Summer is such a good time to escape the heat in an air-conditioned theatre to watch superheroes and things blow-up, but I just don't really have any of those movies listed here. I don't have anything against them, it's just that this summer's offerings aren't looking that appealing to me. (I mean, a 6th edition of the Fast and Furious franchise? C'mon.) I will say that I'm curious to see the new Star Trek mainly for future Oscar Nominee, Benedict Cumberbatch, and I liked the last one (people who actually like Star Trek said it wasn't Star Trek. Maybe that's why I liked it.) I'll also give Elysium a chance (although it looks an awful lot like Neill Blomkamp's last film, District 9. Now with Jodie Foster!) And I'm interested in the Superman reboot, Man of Steel (although, the last Superman was hoooorrible. And I don't know if I can get on-board with a red-headed Lois Lane, a female Jimmy Olsen named Jenny Olsen, and, most importantly, a Superman without the red briefs). Also, none of those movies need the help of some little blog writing about them–people are gonna see them regardless.
So without further ado, here are 10 films that are an alternative to the typical summer fare. And it just so happens, they're the 10 films I'm most excited about seeing this summer.
The Great Gatsby (May 10)
God, it seems like I've been waiting for this movie since last December...Oh, wait, I have. When news came that the release was being pushed from Christmas 2012 to May 2013, most people saw it as a bad sign. But, the same thing happened with the release of Moulin Rouge! (December release pushed back to summer) and I'd say that things turned out pretty well for that film (Best Picture nomination! 2 Oscar wins! And have I mentioned that I love it?!). So, I'm not too worried about this one. And with every new trailer and song release (Beyonce covering Amy Winehouse!), I'm getting more and more excited. There's Carey Mulligan on the cover of Vogue! A collaboration between the film's costume designer (and Baz's wife) Catherine Martin with Brook's Brothers! There's interviews with Baz giving very Baz-like answers to questions about the soundtrack! The only problem I have is, why do all the posters and trailers keep telling us it's from the director of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!? Don't people recognize a Baz Luhrmann film when they see it? They're pretty distinctive...
Stories We Tell (May 10)
I'm so annoyed that I waited so long to get tickets to see this when it was playing here in New York as part of the New Directors New Films series. Director/Actress Sarah Polley was there for a Q & A! I love a good Q & A...with a good moderator. Once they open it up to questions from the audience it can get kinda dicey...Although, calling someone who was two well-received films already (Away From Her and Take This Waltz) and an Oscar Nomination for Screenwriting, a new director seems kinda like cheating. Since the festival is for first-time filmmakers. Anyway! It's Polley's first documentary (new genre!) and she focuses on her own story–the rumor that her actress mother had an affair and that the father she grew up with isn't her real father. I've heard nothing but good things about it since it was at the Toronto Film Festival last fall. I find it interesting that her first documentary is an extension of her other films in that it focuses on what I love most about fiction–the storytelling.
Frances Ha (May 17)
I actually already saw this film back in October at the New York Film Festival. That's right, I'm putting a film I've already seen on a list of films that I can't wait to see. But, that's how much I enjoyed it! I really want to see it again, but most importantly, I want to get the word out for people to go see it! Director Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg) collaborated with the star of the film (and his girlfriend) Greta Gerwig on the screenplay about a twenty-something modern dancer in New York trying to find her way as she aimlessly drifts through life. Eh...that kinda makes it sound like every other coming of age story. Or Girls. Did I mention it's really funny and that Greta Gerwig gives her best performance to date?! She's really the reason to watch. Her natural charisma and skills as a physical comedienne are in full-force here. It's her star-is-born moment.
Before Midnight (May 24)
Alright Hollywood, you win. There is a trilogy that I'm interested in seeing that's being released over the Memorial Day weekend. Only this one is one is an adult, talky, comedic drama about a couple's relationship, that I've been invested in for almost 20 years. So, just to be clear, it's not The Hangover III.
After their courtship in 1995's Before Sunrise and their rekindled romance in 2004's Before Sunset, Ethan Hawke's Jesse and Julie Delpy's Celine are back! Taking place 9 years after the last film, the couple is now married with children and the film focuses on sustaining a relationship for the long run after the initial spark of attraction has faded. I adore the first two films and love that we get to see where these characters grow and develop over the years. I would be happy if we visited them every 9 years. Julie Delpy actually joked about that saying the last film would be like the Oscar-winning Amour.
The Bling Ring (June 14)
It was just announced this week that this latest film from director Sofia Coppola is set to open the Un Certain Regard section of Cannes this year–a part of the festival that focuses on young talent and promotes the use of innovation. I'm not sure how a director in her 40's who's releasing her 5th film in 14 years fits the description, but who understands the goings-on of the French anyway. The film is based on the real-life events of a group of girls in LA who stole from the homes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
It's been 10 years since the success of Lost in Translation brought Copploa recognition as a director. Her films after that haven't exactly lived up to the hype of that film. I, for one, am a fan of her polarizing Marie Antoinette film, but feel that Somewhere tread on too-similar ground that she already covered more interestingly in Translation. But, that being said, I enjoy her aesthetic and still look forward to her films. This one sounds like it could be interesting–they're already doing a great job of selling it with the trailer and poster. And for me to want to see a film starring Emma Watson (an actress I usually find wooden and forgettable) is already saying a lot!
More after the jump
I'm So Excited (June 28)
A new film from director Pedro Almodóvar is always a reason to get excited. Although, I can't exactly say that I was fan of his last film The Skin I Live In (I have such questions about the motives of Antonio Banderas's character. It seems like such an elaborate revenge). He's such an interesting director that even his lesser work is still better than most films out there. This film is a return to his more comedic films like Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and centers around a group of flight attendants who try to make a flight being held up due to a malfunction as enjoyable as possible. The trailer has lip syncing to the Pointer Sisters' "I'm So Excited" (so that's how they got the title...), people joining the mile high club, and brief cameos from Almodóvar regular's Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz. It kinda seems like the art-house equivalent of a mindless summer comedy.
Girl Most Likely (July 19)
What is the deal with this movie? It was supposed to come out last year with the title Imogen (that's the name of Kristen Wiig's character. You can also find old posters made-up with that title if you do a Google search.) and now it's finally being released in 3 months and Lionsgate (the company releasing it) pulled the trailer from the internet. Um, so do you want people to see this movie? How could you not? It's about a playwright played by Wiig who tries to win back her ex by faking a suicide (that old trick) and then having to go into the custody of her gambling addicted, Jersey Shore-type mother. Did I mention the mother is played by Annette Bening? There's also Darren Criss as a Backstreet Boy impersonator. Following the huge success of Bridesmaids, you'd think they'd be more eager to cash in on Wiig's success. I'm still interested in seeing it, but it sounds like it'll be one of those films that finds an audience on Netflix.
Only God Forgives (July 19)
I really wanted to like Drive, the last pairing between star Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn. But, "like" isn't exactly the word I would use. More like, admire. I saw it with a Q & A after the film and I definitely appreciated it more after hearing the director's thoughts. So, then why have I put this film on my list? Well, like Drive, it was selected to compete at Cannes this year. And I really like the stylized worlds that Winding Refn creates. (I wanted that scorpion coat that Gosling sported in Drive.) But, the main reason is Ryan Gosling. He's one of my favorite actors working today (well, before he goes on a break!) and I really look forward to his films. The fact that Kristin Scott Thomas co-stars as his mother is just even more of an incentive.
Blue Jasmine (July 26)
Another year, another Woody Allen film. I had previously written about the casting of this film (back when it was rumored to star Bradley Cooper and set in Copenhagen). Turns out the only thing that worked out from those initial reports is that Cate Blanchett is, in fact, starring in the film. But Woody is working back here in the states for this one–it's set in New York and San Francisco. Blanchett stars as a rich housewife (married to Alec Baldwin) who is dumped for a younger woman (I don't know if I can believe this plot. Who leaves Cate Blanchett?) and end ups in the California city. The film also stars an odd assortment of actors: Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins, Louis C.K., and, strangest of all, Andrew Dice Clay. Maybe she takes up a career as a stand-up comedian?
I did not see last year's To Rome With Love– I did not hear good things about it. But, I enjoy a Woody Allen film and, most importantly, I love a Cate Blachett anything.
Fruitvale Station (July 26)
Like this list's fellow film, The Bling Ring, this Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award winner from Sundance will be shown at Cannes in the Un Certain Regard. It also received a name change this week from Fruitvale to Fruitvale Station. The film is based on the true story of the day in the life of Oakland resident Oscar Grant. Early in the morning of New Year's Day 2009, Grant was arrested with others at the Fruitvale Station on the BART subway system due to concerns of a fight. He was then shot by a police officer in the back when he tried to stand up while handcuffed. Passengers of the train recorded the incident on cellphone cameras. The film focuses on the 22-year-old's life on that day leading up to the incident.
The buzz out of Sundance was pretty strong for this film and the distribution was picked up by The Weinstein Company, so you know that Harvey is gonna push this for Oscars for Best Picture and for star Michael B. Jordan. (Jordan starred on the shows The Wire and Friday Night Lights, but I know him as the recovering alcoholic that dated Hattie on NBC's Parenthood. Guys, it's a good show. You should watch it). Things that are a hit at Sundance don't always receive the same reception as they do at the festival (the light-headedness due to the altitude change is blamed as a factor), but with Harvey and Cannes, it's looking like this film could definitely make an impact.