School may be out for the summer (or forever), but that's no reason to ignore your cultural education. We've been keeping you up to date with the best TV shows and music, but we realize that a massive component of a well-rounded curriculum is film knowledge. And because knowledge is power, our senior editor Mallory Rice is providing you with a list of the greatest culturally-relevant summer blockbusters.
Consider this a cheat sheet to the films that you and all of your friends will be talking about, straight from our June/July issue.
Michael Pitt plays science guy Ian Gray, whose quest to disprove intelligent design is complicated by potential evidence of reincarnation. Twofer: A twee romantic arc gives way to mind-bending metaphysical themes. The new girl: Brit Marling kills it as Ian's lab partner and eventual wife, but Spanish actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey emits an offbeat, exotic, almost ethereal allure. Takeaway: After seeing this film you'll probably want to take the stairs from now on—you'll see what we mean.
Anna Kendrick stars as Jenny, the recently heartbroken (see: volatile) houseguest of her brother, his wife, and their new baby. Breakout star: The Oscar for "Baby Adorably Eating Cheerios" goes to.... Surprising collaboration: Jenny, her sister-in-law, and friend Carson (Lena Dunham) collaborate on a Georgian-era 50 Shades of Grey-type novel. Song you'll hum all day: Joel Alme's Bob Dylan-goes- to-Motown gem "No Class."
The Fault In Our Stars
A not-totally-cancer-focused cancer movie about sick teenagers who fall in love, proving that a short life can be one well-lived. Next big thing: Nat Wolff, who, on the heels of May's Palo Alto, steals scenes from Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort. Yeah, he's that good. Best catchphrase: "OK? OK." (These words will make you a blubbering mess.) That's awkward: Love-struck leads Woodley and Elgort play siblings in the Divergent series.
Michel Gondry's latest features Romain Duris and Audrey Tautou (as love-struck Colin and Chloe) and a magical plot in which fresh flowers are the only way to save Chloe from the water lily growing in her lungs. He's baaack: Critics are calling it a return to form for Gondry—and he's got the Cesar for Best Production Design to prove it. Latest Gondry invention: The "pianocktail," a cocktail-making piano. Eternal girl crush: Tautou brings her signature charm and more than a few covetable ensembles to match.
Jenny Slate-led abortion rom-com (new genre?) about a stand-up comedian who gets knocked up by a one-night stand. Real-life connection: Slate has co-hosted a comedy night in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for years. Favorite Slateism: "I would love to just murder- suicide them." Emotional sneak attack: Heart-to-heart with professorial mom in bed.
Ellar Coltrane plays Mason, a boy in Richard Linklater's 12-year-long film project, who grows up before viewers' eyes in this coming-of-age film. A hilarious reminder: That everyone's first job sucked and your boss will almost always be a weirdo. Moment of envy: Why couldn't your granddad give you a 20-gauge shotgun for your birthday? Best use of facial hair: Ethan Hawke's ever-growing mustache, which helps guide the story's timeline.