I’ve been so lazy this summer. It’s horrible. My slightly-past-mid-year resolution is to be less lazy. Especially since award season and the inevitable deluge of films is rapidly approaching. August brings the last round of (potential) blockbusters for the summer movie season, but some smaller, prestige titles are also mixed in, trying to get an early jump on the bigger, flashier award bait to come over the next few months. But before we get there, we’ve got to get through summer’s swan song.
Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles has made a string of deep-thinking, provoking films over the last decade: City of God, The Constant Gardner and Blindness. 360 is an intersecting-plotline story that eventually coalesces into a compound narrative, not unlike a piece of music written in the round (it is inspired by La Ronde). Jude Law and Rachel Weisz are on the roster, and while it looks good, the August release date is a little bit of a handicap. Either it’s not quite as good as Meirelles’ previous films, or they think it’ll be too heavy to carry either way and are getting it out now, in order to meet an award-season DVD push.
Broken Lizard alum Jay Chandrasekhar is not a bad director, and he has a solid grasp on What’s Funny. He’s directed some of the best TV of the past decade, including episodes of Arrested Development, The Loop, Chuck, Happy Endings and Community. And though Super Troopers is very funny, Chandrasekhar definitely seems better suited to TV. With the exception of Super Troopers, his other movies lack the precision and technical proficiency he demonstrates regularly on TV. The Babymakers is another shot at feature film for him, and is not a Broken Lizard production. It stars Paul Schnieder (Lars & The Real Girl) and Olivia Munn (The Newsroom, naked pictures on the internet) and is about a dude who has failed to impregnate his wife attempting to steal a long-ago deposit to sperm bank in order to use on his wife. Um…no. Just watch Super Troopers.
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Rashida Jones (Parks & Recreation) wrote Celeste & Jesse Forever, which debuted at Sundance to mostly positive reviews. It’s about a couple (SNL‘s Andy Samberg is the other half of the pairing) that is going through a divorce and attempting to preserve their BFF-dom, too. I like Jones a lot but this looks a little too hipster and twee for my tastes.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
The only people who should be in this movie are parents/caretakers of children. If you’re at this movie and are not accompanied by a child, you, sir, are a pervert.
Although I suppose you could be accompanied by a child and still be a pervert.
Everyone who sees this movie is a pervert.
I’m not so precious about the 1990 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi “classic” that the idea of a reboot/remake bothers me, it’s just that this particular re-imagining of Total Recall looks boring. Farrell is capable of handling action roles, but he’s best when he’s being a brash loud-mouth, a la In Bruges, Tigerland and even the otherwise-terrible Daredevil. Total Recall just looks too serious and self-important to be any fun. And a movie like this should definitely be fun.
This movie is for your parents.
2 Days in New York
French actress Julie Delpy (Before Sunrise) expanded into directing, and she’s pretty good at it, technically speaking. Unfortunately, like Sofia Coppola, she keeps making the same movie over and over. So this is “French dream girl and post-ironic American male try to make it work, take 17”. This time her PIAM is played by Chris Rock, who is very hit or miss as an actor. The film is about Delpy’s French family descending to meet her PIAM in New York. I’m sure that wackiness ensues, but I’ll just watch Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, which is basically what this movie is. Except with French people.
The Bourne Legacy
Though it gets off to a somewhat slow start, the Bourne spin-off more than delivers once series newbie Jeremy Renner starts bashing heads and shooting people. Renner stars as Aaron Cross, an operative of a program similar to the Treadstone op that created Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), but what they fucked up in Bourne, they’ve fixed and improved with Cross. Renner is more than capable as Cross, bringing a touch of wit to the super-assassin, and his scenes with Edward Norton are fantastic. Oscar Isaac (Drive) makes his mark, too, as another operative in the program. Rachel Weisz is perfectly fine as The Obligatory Girl, and she’s so gorgeous and capable that she has chemistry with the door knobs. They could definitely expand on her character, in any future potential films.
Lainey asked me if this would be funny and I said, “Are you a fan of Ferrell and/or Galifianakis? If so, probably. If not, no.” Ferrell’s already clocked a win this year with the small, off beat indie Casa de mi Padre, and those oddball beer commercials, and The Campaign looks like his usual “semi-shout one-liners until one of them lands” fare. You know what Ferrell movie has totally grown on me? The Other Guys. I liked it when I first saw it, but it’s become one of my favorite comedies to watch recently.
You learned to dance sarcastically?
Red Hook Summer
Spike Lee can make good movies. He can make great movies. As annoying as he is as a persona, as a filmmaker, he is capable of truly great work. Red Hook Summer divided critics at Sundance. Some called it a return to form for Lee, others hated it. I suspect your tolerance for this movie will be directly related to your tolerance of Spike Lee.
The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Every time I see this trailer I think—Oh yeah, Jennifer Garner is supposed to be an actress. Her job isn’t actually “professionally photographed mother”.
This movie is also for your parents and/or perverts.
A British horror import starring Rebecca Hall (The Town) and Dominic West (The Hour), The Awakening is about a post-World War I hoax-exposer (Hall), who is trying to debunk a child ghost at a boarding school where nothing is as it seems, naturally.
I didn’t know that post-World War I hoax-exposer was a thing, but I think I’d like to be one when I grow up.
Also, kid ghosts are the WORST.
This is based on a really horrifying true story about an asshole who prank-called a McDonald’s in a small town and said a complaint had been made that a young employee stole from a customer. The manager, her fiancé, and other employees got so worked up by this dipshit that they ended up strip searching the young girl and perpetrating several sex acts against her. Absolutely awful. The movie was a big buzz title at Sundance—apparently it really nails the increasing paranoia, fear, humiliation and mob-mindset that took over. It’s supposed to be very uncomfortable to watch but JESUS. It would be, wouldn’t it?
David Cronenberg wants a mainstream hit. Robert Pattinson wants acting legitimacy. I think it will be a step in the right direction for both but not a major achievement for either. The press tour for this movie is also the first time Pattinson will face the media in the wake of The Night Of A Million Sparkly Tears. Scrutiny will be intense. Which…well you know what they say. There’s no such thing as bad press. Pattinson finds himself in a bummer of a position—public cuckold—but it could translate into some sympathy box office. And a win’s a win, after all.
The Expendables 2
The Depends-ables + Miley Cyrus’s shag, Hemsworth the Younger. I love bad action movies but this is just sad.
Have you seen the Olympic TV spot for ParaNorman? It’s fantastic. I can’t wait for this one, a gorgeous stop-motion cartoon from Laika Entertainment (Coraline). It’s about a nerdy kid who has to save his town from zombies. It’s getting GREAT early buzz. This is turning out to be a solid year for animation. We’ve already seen one beautiful stop-motion film that also happened to be awesome (The Pirates! Band of Misfits), and we still have Wreck It Ralph in November. All of these are can’t-misses for fans of animation.
This is American Idol Jordin Sparks’ big screen debut, but really what everyone associates with this movie is that it’s Whitney Houston’s last film. It’s about a trio of sisters who become a Motown sensation in the 1960’s, until fame inevitably destroys them. Sparks plays a character named “Sparkle”. And that pretty much says it all.
With a cast cobbled from teen dreams (Twilight’s Ashley Greene, Harry Potter’s Tom Felton and Gossip Girl’s resident non-twat Sebastian Stan), The Apparition is sure to get the 12-17 year old horror demographic. It’s a cheap Paranormal Activity knock-off about a married couple (Greene and Stan) who are haunted as part of an experiment. Looks terrible.
Are you watching Political Animals? Um…Stan is like, really super hot all of the times. He’s this close  to my Freebie Five.
Hit and Run
Don’t get me wrong, this looks dumb. I have zero fondness for Dax Shephard. But…I like Bradley Cooper best when he’s being funny. He’s been really funny in the past, in silly movies like this. My introduction to B. Coop was Wet Hot American Summer (GREAT movie, if you haven’t seen it), where he had a small but funny role. I probably won’t run out to see this opening weekend, but I will see it eventually, just for comedic B. Coop.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as a bike messenger on the run from a corrupt cop played by Michael Shannon (Take Shelter). It’s a bike race against time to deliver his most crucial package of the day! Yes. You read that correctly. And you know what? This movie is a miracle. I mean, look at this trailer. That this movie exists at all is enough, but that it stars JGL is like…a whole new level of unintentional comedy.
Robot & Frank
This was another Sundance stand out, one that had a lot of people talking potential nominations for star Frank Langella. It’s one of those “near future” set ups, and Langella stars as a thief who gets a robot butler to take care of him (Jarvis!), but then uses the robot to help him with heists. It’s high concept for sure, but like we wouldn’t totally try stealing some shit if we had a robot butler to take the fall for us, should we get caught.
The Weinstein Company runs its first pony in the Oscar race with Lawless, a Prohibition Era drama about bootlegging brothers. Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf star as the brothers. Sure, yeah, we’ll go with that. It played well at Cannes, and there are definitely Oscar dreams here, but again, an August release is a signal that it might not quite be everything they were hoping. Also, apparently Tom Hardy is super sexy in this, but I’m not seeing it.
For a Good Time, Call…
Ari Graynor (The Sitter, What’s Your Number?) is being touted as the next big thing for women in comedy. She’s not an untalented actress and she’s done solid support work in some moderately funny movies, but I’m not sure where the huge push is coming from except that she’s pretty and blonde and can kind of deliver a funny line. The Ari Graynor Train tells me that someone somewhere has given up on Anna Faris. Good Time is about two frenemies (getting sick of that word) moving into a fancy Manhattan apartment they can’t afford and starting a phone sex line in order to pay their rent. That premise strikes me as really tired. Except for the phone sex part, I’m pretty sure that’s a screwball comedy from the 1930’s.
This movie looks terrible, but the “true story” behind it is fascinating whether you believe it or not. It reads really well, right? I don’t know why they wouldn’t just make that movie. Did the guy not want to sell his life rights? Maybe. I don’t care enough to investigate. Just—there’s a kernel of an awesome horror movie in there but that is not the movie that got made.