Summer movies get shaken up
Summer movies just took a dark turn. The biggest appeal of action, fantasy, and horror flicks no doubt comes from our sense of being safely bound together in the dark. That’s been shaken up now—and the American response? Buy more guns. But will there be fewer movies? Hollywood was already suffering before this thing happened. Anyway, there are the 40 or so titles left on the docket before school starts again. Look for a few schedule changes, especially among the documentaries and smaller efforts.
Instead of replacin’ Jason in The Bourne Legacy, the franchise spins in another direction, with Jeremy Renner as another rogue agent breaking glass ceilings wherever he goes. Matthew McConaughey is a rotten Texas lawman in William Friedken’s Killer Joe. Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakas square off in The Campaign, in which director Jay Roach will attempt to make U.S. politics even sillier. Good luck with that. Also squaring off are Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep, as a long-married couple in Hope Springs, with Steve Carell in a rare straight role as their mild-mannered therapist. In her comic sequel, July Delpy leaves Paris for 2 Days in New York, and trades in Adam Goldberg for Chris Rock. Seriously! Over in doc land, a fake guru seeks a higher purpose in Kumaré, South Africans go Searching for Sugar Man, a real-life singer who fell off the map in the ’70s, and Russian girls get harsh treatment in Girl Model.
Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton want to have a child, but they are not quite ready for The Odd Life of Timothy Green—meaning a 10-year-old who abruptly shows up on their doorstep.
The creators of Coraline are back with ParaNorman.
Jordin puts the Sparks in Sparkle, but Whitney Houston steals the show as the pushy stage mother in this remake of the 1976 musical. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Sylvester Stallone (again) mock their status as aging action stars in The Expendables 2. The animated ParaNorman, from the Coraline crowd, sees dead people; ghostbuster Rebecca Hall visits a haunted boarding school in The Awakening; and restaurant workers are tortured worse than usual in Compliance.
Frank Langella is the human half of Robot & Frank, with Peter Sarsgaard providing the voice of an aging burglar’s android helper. Dax Shepard wrote and stars in Hit and Run, about a former getaway driver pulling one last job. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt gets a Premium Rush, and lots of stitches, as a bike courier frequently running into bad copper Michael Shannon. A young couple must battle The Apparition when a science experiment goes terribly wrong. A small Alaskan town struggles against pollution and politics in the documentary Kivalina vs. Exxon, while Scottish environmentalists take on the Donald in You’ve Been Trumped, in which the comb-overed blowhard sets out to destroy pristine wilderness to make way for yet another golf course.
Nick Cave wrote the screenplay for the Prohibition-era Lawless, with Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf as Virginia moonshiners hounded by nasty fed Guy Pearce. Someone picks up the wrong knick-knack in The Possession, an imaginatively titled horror flick. A giant corporation tries to Osterize a Swedish filmmaker in Big Boys Gone Bananas!*, and a Norwegian drug addict wanders the city streets in the serendipitously titled Oslo, August 31st.
Bruce Willis’s background in espionage catches up with his son’s young family, boating near Madrid in The Cold Light of Day, and Dennis Quaid steals another man’s book in The Words, bringing Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Irons to something like life in the process. Youthful dancers from around the world jostle for First Position in a ballet competition, while former Vancouverite Jamie Travis makes his feature writing-directing debut with For a Good Time, Call…
Ben Affleck directed and stars with Bryan Cranston in Argo, about the real-life escape of six Americans from Iran, with the help of a Canadian diplomat. Milla Jovovich is back for another lethal kick at the futuristic zombie franchise in Resident Evil: Retribution.
Late summer TBA
For you nonyoungsters in the audience, Morgan Freeman’s a washed-up, wheelchair-bound author who, thanks to director Rob Reiner, discovers The Magic of Belle Isle. Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener are an estranged mother and daughter in Bruce Beresford’s comic Peace, Love & Misunderstanding, while Emma Watson plays a collegiate first love in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a coming-of-age tale based on director Steven Chbosky’s own novel.
Plenty of documentaries are likewise looking for homes. The great Chinese artist-activist is profiled in Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, while western-style boxers compete in Yung Chang’s China Heavyweight, and gonzo B.C. skateboarders recite the Highway Gospel for us. A Palestinian man documents his life with 5 Broken Cameras, while detainees, captors, and lawyers have their say in The Guantanamo Trap, and a long-innovative troupe is profiled in Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance. A young leader attempts to save his drowning homeland in The Island President. Soon, we may all know how he feels.