town to chase her dreams and forget her past isn’t exactly a new idea in film, but Buckley’s awesome and honest performance as a country singer from Glasgow hoping to make it to Nashville makes Wild Rose nothing short of a delight from start to finish.
Thank you for reading! What are your thoughts on the best movies of June 2019? Comment down below!
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