Tag Archives: summer movies

Magic Mike (2012)

Let’s get this out of the way first: I am a young woman. So, yes, ostensibly I am in the “correct” demographic for Magic Mike. But I should also say that I would have almost zero interest in this film if it weren’t for its director, and the fairly positive reviews it’s received. Watching a bunch of beefcakes strip on screen doesn’t really gel with what I usually go to the movies to see. So yes – you could say that I went into Magic Mike a little skeptical.

As you’ve probably heard by now, Channing Tatum used to be a stripper, and in Magic Mike he plays the title character – a stripper. Also along for the ride is Matthew McConaughey as Dallas, the aging owner of the strip club, as well as British prettyboy Alex Pettyfer as Adam, one of the club’s new recruits. But while director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Oceans Eleven) certainly does make the best of his extremely toned cast in all the ways you’d expecting (in other words: there’s a lot of stripping), he also manages to tell a compelling human interest story amidst all the thongs and dollar bills.

In fact, Steven Soderbergh structured Magic Mike in a really smart way. There are lots of quiet scenes, and on the whole, the movie is actually a fairly small character study. But by having the high-energy strip club performance scenes interspersed throughout, the movie moves along at a steady clip and feels more accessible than some of Soderbergh’s other “passion projects”. (Whether you see this as a good thing or simply a money grab will probably depend on what kind of Soderbergh fan you are.) And despite all these shifts in tone, Magic Mike feels very evenly paced. Everything that happens in the movie feels authentic to the character that Mike is set up to be, and sometimes a big part of the fun is watching how his day life differs so wildly from his secondary “stripper” lifestyle.

And, I have to say, a lot of this believability stems from Tatum’s performance. Until this year, I had no use for Channing Tatum, and I did not see the appeal. But between 21 Jump Street and now this, I have to give the guy some credit. Of course, he has the moves and charisma to pull off the stripper aspect, but his performance goes well beyond that. There’s one scene in particular, where Mike goes to apply for a loan to get his business endeavours off the ground. He dresses himself up and turns on the charm, but things don’t go as planned. This is such a little, intimate scene, and it relies pretty much solely on Tatum to convey Mike’s vulnerability, and how much he’s out of his league. Tatum nails this scene, and he brings that same surprising depth to much of the rest of the film.

Matthew McConaughey is also pretty fantastic here. Again, I’m really not much of a McConaughey fan at all, but he too has been making smart role choices recently. He offers up enough slimy charm in Magic Mike to steal every one of his scenes, and he somehow manages to make the whole club environment seem fun and absolutely horrible at the same time.

The other star of this movie is its style and cinematography. Any scene that takes place outside of the strip club feels so Soderbergh-y. And, for me, this worked really well. There are so many beautifully composed shots here, and I loved the sepia-tinged look of daylight world. I’m not sure how well these more “artful” elements will sit with general audiences, but if you’re a Soderbergh fan worried that this will be too sanitized, fear not. If you dug the style of his last film, Haywire, you’ll probably like this.

That’s not to say that Magic Mike is some arty, experimental indie flick. Its budget is modest ($7 million), but it’s also got plenty of your standard Hollywood tropes. Especially in the third act, there’s plenty of drama and romance designed to keep your typical moviegoer attentive. And the script, while pretty good for this kind of movie, offers up a few lines of dialogue that feel rather cliché and false.

Part of me wishes that Soderbergh would have gone even weirder and less neat with it all, but at the same time, he did a pretty impressive job of balancing genuine style with an entertaining, commercially viable movie. And, thankfully, he doesn’t tie everything up in a neat little bow. I’m not saying this is Shame or anything (some of the melodrama – especially in the third act – feels pretty shallow and “Hollywood”), but Soderbergh does cultivate a nice dark-ish undercurrent to it all.

On the whole, Magic Mike may not be anything new, but I think it’ll please a surprisingly wide swath of filmgoers; It’s got plenty of abs for those who are there for the eye candy, it offers enough character development to placate those looking for a little more substance to go with it, and it even has some beautiful camerawork to satisfy film geeks like myself. Most importantly, though, if I go to a big summer movie, I want it to be fun. Magic Mike certainly manages to be that, and also a little more substantial.

7.5/10

Summer Movie Preview: May

Oh, summer movies. The summer movie season is never as thrillingly spectacular to me as it is to some, but it always seems much better in comparison to the January-April void we’ve just endured. It officially (?) kicks off in just a few days, so here’s my preview of the first month of summer (?) at the cineplex: May!

May 4

Hmm…what’s that little indie flick called? Oh, that’s right.
The Avengers. Buzz has already reached a fever pitch (especially if you’re a Tom Hiddleston fan who uses Tumblr), and positive reviews are only confirming the fact that The Avengers will be the most awesomely epic film of
ALL TIME. If you’re curious (you’re not) about what my favourite pre-Avengers Avengers movie is, it’s Thor.

However, if you hate superheroes and love old people, you’ll still have something to see this weekend, because The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens in limited release. I saw this trailer at every damn movie I went to in the past four months (what does that say about the movies I go to see?) and while the movie looks significantly less charming on my fifth viewing of the trailer, Bill Nighy has yet to stop charming me. Also opening in limited release is the dreadful-looking Miley Cyrus romp LOL, the dreadful-looking Kate Hudson romp A Little Bit of Heaven (Gael Garcia Bernal, what are you doing???), and the misleadingly titled slasher flick Mother’s Day.

May 11

I had heard people mock the Dark Shadows trailer for weeks before I actually watched it myself, but after finally being forced to endure the preview at the theatre, I have to say that this movie looks…strange. Johnny Depp has considerable charm, sure, but I’m not sure who this movie is marketed towards. The Twilight set? Middle-aged women? Teenage boys? I don’t know. These Burton/Depp collaborations always seem to do well, though, and this one probably will, too. We’ll see if it’s actually any good.

A whole whack of movies come out in limited release this week, so I’ll just mention two that look interesting to me. First is A Bag of Hammers. This drama stars Jason Ritter and Rebecca Hall (both of whom I like quite a bit) but the main appeal for me is the soundtrack, which was done by British folk artist Johnny Flynn. If you haven’t checked out Flynn’s music, you should do so. The other movie is Tonight You’re Mine, which is a romantic comedy that came out in the UK last year under the title You Again. It stars Natalia Tena (Tonks!) and Luke Treadaway (who I thought was very charming in Attack the Block) as two musicians who get handcuffed together at a music festival they’re both supposed to perform at. Could be cheesy, could be fun. Could be both.

May 18

Battleship might already be the most derided film of the summer, and in a couple of short weeks, we’ll get to see if it’s as bad as basic logic would suggest. Look, I loved Taylor Kitsch on Friday Night Lights, but this blockbuster action star role doesn’t seem to suit him terribly well. Liam Neeson, though.

Also out this week is the Sacha Baron Cohen comedy The Dictator (May 16). I’m not totally sold on him doing a mostly scripted comedy as one of his farcical characters (for me, the most interesting part of Borat was watching Regular Folks react to his outlandish behaviour), but I’d be glad to be proven wrong. Anna Faris, John C. Reilly, and Ben Kingsley give me more hope.

I think I know exactly what to expect from What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Sophmoric humour that ham-fistedly reinforces gender stereotypes, perhaps? There are some talented and funny people in this cast, certainly. But also a lot of really, really annoying ones.

On a smaller scale, Hysteria stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy and tells the story of how the vibrator came to be. Should be interesting. Also, Murgan Spurlock’s documentary about beards, Mansome,
will give us a behind-the-scenes look at the facial grooming rituals of Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Paul Rudd, and some other funny men. As well, Dustin Lance Black’s directorial debut, Virginia (previously titled What’s Wrong With Virginia), finally receives a public release after getting panned at TIFF 2010. The film stars Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris, and Emma Roberts.

May 25

Two uninteresting major releases this week. Men In Black III is happening for some reason, though at least the cast includes Josh Brolin and Bill Hader. Alternatively, Jesse McCartney (!!) gets to try his hand at the Dead Teenager Movie with Chernobyl Diaries. Hey, maybe it’ll turn out to actually be really good, like Chronicle! Yeah, probably not…

In limited release is one of the month’s more interesting offerings, Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. I’m not quite enamoured with Anderson as a director (though I do love Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums), but I’m always curious to see what he’ll do next. Throw in Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, and Frances McDormand, and I’m sold.

2011 Summer Movie Preview: June

Here’s the next instalment of my Summer Movie Preview. It’s the same format as the one I did for May, except I’m adding my own synopses, rather than the studio ones. I just found that most of the “official” synopses were too long, and in some cases, it seemed like they gave away too much of the movie.

There are actually some pretty good looking releases coming out in June. Is it just me, or is 2011 shaping up to be a good summer movie season? So much was made about last summer’s atrocious offerings, but there have already been several well-reviewed blockbusters (Bridesmaids, Fast Five, Thor), and with promising-looking fare like X-Men, Super 8, and Crazy Stupid Love coming up, I’m actually pretty happy with how the summer is shaping up!

= Possible awards contender

= Times Like Those pick

= Probable cash cow

= Indie with breakthrough potential

= Looks like a turd

 

June 3


Beautiful Boy

Starring: Michael Sheen, Maria Bello, Kyle Gallner

Director: Shawn Ku

Synopsis: Sheen and Bello play a married couple with a rocky relationship. This tenuous bond is then tested to the extreme following a traumatic event involving their teenage son.

My Take: This isn’t going to be a major release, but I always like to highlight the work of Michael Sheen, who manages to be everywhere (even in Tron!) but still remains woefully underrated. This bleak-sounding drama got fairly strong reviews out of TIFF, and Sheen earned praise from many critics. (Limited release)

 


Beginners

Starring: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent

Director: Mike Mills

Synopsis: McGregor plays the son of Plummer and must deal with his father’s revelations that he is gay and battling cancer.

My Take: The trailer is utterly charming, and hopefully the rest of the film will live up to it. Plummer could be the first Oscar contender of the year, but he’ll have to sustain the momentum for quite a while. I’m also interested to see McGregor in a mature character study like this – I think he has the low-key charm to pull it off. (Limited release)

 

Submarine

Starring: Craig Roberts, Sally Hawkins, Paddy Considine

Director: Richard Ayoade

Synopsis: 15-year-old Oliver tries to lose his virginity before his next birthday, and also chase away his mom’s ex-boyfriend.

My Take: This quirky-looking British comedy is by first-time director Ayoade (better known as an actor on the UK series The IT Crowd), but it already has some nice buzz around it. The young star, Craig Roberts (who already made his debut to American audiences this year in Jane Eyre) is getting good reviews, and Sally Hawkins is a welcome addition to any movie. (Limited release)

 


X-Men: First Class


Starring: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult, January Jones, Rose Byrne, Kevin Bacon, Zoe Kravitz, Caleb Landry Jones, Lucas Till, Oliver Platt

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Synopsis: Before they were Professor X and Megneto, Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr were two really good-looking, totally not-bald guys who weren’t always trying to kill each other. And X-Men: First Class tells the origin story of the X-Men mutants set against a Cold War backdrop.

My Take: If you’re bored by all of the human-interest indie movies coming out this work, don’t worry! No summer week at the theatre would be complete without a new blow-shit-up blockbuster. This one just happens to look better than most of them, because it’s got a kick-ass (pun intended) cast. The trailers look pretty good, and I appreciate the retro-type vibe they’re going for. This is probably the only superhero movie of the year that I’m excited for.

 

June 10

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

(I refuse to provide a picture, because all of them were too annoying.)


Starring: Jordana Beatty, Heather Graham, Parris Mosteller

Director: John Schultz

Synopsis: It’s like Bezus and Ramona, but without Selena Gomez.

My Take: This movie was clearly not made for my demographic. But just from the poster, I’m going to wager that it’s not particularly well-made, even for what it’s trying to be.

 

Super 8

Starring: Kyle Chandler, Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, AJ Michalka, Noah Emmerich

Director: J.J. Abrams

Synopsis: A small town is shaken up by mysterious happenings following a nearby train crash.

My Take: I’m not really into the stereotypical “nerd” culture (I don’t read comic books or watch Doctor Who or any Joss Whedon shows, etc.) but J.J. Abrams is the one man who can bring out some of my truly geeky tendencies. So naturally, I was intrigued by the secretive film project that he planned to follow-up Star Trek. I still don’t really know what it’s about (and I think that’s a good thing), but it looks pretty awesome, in an E.T. kind of way. Elle Fanning is one of my favourite young actresses, and I will watch Coach Taylor Kyle Chandler in anything. Probably my most anticipated film of the summer.

 

June 17


The Art of Getting By


Starring: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser, Alicia Silverstone

Director: Gavin Wiesen

Synopsis: Misanthropic teenager George (Highmore) falls for his unlikely friend, Sally (Roberts).

My Take: This is the kind of movie that I tend to love, but somehow the idea of the story didn’t really appeal to me. (Maybe I didn’t buy Highmore as some kind of misunderstood poet-y type? I dunno.) But after watching the trailer, I am kind of excited. It does look a little clichéd, but in a very sweet way.

 

Green Lantern

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong

Director: Martin Campbell

Synopsis: Pilot Hal Jordan (Reynolds) finds a ring that grants him super powers, but also the responsibility of keeping order in the universe.

My Take: This might be an irrational reaction, but I was kind of mad when I heard that Peter Sarsgaard was going to be in this movie. The filmmakers completely wasted his talent in a ho-hum role in Knight & Day, and I fear the same will happen here. I like Reynolds, and Campbell directed the hell out of Casino Royale, but I am not excited at all for this.

 

Mr. Popper’s Penguins


Starring: Jim Carrey, Carla Gugino, Angela Lansbury, Phillip Baker Hall

Director: Mark Waters

Synopsis: Based on the popular children’s book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins tells the story of a businessman who must care for six penguins.

My Take: Wait, this is a real thing?

 

June 24


Bad Teacher

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel

Director: Jake Kasdan

Synopsis: A rebellious teacher reeks havoc in a middle school, and some romantic stuff probably ensues.

My Take: The premise couldn’t be less inspired, but the trailer seemed charming enough. Diaz can be good at screwy kinds of roles like this, and it’s nice to still see her getting lead roles. As well, Timberlake is proving to be a charismatic actor, and Jason Segel always brings the perfect balance of warmth and zaniness to his work. I’m mostly interested in this movie for him.

 

Cars 2

Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Cheech Marin, Jason Isaacs, Bonnie Hunt

Director: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis

Synopsis: Cars abroad!

My Take: I didn’t care for the first one, and I can’t see how a second instalment is necessary.

 

June 29

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

?

Starring: Shia LaBouef, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Tyrese Gibson, Josh Duhamel, John Malkovich

Director: Michael Bay

Synopsis: I’m just going to paste the studio synopsis, because it literally makes no sense to me (and, sadly, I’ve seen both of the previous films):

“The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets”

My Take: There’s something about the Transformers franchise that makes me optimistic with each new instalment, as ridiculous as that always proves to be. I didn’t think the first film was very good, and the second one was literally one of the worst, most incomprehensible films of recent memory. I think I may have slipped into a comatose state while watching it. Yet I can’t help but be a little bit hopeful for this. I think it’s because of the potential that the series has. Michael Bay knows how to create a spectacle. Now, if only he knew how to create a spectacle that didn’t involve indecipherable extreme close-ups on action, editing that caters exclusively to the ADD set, shameless objectification of women, and arguably racist stereotypes. Who knows – maybe this will be the one. (Also, LaBouef has gone on record saying he had some problems with the second film, and he claims that the script for Dark Side of the Moon is the best of the series yet. Take from that what you will.)

2011 Summer Movie Preview: May

With the release of Thor this past weekend, it’s officially the summer movie season. And there are some pretty massive movies on the horizon. But there are also some promising-looking smaller films that I hope won’t get lost in the shuffle. So here’s an in-depth look at the next four months at the cinema.

= Possible awards contender

= Times Like Those pick

= Probable cash cow

= Indie with breakthrough potential

= Looks like a turd

 

May 6

The Beaver

Starring: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones

Director: Jodie Foster

Official Synopsis: “An emotional story about a man on a journey to re-discover his family and re-start his life. Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black (Gibson) was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can’t seem to get himself back on track…until a beaver hand puppet enters his life.”

My Take: Remember when Mel Gibson used to be a draw at the cineplex? Well, now his movies are getting delayed and opening inconspicuously in very limited release. Nonetheless, the premise of The Beaver is bizarrely intriguing, and the trailer was a pleasant surprise. It looks like a heartfelt family indie dramedy, which is widely known to be my favourite type of movie. And between this and Like Crazy, I am suddenly very interested in Anton Yelchin. Oh, right, and there’s that beaver puppet, too. (Limited release; expands May 20)

Jumping the Broom

Starring: Angela Basset, Paula Patton, Julie Bowen, Laz Alonso, Loretta Devine

Director: Salim Akil

Official Synopsis: “A collision of worlds when two African-American families from divergent socioeconomic backgrounds get together one weekend in Martha’s Vineyard for a wedding.”

My Take: This might sound bad, but these sorts of comedies with predominantly African-American casts (see also: Tyler Perry films) never get nearly as much attention in Canada as they do in the U.S., so I really don’t know anything about this film. I really thought it had something to do with witches, but apparently not.

Last Night

Starring: Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes, Guillame Canet

Director: Massy Tadjedin

Official Synopsis: “Set in New York City, Last Night is the story of a married couple that while apart for one night, is confronted by temptation that may decide the fate of their marriage.”

My Take: It seems like this movie has been kicking around forever, which probably isn’t a good sign. It could be taught and suspenseful, or it could be boring, and even though it’ll probably fall into the latter category, I’ll probably still check it out at some point. (Limited release)

Something Borrowed

Starring: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, John Krasinski

Director: Luke Greenfield

Official Synopsis: “Rachel (Goodwin) is a talented attorney at a top New York law firm, a generous and loyal friend, and, unhappily, still single –as her engaged best friend Darcy (Hudson) is constantly reminding her. But after celebrating her 30th birthday, perpetual good girl Rachel unexpectedly ends up in the arms of the guy she’s had a crush on since law school, Dex (Egglesfield)…who just happens to be Darcy’s fiancé. As one thing leads to another in the frantic weeks leading up to Darcy’s wedding, Rachel finds herself in an impossible situation, caught between her treasured friendship with Darcy and the love of her life.”

My Take: The trailers look absolutely wretched, and the movie seems to be filled with whiny, unlikeable people handling situations as poorly as they possibly can. Not even John Krasinski can pique my interest in this one.

Thor


Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgard, Anthony Hopkins, Kat Dennings, Idris Elba

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Official Synopsis: “At the center of the story is The Mighty Thor, a powerful but arrogant warrior whose reckless actions reignite an ancient war. As a result, Thor is banished to Earth where he is forced to live among humans. When the most dangerous villain of his world sends its darkest forces to invade Earth, Thor learns what it takes to be a true hero.”

My Take: I probably could not have been less interested in the premise, and the trailers didn’t really do anything to change my mind. But Thor is getting pretty good reviews, so I may have to check it out.

May 13

Bridesmaids


Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Jon Hamm, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey

Director: Paul Feig

Official Synopsis: “Kristen Wiig leads the cast as Annie, a maid of honor whose life unravels as she leads her best friend, Lillian (Rudolph), and a group of colorful bridesmaids on a wild ride down the road to matrimony. Annie’s life is a mess. But when she finds out her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian’s maid of honor. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals. With one chance to get it perfect, she’ll show Lillian and her bridesmaids just how far you’ll go for someone you love.”

My Take: I am so happy to see Kristen Wiig get a lead role. Especially one that looks so good. It’s great that more people finally seem to realizing that women can be funny, too, and it’s great that they gave these ladies an (apparently) good film. I love the whole cast, and I’m definitely hoping to check it out in theatres.

Everything Must Go

Starring: Will Ferrell, Rebecca Hall, Glenn Howerton, Laura Dern

Director: Dan Rush

Official Synopsis: “Everything Must Go tells the story of Nick (Ferrell) a career salesman whose days of being on top are long gone. The same day Nick gets fired, for falling off the wagon one last time, he returns home to discover his wife has left him, changed the locks on their suburban home and dumped all his possessions out on the front yard. Faced with his life imploding, Nick puts it all on the line – or more properly, on the lawn – reluctantly holding a yard sale that becomes a unique strategy for survival.”

My Take: Will Ferrell has proven to be a capable dramatic actor, and Everything Must Go looks like it could be his meatiest role yet. It got good reviews at TIFF but flew under the radar a bit. And while I don’t think it will be a box office hit, it’s nice to see Ferrell trying new things. (Well, maybe he shouldn’t have tried The Office…) (Limited release)

Hesher

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Natalie Portman, Devin Brochu, Rainn Wilson, John Carol Lynch, Piper Laurie

Director: Spencer Susser

Official Synopsis: “Loud music. Pornography. Burning **** to the ground. These are a few of Hesher’s favorite things. And they are what Hesher (Gordon-Levitt) brings into the lives of TJ (Brochu) and his father, Paul (Wilson) when he takes up residence in their garage uninvited. Grief-stricken by the loss of TJ’s mother in a car accident, Paul can’t muster the strength to evict the strange squatter, and soon the long-haired, tattooed Hesher becomes a fixture in the household. Like a force of nature, Hesher’s anarchy shakes the family out of their grief and helps them embrace life once more.”

My Take: This is another one that’s been floating around in distribution purgatory for a while (if I remember correctly, it played at last year’s Sundance festival), but I can kind of understand why, based on the trailer. I’m not writing it off yet, but it does look like a…strange film. (Limited release)

Priest

Starring: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q, Lily Collins, Stephen Moyer, Karl Urban, Christopher Plummer

Director: Scott Stewart

Official Synopsis: “Priest, a western-fused post-apocalyptic thriller, is set in an alternate world — one ravaged by centuries of war between man and vampires. The story revolves around a legendary Warrior Priest (Bettany) from the last Vampire War who now lives in obscurity among the other downtrodden human inhabitants in walled-in dystopian cities ruled by the Church. When his niece (Collins) is abducted by a murderous pack of vampires, Priest breaks his sacred vows to venture out on an obsessive quest to find her before they turn her into one of them.”

My Take: Paul Bettany, what are you doing? I have no idea why he has become some kind of misguided “action” star. That said, I’m slightly curious about Lily Collins’ performance, since I thought that she was pretty good in The Blind Side (and she was one of my Up-and-Coming Actors to Watch last year). Dunno if I can stomach this one, though.

May 20

Midnight in Paris


Starring: Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Kathy Bates, Adrien Brody, Michael Sheen, Allison Pill, Carla Bruni

Director: Woody Allen

Official Synopsis: “This is a romantic comedy set in Paris about a family that goes there because of business, and two young people who are engaged to be married in the fall have experiences there that change their lives. It’s about a young man’s great love for a city, Paris, and the illusion people have that a life different from theirs would be much better.”

My Take: Well, at least Woody Allen is consistent with his one-movie-per-year approach to filmmaking. Even if his last two films (Whatever Works and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger) made almost zero impact, I’m kind of hopeful that this might be the next Vicky Christina Barcelona. I think the casting of Owen Wilson is kind of inspired, and he might suit Allen’s style surprisingly well. I’m not holding my breath, but maybe it will be a pleasant surprise. (Limited release)

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides


Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush, Sam Claflin

Director: Rob Marshall

Official Synopsis: I’m not going to bother. It’s another friggin’ Pirates movie. What do you expect?

My Take: Confession time! I’ve only seen the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and I didn’t even like it that much. I mean, it was fine, and Johnny Depp was undeniably wonderful, but once was more than enough for me. However, the trailer for this film did draw me in, and I might possibly check it out at some point. It could also (possibly) be worth watching for Sam Claflin, who made my list of up-and-coming actors to watch this year. He recently got cast in one of those Snow White movies that are coming out next year, and he’ll also star in The Seventh Son, which is apparently a big deal.

May 26

The Hangover Part II


Starring: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong

Director: Todd Phillips

Official Synopsis: “In The Hangover Part II, Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms), Alan (Galifianakis) and Doug (Bartha) travel to exotic Thailand for Stu’s wedding. After the unforgettable bachelor party in Las Vegas, Stu is taking no chances and has opted for a safe, subdued pre-wedding brunch. However, things don’t always go as planned. What happens in Vegas may stay in Vegas, but what happens in Bangkok can’t even be imagined.”

My Take: The Hangover was a fun, unexpected hit that served as a star-making vehicle for its three leads. But do we really need another one? Especially one that looks like a less funny rehashing of the original?

Kung Fu Panda 2

Starring: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Seth Rogan, Gary Oldman, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan

Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Official Synopsis: “In KUNG FU PANDA 2, Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warrior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. Po must look to his past and uncover the secrets of his mysterious origins; only then will he be able to unlock the strength he needs to succeed.”

My Take: Ah, another pointless sequel. How refreshing.

May 27

The Tree of Life


Starring: Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn

Director: Terrence Malick

Official Synopsis: The Tree of Life is the impressionistic story of a Midwestern family in the 1950’s. The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Through Malick’s signature imagery, we see how both brute nature and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and families, but all life.

My Take: Well, judging by how many times I’ve blogged about it already, I think it’s safe to assume that I’m pretty excited for The Tree of Life. I’m not a die-hard Mallick by any means (I’ve actually only seen The New World, and that was when it first came out on DVD, so I found it a bit boring at that age), but the trailer for this movie completely captivated me. I’ve probably watched it a dozen times, and I appreciate the beauty of it every time. It’s like a beautiful little stand-alone piece. Who knows how the movie will work in its entirety, but I’m certainly optimistic. (Limited release)

2010 Summer Movie Guide

= Awards Contender = Big-name Star = Potential Cash Cow = Up-and-coming Indie = My most anticipated films

May 7

Iron Man 2

Director: John Favreau

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Mickey Rourke, Gwyneth Paltrow

After the massive success of 2008’s Iron Man – and star Robert Downey Jr.’s subsequent comeback – it’s no wonder that audiences will be treated to a second helping. With some of the best actors in the business on board (Downey, Rourke, Sam Rockwell, Don Cheadle), it’d be hard for this sequel to fail.

Also Released: The documentary Babies, which captivated audiences with its adorable trailer, and two small Oscar-baity films: Mother and Child (which is already giving Annette Bening Oscar buzz), and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll (which earned Andy Serkis a BAFTA nom when it was released in the UK last year). Other indie releases include Multiple Sarcasms
(Timothy Hutton, Mira Sorvino), Solitary Man (Michael Douglas, Jesse Eisenberg, Susan Sarandon), and The Trotsky, which stars Jay Baruchel as a teen who is convinced that he is the reincarnation of Leon Trotsky.

May 14

Ridley Scott teams up with Russell Crowe for the fifth time with his action remake Robin Hood (also starring Cate Blanchett), while Amanda Seyfried continues her date movie run with the ostensibly romantic Letters to Juliet. Also, Queen Latifa and rapper-turned-actor Common star in Just Wright, a rom-com about a basketball player who falls for his physical therapist.

May 21

Macgruber

Director: Jorma Taccone

Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillippe

Movies based on SNL skits were common in the 90’s (Wayne’s World, A Night at the Roxbury, Superstar, etc.), but this MacGyver spoof is the first one to hit theatres in ten years. It’s clearly going for a hard R-rating, and if it can bring the proper mix of raunch and genuine humour, it could work.

Also Released: The last instalment in the wildly popular Shrek franchise, Shrek Forever After. Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and Antonio Bandaras all return to lend their voices. Also, Holly Rollers, starring Jesse Eisenberg as a Hasidic drug runner opens in limited release.

May 28

Fans of the TV series will be happy to see Carrie Bradshaw and friends going global in Sex and the City 2
(Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristen Davis, and Cynthia Nixon all reprise their roles). Meanwhile, history buffs can check out Jake Gyllenhaal as an action hero in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and Rachel Weisz as an ancient Egyptian slave in Agora. As well, director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) brings us the fanciful Micmacs, and George A. Romero presents the zombie flick Survival of the Dead.

June 4

Splice

Director: Vincenzo Natali

Starring: Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley

In the first of Brody’s two sci-fi films coming out this summer (huh?), he and Polley play scientists who become embroiled in the task of combining human and animal DNA. This small, smart thriller may not find much of an audience, but it looks like the best horror film coming out this summer.

Get Him to the Greek

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Starrng: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Rose Byrne

This spin-off film revolves around Brand’s Aldous Snow character from 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The zany “we have to get him to the gig!” premise may wear thin quickly, but with comedic talent such as Brand and Hill on board, there are sure to be laughs had.

Ondine

Director: Neil Jordan

Starring: Alicja Bachleda, Colin Farrell

After gaining good buzz from its premiere at last year’s Toronto Internal Film Festival, Ondine is now receiving Oscar buzz for lead actress Bachleda. Jordan’s (The Brave One) drama about a man who finds a mermaid may not be the most conventional summer film, but it certainly sounds intriguing.

Also released: The Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Hiegel vehicle, Killers, which
is likely to rake in big money at the box office. And for the kids, Owen Wilson lends his voice to the adaption of the comic strip Mamaduke.

June 11

The A-Team

Director: Joe Carnahan

Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Sharto Copley, Quintin Jackson, Jessica Biel, Patrick Wilson

With a film veteran (Neeson), a new superstar (Cooper) and a promising up-and-comer (District 9‘s Copley), there is a lot to be hopeful about with this re-boot of the classic 80’s TV show. Here’s hoping that it strives to be more than a big, dumb action movie.

Also Released: The Jackie Chan and Jayden Smith reboot of the 80’s classic, The Karate Kid. And though you’ll have to look hard to find it, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize Winner, Winter’s Bone, is going into limited release.

June 18

Cyrus

Directors: Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass

Starring: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Catherine Keener, Marisa Tomei

The Duplass brothers (Baghead, The Puffy Chair) are known as forbearers of the mumblecore movement, but their latest movie is a story of a man (Reilly) who is terrorized by his new girlfriend’s overly protective son, Cyrus (Hill). With bigger names and good buzz from Sundance, Cyrus could be the Duplass brothers’ breakthrough to the mainstream.

Toy Story 3

Director: Lee Unkrich

Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusak

The third instalment in the Toy Story franchise is finally here, and it’s likely to find new fans that weren’t even born when the earlier films were realised. Pixar has been on a run with Ratatouille, Wall-E, and Up, and here’s hoping that Toy Story 3 won’t break the streak.

The Killer Inside Me

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Starring: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson

In his first film since 2007, Casey Affleck stars as a homicidal sheriff who is assigned to investigate murders that he himself has committed in The Killer Inside Me. It will likely struggle to find an audience (the film’s explicit portrayal of violence against women had viewers walking out of its Sundance screening), but Affleck’s presence may convince some film fans to give it a chance.

Also Released: Yet another comic book adaptation, Jonah Hex (starring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, and John Malkovich) and I am Love, which finds Tilda Swinton showing off her Italian.

June 25

Two films full of star power hit the screen on June 25. The comedy Grown Ups (Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, David Spade) finds five childhood friends reuniting, while Knight and Day (Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) continues this year’s trend of action-based rom-coms.

June 30

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse finds protagonists Bella and Edward (Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson) going to battle with their vampire friends, while The Last Airbender (directed by M. Night Shyamalan) brings the popular children’s TV series to the big screen. Also looking for a comeback is director Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys), who
returns to his teen film roots with Twelve, a drama about a young drug dealer (Chace Crawford).

July 9

The Kids Are All Right

Director: Lisa Cholodenko

Starring: Julianne Moore, Annette Bening, Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hutcherson, Mia Wasikowska

This comedy about two lesbians’ kids trying to find their biological father earned critical praise at Sundance, and boasts an all-star cast. Mainstream audiences may not be ready for the subject matter, but it has the potential to become the sleeper hit of the summer.

Also released: Despicable Me, a cartoon featuring an top-notch comedic vocal cast (Steve Carrell, Kristen Wiig, Jason Segel, Will Arnett) and Predators, which inexplicably stars Adrien Brody. For horror buffs, [REC] 2 is a sequel to the Spanish film that inspired 2008’s Quarantine.

July 16


Inception

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard

Christopher Nolan’s Inception is one of the most anticipated films of the summer, despite the fact that no one knows what it’s about. After 2008’s The Dark Knight, expectations are high, but with its exciting trailers and exceptional cast, it’s sure to draw a big crowd.

Also released: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the fantasy film that’ll keep Jay Baruchel’s big year alive (also starring Nicholas Cage). Another up-and-coming actor, Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds), has a French/Russian drama called The Concert opening in limited release.

July 23

Angelina Jolie’s latest vehicle, Salt, finds her as a CIA agent on the run, while Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, and Zach Galifianakis star in Dinner for Schmucks, in which they compete to find the dumbest person to bring to a dinner party. Also, Ramona and Beezus (starring teen star Selena Gomez) adapts the popular Beverly Cleary book series, and Todd Solondz brings audiences his latest ensemble piece, Life During Wartime.

July 30

Charlie St. Cloud

Director: Burr Steers

Starring: Zac Efron, Kim Bassinger

In his first fully dramatic role since High School Musical, heartthrob Zac Efron stars in Charlie St. Cloud, which centers around a young cemetery caretaker who attempts to connect with his deceased brother. It has the potential to be dumb, or, if Efron handles the lead role well, surprisingly good.

Get Low

Director: Aaron Schneider

Starring: Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek, Lucas Black

It was supposed to be a contender for the 2009 Oscars, but Get Low got pushed to a summer release. However, star Robert Duvall is still getting buzz for his performance as an elderly man who wants to plan a premature “funeral party” for himself. An unconventional summer release, but certainly interesting.

Also Released: Beastly, a fantasy romance starring Zac Efron’s real life girlfriend, Vanessa Hudgens (same release date? How adorable…), and the totally unnecessary sequel, Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Indie releases include I Love You Phillip Morris, a controversial film, which finds Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor getting cozy, and The Extra Man (starring Kevin Kline, Paul Dano, John C. Reilly).

August 6

The Other Guys

Director: Adam McKay

Starring: Will Farrell, Mark Wahlberg, Samuel L. Jackson

Will Ferrell takes a break from his sports comedies to co-star with Mark Wahlberg as a cop in this action comedy. Farrell has saved some pretty weak material in the past, so even though the trailer was underwhelming, I still hold hope for this one.

Also Released: The eye-roll-inducing Step Up 3-D, and Middle Men, a crime comedy starring Giovanni Ribisi and Luke Wilson.

August 13

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Director: Edgar Wright

Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Evans, Jason Schwartzman

This oddball adaptation of a graphic novel series finds Michael Cera as a young man who must defeat “seven evil exes” for a shot at his love interest’s heart.

Also Released: The ultimate guy movie of the summer, The Expendables, which stars Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, and Jason Statham is unleashed. And perhaps not coincidentally, the ultimate chick movie of the summer, Eat, Pray, Love, is also released, which stars Julia Roberts as a misguided woman who takes a worldwide journey to find herself.

August 20

The Switch

Director: Josh Gordon and Will Speck

Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis

The concept is strange – a man (Bateman) purposely replaces his sperm with that of a donor’s, unbeknownst to his friend (Aniston), who is trying to get pregnant. Yet what ensues looks like a surprisingly sweet romantic comedy, largely thanks to its two charming leads.

Also Released: Three movies which I plan to ignore completely. Takers (a bank heist movie starring Paul Walker and Zoe Saldana), Nanny McPhee Returns (starring Emma Thompson and Ralph Fiennes), and The Lottery Ticket (starring “no longer Lil” Bow Wow).

August 27

Going the Distance, starring Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, and Christina Applegate explores long-distance relationships, while Josh Radnor’s directorial indie debut, Happythankyoumoreplease, considers growing up and first love. For something entirely different, Piranha 3-D lets you see the gore from all angles, and Centurion (starring Michael Fassbender) takes on a Roman war epic.