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Silver screen summer

Some films get all the attention during the annual season of the blockbuster. Carsten Knox is your guide to the other, better ones.

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June

A Prairie Home Companion (directed by Robert Altman)

Eighty-year-old Altman had director Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) as an insurance-required understudy on this project about the last broadcast of a beloved country music radio show. Expect the usual exquisite ensemble cast, the overlapping dialogue and rambling narrative.

Nacho Libre (Jared Hess)

Hess follows his cult phenomenon Napoleon Dynamite with this Jack Black vehicle about a priest who becomes a Mexican masked wrestler. Black in pink tights? Bring it on.

The Devil Wears Prada (David Frankel)

From the Lauren Weisberger novel—inspired by her experience working at Vogue under the ferocious Anna Wintour—this is Swimming with Sharks for the fashion set. Starring Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway.

July

A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater)

From the Philip K. Dick novel, this is Linklater’s return to the rotoscopic animation of Waking Life, where the footage is digitally painted after the fact. Keanu Reeves is an undercover police officer unknowingly addicted to a personality-splitting narcotic called Substance D; he’s also the drug dealer he’s trying to catch. Also starring Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder.

Strangers With Candy (Paul Dinello)

Trailer Park Boys isn’t the only summer movie inspired by a recent cult TV show. This is a prequel to the comedy about a 40-something former junkie who goes back to high school. Starring Amy Sedaris and Daily Show alum Stephen Colbert, who co-created the series. Check out cameos from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Lady in the Water (M. Night Shyamalan)

Many hated The Village, but there is no one in Hollywood who takes fantasy filmmaking as seriously as Mr. Shyamalan. He wrote this as a bedtime story for his daughters, about a nymph who somehow gets stuck in our reality via a suburban swimming pool. Paul Giamatti and Bryce Dallas Howard star.

Miami Vice (Michael Mann)

You’re thinking cheese, but think again. Director Mann had his sense of humour surgically removed years ago, allowing him to make chilly, cerebral fare such as Manhunter, Heat and Collateral. Do not expect loafers, pastels or blazers with the sleeves rolled up. Colin Farrell and Jaime Foxx work it as Crockett and Tubbs.

Scoop (Woody Allen)

Allen follows Match Point with another London-shot picture, this one a comedy. With Scarlett Johansson his muse, Allen has finally accepted audiences won’t believe a 21-year-old would find him attractive. He sets her up instead with Hugh Jackman.

August

Snakes on a Plane (David R. Ellis)

The biggest internet buzz of all-time will lead to a terrifically stupid movie, but maybe that’s the point. Samuel L. Jackson stars in a film project he took simply because he liked the title. We all do. You heard it here first: next summer, Snakes on a Submarine.

Clerks II (Kevin Smith)

After Jersey Girl, Smith is a filmmaker in need of career resuscitation. To do it he goes back to what he knows best: Star Wars, sex and scatology.

The Science of Sleep (Michel Gondry)

Gondry follows up The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Dave Chappelle’s Block Party with this story of man who can’t escape his dreams, starring Hispanic hunk Gael Garcia Bernal. It’s certainly worth a look, even without a Charlie Kaufman script.

Sometime

Trailer Park Boys: The Big Dirty (Mike Clattenburg)

Probably coming in early August—but no hard release date as of press time—the long awaited big screen event that will introduce our own Ricky, Julian and Bubbles to the world. If we’re lucky there’ll be action figures and fast food tie-ins.

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