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Summer in the city: movies and TV

The Daily’s guide to summer culture


While We’re Young:
Indie darling Noah Baumbach follows up his 2012 hit Frances Ha with this comedic take on growing old in the 21st century. The film stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as middle-aged partners who befriend a much younger and happier couple, played by Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver. Quirky identity crises ensue.

While We’re Young opened March 27, but will be showing at local theatre Cinema Du Parc starting April 10.

Straight Outta Compton:
This biographical drama tells the story of the rise and fall of N.W.A, one of hip hop’s most legendary groups. The film chronicles how rappers like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube turned their childhood experiences of racism and violence into powerful music that rebelled against the authorities. Produced by Dre and Ice Cube themselves, the film also stars Paul Giamatti – and you can never go wrong with Paul Giamatti.

Straight Outta Compton opens in theatres August 14.

Inside Out:
Pixar’s first film in two years tells the story of a young girl who moves to a new home, and has to deal with the five competing emotions inside her head. Sounds a little more like a psychological thriller than a kid’s movie, but given that Pixar is the company that brought us Up and Monsters, Inc., we can probably have full faith. With Amy Poehler lending her voice to the project, this film could be a poignant and funny look at girlhood.

Inside Out opens in theatres June 19.

Highway of Tears:
This documentary chronicles the disappearances of young, predominantly Indigenous women along Highway 16 in B.C.. Of the dozens of disappearances and murders, only one has been solved, revealing the systemic racism of a federal government that chooses to ignore these deaths. Part personal, part investigative, the documentary tells a heart breaking story that must be heard.

Highway of Tears has its Montreal premiere April 10 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. There will be a Q&A with the director afterward.


Gracie and Frankie:
From Marta Kauffman, one of the creators of Friends, comes this new comedy that tells the story of two women whose husbands have left them and declared their love for each other. With the talented and funny Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in the title roles, this series has the potential to be the next big hit for Netflix.

Grace and Frankie premieres May 8.

Orphan Black:
Orphan Black arguably has the best representation politics on TV, passing not only the Bechdel test (at least two women who converse about something other than a man), but pretty much every other test out there for representations that are not white/male/cis dominated or heteronormative. Most of these representations are portrayed by the amazingly versatile Tatiana Maslany, who plays a collection of characters who figure out they’re identical clones with a price on their heads. It’s intriguing, it’s badass, and it’s Canadian – what more do you need?

Orphan Black returns Saturday April 18.

This HBO made-for-TV movie is a biopic of Bessie Smith, iconic blues singer of the 20s and 30s. Written and directed by Dee Rees, the film will feature Queen Latifah as the Empress of Blues. While Latifah has in the past proven her singing and comedic chops, it remains to be seen whether she will be able to bring the dramatic power needed to carry the film.

Bessie premieres May 16.

Call the Midwife:

For those currently experiencing Downton denial, you really must check out Call the Midwife which just kicked off its fourth season. This British period drama chronicles the life and times of midwives in the 1950s and 1960s, narrated by the inimitable Vanessa Redgrave. Yes, my mom loves it, but my mom also loves Friday Night Lights and The Sopranos, so stop your TV-genre stereotyping and settle in for some classic drama.

Call the Midwife returned March 29.