Monday, May 03, 2010

Summer Movie Preview: My Ten Most Anticipated Releases

With "Iron Man 2" just around the corner, sumer is icumen in roughly on schedule. Absurdly early, that is. Remember when the summer movie season didn't start until Memorial Day weekend? That's nearly inconceivable now - there's far too much box office at stake. I can't rag on the studios too much, though, considering just how desperate I always am by the end of April for movies that don't seem headed straight for the $2 DVD bin. This year is no exception. In order of release date, here are the ten movies I'm most looking forward to over the next few months. Bring on the popcorn!

IRON MAN 2 (This Friday)
I'm skeptical it'll be as enjoyable as the first one - but I have faith that the combo of Robert Downey, Jr.'s droll charisma and Jon Favreau's direction will provide at least some degree of viewing pleasure.

I'm quite fond of the 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Kevin Costner's anemic accent and all) and I doubt Ridley Scott's latest take on the legendary outlaw will supplant it in my affections - especially if, as I suspect, the new RH just ends up being "Gladiator" refitted for medieval England. But's Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, two of our finest living actors, playing Robin and Marian. How can I miss that?

ONDINE (June 4)
Who knew I'd be putting a Colin Farrell movie on this list? But I've been coming around to the actor I used to loathe, and this little Irish film - directed by Neil Jordan and inspired by the legend of the selkie, or seal-woman - sounds like a labor of love that could be quite charming and understated, a welcome counterpoint to the bang-and-boom blockbusters surrounding it.

THE A-TEAM (June 11)
When I first heard this '80s warhorse was being adapted for the big screen, my thought was "Seriously? Didn't we learn anything from Dukes of Hazzard?" Having seen the trailer, I now pity the fool who writes off this movie. No, it doesn't look like anything special as an action flick. No, I wasn't a big fan of the show. And yet something tells me it's going to be a riot to watch in a movie theater filled with other thirtysomethings. Also? Liam Neeson as cigar-chewing Hannibal? Hot.

TOY STORY 3 (June 18)
Unplanned third installments - i.e., those that weren't mapped out from the first movie's inception - are never necessary and very rarely justifiable, but this might be one of those rare occasions that can be justified. "Toy Story" is a bona fide classic, and "Toy Story 2" a sequel that actually strengthened the franchise. Pixar, I'm counting on you not to fuck it up with #3.

Tilda Swinton as a gorgeously dressed Russian émigré in a gorgeous villa in pre-Fascist Italy, having doomed affairs with younger men over gorgeous-looking food. I am so there, even though I know it has to end badly. This is no Eat Pray Love, even if it looks like aesthetes' porn. Actually it's like the anti-Eat Pray Love, which for me is a point in its favor.

A hit at Sundance, Lisa Cholodenko's comedy-drama spotlights a lesbian couple (Annette Bening and Julianne Moore) who find their comfortable yuppie lives up-ended when their teenage children track down their biological father (Mark Ruffalo) and try to bring him into the family. This is one of my most anticipated films of the summer, not least because it features Ruffalo in a role that actually makes full use of his talents.

A cartoon villain plotting to steal the moon is flummoxed by the appearance of three little orphans in his life. I dig it. I also dig the retro stylized animation and the unplaceable Steve Carell voice-over.

This is by far the film I'm most excited to see this summer. Consider the premise: a noir-ish future (is there any other kind?) in which paid agents can enter and steal your dreams. Then consider it's directed by Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "The Prestige") and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ken Watanabe, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, and Marion Cotillard (oh yeah, and Ellen Page, if she's your thing). Sold! I just hope it doesn't crumble under the weight of expectations: the fanboys (Nolan also directed "The Dark Knight") are already out in full force.

A cop-buddy comedy that pairs Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (and, as their foils, Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). Directed by the guy behind "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights." High potential for hilarity.

What movies are you looking forward to this summer?


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