Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Musings and Stuff's Snarky Summer Movie Part 2

Because the movies are nothing without franchises.


June 7th, 2013
The first weekend of June will be a relatively quiet one because of the quick scheduling move on the part of Sony's After Earth moving a week earlier.  Again this might be a great weekend to catch up on (hopeful) art house pleasures like Before Midnight, Frances Ha and Stories We Tell, all of whom will likely be playing on 2,000+ screens the first weekend in May due to endless demand queries-- it could happen!  Otherwise the big attraction will come squarely from Fox's Vince Vaughn-Owen Wilson buddy-dumb-dumb comedy The Internship about two loser salesmen who try to conquer the digital world of now by becoming interns at Google.  Shawn Levy, the director of the Night at the Museum franchise, helms what will surely be a compelling tale of middle aged men in competition with nerdy geniuses for future employment.  Rose Byrne, John Goodman and B.J. Novak co-star.  Trailer here.

If you want to be the cool kid in your selected city, the obvious movie-going choice for this weekend will be Joss Whedon's black and white, modern re-staging of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  Whedon shot this during a break from shooting of The Avengers and it features a collective whos-who of past Whedon players including Amy Acker (Dollhouse), Alexis Denisof (aka Mr. Willow-- Alyson Hannigan's real-life husband and Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel alum), Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods) and Nathan Fillion (nearly everything.)  All which prompts a fun game of Whedon musical chairs to the tune of Shakespeare-- certainly a drinking game can arise from this somehow.  The film premiered to nice notices at last years Toronto Film Festival and this springs SXSW.  Strangely, given the popular cinematic art form of gutting the work of Shakespeare endlessly, Much Ado About Nothing has only been made into a theatrical film once before in 1993's Kenneth Branagh's version which starred Emma Thompson, Kate Beckinsale, Denzel Washington, and, ahem, Keanu Reeves; that version is actually a beaut and worthy of checking out as well.

Also opening: Provocative documentary Dirty Wars which follows investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, while Evocatuer: The Morton Downey, Jr. Movie is another documentary which explores the divisive, chain-smoking shock jock.

June 12, 2013
The apocalypse has been a vivid theme in cinema recently.  The bombast of Roland Emmerich's 2012, the beatific beauty of Lars von Trier's Melancholia, the odd convergence of romantic comedy with last summer's should-have-been-a-bit-stronger Seeking a Friend For the End of the World, that it seems inevitable that a stoner-buddy comedy would come along.  Well, This Is the End will solve whatever has been missing from the end of the world subgenre.  Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogan direct, as well as script, this outing-- a house party filled with all of their very famous friends (James Franco, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Danny McBride, Jason Segal, et al) all playing themselves in varied mind altering states as an impending apocalypse rears its ugly head.  One caveat, and not anything in the least to poop in the face of a film that will likely have its fill of scatological talk anyway, but with 2012 becoming the Y2K of its generation, is there much left in the can here....

June 14, 2013
Seven years ago, director Bryan Singer tried to reboot the Superman franchise with Brandon Routh as the Caped Crusader (oops...wrong superhero) with the infamous blue bulge.  The film was maligned by the fanboys and while decently reviewed and attended depicted as a blunder nearly instantaneously.  Flash forward, with an epic gesture by producer Christopher Nolan, Man of Steel will unearth this June, marking the second retooling of Superman under the helm of 300 and Watchmen (and shutter, Sucker Punch) director Zack Snyder with a script by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins.)  Henry Cavill (of The Tudors) will embrace the magical "S" in a new origin tale with Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathon and Martha Kent, Amy Adams as Lois Lane and, most encouragingly, Michael Shannon as baddie General Zod.  As a moderate fan of Superman Returns-- despite whatever the word on the street, it was a well sculpted superhero tale that reverently played within the chronology of the original Christopher Reeve semi-classic-- and as an iffy, if alternatively disinterested audience member of the entire tale of Superman in general, my first reaction to Man of Steel, is a whispered yawn.  However, in an effort to appease the community as a whole, each new teaser and flash of Man of Steel looks more and more interesting in establishing the most famous American boy scout.  Here's hope...

and for the courageous art house viewer, here's an alternative...
The divisive and the divine Sophia Coppola returns with her latest drippy Hollywood tale, The Bling Ring, which situates about a gang of trendy interlopers who steal from the rich and the famous.  Headed by Emma Watson, in what will hopefully be a nice role for the budding actress hoping to reach further than the throes of Hermione.  Coppola has done her past leading ladies well-- think Kirsten Dunst, Scarlet Johansson and Elle Fanning in the past.  Coppola's last film, Somewhere (2010) was seemingly her most hated in the sense that it was a Sophia Coppola film times ten in the essence that it pushed her distinctive and lovingly pilfered style to such a heightened degree that it felt like a stern middle finger to her critics.  I ate it up, as I did with her enchantingly vapid take on Marie Antoinette (2006.)  The Bling Ring, by contrast, almost reads like a harkening wish for accessibility.  It premieres at Cannes in a few weeks before entering art house cinemas this June. 

June 21, 2013
It's a maddening feeling to come into each cinematic year and look at the offering from the once prized staple of the industry (in this case, Pixar), and shrug.  So is the case with Monsters University, the prequel to the studio's delightfully jazzy 2001 hit Monsters, Inc.  While there's little inherently wrong in furthering the narrative of Mike and Sulley (again voiced by Billy Crystal and John Goodman), there's only a smidgeon of excitement going into it.  Anyhow, this one focuses on the school days of the soon-to-be expert scarers.  Seems a little lazy coming from the studio known for it great original stories.  What's next: a Finding Nemo sequel where Dory gets lost....oh crap!

If tween monsters aren't your thing, this weekend also offers World War Z, perhaps the ultimate cinematic telling of the Zombie Apocalypse...assuming that is that you're not still hung over from This Is the End the week before.  Here Brad Pitt is our savior of humanity in what has been described as a troubled production that was directed by Marc Forster based on the novel by Max Brooks.  Forster is an odd filmmaker in the way that he came on to the scene with the sudsy indie melodrama Monster's Ball and shifted swiftly to the awards bait Peter Pan-making of film, Finding Neverland, to dovetail to Daniel Craig's lesser-than Bond vehicle Quantum of Solace and 2011's ill-fated Gerard Butler starrer Machine Gun Preacher.  Now he's going full summer tentpole.  Pitt, on the other hand, whose been on a totally A-list curve as of late, really doesn't need this on his plate.  On that respect, this one may just be great...or just a cheap shilling on all the success of Walking Dead.

Also opening: A crew of a Danish cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates in A Hijacking and grumpy Terrence Stamp learns to find his voice in the Weinstein's feel good senior dramedy Unfinished Song.

June 28, 2013
Olympus Has Fallen has opened our minds to all kinds of havoc at the White House, now Roland Emmerich, the auteur behind 2012, Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow promises to take that stitch of a premise and blow it to smithereens with White House Down.  The main difference, with the exception of an increase in awesomeness destruction, will likely be paired down to its leading man.  Gerard Bulter shuttled Olympus to a near $100 million gross, but White House Down has Channing Tatum to prance around in wife-beaters.  It recalls a lamer high concept battle of studio wits that occurred in 1998 between Disney and DreamWorks when both debuted competing end-of-the-world (full circle theme, peeps!) asteroid flicks Armageddon and Deep Impact.  Jamie Foxx plays the President in a cast supported by Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, James Woods and the superlative Richard Jenkins.  Doth protest the bombast that consists of the oeuvre of Emmerich but when it comes to brain-dead summertime thrills, he's kind of tops.

The boys have their movie this weekend, as do the ladies with The Heat, a cop, buddy picture that looks fairly disposable with the exception of the novel casting of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.  There's hope that the fairly uninspired trailer is masking a funnier film considering the talent, and that the director is Paul Feig, of Bridesmaids and all-time favorite Freaks & Geeks.  It's the same Odd Couple-like routine here, but let's hope Bullock's yin will jell with McCarthy's yang in a singular way.

Also opening: Neil Jordan presents Byzantium, his latest thriller with Saorsise Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Rielly and Thure Lindhardt (Keep the Light On) about vampires terrorizing a coastal town.  Also, Copperhead is a drama about a family torn apart during the American Civil War.

Pedro Almodovar unveils his latest, which in it of itself is cause and cry for celebration.  I'm So Excited, in a most unusual maneuver in the American unveiling of Almodovar films will come out in the summer, opens and regardless of nothing else demands an audience.  He also ignored his usual Cannes Film Festival premiere (the film has already opened in many part of Europe) and instead will premiere stateside as the opening night film for the Los Angeles Film Festival.  Described as what happens when in appears as though the end is in sight, the pilots, flight crew and passengers of a plane heading to Mexico City look to forget the anguish of the moment and face the greatest danger, which we carry within ourselves.  Whatever all that is supposed to mean.  More importantly, Almodovar regulars Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, Javier Camara, Paz Vega and Cecilla Roth co-star.  It was like when titling his latest, he was thinking of me...

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