Well…May was kind of a bust. The Avengers was good. I’m looking forward to Moonrise Kingdom inching its way closer and closer to my local arthouse. But everything else kind of made me want to kill myself. Here’s hoping June is better—it’s already stronger for GI Joe: Retaliation being kicked to 2013 (partly to allow for reshoots to undo the fact that Channing Tatum got killed in the first five minutes, and partly to convert to 3D, but mostly because it blows chunks and Paramount stands a better chance of not taking a box office bath in fiery acid in the softer month of March).
Worth noting that there are a lot of strong indies coming out this month. You might have to exert yourself a little, but there are good movies to be seen.
A Cat in Paris
Nominated for the Best Animated Feature award earlier this year, A Cat in Paris is charming if you’re a fan of traditional animation but is a bit flat if you’re just looking for a good movie. It’s very stylish and lovely but the story—a cat who lives with a little girl whose father was murdered and at night is the accomplice of a cat burglar and gets entangled with the gangsters who killed his little girl’s dad—is too twee for adults and too heavy for kids. I’d recommend it for animation buffs but not for anyone else.
You know what movie I hated so much I wanted to set myself on fire while watching it? Buried. I’d have done anything to stop seeing that movie while I was watching it (yeah…that sounds right). Buried took one of the biggest bed-shits I’ve ever seen a movie take. Just a dinosaur’s shit’s worth of poo on that bed. What a fucking awful movie.
Apartment 143 was written by Rodrigo Cortes, who directed Buried. Guilty by association.
Based on this title, I imagine Battlefield America to be a either a documentary about something political, or an alien-invasion flick. But no, Battlefield America is about a team of breakdancing children on an underground dance competition circuit, brought to you by the folks behind You Got Served.
It’s no Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. (Which, SHUT UP, that movie is AWESOME.)
For Greater Glory
In the 1920’s a war was fought in Mexico, called the Cristeros War, prompted by the government’s attempt to secularize the country. This movie is about that war, and it stars up-and-comer Oscar Isaac (Drive), Peter O’Toole, Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace)…and Eva Longoria. One of these things is not like the others.
A stoner comedy starring one of the most truly random casts I’ve seen in a while. Colin Hanks, Mykelti Williamson, Adrien Brody? You know you’ve fucked your career up when you go from Oscar to high school stoner comedy.
I actually think this looks pretty funny. Not in a run-right-out-and-see-it way, but in a late-night-Netflix kind of way. It’s about a smart kid who gets baked and then gets a school drug test sprung on him and conspires to get his whole school high so no one will notice he failed his drug test, thus not jeopardizing his entire future.
Is it a downside or upside to legalizing pot that movies like this wouldn’t get made?
The Loved Ones
This Australian horror flick about a prom gone wrong has had horror geeks jizzing in their pants since 2009, and it’s finally getting released stateside, albeit in a limited fashion and, I understand, after undergoing some inauspicious edits. The horror community talks about this like it’s a must-see, so if you’re into that sort of thing, I guess I’d recommend finding it, but go for the original Aussie version, not whatever edited bullshit they’re showing at the cineplex.
Why do people keep cutting down stuff for America? WE’RE NOT THAT PRUDISH.
We eat people’s faces here.
For what it was—intentionally made B-grade horror/comedy—Piranha 3D was pretty solid. Mostly, it benefitted from Adam Scott (Parks & Rec). I’m willing get down with Piranha 3DD, but not at the going rate of a 3D movie at my local cinema ($16). This is a Netflix for sure, but again, horror fans, this one’s for you.
Snow White and the Huntsman
You have to give Universal credit that, for their centenary, they’ve really taken on a “go big or go home” attitude toward their slate. Paramount is also celebrating 100 years in business and their roster isn’t nearly as ambitious as Universal’s. In fact, they’ve already kicked two of their highest-profile titles for 2012 to 2013 (GI: Joe 2 because apparently it needed more C Tates and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters because…let’s face it, it probably sucks big time). But Universal is slinging spaghetti at that wall like it’s going out of style and they’re not backing down on any of it, not even the bed-wetting Battleship.
Snow White and the Huntsman is one of their most ambitious titles this year, featuring a big-name cast with Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth, coming off a massive win with The Avengers. It’s a retelling of the classic fairytale, set not in a Disney forest but a much more dark and grim Medieval landscape. Reviews are mixed and I think your enjoyment of this film will rest entirely on your tolerance for fantasy, Kristen Stewart, and hammy villains.
Filmmaking brothers of the Duplass variety follow up last year’s charming, under-appreciated Jeff, Who Lives at Home with the Do-Dec (that’s what the cool kids are calling it I’m just too lazy to type all that out), the story of brothers competing in their own 25 event Olympics. The Duplass Brothers make interesting movies that are often as flawed as they are humane, and I’m a huge fan, so I will be seeking this one out. They’re funny but in that funny-weird way, not so much funny-haha. If fairytale monsters and stuff blowing up aren’t your thing, this is an arthouse release that may well be worth finding.
Robert Pattinson stars in this adaptation of Guy de Maupassant’s novel about the rise of Georges Duroy, an impoverished ex-soldier, in Belle Epoque Paris. From the get this was a tough undertaking, as Duroy is one of literature’s most unapologetic reprobates, and the current climate is less than favorable toward stories about assholes getting away with their assholery. It made for a rough editing period, trying to “fix” an ending that rewards a massive jerk for being a massive jerk while staying true to the source material. Reviews haven’t been awesome, but there’s enough star power in the cast—Pattinson is joined by Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci—to make it worthwhile to fans.
Writer/director Todd Solondz has his fans but I am not one of them. His movies are like…voluntarily letting someone stick used Q-Tips in your eyes. There’s Welcome to the Dollhouse, and then ever since then, it’s like those Q-Tips just get closer and closer until they’re being jabbed into your eyeball by the time you get to Palindromes. Despite the presence of Selma Blair, this is one is a pass.
Indie darling Greta Gerwig (Damsels in Distress, Greenberg) stars in a hipster romantic comedy, which means it begins where most rom-coms end—with a wedding. Lola is dumped just three weeks before her wedding, and then she has a series of episodes while coming to terms with being single on the eve of thirty.
…Shit. I’m single on the eve of thirty. So this is like…my movie?
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
The only thing I can think of whenever I see a commercial for this movie is Chris Rock talking about recording a voice over part with such disdain at the Oscars.
I’m not much of a sci-fi fan, so this movie is a little outside my wheelhouse, but the cast is loaded with people I like—Guy Pearce, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace—so that’s a plus. I’m not as sold on this being the transformative film experience that Alien was, but, eh. I’m alone in that, I know (although some of the early reviews sound like the critics are forcing themselves to like it a little more than they actually do because everyone got caught up in the hype machine). So yeah, yell at me for not “getting it” or whatever but I don’t have extraordinary hopes for this movie. Although the viral videos have been awesome.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Do you remember that classified ad that went around years ago, about the guy looking for a companion for time travel? This movie is based on that, and stars Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Rec, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), Jake Johnson (New Girl) and Mark Duplass (one half of the Duplass Brothers). It’s got strong reviews coming out of Sundance and SXSW, and is another of my must-finds at the arthouse this summer.
Rock of Ages
WHAT THE FUCK
is wrong with Tom Cruise’s torso?
That’s My Boy
Adam Sandler took a huge dump and it came out as That’s My Boy. He’s currently back in the bathroom, shitting out Grown Ups 2. There is no empirical way to measure how much contempt Adam Sandler has for us all, but he keeps making these soul-destroyingly bad movies, so it must be an awful lot.
The Woman in the Fifth
Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas star in this movie about an American writer (Hawke) who flees a stateside scandal for Paris and falls in with a mysterious widow (Scott Thomas) who might be involved in some murders. Fifth was well-received at TIFF last year, and Hawke tends to be at his best in these moody, atmospheric dramas. It sounds kind of interesting but not particularly urgent.
Your Sister’s Sister
Mark Duplass’s second acting effort this summer is in writer/director Lynn Shelton’s (Humpday) film about a guy who sleeps with his friend’s sister after his brother died and ends up having one of those only-in-the-movies-is-everyone-this-honest-after-merely-a-day-of-knowing-one-another revelatory periods. This was well-received at Sundance and co-stars Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married).
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
I LOVED this book and I want to like the movie so bad, but the trailers have not been encouraging. Something about it just seems…too heavy? Like maybe this should have played a little more tongue in cheek? I’m not quite sure what’s setting me off, but something about it is hitting a sour note. Fingers crossed that it’s just a shitty trailer and the movie will be awesome. Because the book is super good, and super fun to read. Maybe that’s it? Maybe this doesn’t feel fun enough.
Pixar rebounds after the soulless Cars 2 with their first stab at a princess movie. Merida is a tomboy Scottish princess during the Dark Ages who would really rather not be auctioned off as a bride. She’s spunky and smart and gets shit done, but there’s a plot point that’s bugging me and the more I think about it, the more it kind of wrecks the movie for me. Still, this is the heartfelt Pixar fare we’ve come to take for granted, and the animation is stellar. Merida’s hair is a work of ART.
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
I cannot wait to see this. Counter-programming for the adults in the room, Seeking stars Steve Carell and Keira Knightley as people trying to make the most of the last 3 weeks on Earth before a meteor hits and ends the world. Basically, Melancholia without the wedding and the boring existential bullshit.
To Rome, With Love
Coming off his biggest commercial hit ever, Midnight in Paris, which also garnered Woody Allen an Oscar, Allen continues his trek across Europe, this time dropping his neuroses-by-proxy in Italy. Europe has proved to be fertile ground for Allen, as Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight are two of his most tolerable films and easily the best he’s made since 1981. If you’re an Allen fan, you’ll probably love this, but if, like me, he does nothing for you, this is sure to be more of the same.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
This was the big standout at Sundance and is just coming off a strong showing at Cannes. Beasts is looking like an early but inevitable Oscar nomination, as recent years have seen one of these summer indies make it all the way to the Dolby Theater, or whatever the fuck they’re calling the Kodak now. I’m actually really into seeing this. It’s about a little girl in the Louisiana bayous during the apocalypse, or just after it, or something. Magical realism!
Madea’s Witness Protection
How is this not incredibly offensive? I’ll allow that the first Madea movie is not without redeeming qualities, but at this point, Tyler Perry is making a cartoon of a cartoon and I don’t get why he’s still allowed to do this. He’s like Eddie Murphy, but he skipped the part where he makes good movies like Beverly Hills Cop and Coming to America. It’s just all Pluto Nash, all the time.
Steven Soderbergh reteams with his Haywire star, Channing Tatum, to make the ultimate beefcake movie, based on C Tates’ stripper past. It’s easy to make a sausage fest joke here, but the reality is that early word after industry screenings is that Magic Mike is actually pretty good. There’s also been some buzz about Matthew McConaughey’s work as a stripper turned club owner (a part he was born to play, as it does not require shirts), which has kicked off my McConaughey Oscar 2013 campaign. Of course I want to see this as it’s a bunch of smoking hot dudes taking their clothes off, but I’m also into McConaughey rediscovering his talent and returning to proper acting. It’ll be interesting to see how this one shakes out.
People Like Us
Chris Pine is another one of those “on paper, I should be totally into this but in reality, I’m not feeling it” guys. However, I do like him as an actor. I don’t think he’s great or anything, but he gets the job done and was quite enjoyable as Kirk in the Star Trek reboot. People Like Us, however, is all about Pine trying to convince me he’s a proper actor who should like, be up for awards and stuff. (Haha, no.) Co-starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Elizabeth Banks, it’s about a guy whose dead father leaves him a bunch of cash to give to his unacknowledged, illegitimate half-sister, who has a precocious kid. These types of movies always have precocious kids.
Take This Waltz
Actress Sarah Polley has turned into a formidable writer/director, proving that Away From Her was not a fluke with her sophomore feature effort, Take This Waltz, being every bit as painfully emotionally naked and sensitively drawn as Away From Her. For my money, Polley is the most worthwhile filmmaker Canada has produced since Atom Egoyan, and while Egoyan is a formidable artist, I enjoy watching Polley’s movies more (even if they do make me cry). Take This Waltz HURTS. If you’ve been through an affair, it’s probably extra-special painful. But it’s a damn good movie and the performances of Michelle Williams, Luke Kirby and Seth Rogen ought to at least be part of the conversation come award season. Everyone’s making a big deal out of Lena Dunham, but I think Polley is the most intriguing young female voice in cinema right now.
I liked Mark Wahlberg in The Other Guys. For a guy that can get his back up in real life over the silliest “insults”, he’s pretty game to look stupid in front of a camera. And I’m down with the concept of Ted, from Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane, of a little boy who wishes his teddy bear real, and then grows up with his living teddy bear as his best friend. I just…it sounds so much like Wilfred. Already I’m thinking “derivative”, which might not be fair because McFarlane could have had this idea ages ago, but I was aware of Wilfred first, so there you go. The trailer is ok. Wahlberg’s character makes Ted the Bear move out when he gets serious with his girlfriend, hijinks ensue, and I’m sure we all learn about friendship along the way. The gimmick of the bear being “real” seems to be the basis of most of the humor and, well, I’m not sure that will sustain a full-length film. Like, I don’t think I’d want to see a Wilfred movie, either. So we’ll see. I want to like it—I haven’t seen a good comedy since 21 Jump Street, but I’m skeptical.