Short Read: for his pick of the summer movies, Nicholas Barber chooses a fresh tale of twentysomething angst

From INTELLIGENT LIFE magazine, July/August 2013 

Is there a name yet for the generation of arts graduates who made it to New York just in time for their dreams of a "Sex and the City" life to be punctured by the crash of 2008? Whatever it’s called, the generation has two queens. On the small screen: Lena Dunham, creator and star of the scabrous "Girls". On the big: Greta Gerwig, who has been charming and vital in micro-budget indies ("Hannah Takes the Stairs") and Hollywood rom-coms ("Arthur"). She now does her best work yet as the star and co-writer of "Frances Ha". Co-written and directed by Gerwig’s man, Noah Baumbach (who made "The Squid and the Whale"), this effervescent, impressionistic black-and-white comedy follows a 27-year-old would-be dancer as she lurches from apartment to apartment and crisis to crisis. It’s an acute study of twentysomething angst, a gushing love letter to female friendship, and a fabulous showcase for Gerwig, a gawky, goofy Annie Hall who can be a Nordic supermodel in one shot and a depressive baby giraffe in the next. Viewers past 30 may be caught between nostalgia for their uncertain, pre-career youth and immense relief that it’s over. 

Frances Ha British release July 26th


A Field in England. A psychedelic, 17th-century "Apocalypse Now" from Ben Wheatley. He sits exactly half-way from cult comedy to cult horrorfamiliar territory to his stars, Julian Barratt and Reece Shearsmith.

The Bling Ring. Sofia Coppola is endlessly fascinated by the surreal over-privilege of Hollywood’s aristocracy, so she’s the right writer-director for the true story of the Californian teenagers (Emma Watson et al) who rob the very celebrities they idolise.

Breathe In. A precocious exchange student (Felicity Jones) unsettles her middle-aged host (Guy Pearce) in a piquant rom-com-drama from Drake Doremus, who directed Jones in "Like Crazy". It’s a triumph, but so unsparing that it is perhaps the worst date movie since "Blue Valentine". Or the second worst, after "What Maisie Knew" (below).

Romeo and Juliet (July 26th). Reacting against Baz Luhrmann’s hectic modern-dress version, Julian ("Downton") Fellowes lays his scene in fair Verona and puts the star-crossed lovers back in doublet and hose.

Only God Forgives (Aug 2nd). More neon-lit ultra-violence from Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling, the director and sleepy-eyed star of "Drive", with a bonus: Kristin Scott Thomas as a psychopathic crime boss on the rampage in Bangkok.

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa (Aug 9th). What Maisie Knew (Aug 23rd). First Steve Coogan brings one of TV’s great comic creations to the cinema. Then, in an acidic update of Henry James, he reveals how monstrous such a character would be without the laughs. He and Julianne Moore are the ex-partners who use their daughter as a trophy and a weapon. 

Nicholas Barber is film previewer for Intelligent Life and a film critic, and a former rock critic, for the Independent on Sunday

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