Great Movies to Watch This Summer

You can’t always be at the pool.


Guest critic, Joseph Campbell (11), joins CSMA’s 1st place movie critic, Kaleb Oakley, to share summer movie recommendations.

Kaleb Oakley, Lead Writer

1. Le Samouraï, directed by Jean-Pierre Melville.
Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï is a masterwork of controlled style: a style best depicted in the opening scene, which illustrates a drab studio apartment with light, like that on a rainy day, coming in through a window. Floating on a bed in the suffocating grey lies a man in a full suit puffing on a cigarette through his stone face. The man then gets up, leaves his room, goes outside, hotwires a car, and drives this car to the outskirts of Paris into a garage. Zero dialogue occurs for this entire ten-minute section, yet the mood and message of the film are already evident. The rest of the film depicts this man, a hired killer, as he performs a carefully planned hit and clinically evades the police and the mob. The film’s plot is subservient to Melville’s highly innovative style; Melville’s style would influence everything from John Wick to Quentin Tarantino to Michael Mann. Le Samouraï is available on HBO Max and at the Broomfield Public Library.

2. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, directed by John Huston
John Huston was the great renegade of Hollywood’s Golden Age. He often succeeded without much studio backing, creating a blueprint for Ridley Scott, Coppola, and Spielberg. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is his most outstanding work. In one of the great cautionary tales of greed, a trio of poor and disheveled Americans seeking wealth in Mexico stumbles upon gold deep in the Sierra Madres; tensions grow in the trio, building to an explosive climax. Featuring excellent performances by the great Humphrey Bogart and Huston’s father, Walter Huston, Huston’s masterwork is possibly the most significant Western of Hollywood’s golden age. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is available for rent on Amazon Prime and at the Broomfield Public Library.

3. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, directed by John Ford
The only other Western from Hollywood’s golden age that can compete with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre is John Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. John Ford’s Stagecoach is the archetypal Golden Age Western; his films are among the most influential in cinematic history. By 1962, Ford had grown to doubt the myths he made. Liberty Valance unpacks how we create legends and the ugly bits we often leave out. A U.S. senator, played by Jimmy Stewart, returns to the West to attend the funeral of the old marshal, played by John Wayne. The senator recalls the Legend of Liberty Valance, the event that got him elected, and the lies that became immortalized by the townsman. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is John Ford’s most distinguished film. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance is available with a subscription to Amazon Prime.

4. The Wild Bunch, directed by Sam Peckinpah.
America created its national mythology on the sets of classic Westerns. In 1969, the mythos was dead; The Wild Bunch killed it. Peckinpah’s masterpiece, the prototypical anti-western, follows a gang of aging outlaws in 1913 who seek to perform one final heist before they retire, with a group of elite bounty hunters led by a former gang member hot on their trail. Peckinpah was one of the most distinguished action directors in American cinema; Peckinpah wished to horrify audiences with the violence of his films, and, as such, his films are rather violent, but all the blood serves a purpose. Peckinpah’s ballets of bullets, the best of which occurs at the climax of The Wild Bunch, often took months to edit and are about as close to perfection as an action sequence can be. The Wild Bunch is available on HBO Max and at the Broomfield Public Library.

5. High and Low, directed by Akira Kurosawa.
Akira Kurosawa is one of the most influential directors in Cinematic history; the Hollywood Renaissance of the 60s and 70s wouldn’t have been possible without the advancements the Japanese master made. Kurosawa’s name brings Samurai films to mind though he got his start with crime thrillers. When Kurosawa returned to crime thrillers in the early 60s, he created one of the genre’s greatest films. The effect of High and Low is best with no prior knowledge of the plot. Kurosawa’s mastery of pacing and editing and excellent performances by arguably Japan’s two greatest actors, Toshiro Mifune and Tatsuya Nakadai, make 143 minutes feel like 90. High and Low is available on HBO Max and at the Broomfield Public Library.

6. Down By Law, directed by Jim Jarmusch
American independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch created, in the 80s and 90s, a series of films centering on American cities. Down By Law, focusing on New Orleans, is the high point in this series. A pimp (John Lurie), a radio DJ (Tom Waits), and an Italian immigrant (Roberto Benigni) are arrested and placed in the same holding cell; they then escape and hide out in the swamps. Filled with gorgeous black and white cinematography by the great Robby Müller, hilarious banter, and excellent music by Lurie and Waits, Down By Law is one of the great American independent films. Down By Law is available on HBO Max and at the Broomfield Public Library.

7. Memories of Murder, directed by Bong Joon-ho
Sixteen years before he shook the world with his best picture-winning Parasite, South Korean master Bong Joon-ho staggered the art film scene with his icy thriller Memories of Murder. The film follows the first confirmed serial killer in South Korean history, which remained unsolved for 30 years. A maze of setbacks and failure propelled by a brilliant performance by Korea’s most distinguished actor Song Kang-ho, and Bong Joon-ho’s tight direction. Memories of Murder is the most outstanding film ever made about a serial killer. Memories of Murder is available for rent on Amazon Prime and at the Broomfield Public Library.

8. Guest Recommendation From Joseph Campbell (11th): Donnie Darko, directed by Richard Kelly. “This movie is about a troubled, mentally ill kid who starts to experience various hallucinogenic episodes when he is visited by his imaginary friend Frank. Dressed in a weird bunny costume, Frank informs Donnie that the world is ending in 28 days and that he must stop it. I like this movie a lot because of how insanely weird and sad it is. I feel like it’s very easy to get invested in the story and get curious as to what’s going to happen in the movie. And learning about the creepy imaginary friend that is Frank is super interesting. Not to mention it’s got some cool sci Fi elements.” Donnie Darko is available on HBO Max and at the Broomfield Public Library.

9. Guest Recommendation From Joseph Campbell (11th): Annihilation, directed by Alex Garland. “After a meteor crashes into Earth, sinister things start to happen in the nearby area. A team of scientists is sent In to figure out the cause and hopefully stop the spread of the phenomenon. If you like unsettling psychological horror movies with cosmic horror elements, you should check this movie out. Some very freaky parts in the movie will hopefully make your skin crawl.” Annihilation is available for rent on Amazon Prime and at the Broomfield Public Library.

10. Guest Recommendation From Joseph Campbell (11th): Isle of Dogs, directed by Wes Anderson. “After all dogs in Megasaki City are exiled to a vast garbage dump called Trash Island, a 12-year-old boy named Atari sets out to the island in search of his lost dog Spots. However, he isn’t alone in this endeavor. Atari is able to find help In the form of some newly met canine companions on the island. His journey will decide the fate and future of all dogs on Trash Island. I like this movie because it’s a fun watch, the whole time, the dialogue is interesting, and there is always some fun part between Atari and the dogs. The story is heartwarming and hilarious; I highly recommend you give this a watch.” Isle of Dogs is available on Disney Plus and at the Broomfield Public Library.