Nowadays, no summer preview would be complete without a mention of the movies. Mother nature’s decision to crank up the thermostat and the possibility of BBQ ribs for lunch provide all the natural motivation society needs to bunker down in a cool dark room to watch
Megan Fox sweat on cars 120 minutes of explosions. We love a good superhero flick as much as the next guy, but massive marketing budgets shouldn’t be the only thing coaxing you into a theater seat this summer. This season has its fair share of CGI orgies and deep think pieces that don’t rhyme with “fan of seal” — and none of them should be missed.
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Pierce Brosnan digs Swedes, Paris Mad Men style, women hunting men and magicians gone wild
Love is All You Need
May 3 — This indie rom-com starring Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm and directed by 2010’s Best Foreign Film Oscar winner Susanne Bier could be the date movie of the season — if you don’t mind reading Swedish subtitles every so often. The premise of two older and unhappy souls finding love at their kids’ Mediterranean wedding sounds a lot like Mamma Mia without the Abba, but seeing Brosnan playing a supreme asshole while growing in to his new silver fox status is enough to pique our interest. (The same mysterious force stops us from ever deleting The Thomas Crown Affair off our DVR.) Ample dark humor and gratuitous Italian coastline porn doesn’t hurt its chances, either.
May 3 — Mob stories are a favorite crutch in Hollywood, and The Iceman, which is based on the life of the New Jersey contract killer Richard Kuklinksi, may not walk off the genre’s usual limp. The force Michael Shannon brings to every role is always at least a sight to behold; ditto Winona Ryder when she’s not stealing shoes. Supporting appearances by a grab bag of not-so-leading men who apparently were groomed on the set of Sabotage — including Chris Evans, David Schwimmer, James Franco and Stephen Dorff — scream of desperation more than distinction, though. Same goes for Ray Liotta taking yet another payday loan on his Goodfellas credit.
May 17 — Katie Aselton (of TV’s The League fame) stars and directs in this thriller about a girls weekend camping trip on a remote lake island that quickly turns dark (surprise!) after a few local hunters show up. Strong, resilient women have always plucked at our
draw heart strings, and the fact that these ones happen to wield bowie knives and shotguns in this case is pure gravy. But it’s the film’s backdoor riff on the Most Dangerous Game‘s central “people-hunting-people” tenant that really has us intrigued.
May 17 — We know, a French period piece focused on a speed typing competition reads like a double Scotch and Ambien on the surface. But you’re framing it all wrong. Just think Mad Men style, in Paris, with that lead guy from that European flick L’Auberge Espagnole your obnoxious film friends used to yammer on about. It looks cute and uplifting (if, sadly, somewhat sexist) and is sure to put a smile on your date’s face — which you hopefully won’t f$#@ up during the rest of your delightful evening.
May 22 — Old men behaving badly pretty much sums up the plot of 3 Geezers!. Maybe “Grumpier Old Men, the unrated version” is a better description. Given the subject and a random cast that includes Tim Allen,
Tweeder Scott Caan and even Randy Couture, this has serious stoner comedy potential. Oh, and if you’ve given even a single dollar to The Hangover franchise after the first movie, you can step down from that soapbox now.
We know these trailers are already burned deeper into your memory than your better half’s phone number, but a rehash of the schedule couldn’t hurt. Gatsby (May 10), Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17), Fast and Furious 6 / The Hangover Part III (May 24), After Earth (May 31), Man of Steel (June 14), World War Z (June 21), The Lone Ranger (July 3), Pacific Rim (July 12), R.I.P.D (July 19), The Wolverine (July 26)
An Ode to Over Production
Indies are great. They make us think. They have esoteric storytelling. They make us feel like we’re one step closer to joining the community book club.
They also clutter Netflix, fill the $5 bins at Best Buy and, except for the occasional breakout, don’t make a lot of money. But oh, “they’re artistic!”
Don’t get me wrong. There’s no shortage of big-budget flops (John Carter anyone?), but with each passing year since the early ’80s, we’ve come to expect a season where the general public checks their tastes at the door, grabs a super-size pack of Reese’s cups and a medium — don’t kid yourself dude, it’s an extra-large — soda and hunkers down for three months of rock ‘em sock ‘em movies. Movies with incomprehensibly huge CGI budgets, where leggy women fall off trees, bullets are a given and American studios and filmmakers swing their production budget dicks unabashedly at the rest of the world while hollering (through GDP-sized marketing budgets), “this is America, fuck yeah!”
We can thank Spielberg and the ’80s for that: Jaws, E.T., Blade Runner, Poltergeist, TRON, The Thing, Rocky III, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Ghostbusters, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future… the list goes on. But there are rumblings that the age of the blockbuster is fading. Leading actors are no longer a requisite and clever plots reign supreme. The recession, video games, better home theaters and iPads are eating away at box office tickets. To wit: a basic ticket weighs in at $12. Ratchet that up to $20 for IMAX or $25 for IMAX in 3D? Add the snacks and you’re looking at a $40 proposition. But like Yelp for that new restaurant around the corner, you have Rotten Tomatoes, A.O. Scott and Vulture giving you plenty of heads-up. So the question remains: where else can you get an ear-bursting, eye-popping roller-coaster like The Avengers or The Dark Knight?
We want our blockbusters to succeed. The directors and actors do, the audience does, the studios sure as hell do — even the critics do, though they might not readily admit it. Blockbusters let us sit back and enjoy controlled chaos, art (there’s still a DP credit last we checked) and the excellence of all the people that make movies. They let the directors, mega-watt projectors and Dolby do the work while we forget our problems — for a while.
Blockbusters have their heroes, so here’s a question: aren’t blockbusters themselves a kind of American hero too? Albeit celluloid (or digital) heroes — ones that ship across the world, filling box office coffers and domestic receipts, all the while, exporting a few innocent notions of America to the world where, let’s face it, things aren’t going as well.
So above, let us take you through a visual roadmap of 2013’s summer blockbusters, where names like Downey, Depp, DiCaprio, Pitt, Jackson and Bridges still anchor posters, and where life, though it may face impending doom, will always be saved — climactically — in about 2 hours. - Eric Yang
The Kings of Summer
May 31 — Boys spending their summers in the suburbia-adjacent woods avoiding the watchful eyes of parents is as American as super-sizing and Hanes white tees, not to mention a surefire formula for nostalgia. From the looks of the previews, The Kings of Summer is an indie comedy nod to Stand By Me, supported heavily by the curmudgeonly humor of Nick Offerman (of Parks and Recreation fame) and a few memorable lines from some fresh-faced kids. Chagrin Falls, OH also looks rather idyllic — as does our favorite multi-show actress, Alison Brie, per usual.
May 31 — Like Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the brooding pace of Shadow Dancer will disappoint viewers looking for summer pulp by the liter. That’s doubly so, considering the film never slips into action mode in spite of a premise involving an IRA family member turned MI5 informant. Given the current crop of effuse reviews, though, fans of smart suspense may have found one of their top movies of the year. Clive Owen and Andrea Riseborough deliver stellar performances in this cerebral piece that’s sure to spark conversation long after the credits roll and that indie theater smell leaves your clothes.
Now You See Me
May 31 — We’re not sure what this film starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher and Michael Caine is entirely about. That’s probably by design. The previews highlight a crew of arrogant magicians with a flair for making it rain stolen cash over crowds of less fortunate Vegas tourists, so it’s easy to pull the Robin Hood meets The Prestige stamp out and call it a day. Still, something about Jesse Eisenberg’s facial hair and the futuristic holograms flashing toward the end of the trailer hint at something deeper and potentially nerdier. Siegfried and Roy were clearly aliens, so a sleeper sci-fi angle could make sense. Our biggest concern is that director Louis Leterrier of Clash of the Titans fame is steering the ship, but then, Morgan Freeman’s soothing voice-over work lets us know everything’s going to be OK. Or at least entertaining.
May 31 — Actor/writer Brit Marling and writer/director Zal Batmanglij, the tag team behind Another Earth and The Sound of My Voice have a proven track record of creating unique sci-fi thinkers; their latest project clearly has bigger aspirations with a cast that includes Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard. Marling (who, let’s be honest, we have all fantasized about bringing home to mom) stars as a former FBI-agent-turned-private-intelligence-operative tasked with infiltrating an anarchist collective that’s been targeting corporations with loads of dirty laundry to hide. Picking sides clearly becomes a problem, but knowing this duo, expect plenty of bigger twists.