Friday, April 26, 2013

Summer 2013 Movie Preview

Maybe I'm just overly affected by the schizophrenic weather we've been having lately, but my moviegoing mind still hasn't quite realized that summer's just around the corner. "Summer," that is, as defined by Hollywood, which has been moving up the beginning of the season so that it now effectively kicks off the first weekend of May. Hell, it may even start creeping backwards into April, if "Oblivion" is any indicator. It's as if the long-term goal is to abbreviate spring as much as possible - "spring," again in Hollywood terms, being the euphemism for that period between the Oscars and "summer" during which the major studios quietly dump the crap from the bottom of the barrel. There have of course been exceptions - last year's "The Hunger Games" comes to mind, perhaps "42" and "Oblivion" (neither of which I've seen) this year - but their relative infrequency only proves the rule.

Anyway, here, in order of release date, are the ten summer movies I most want to see. This summer's an atypical one for me in that (1) it's *extremely* front-loaded as far as expectations go, meaning the movies I'm most excited about are all coming out in May, and (2) most of the movies I want to see are not blockbusters but more indie-ish films. I just hope their being released in summer, rather than during Oscar season, isn't a bad omen for their quality.


Modern-day adaptation of the Henry James novel, starring Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan as a divorcing couple who use their young daughter as a pawn in their struggle for one-upmanship. Alexander Skarsgaard co-stars as Moore's younger lover. I find Henry James adaptations weirdly fascinating: of all authors, he should be one of the most unfilmable, and yet he can challenge directors to take really interesting, if not always successful, approaches (Iain Softley, "Wings of the Dove," Jane Campion, "Portrait of a Lady"; we'll draw a veil over the Merchant-Ivory "Golden Bowl" misfire). At the very least, I'm curious.


This looks to be very much a Baz Luhrmann production - swirling, lavish spectacle (in 3D, no less - ugh), modern music, operatic-level melodrama - and, as such, may or may not be a good match for Fitzgerald's prose, which can be equally heady but also has a quiet sadness at its core. Maybe that's why Baz cast sad-eyed Carey Mulligan as Daisy - an interesting choice, though not at all my idea of Daisy - and perennial lost-boy Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway; though I'm more intrigued by the prospect of Leo playing Gatsby and the up-and-coming Australian actor Joel Edgerton as the brutish Tom Buchanan. The movie trailers, unsurprisingly, have proven polarizing, but they worked for me. Again, at the very least, I'm curious. Even if it's a train wreck, I know I won't be able to look away.


Two words: Benedict Cumberbatch. If you don't know who that is, mark my words: you will after this movie. Even without him, I'd still probably want to see this, since I did enjoy J.J. Abrams' reboot of the franchise. But BC makes it must-see viewing.


Hands down, THE film I'm most looking forward to this summer. Picks up nine years after "Before Sunset" ended, reuniting us with Jesse and Celine in yet another beautiful European setting, once again walking and talking and musing on the mysteries and challenges of human relationships. I admit I was initially worried the film would be a letdown after the divine diptych of "Before Sunrise"/"Before Sunset." However, judging from the reaction at Sundance, the trinity of Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy have succeeded in making it an equally divine triptych. Can't wait.


Great cast (Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, Isla Fisher), iffier director ("Clash of the Titans," anyone?) - but I'm a sucker for heist movies and movies about illusionists. This appears to be both.


Yet another modernized literary adaptation - is that the new trend this summer? It would be hard to top Kenneth Branagh 1993's "Much Ado" for sheer joy and élan, but Joss Whedon has a way with ensembles that I'm sure he's put to good use here - especially since he's using a lot of his go-to players. No big names (Nathan Fillion, playing Dogberry, is probably the best known of this bunch), but many of the actors will be recognizable to fans of "Buffy," "Firefly"/"Serenity," and Whedon's other TV work.


Based on a true story, but I can't help thinking of it as the Sofia Coppola version of "Spring Breakers." Probably fewer T&A shots, hopefully more insight into young girls' obsession with fame. The emptiness of fame is, after all, something of a Sofia specialty. I say this as a fan. Not so much a fan of Emma Watson, but the role should be a good stretch for her.

MAN OF STEEL (June 14)

Ok, so it does seem a little too soon for another reboot of "Superman" - how long ago was "Superman Returns," anyway? - but that didn't stop "The Incredible Hulk" (five years after "Hulk") or "The Amazing Spider-Man" (five years after the last Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie). I feel like I should oppose this trend of rebooting the reboot, but what can I say: that emo-Superman trailer piqued my interest, even though I'm not sure the Chris Nolanized approach to superheroes is necessarily the right choice for Superman. I have no idea if Henry Cavill has the chops to make it work, but at least he's pretty to look at - and the rest of the cast is full of heavy hitters (Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne). Reserving judgment on director Zack Snyder, as I haven't seen any of his previous forays into graphic novel adaptation ("300," "The Watchmen").


Another film based on a true story, "Fruitvale" depicts the last day in the life of a young Oakland black man who ended up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It slayed 'em at Sundance, and stars Michael B. Jordan, who was so brilliant in "Friday Night Lights" and "The Wire," in the lead role.

ELYSIUM (August 9)

Neill Blomkamp ("District 9") once again ventures into futuristic sci-fi, this time with presumably a bigger budget. Matt Damon stars as the unlikely hero who challenges the boundaries between the Haves (who live in comfort on a giant space station) and the Have-Nots (who slave away on a squalid, environmentally destroyed planet Earth). In addition to literary adaptations and movies about illusionists, I'm also a sucker for futuristic, dystopic sci-fi. And I really liked "District 9." So count me in! Much more interested in this than in that other futuristic dystopic flick, "World War Z," starring Brad Pitt (the one with the zombies), that's also coming out this summer.


Post a Comment

<< Home