WHO SHOULD AUDIENCES CRUSH-ON AT THE MULTIPLEX AND IN THE ART HOUSES?
By T.T. Stern-Enzi
Back in the day, the hip-hop poet laureate The Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith) summed up the mellow of the season with “summer summer summertime / time to sit back and unwind.” Truer words were never spoken, especially for those of us, looking to escape the humidity in a cool dry movie house, dreaming of a little summer loving. If you’re like me, and you fall in love too fast, why not slow things down with these suggestions for summer crush grooves.
I feel like I’m constantly being told that I should have deep feelings of longing and lust for Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) and Sam Claflin (“Hunger Games”) that, I must admit, I just haven’t succumbed to thus far. I don’t know if it’s me or what, but I’m more than willing to give this pair yet another chance to win me over. And I’m certainly intrigued by their collaboration in “Me Before You,” a smaller, more indie-minded affair that’s not asking me to buy into fake action heroics, but what makes weepy sentimentality any less manipulative, right? Good question. The thing is, you can’t quantify the rules of attraction.
Léa Seydoux has enjoyed an amazing run following her breakout in Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Blue Is the Warmest Color” (where she placed a distant second in the race for my affections to her co-star Adèle Exarchopoulos). Since that bold outing, Seydoux has appeared in “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “Spectre,” “Saint Laurent,” and “The Lobster,” so it would be silly to not mention her upcoming summer release “Diary of a Chambermaid,” which, if the film gods are smiling down on us, will grace regional theaters. I have heard next to nothing about the film, but Seydoux’s presence is recommendation enough for me.
Another crush groove worthy performer, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, pops up in the Matthew McConaughey-period drama “Free State of Jones.” Flirty and vivacious in “Larry Crowe” back in 2011, Mbatha-Raw set about proving her versatility in such divergent fare as “Belle” (playing a mixed-race woman seeking her independence), “Jupiter Ascending” (where who knows what she—or anyone—was doing onscreen), and “Concussion” (investing real emotional capital in a throwaway role). Just to see her in “Free State of Jones” should generate an uptick in the buzzworthyness of “God Particle,” which promises to place her closer to the center of attention finally.
It appears that we will get a couple of opportunities to appreciate the fine form of Margot Robbie, the Australian It-Girl from “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the Will Smith con-caper “Focus.” She and Mr. Smith reteam in “Suicide Squad,” DC’s attempt to cash in on the “Deadpool” anti-hero trend. In a change of pace that’s not quite as shifty as it seems, Robbie will also find herself swinging around in the David Yates reboot “The Legend of Tarzan” with Alexander Skarsgård. The movie poster works overtime to convince us that Skarsgård is supposed to be the focus on this one, but everything about this screams Robbie.
Some will decry the redundancy of adding Idris Elba to this list, but he deserves mention for the fact that his presence in the 2016 summer season will be completely limited to faceless appearances. He kicked things off quite early as Shere Khan in “The Jungle Book,” applying those recognizable vocal tones of his to villainous role. As far as summer proper fare, he’s lending voice support again in the “Finding Nemo” sequel “Finding Dory,” before heading off to deep space as the main galactic baddie in “Star Trek Beyond.” Although his character Krall is non-animated, Elba will be incognito under layers of alien prosthetics, but to hear him is to know him, and that will likely be enough for his hungry legion of fans.
Maybe I’m a little biased here, but I’m going to include President Barack Obama on this list, and shame on any of you film fans out there who had no idea that “Southside With You,” from director Richard Tanne makes the jump from the festival circuit to theaters in August. The film captures the details of the first date, back in the summer of 1989, between future President Obama (Parker Sawyers) and his First Lady-to-be Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter). It could be a career-defining role for Sawyers, if the performance comes across as anything more than mere mimicry, and while Sumpter definitely draws her share of the spotlight in the film’s trailer, we all know the true star of this story will be the subject. With the end of his second term in sight (and likely benefiting from an approval ratings bump), President Obama will bask in major love thanks to this movie. Name another president on the way out of the White House who has received this kind of farewell salute.