July 27-August 24
al Fresco Film festo
Like last year's Bill Murray bonanza, the Atlantic Film Festival's annual waterfront fest features a single actor as well: Johnny Depp. While we would've liked to see Benny & Joon or Crybaby, we're very happy to report there are no damn Pirates. The schedule: Edward Scissorhands (July 27), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (August 3), Alice in Wonderland (August 10), What's Eating Gilbert Grape (August 17) and Ed Wood (August 24). al Fresco also has a Tall Ships line-up featuring Master and Commander (July 19), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (whoops, July 20), White Squall (July 21) and The Bounty (July 22). Halifax waterfront, $5 suggested donation, atlanticfilm.com
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
We don't make the films, we just report them. While the title makes it sound very much like the prestige production of SyFy's summer MOW series, this is a real serious movie. Well, a real movie. Here's the synopsis, presented without further comment: "President Lincoln's mother is killed by a supernatural creature, which fuels his passion to crush vampires and their slave-owning helpers. The secret life of our nation's favourite president...as history's greatest hunter of the undead."
So every Pixar movie is about a lost dude needing to find his way home, or to himself, or both. This is the first story featuring a girl as the protagonist---but will she have a mother? A nation holds its breath---which is why you haven't seen a single ad for it. Merida is an archer and she defies some dudes---one is named Lord MacGuffin, nice going---and asks a witch for help so this at least takes place in the time before Snow White, and then she has to undo a curse, which is a different story except for the part where she has to "discover the meaning of true bravery" which is basically women's magazine lingo for "finding yourself." A bunch of Brits are the voices.
Surprise of the year: Channing Tatum. Despite his close-eyed generic lunkness, dude gets more likable with each performance, and showed off mad comic chops in 21 Jump Street. He's no Gosling or Gordon-Levitt, but he has an acute sense of self-awareness that makes him more fun than either of those guys, and Magic Mike is proof of that. Directed by Steven Soderbergh---who can go either way, let's face it---it's based on Tatum's early Hollywood years as a stripper. Lots of bums abound. Is there a good story? Look, BUMS!
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Lorene Scafaria makes her directorial debut with this light comedy about the apocalypse starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. Carell wants to find his dream girl before the world is no more, and Knightley decides to help. (See: Title.) Scafaria wrote the delightful Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist---there's a lot of goodwill for someone who made Michael Cera appealing---but if Carell and Knightley have any sort of romantic involvement---AT ALL---this thing will sink fast.
Take This Waltz
Sarah Polley's directorial follow-up to her Oscar-nominated Away From Her took its sweet time getting to the general public, considering her pedigree and her stars, Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen. It debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival last September! Rogen and Williams are happily married until Williams falls for Luke Kirby (not her husband). Whoops! Sarah Silverman is also involved, and Jenn Grant's awesome song "Parachutes" scores the first half of the trailer. A little bit of the movie was shot here, try to guess which parts!
To Rome With Love
Normally we sigh with fatigue upon the release of a new Woody Allen film, but this one's got both Ellen Page AND Greta Gerwig so we'll muddle through somehow. Confusingly originally titled The Bop Decameron, To Rome With Love finds a handful of hipster types---including Jesse Eisenberg and Alison Pill---doing stuff in Italy with some other people---among them Allen, Alec Baldwin, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis---and probably inappropriately coupling. Just hoping it doesn't start with an endless montage of Rome scenes the way Midnight in Paris did.
This is not a 3D version of the awesome Tamara Jenkins movie---you can't just do that, Oliver Stone---instead, this Mexican drug cartel movie is Tim Riggins' last chance at legitimate movie stardom in 2012 after the critical tanking of both John Carter and Battleship. (No one cares what makes money "overseas" except studio execs; it has no bearing on an actor's actual ability.) This has an interesting cast including Salma Hayek, Aaron Johnson, Benicio Del Toro and Blake Lively's ass; Stone's record has been spotty for about a decade...anything could happen. Lively gets smacked in the face right in the trailer. That's some edgy shit. (/sarcasm)
The Amazing Spider-Man
It's always nice to see Emma Stone and the director is Marc Webb, who has only directed one other movie (and it was (500) Days of Summer!), and it's probably a make or break movie for Andrew Garfield AKA Spidey, but it's only been five years since the last Spider-Man and that was a third one as it was. If I were a comic book person, I would be mad about how often I pay to see the same shit with different people over and over. It's like fanfic come to life!
The Dark Knight Rises
You know the deal: Bats fighting evil, with some bureaucratic red tape in the way, by the looks of it. (Nobody actually knows.) Anne Hathaway is Catwoman. These movies should be sponsored by Throat Coat tea.
Real-life loves Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (not Zosia Mamet from Girls nor Juno Temple from Greenberg; they should do something about sisters) star in this very twindie-looking rom-com written by Kazan and directed by the couple who helmed Little Miss Sunshine. Dano is a struggling author who writes the titular Ruby (Kazan) into existence. Annette Bening, Steve Coogan and Alia Shawkat are also involved.
Step Up Revolution
It's not really Step Up 4 because there is no one from the first three involved; they're just pop-locking on the brand. It's probably terrible, but even the worst dance movies have great dance sequences, and besides, have some respect for the series that gave you Channing Tatum!
The Bourne Legacy
Because no franchise is un-rebootable! Jeremy Renner continues to pretend he never starred in that cop show with Amber Tamblyn and takes over from Matt Damon, who maybe died in the last one (SPOILER?), I didn't see it (SPOILER!). Joan Allen is still glowering her bad ass around, while Rachel Weisz takes over the Franka Potente love interest role that is probably very nuanced and three-dimensional (in the writing way). Renner isn't even named Bourne.
Celeste and Jesse Forever
Rashida Jones ("Ann Perkins!") co-wrote and stars in this Sundance fave with Andy Samberg as a divorcing couple trying to stay friends. If you've seen an indie comedy you know how it will go. The director, Lee Toland Krieger, has a totally douchey ponytailed photo on the IMDb. Co-starring Ari Graynor, Emma Roberts and Elijah Wood.
"As the nation states Euromerica and New Shanghai vie for supremacy, a factory worker (Colin Farrell) begins to suspect that he's a spy, though he is unaware which side of the fight he's on." Like a remake but not exactly.
Did you know Meryl Streep is now considered a tentpole of summer? How great is that! She climbs out of the dreadfully dull Iron Lady to play the lady half of a couple (Tommy Lee Jones is her husband) in therapy (Steve Carell is the therapist). Seems like smart counter-programming for the Oxford set, and Streep's Devil Wears Prada director David Frankel, is at the helm, so all in all it's probably a totally fine thing to take your Mom to on a Sunday afternoon.
2 Days in New York
French juggernaut Julie Delpy follows up her directorial debut 2 Days in Paris with a sequel of sorts---her Marion has broken up with Adam Goldberg and moved to the States where she now lives with Chris Rock. Then her family decides to visit---zut alors! As in the first film, Delpy's parents play Marion's parents, but Delpy seems to have more of a budget this time, handing over the editing and scoring to others, but keeping the screenplay credit.
Red Hook Summer
"Please tell them that this is not a motherfucking sequel to Do the Right Thing!" Spike Lee screamed at a reportedly bewildered audience at the Sundance premiere of Red Hook Summer, in which the director appears as Mookie, from Do the Right Thing. It's actually about an Atlanta youth who spends the summer in Brooklyn with his religious grandfather. Lee is a polarizing filmmaker, and when he misses he misses all the way (She Hate Me!), but he's never boring.
Jay Roach's resume is mostly comprised of the rotting carcasses of the Austin Powers and Meet the Parents series, but he pulled out a neat one with Dinner for Schmucks in 2010, and Will Ferrell---if he's actually trying---and Zach Galifianakis facing off as Southern political rivals sounds just awesome, so maybe this will be a late summer breakout.
Terrible title and premise, looks awful. However: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a bike courier.