Warning: This article contains mild spoilers for “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Incredibles 2,” “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” “Crazy Rich Asians” and “Eighth Grade.”
Some context: I studied abroad in Florence during spring quarter of 2018, and then I stayed in Italy for a summer internship until August. As a result, I attended approximately two movies in six months, one of which was a showing of the 1938 rom-com, “Bringing Up Baby,” in which Cary Grant Clark Kents his way through a series of unfortunate events that entangle him with twin leopards, a dinosaur skeleton and at least two stolen cars. Most of these movies weren’t in international theaters yet, so when it comes to summer blockbusters, I know nothing, Jon Snow.
1. “Avengers: Infinity War”
The only movie in this rant that I call an article that I actually did see within two weeks of its release, I — along with what appeared to be every non-Italian 20-something in the Florence city limits – purchased a ticket to “Avengers: Infinity War” while abroad in Italy in the spring. “Avengers: Infinity War” certainly did not disappoint the completely-under-the-age-of-30 crowd, even if our breathing collectively hitched a little each time a character spit their last, dramatic lines. Thank God (or Thor, or Loki, or Steve Rogers with a beard, or Thanos-the-Pretend-God or whichever pantheon any comic creators want to illustrate), though, that I saw this movie in April; I would have been so lost among the summer meme references that I might as well have been dusted myself.
Upon what meme material would we as a country, as a community, survive without the Snap™? Without “What master do I serve? What, am I supposed to say Jesus?” or “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good”? Without “I am Groot,” “I am Steve Rogers”? This movie selflessly offered itself up to the Internet as meme ammunition for a complete calendar year. (Personally, I think the absurd Italian subtitles, “Perché è Gamora??” is somehow more iconic than all of 2018 cinema, and the English-speaking Internet is missing out.)
2. “Incredibles 2”
As of two minutes ago, I still haven’t seen “Incredibles 2” and I’m so salty about it; it’s shameful. (Am I ashamed enough to actually exert self-control and shut up about it? Absolutely not.)
See, I have two siblings. “The Incredibles” — the original film — was released in 2004, and we, being the target audience, immediately latched onto the parallels between our family and the Parrs. I was Violet, the emo yet insecure Invisible Woman (Violet I was and Violet I have remained, even after 14 years and not a bottle of blue-black hair dye in sight), my brother was Dash, the football-obsessed fourth-grader with a preppy haircut,and my sister was Jack-Jack, the genderless bundle of apparently boundless power, immune to any mortal’s control. (Admittedly, we had to do some age finagling, since I’m the middle child and my brother’s older, so we kind of just … rewrote Pixar canon to make it so that Dash and Violet were vaguely similarly aged. It’s fine.)
“The Incredibles” became such a fundamental element of our family mythos that my dad still refers to himself — in the third person — as Mr. Incredible (though I don’t think he’s ever babysat a child or helped with my math homework in his life); he has an “Incredibles” mug for his morning coffee. He likes to say that things would “kill an ordinary man,” but ah, he is no ordinary man — he’s Mr. Incredible!
Due to the obvious emotional essentiality of Pixar’s superhero masterpiece to the Francis family identity, YOU WOULD THINK that we would have made a point — an effort, you might say — to see the sequel together. As a tradition. As a duty. As an homage to our shared childhoods. AND YET. My brother saw it WITHOUT ME OR MY SISTER.
Let me reiterate: NEITHER I NOR MY SISTER HAVE SEEN “INCREDIBLES 2.” BECAUSE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SIBLING THING. AND THEN IT WASN’T.
The animation looks badass, though.
3. “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again”
I’m a fraud. I’m a sham of Count Olaf proportions. Years of academy training, wasted! I STILL HAVEN’T SEEN “MAMMA MIA 2.” I HAVEN’T SEEN THAT GIRL OR WATCHED THAT SCENE. How dare I call myself a dancing queen? How dare I call myself a musical enthusiast? How dare I call myself a millennial? (Admittedly I’m on the cusp of the millennial/Gen Z split, but tbh, both generations are fans enough of both ABBA and British actors in spandex disco suits that it doesn’t really matter.) The number of times that I’ve played “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)” or Christine Baranski’s cover of “Does Your Mother Know” on Spotify out of sheer FOMO is frankly more damning than anything my Internet browsing history might cough up.
My most persistent regret of the summer (during which, I remind the reader, I was IN ITALY. I COULD HAVE GONE TO GREECE MY DAMN SELF) is that I never got to stumble into a “Mamma Mia 2” theater with my friends while tipsy on white wine to watch Stellan Skarsgard and Colin Firth reenact “Titanic” on a cruise ship. I wanna appreciate that “Waterloo” dance sequence, dammit!
The closest I’ve gotten to “Mamma Mia 2” is The Onion’s 3.5-minute movie review on YouTube, and that alone is the finest piece of cinema I’ve seen in six months.
4.“Crazy Rich Asians”
This was, I think, my first foray into American cinema once I swanned back into the States in August … Of course, that meant that it had to be the 10:15 p.m. showing at the annoyingly artsy and Germanically-named Sie FilmCenter next door to the coffee shop/bookstore in which I all but paid rent to live during my senior year of high school. My friend and I were not only the lone audience members in our individual movie, but in the building at large; the poor, irritated staff members likely passed those two hours and one minute by creatively cursing our names (stolen from our credit cards when we purchased our tickets, obvs) and speculating that we were the kind of white girls to smuggle Starbucks coffee drinks into a movie. (I totally am, but that is neither here nor there.)
Nevertheless, “Crazy Rich Asians” was glittering, gutsy and feel-good. I spent those 121 minutes splitting my attention between scheming to marry Awkwafina and Gemma Chan in a polyamorous triangle of high self-esteem and expensive fashion sense and repeatedly thanking whatever deity exists that my family drama is of the run-of-the-mill, who-broke-the-antique-cabinet-when-we-were-six variety, rather than the standing-to-inherit-the-net-worth-of-Genovia variety. (Plus, our solitude in the theater allowed us to loudly rattle our Junior Mints packages at Nick in outrage for throwing Rachel to the well-groomed, high-heeled wolves as he shepherds her back to Singapore, brutally underprepared for what’s to come.)
5. “Eighth Grade”
I’m a long-time fan of Bo Burnham (just ask any former roommate who I’ve forced to stomach his five-minute “Repeat Stuff” music video; I say with no shame, even as an English major, that it’s the only reason I’ve memorized the first verse of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”) and a long-time hater of eighth grade, in both theory and practice. From the 5,002 articles I’ve read reviewing “Eighth Grade,” everyone and their mother agrees that the film is a sharp, poignant tragicomedy that empathetically captures the stinging discomfort of adolescence. Underpinned by Bo Burnham’s signature brand of millennial depression and clear-eyed social criticism, “Eighth Grade” promises to be a tender portrait of self-consciousness and the bravery it takes to grow up. At this point, I can’t decide if I’m blessed not to have to relive my 14-year-old self’s embarrassment via the big screen or cursed to have been denied the cinematic masterpiece that this movie is supposed to be.
On the other hand, I did attend the Telluride Film Festival in September and I did, while there, watch four films in 48 hours, all of which won’t be in theaters for at least another month and a half, so I suppose I’ve balanced out my cinematic karma.
Spoil movies for Claire Francis at claire97 ‘at’ stanford.edu.