Where I live, when June sinks into July, it’s hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. On days where the temperature and the humidity are both over 90, there’s nothing I like better than to sit in a cool place and watch a movie. I love all kinds of cinema, but my favorites are romantic comedies, coming of age stories, and movies full of music.In the past two weeks I’ve seen three films, all of which meet at least one of those criteria. One I saw on a plane–Patti Cake$–, one I saw on TV–Set It Up–, and one I saw in the theater–Hearts Beat Loud. I thoroughly enjoyed all three.
Patti Cake$ is sort of a female version of Eight Mile featuring an overweight white twenty-something girl from New Jersey who longs to be a rapper. Its star, the phenomenal Danielle Macdonald, is riveting–you feel her every emotion. Patti and her friend Hareesh–his moniker is Jheri–are strivers both in their musical aspirations and in their insistence that they are worthy of greatness. The world doesn’t see their value but we do. (The music they create is excellent.) The acting is across the board strong–Cathy Moriarty (of Raging Bull fame) as Patti’s chain smoking grandmother and Bridget Everett as her self-destructive mom are superb. But it’s really Danielle Macdonald’s movie and that’s gritty gift.
I watched Netflix’s Set It Up with my 22-year-old daughter and her friend. They loved it as did I. At first glance, this film about two overworked millennials whose insanely demanding bosses are ruining their lives doesn’t look like much. The plot even sounds a bit silly. Writer hopeful Harper (Zoey Deutch) works for a sports ezine run by Wintour-esque Lucy Liu. Harper meets cute Charlie (Glen Powell) who wants to be an analyst at a VC firm run by Gordon Gekko wanna-be Taye Diggs. The two decide to set their bosses up with the hope that if they’re boning, their minions will finally get some free time. This plan requires lots of coordination between Harper and Charlie and… I’m sure you can see where this is going.
But even if it’s predictable, it’s a very good time. Powell and Deutch (who looks distractingly like a younger version of her mother Lea Thompson) have the kind chemistry that Hanks and Ryan had back in the day. The script manages to be both funny and wise–there’s a whole thing about how we like people for their strengths but we love them despite their flaws that’s spot on–and New York, especially Brooklyn, is lovingly portrayed. It’s the best rom-com I’ve seen in some time–and I think we’ll see a lot of its young stars in the future.
I saw Hearts Beat Loud by default. I wanted to see the Mr. Rogers movie but my friend had seen it and she wanted to see Oceans Eight but I’d already seen it. The only other movie that looked appealing was Hearts Beat Loud which had an 89% rating at Rotten Tomatoes so we chanced it and bought tickets. At the end of the film, Mary looked at me and said, with a sigh, “I loved it.” Me too.
It’s a coming of age love story starring two queer women of color, Sam (Kiersey Clemons) and Rose (Sasha Lane), set in Brooklyn’s Red Hook. Clemons plays a wildly talented musician about to head off to UCLA to study medicine. She’s smart and driven–she really wants to be a doctor–which somewhat frustrates her dad, subtly played by Nick Offerman of Parks and Recreation, because he wants her to make music with him. He’s going through his own “my life is changing” crisis because his only child (the mom died in a bike accident years ago) is headed for the other side of the country and he’s selling the record store he’s run for the past 17 years. The two have jammed together for fun for years but now, in part because of a song Frank (Offerman) posts on Spotify, Frank thinks maybe Sam (Cemons) should take a year off and be in their band. Sam thinks that’s nuts. But…. well, you’ll need to see the film.
Everything about this movie is a win. The music is fab–you can listen to it on Spotify–and the cast, which includes the always excellent Ted Danson as well as a winning Toni Collette, is great. Clemons is a knock-out here and it’s a joy to see her in every single scene she’s in. (She and Lane are dynamite together too.) This is a feel-good movie you can feel good about.
How ’bout you? Seen any wonderful movies this summer?