By Dan Morgridge
Somehow, the summer is already winding down. Several superhero blockbusters have had their opening weekends, you’ve got all the words to your favorite summer jam memorized, and hopefully you’ve found just enough quiet time to dive into one of the great books that came out this summer.If you’ve been a little busy, though, you might have missed some of the summer’s best offerings. So we’ve put together a round-up of the best films, books and albums of the summer – along with some highlights for what you should be looking forward to in the Fall (besides being able to turn down the A/C.)
An entire generation of kids around the world grew up on the Harry Potter series – first with the books by J.K. Rowling and then with the movies – and now, 14 years later, the series has officially come to a close. Daniel Radcliffe himself, starring in the lead role at age 12, is now old enough for drinks stronger than Butterbeer. With the tone of the final movie a little darker, the stakes more serious, and with a few lives lost before the ending credits, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is not necessarily as kid-friendly of a romp as the earlier movies. But with its audience now a little more grown up, they’re ready to see Harry and his friends face some true horrors – before they finally earn their happy ending.
In another action-heavy series that had a release this year, the X-Men went back in time to show how it all began – and naturally, things were very, very messy. Magneto and Xavier’s eternal debate on humans and mutants has always been at the core of the comics and movies, but now we get to see where they first started to go down such very different paths. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have great chemistry, and youngsters Nicholas Hoult and Jennifer Lawrence shine as fledgling superheroes.
Judd Apatow has always shone in his comedies, but sometimes critics have complained that he’s been “dude-oriented” in most of his work. With longtime collaborator Paul Feig at the helm (Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up), Apatow takes a bridal party’s worth of A-grade comedians and sets them loose. Maya Rudolph goes bridezilla, Kristen Wiig tries to deal with the ridiculous challenges of being a bridesmaid, and Melissa McCarthy steals the show. Whether you’ve been forced to wear a turquoise dress for your best friend, or if you’re a guy who doesn’t have a clue about the secret life of bridesmaids, Apatow, Feig and Wiig add enough laughs for everyone.
Coming In The Fall:
- Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Phillip Seymour Hoffman will bring the professional-baseball-on-a-budget hit novel Moneyball to the big screen.
- Ryan Gosling and George Clooney play an idealistic staffer and the dirty politician that opens his eyes in The Ides of March.
- Last but not least, Thanksgiving weekend will debut the first movie from Kermit, Miss Piggy, and all your favorites – The Muppets comes out November 23rd. Jason Segal, Amy Adams and Chris Cooper yuk it up with the fuzzy ones, as do several dozen other celebrities making cameos.
One of the biggest voices to emerge in the past years, Adele’s follow-up to 2008’s 19 took off in a big way with lead single “Rolling In The Deep” hitting No. 1 on both US and British charts. Follow-up single “Someone Like You” hasn’t even been released in the States yet, but it’s already breaking records for time spent at No. 1 one on the UK Singles chart. What makes the album so good? Adele’s powerful voice can tackle gospel, soul, pop and country seemingly all at once – and with production help from the likes of Rick Rubin, there’s enough going on in the background to manage all of it.
No matter what new flavor of the week appears, Beyonce Knowles has shown she’s always a force to be reckoned with in the summer. And even though she’s been dominating the charts since 1997, Beyonce has taken a page from the Madonna book and is constantly adding new themes and styles to the mix. In addition to established hitmakers like Babyface, Andre 3000 and the Dream, Beyonce pulled in help from rising stars like Diplo, Switch and Sleigh Bells. Drawing inspiration from artists as diverse as Lionel Ritchie, Fela Kuti and even Florence and the Machine. The result is a varying collection of ballads, party songs, and at least one more ferocious anthem for the ladies (“Run The World (Girls)”) that should last long after this summer passes.
Justin Vernon made his debut with For Emma, Forever Ago – musically pondering a breakup while recording songs onto a four-track in his Wisconsin cabin. Suddenly becoming a critical darling, Vernon was praised for his work, and invited to several collaborations over the following years (most conspicuously on songs for Kanye West’s Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy). Finally working again with his original project, Vernon and his bandmates expand the world of that Wisconsin cabin dramatically with saxophones, steel guitars and a small orchestra of additional musical touches reaching into classical, folk, hard rock and new wave styles. The result is a familiar sound with a lot of new nooks and crannies, perfect for a long summer drive.
Coming In The Fall:
- After a five-year wait, August 30th will mark the debut of the tenth Red Hot Chili Peppers album. I’m With You features new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer in place of original member John Frusciante, and incorporates some African musical styles into their pop-funk.
- Canadian songstress Feist will release Metals on October 4th.
- And Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto will drop on October 25th, with lead single “Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall” already making a splash.
In 2009, the nation was shocked by the story of Jaycee Dugard and her kidnapping at the hands of Phillip Garrido. The story of her kidnapping and the two daughters she raised in captivity was horrific and alarming, but also inspiring – the love she showed her two daughters, as well as the reunion with her parents that they never expected, were touching moments. Now with time to readjust and settle into something of a normal life, Dugard has written her own summary of the events. Although difficult to read due to the graphic nature of her captivity, Dugard’s hope and love for her daughters shines through and makes this a story that’s hard to put down.
David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is a sprawling, hyper-literate masterpiece that rewards the patient reader with a novel unlike any other – and one of Time Magazine’s 100 greatest English-language novels. Wallace’s suicide in 2008 was tragic, but his final act was to leave a mostly-finished manuscript on his desk entitled The Pale King. His friend and editor Michael Pietsch assembled what he could into a working novel, which focuses loosely on several men working at an IRS office in Peoria in 1985. Wallace’s knack for finding ridiculous humor in bleak moments is all the more notable in his posthumous work, and it serves as a great read for fans of Wallace’s work or curious new readers.
Sometimes, a joke is too funny to just keep to yourself. Professor and author Adam Mansbach made a joke on his Facebook: “Look out for my forthcoming children’s book, Go the — to Sleep.” With friends encouraging him, Mansbach decided to actually see his joke through, and brought on New York Times contributor Ricardo Cortes to illustrate the book. In the style of Goodnight Moon and other classic children’s bedtime books, the creators pull no punches in their parody – classically styled illustrations on each page frame the words of a parent completely losing their patience with a child’s tricks to avoid going to bed. While absolutely inappropriate to read to any actual children, Go the F*** to Sleep makes for a great children’s book for adults.
Coming In The Fall:
- Stephen King’s 11/22/63: A Novel follows a time traveler who’s back to stop the JFK assassination – but ends up doing a lot more.
- Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus tells the tale of a mysterious circus that appears at night, and its two star performers: magicians in a fierce competition to the death, who fall in love despite it all.
- And Lev Grossman’s The Magician King (the sequel to his Narnia-after-college The Magicians) should be just the cure for those suffering from Potter withdrawal.