We realize that you’re probably sitting at home right now, chewing your own nails off and wondering what movies are coming out this month. Maybe you’re even wondering why no one on the entire internet has said anything about them. Strange, we know.
Fortunately, Rob Hunter and Cole Abaius spent the entire month of May going to the local library, making phone calls to important producers and making fan trailers out of macaroni to make sure that you, dear reader, are in the know about what’s coming out in June.
Who did it? Directed by Tom Dey; Written by Tim Rasmussen and Vince De Meglio; Starring the voice talents of Owen Wilson, Emma Stone, George Lopez and Fergie
What is it? A giant dog who used to be a two-dimensional drawing in your Sunday newspaper gets zapped with CGI juice, talks like Owen Wilson, and thinks he’s a people.
What about it? I have to assume that there are Marmaduke fans out there because the comic has existed for far too long to prove otherwise. Either it’s popular, or it’s conveniently small enough to offset the Jumble. I doubt anyone has high hopes for this film beyond the slapstick and cheap laughs that its writers (the same who gave us License to Wed) will most likely be going for. Still, Tom Dey has delivered some capable comedies (including Shanghai Noon) so there’s a chance that this could be an easy pill to swallow or, gasp, a decent summer distraction.
Who did it? Directed by Robert Luketic; Written by Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin; Starring Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kutcher
What is it? A woman meets the man of her dreams while on vacation, they get married, and it turns out he’s a secret agent.
What about it? For some, this is the next entry in a long line of romantic comedies that Katherine Heigl is forced to be in by court order as punishment for something she did when she was younger. All of the trailers, and the fact that it’s Robert Luketic (Win a Date With Tad Hamilton, The Ugly Truth), point to it being essentially the same thing we’ve seen before. Toss in Kutcher (who has his fair share of romantic comedy detritus) and you’ve got the recipe down. Or, Luketic might bounce back to his Legally Blonde days and steer clear of his Monster-in-Law mistakes.
Who did it? Directed by Nicholas Stoller, starring Russell Brand and Jonah Hill
What is it? Two of the characters from 2008’s still funny Forgetting Sarah Marshall return, but this time they get to headline. Hill is a record label gopher sent to London to accompany Brand back to Los Angeles for a big concert.
What about it? Much like the final season of ABC’s Lost this flick is a sideways sequel of sorts. Hilarity ensues alongside inebriation, bathroom-stall sex, topless-servant shenanigans, and more. Brand seems to be a very divisive personality, but I think he’s hilarious in the first film and I expect to laugh quite a bit during this new one. So suck it haters! This is only Stoller’s second film as director (after Forgetting Sarah Marshall) but it looks like another casual and fun winner. I just hope Hill’s junk doesn’t make an appearance…
Who did it? Directed by Vincenzo Natali, starring Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley
What is it? Mad scientists, a terrifying creature, and a Canadian hottie come together in this thriller from the director of Cube. I’d see a movie with any one of those features, but all three in the same flick? Sold.
What about it?Cube is a low-budget little gem that mixes science fiction and grisly death, and Natali’s latest looks to do more of the same as two scientists cross some ethical lines and create a new life-form that grows rapidly, has violent tendencies, and eventually comes to resemble a very angry (but still sexy) Sinead O’Connor. Natali’s had a few other projects since then, but Splice looks to be his break into the mainstream. Part of that is due to the recognizable faces of Brody and Polley, but it’s also due to a major summer push from Warner Bros. It’s counter-programming done right. Hopefully.
Who did it? Directed by Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman
What is it? The grounds of a long-closed asylum were reputably haunted, but no one suspected the legend was true. Because it wasn’t. Or something.
What about it? This spooky documentary found some fans at last year’s Fantastic Fest with a tale about a real-world killer on Staten Island. To be clear, this isn’t one more horror movie done in doc style with hand-held cameras masquerading as reality… this is actually a true story. The co-directors grew up hearing the legend about a maniacal and insane killer roaming the abandoned hospital grounds, but the story became all too real when children started disappearing. Now adults, the duo have come back to investigate both the legend and the reality. Sounds creepy and worth a watch… although it may be better suited for a late night DVD viewing.
Who did it? Written and Directed by Neil Jordan; Starring Colin Farrell and Alicja Bachleda
What is it? A fisherman discovers what he believes to be a mermaid.
What about it? This film hit Toronto fairly hard last fall and then set its aim at Tribeca a few months ago. It’s been getting consistently good reviews, and the promise of a darker fairy tale is always welcome. Neil Jordan has a long history of creating strange films – from Interview with the Vampire to A Film with Me In It, and this next entry promises to deliver a fantastic story highlighted by the talent of Farrell who is apparently at the top of his game here.
Who did it? Directed by Harald Zwart; Written by Christopher Murphey; Starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, and Taraji P. Henson
What is it? When a single mother has to move with her son to China, he gets culture shock, gets beat up and learns to fight back by heeding the wise instruction to “jacket off.”
What about it? Despite the instant disgust most have for remakes and reboots, everything I’ve seen about this film points to it being not half bad. After all, the story is simple enough and it involves kung fu. Unfortunately, it also involves a child actor, and that could take the film from excellent to trash. Fortunately, if he succeeds, we won’t have to worry about looking outside the Smith family for movie stars of the future. Because I know we were all worried about that.
Who did it? Directed by Joe Carnahan, starring Bradley Cooper, Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley, Quintin Jackson, and Jessica Biel
What is it? A classic TV show from the eighties gets a big screen makeover complete with cameos from the original stars, corny one-liners, and the possibility that even with all the explosions and gunshots onscreen not a single bad guy will die.
What about it? This is great and all, but where the hell’s my Quantum Leap movie? (I know it’s a nineties show, but still.) But back to The A-Team… of the three similarly themed movies (ragtag group of mercenaries on a mission) hitting screens this year this is definitely one of them. It does probably have the highest recognition factor though because everyone knows the source material whether they’ve seen the show or not. The plot is pretty straight-forward (and reminiscent of The Losers) as it sees the group of military vets wrongly accused of a crime and forced to clear their name by way of over the top action scenes and CGI.
Who did it? Directed by Debra Granik, starring Jennifer Lawrence
What is it? A teen girl in the Ozarks is forced to grow up fast when her deadbeat dad skips out on the family leaving her to care for her younger siblings and learn the banjo.
What about it? This film received some good reviews at Sundance this year including one from our own Robert Levin, and the overwhelming focus in all of them is on Lawrence’s apparently impressive performance. Of course I don’t read FSR so the extent of my awareness for the film comes from the recent Esquire cover story including a photo-shoot of a scantily-clad, swimsuit-wearing Lawrence. It’s not a fair representation of her role in the movie though as her character spends the film searching her poor, down-trodden community in the Ozarks for her missing father instead of sunbathing.
Who did it? Written and Directed by Jordan Galland; Starring Jake Hoffman, Devon Aoki and Karate Kid Ralph Macchio
What is it? A young ladies’ man is convinced to direct an adaptation of “Hamlet” written by a vampire from Romania and Jeremy Sisto plays an inept detective.
What about it? This looks like the fad of placing horror icons into classic tales has met Hamlet 2. Or, you know, if Hamlet 2 was a police procedural and a horror film. The main struggle of the film is the production of a play with the added bonus of actors who mirror their Hamlet counterparts and the possibility that people could be drained of their blood at a moment’s notice. However, the plot seems to have a much darker intent so I imagine we’ll be in for some big comedy and some scary horror.
Who did it? Direct by Lee Unkrich; Written by Michael Arndt; Starring the voice talents of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and a cast of dozens
What is it? The toys are back, and they’re getting too old for this shit.
What about it? There’s little doubt that this is going to be a magical, fantastic film. Pixar has never disappointed, and in their first foray into the world of threequels, they’ve got a huge foundation to build upon. Plus, the Toy Story movies are still some of fans’ favorites. Unkrich is younger at directing, but he’s been embedded in the Pixar world for a long time, and he’s got the assurance that Randy Newman will probably bust out another heart-wrenching main theme.
Who did it? Written and Directed by The Duplass Brothers; Starring Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly and Marisa Tomei
What is it? A schlubby dude meets the woman of his dreams, doesn’t discover that she’s a secret agent but does discover that her son is a complete asshole.
What about it? I am the last person that should be championing a Duplass Brothers film. Why? Because I like good movies. However, their usual formula of not writing much of a script might actually work here because they are dealing with two of the best improvisational performers Hollywood has to offer. Plus, the comedy looks a little broader than their usual fare. All of this points to strong talents being bolstered and missteps being corrected, but Landon really liked it, and that guy’s sense of humor has always been suspect.
Who did it? Directed by Jimmy Hayward, starring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich, Will Arnett, and Michael Fassbender
What is it? A disfigured and supernaturally-imbued cowboy goes head to head with a maniacal villain named Dr. Arliss Loveless.
What about it? Brolin headlines this comic book adaptation that isn’t finding much positive buzz as its release date nears. The comic has its fair share of fans, but no one was sure what to expect from a script by Neveldine/Taylor (Crank) and an out-of-his-element director. The first trailers haven’t exactly helped things with their abundance of CGI, cartoonish violence, and horse-mounted Gatling guns. But personally I’m looking forward to some western-based action and Fox in a frilly skirt because dammit, there are far worse travesties in Hollywood than Miss Fox, and the lady still looks good.
Who did it? Directed by Reed Cowan and Steven Greenstreet
What is it? The fight for gay marriage rights in California finds opposition in the form of meddling Mormons from Utah.
What about it? The Mormon Church has apparently been funding the fight against gay marriage for years, but it wasn’t until the recent Proposition 8 brouhaha that the evidence of their involvement came to light. This documentary looks at the their efforts and intentions, and while it doesn’t look to claim impartiality it does appear to be an honest expose of a not-too surprising revelation. There’s a certain irony in a religion who at one time (and to a lesser degree still do) supported plural marriage now going to such extremes to fight against another nontraditional variation.
Who did it? Directed by Michael Winterbottom, starring Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Elias Koteas, Ned Beatty, Bill Pullman, and Simon Baker
What is it? A small-town sheriff in Texas hides a darkly twisted secret.
What about it? This adaptation of the classic Jim Thompson novel gained notoriety at Sundance this year for an excessive amount of violence perpetrated against women, but it also gained attention for Affleck’s strong and chilling performance. Beyond that the reaction to the film has been decidedly mixed. Seems to be the only time Winterbottom’s movie’s get press is when he crosses a line (as in the sexually explicit but dramatically empty 9 Songs). The real question though comes down to believability… can you see Affleck as a sadistic killer? Can you see him dating Alba and Hudson? (Well Hudson maybe, but Alba?!)
Who did it? Written and Directed by Luca Guadagnino; starring Tilda Swinton and Flavio Parenti
What is it? A sensory explosion predicated on a plot about a woman’s husband inheriting the family business.
What about it? The synopsis floating around of the film “following the fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love,” sounds daunting. Mostly because someone chose to say “haute bourgeoisie” instead of “upper middle class.” Also mostly because I had no idea that the upper middle class fell because of love, since love is an abstract concept and not a market force. Still – the trailer is enough to dispel any fears that the film will be anything more than an exploration of gorgeous scenery, incredible food and drink, and beautiful (or at least interesting looking) people. Essentially, the synopsis should have included the word “hedonism” about four times.
Who did it? Directed by Dennis Dugan; Written by Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf; starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, and Rob Schneider
What is it? Five grown men pee in a pool together.
What about it? All of these comedians were funny at one point, so theoretically, putting them in a movie together could yield at least one laugh. The math there is impossible to refute. Dugan has fallen way, way off in recent years – going from Big Daddy and Happy Gilmore to I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and You Don’t Mess With the Zohan. The comedy has almost all but abandoned a sense of humanity and become gag after gag from characters that look like they were cut from SNL sketches that never made it to air. Still, we should keep our fingers crossed that this film is bucking the trend by not including its funniest bits in the trailer. Because there aren’t any in it.
Who did it? Directed by James Mangold, starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Maggie Grace, and Paul Dano
What is it? A woman meets the man of her dreams while on vacation, and it turns out he’s a secret agent.
What about it? Cruise dips his Scientology wand even deeper into the comedy genre with this tale of a Bourne-like agent forced to recruit an unwilling accomplice to clear his name and complete his mission. Sadly, that accomplice is Diaz, but even with that unfortunate detail this flick still looks like good fun. Cruise is clearly enjoying himself here and it looks like his Tropic Thunder turn wasn’t just a fluke. The action and the comedy both appear far more entertaining than I would have expected with the glaring exception of the terrible effects during the Pamplona scene…
Who did it? Directed Giorgos Lanthimos, starring a bunch of Greek actors
What is it? A couple raises their two children in a contained environment telling them that the outside world is to be feared and never visited. The lie continues uneventfully until an outsider brings sexuality and knowledge to both the son and the daughter.
What about it? Almost sounds like a dirty (and therefore far better) version of The Village doesn’t it? The father is the only one allowed to leave, but when he’s home he spends time educating the kids on the danger of cats, the incorrect definitions of words, and the importance of occasional male release. The movie has done quite well on the festival circuit including picking up the Un Certain Regard Award at Cannes in 2009, and even though it sounds like something Landon Palmer would love I have to admit I’m still looking forward to it. Honestly I have no idea what else to expect from this movie, and that’s both a rarity and a good thing.
Who did it? Directed and shot by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
What is it? An entire year in the Korangal valley – one of the deadliest areas in Afghanistan.
What about it? With a win for The Hurt Locker, it might be the case that the culture here is shifting toward being more accepting of films showing the horrors of the war we’re currently fighting. Journalists Hetherington and Junger have put together a documentary of their experiences in Afghanistan with the Second Platoon, B Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. It won the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at Sundance this year, and stands to be a harrowing, visceral experience. In other words, fun for the whole family.
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