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Hot summer film

Some of us just want to spend our summer in the dark, watching blockbusters, indies or John Hughes classics

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[ June | July | August | September ]

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opens June 18
Toy Story 3
What's that you say? You're shocked The Coast is excited about the second sequel to a Disney-produced family movie? Well, let's offer a little context to our thrill. First off, this is a Pixar production, the master storytellers behind the computer-animated pictures Up, Wall-E and Ratatouille, not only some of the best family movies of the past few years, the best movies period of the past few years. Add to that the original Toy Story and its sequel are what turned Pixar into the cultural force it is, we have good reason to believe they won't screw up a third tale of Woody, Buzz, Rex and the rest.

opens June 18
Jonah Hex
We admit, the trailer looks a bit...campy. Which is fine, but as fans of the hard-boiled western comic book, we do fear a translation from page to screen of the likes of Constantine, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where the cinematic result was just so much lamer than the source material, to the point of being embarrassing. But, as previous summers have proven, our expectations are a bit skewed. Tipping Jonah Hex into the must-see column are a couple of simple attributes: Josh Brolin is the friggin' man and those explosive crossbow bolts are friggin' cool.

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Thursdays, July 15-September 9
Carbon Arc at The Khyber
Carbon Arc is running a weekly series of films during the summer before launching into more expanded programs, screening in the Khyber Ballroom on the art space’s second floor. (The plan is to move the screenings into the Wormwoods Repertory Cinema's former home on the third floor at a later date.) These are the screenings: July 15: DIY Opening Night Party, Independent Film in Halifax,��� July 22: Beefcake, introduced by Thom Fitzgerald, July 29: Gremlins, introduced by Jason Eisener, August 5: Torque, introduced by The Coast film critic Mark Palermo, August 12: Sook-Yin Lee's Year of the Carnivore and Andrea Dorfman's Nine, introduced by Dorfman (and Lee may be in attendance), August 19: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, introduced by Bruce Barber, August 26: Up The Yangtze, introduced by Chuck Lapp, September 2: A Bug And A Bag of Weed, introduced by filmmakers Drew Hagen and Chris Cuthbertson and September 9: TBA. 8pm, The Khyber, 1588 Barrington Street, khyber.ca/carbon_arc

opens July 16
Inception
Maybe the biggest deal of the summer blockbusters, Christopher (The Dark Knight) Nolan's follow-up to his smarter-than-it-needed-to-be Batman film of 2008 is a science fiction drama looking to be one part The Matrix and one part Alex Proyas's Dark City. It's about people who steal information from dreams. Or something. What's really exciting is the presence of homegirl Ellen Page, who has yet to make a bad decision with her career. Though it's a bit weird to see her in a movie so big and glossy, opposite Leo DiCaprio himself, we suspect she chose to do it on the basis of the script and Nolan's brilliant track record, which includes Memento and The Prestige.

opens July 23
Salt
This was going to be a Michael Mann/Tom Cruise project. Now the action lead belongs to Angelina Jolie, who we find it hard to buy as a blonde (did anyone see Life or Something Like it?) but she does the jumping-onto-moving-vehicles thing quite convincingly. Helming this summer extravaganza is Phillip Noyce, a journeyman director of espionage action dramas---Patriot Games, The Saint, A Clear & Present Danger---which should make Salt a satisfying time-waster in an air-conditioned environment.

Fridays, July 23-August 27
alFresco filmFesto
A long-running tradition of outdoor screenings continues this summer---curated by the Atlantic Film Festival---with another six weeks of Friday night movies down on the waterfront, just adjacent to the Electropolis building. The screenings are on Friday nights as follows: July 23: Dirty Dancing; July 30: Easy Rider (RIP Dennis Hopper); August 6: Annie; August 13: Sixteen Candles; August 20: The Karate Kid (the original!) and August 27: Clue. If there's heavy rain, screenings will be postponed until Saturday. (Rain dates are posted on the alFresco website by 3pm on the day of the postponed screening.) And don't forget to bring a blanket or a lawn chair to sit on. 9pm, Halifax Waterfront, $5 donation, atlanticfilm.com/alfresco

opens July 30
Get Low
This grabbed our attention by just being so atypical of summer Hollywood releases, but then, every once in awhile a picture can succeed with audiences whose synapses are fried from too much 3D blockbusterism. Set in Tennessee in 1930, the film tells the fable/true story of a hermit who organized his own funeral party while he was still alive. Sounds kickass, especially if you consider the cast includes Robert Duvall, Bill Murray and Sissy Spacek, along with Gerald McRaney, who, despite being so excellent in Deadwood and Coach, we will always think of as mustachioed Rick Simon in Simon & Simon. (Yes, 1980s action TV shows are cool again. Deal with it.)

opens July 30
I Love You Phillip Morris
Already a hit in the UK, audiences there are enjoying watching Jim Carrey playing a conman who falls in love with Ewan MacGregor and spends much of the movie's running time trying to be with him. This tragi-comic drama struggled to find a North American distributor, where, if we are to understand correctly, people might be put off by a same-sex love story, despite the A-listers in the cast. Really? Last time I checked it was 2010. Sigh. You'd best glance through The Coast movie listings at the end of July, just to confirm this is indeed arriving in local cinemas.

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Opens August 6
The Other Guys
Yup, another summer comedy from Adam McKay, who helped launch Will Ferrell into the comedic stratosphere in movies such as Anchorman and Talladega Nights. Ferrell is in this one, too, but that's not why we want to see it. Nor is the presence of Samuel L. Jackson or Dwayne "We Wish He Still Called Himself The Rock" Johnson, both of whom are cool daddies. We want to see this for "Marky" Mark Wahlberg, who has a huge vein of comedy gold, and we aren't making a pun on Dirk Diggler's apparatus. We're just sayin' he's worth seeing in a comedic part, OK? As is Steve Coogan, who adds some support.

opens August 13
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
Hang onto your hats comic fans, it's finally here: The movie version of former Haligonian Bryan Lee O'Malley's comic book hero, named for a Plumtree song. (Yeah, the Atlantic fingerprints are thick on this one.) What else will make it good? It's directed by Brit genre wizard Edgar Wright, who gave us the superb one-two punch Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, with Michael Cera playing the young Torontonian who has to fight off seven evil exes to win the love of his new girlfriend, Ramona. This should give Cera a chance to be a little more edgy than his milquetoast persona---Youth in Revolt excepted---has previously allowed.

opens August 13
The Expendables
It may be hard to believe, but thanks to recent revivals of his Rocky and Rambo brands, Sylvester Stallone is back to making big-budget action movies. This time the Oscar-nominated filmmaker's idea was to get as many of the genre's stars together in one men-on-a-mission movie. Everything about this mines a nostalgic ore, and we are OK with that. Question number one: What's not to love in a picture starring Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, Eric Roberts, Jet Li, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger? Question number two: Think anything will explode in this movie?

August 13
Serenity
A Hal-Con support screening of Joss Whedon's amazing Firefly movie in 35mm at Park Lane for $6.

opens August 27
Centurion
For fans of a certain kind of movie, director Neil Marshall is one to watch: The Descent was a suspenseful surprise in 2005, and his Road Warrior/Escape From New York pastiche Doomsday won over audiences with its sheer audacity. A lesson there: It's OK to steal from the best so long as you make the end product a lot of fun. We think Centurion is going to be a lot of fun, too, about Roman soldiers battling them terrible Picts in Scotland circa AD 117. Capping off the fun, it stars 2009's coolest actor---from Hunger and Inglourious Basterds---Michael Fassbender, and The Wire's McNulty, Dominic West.

opens August 20
Lebanon
A true story told from inside a tank, by Israeli writer-director Samuel Maoz, based on his own experiences of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. The award-winning---at the 2009 Venice Film Festival---drama will offer a refreshing break from the glitz and escapism of the summer fare, if you are refreshed by a grim, non-politicized tale of grunt soldiers' helplessness in the cogs of war. Personally, we can't wait.

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opens September 3
Machete
Another project---along with Jason Eisener's Hobo With A Shotgun---borne out of the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double-feature Grindhouse, which these days only gets referred to by its constituent movies, Planet Terror and Death Proof. The best part of the cinema package were those fake trailers, and now Rodriguez has adapted his trailer as a feature-length revenge drama, with Hollywood tough-guy actor Danny Trejo in the lead and Robert De Niro, Lindsay Lohan and Don Johnson adding support. Expect lots of edged weapons.

opens September 3
The American
Dutch rock-photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn, who impressed with his Joy Division movie Control, this time offers up a hitman drama that just might make George Clooney cooler than he's been since he flirted with Jennifer Lopez in the trunk of a car in Out of Sight. Here, Clooney's character is on assignment in a small Italian village when he is beguiled by the locals, compromising his icy professionalism.

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