MOVIE NIGHT! Past Lives, Big Sharks, and Aging Archeologists

Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge team up in Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny. Courtesy Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.


By Glenn McDonald

Every other week, our Movie Night! column previews the best upcoming films showing in Chapel Hill theaters – for those who still like to go out to the movies. Please remember that bookings and schedules change all the time, so always check online before heading out.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny

Opening June 29 at the Lumina, the Varsity, and Silverspot

Indiana Jones, in my embarrassingly considered opinion, is the greatest movie hero of all time. I’ve thought about this a lot. Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first installment in the famous collaboration between Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, is very nearly a perfect film. In fact, most days it’s my personal choice for favorite movie ever. I try not to admit this in film snob circles, but it’s true, and here we are.

So I’m pleased to report that Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth and final film, is a worthy addition to the canon and a seriously good time at the movies. Harrison Ford reprises his signature role one last time and the filmmaking team have given him a proper sendoff – a solid script, a series of high-octane action film set pieces, and a fantastic co-star in British genius Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Most importantly, director James Mangold (taking over for Spielberg this time) manages to resurrect the delicate and specific tone of the series’ best films – a movie-going sweet spot of globe-trotting action, humor, and heart. Click on over to our friendly neighboring publication for a full review. Pro tip for history nerds: If you want to enhance your filmgoing experience, read up ahead of time on The Siege of Syracuse and the Antikythera Mechanism.

Past Lives

Opening June 30 at the Chelsea

Remember that first great romantic crush of childhood? The person you fantasized about spending your life with? Sure, we all do. Sometimes we even think of finding them again.

Past Lives, the romantic drama from acclaimed playwright and first-time filmmaker Celine Song, approaches this familiar scenario and does a remarkable thing. It dares to take the idea as seriously as it actually feels when thinking about it. 

Song’s debut is getting truly ecstatic reviews since making the rounds on the film festival circuit earlier this year. The film chronicles the reunion of two childhood friends from Korea – Nora and Hae Sung – who meet up again in New York City, twenty years later. It’s very intense, very romantic. The tricky part: Nora is already married. Happily. Kind of.

Check out the trailer for a sense of the film’s lovely, aching tone. Past Lives is loosely based on director Song’s own experiences in Seoul and New York, and the film dares to traffic in those Big Questions about life, love, and providence. The director has even provided an introductory letter if you’re curious – you can read it here.

Quick Picks:

The Chelsea Classics series celebrates the Fourth of July season with two powerful films about America’s darker impulses. Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole (1951) is a prescient indictment of U.S. media culture starring Kirk Douglas as a corrupt newspaper reporter. Director Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers (1997), meanwhile, is pitch-black sci-fi satire of military culture and patriotic jingoism. U.S.A. #1! Check the film series page for times and dates.

On Saturday, July 1, the Lumina’s Movies on the Green series will present Mr. Spielberg’s breakthrough 1975 thriller Jaws, the first and maybe best summer blockbuster ever to rattle a nation. If you haven’t seen it recently, it’s amazing how that movie holds up. On Saturday, July 8, round up the kids for Pixar’s immortal Toy Story.

As it happens, Silverspot’s Flashback Cinema series will also be honoring Jaws this summer holiday season, with screenings on July 2 and July 5. Also look for the immortal musical comedy Grease on July 9 and 12.

Wes Anderson fans can still catch the director’s new film Asteroid City, funny and symmetrical, holding over this week at the Chelsea and Silverspot.

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